Usually, a quilt is supposed to be something made so beautifully that it can be spread on beds and admired for generations.
There's one problem with making a pretty quilt when it's intended to keep someone warm while sleeping rough on the streets: someone who likes the pretty thing might make it disappear.
Hence the ugly quilt - a sleeping bag quilted out of scrap textiles for comfort, while looking scrappy enough that it won't inspire avarice.
"You wouldn't go into an antique store and see one hanging up. That would defeat the whole purpose," said Kay Rhinehart, of Williamsport.
Quilters at St. Paul-Calvary United Methodist Church, 1427 Memorial Ave., have begun making ugly quilts again after several years off. They hope to teach more area folks how to make the bags.
"We have a homeless problem in Williamsport right now - at Sojourner Truth we have 17 people who come in there on a regular basis for food that are homeless," said Sally Knipe, one of the group's organizers. "We have Family Promise in town and we have shelters, but we still have people falling through the cracks."
"What we do is make a shell, 7-foot by 7-foot, in two parts and sew the two together. We fill it with whatever we can recycle, like old blankets, various clothing," Rhinehart said. "We fold the top one so it's like a sandwich, do knots all over it to hold it together, flip it again, and sew the outside by hand."
The carrying straps are made of neckties and, if any wearable clothing is available, the group wraps it inside the bags before they are given away.
"They're very sturdy, and they're called ugly quilts for a reason - they don't have a monetary value," Knipe said. "(Store-bought) sleeping bags get sold or stolen for drug money."
"My Brother's Keeper Quilt Group" was started in 1985 by Flo Wheatley, of Hop Bottom in Susquehanna County. Rhinehart took a group to visit Wheatley and her husband last summer.
That mission began when Wheatley traveled to New York City with her son, who needed medical treatment.
"She was carrying suitcases and all this stuff and a scruffy-looking man approached her and said, 'Lady, you need help,' " Rhinehart said. "She was afraid that'd be it because it contained all the money she had for the week ... when they got to their hotel, she handed him a $5 tip. The man had glasses with no lenses, and he told her, looking straight in the eye, 'Don't abandon me.' "
Last year, My Brother's Keeper did 63 trips into a number of area cities, including New York, Scranton, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, along with 150 trips to pick up supplies.
Groups making ugly quilts, for people wherever, can draw on My Brother's Keeper for supplies and advice, Rhinehart said.
According to Knipe, the group should meet once more in the spring and will continue sessions in the fall.
For more information, call the church office at 322-5054. To see a pattern for an ugly quilt, visit uglyquilts.org.