Orphan Blocks–A New Use!

Most of us have a good pile of orphan blocks left over from various projects. Here’s the box with most of mine–there are a few in other locations 😀

Typically, I use mine for donation quilts. I’ve used the Circle of Nine idea.

Sometimes I  have just arranged them on the design wall then filled in around them with background fabric.

Splendid Stars, 51″ x 53″

Sometimes I’ve even cut them into circles to applique onto a quilted background.

Donation Quilts for Ronald McDonald House

But still, there’s a big box full of them.

Then my friend Jerri told me she had made some of her orphan blocks into a quilt back! Great idea!

The next time I had a quilt needing a back, I took the blocks from the top of the pile and sewed them together. Then I surrounded them with pieces of quilt backing left from other projects.

Quilt back with a center of orphan blocks

Voila! It may be more “interesting” than beautiful, but it used up a lot of orphans and scraps. And it’s done!

Susan’s Ideas Explode

I took a class with Susan Cleveland at AQS-Paducah this year and it was excellent. Susan manages to be both pleasant and precise as a teacher and has many, many tricks for improving quilt making skills.

Thinking of Susan’s creativity and sense of humor, I decided to make my SAQA donation quilt a picture of ideas exploding out of her head.

Here’s the resulting piece:“Susan’s Head Explodes”, 12″ x 12″, a tribute to Susan Cleveland

Susan is known for (among other things) her binding techniques, prairie points, and Dresdens. All these involve her signature precision and attention to detail. I used some of her techniques in this little quilt and added several of my own. Here are some details.

First, the martini glass. Please note that I have no idea whether or not Susan drinks alcohol; I just couldn’t resist this use of a prairie point!

You can see my binding up close in this detail photo. I used a flange to accent the edge. The little spheres are wool balls cut in half, a technique I learned from Susan.

The red exclamation mark is made with Kraft-Tex to avoid any risk of fraying on such a small element.The flamingo is a plastic button! Following a suggestion from a reader (Elizabeth, in response to my Habitat House), I removed the shank and glued the button to the quilt.

For one of the prairie points, I put a clear spherical button inside to hold it open a little. This button was one of my happy finds in Paducah, so it deserves to be in the piece!

The wool blend felt used for batting was a suggestion in a recent book by Sue Bleiweiss. It worked quite well in terms of being stable and easy to use.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Susan’s Head Explodes!

Designed and made by: me, with inspiration from Susan Cleveland

Finished size: 12″ x 12″

Materials include: Commercial cotton fabric, hand dyed fabric (Cherrywood), hand dyed embroidery thread (Artfabrik, Laura Wasilowski), Kraft-Tex (C&T), plastic buttons, commercial rick rack, wool felt balls, a polymer clay button, wool blend felt for batting, and various commercial threads.

Note: As always, the links in this post are for your convenience. They are not affiliate links.

Circle of Nine Quilts

I found this book in my library when I was sorting things for the move and noted that it had an interesting layout for blocks.

It is an old book (2013) but my online research revealed that there is a newer one, Best of Circle of Nine, available from Keepsake Quilting. It looks like that book includes the “best” designs from my Circle of Nine book and the one that preceded it, which I do not own.

So in December when I should have been doing other things, I used the book to make two quilts from orphan blocks.

The first used blocks that finish 8″, and made a quilt that finished 36″ with the border added. That is perfect for a preemie incubator covering, so it’s a win for the orphan blocks.

I should note that the book offers many interesting ideas for pieced sashing, but I thought the blocks were busy enough by themselves so I just used plain sashing and it went together fast.

The second quilt was made with orphan blocks that finished that finish 10″. The quilt was 40″ square without borders, also perfect for Ronald McDonald House.

Of course I couldn’t just leave it at that, so I used EQ to expand the “Circle of Nine” idea to use 25 blocks. Here’s what it looked like:

Design made with Electric Quilt 8

The Circle of Nine quilts were great for using up orphan blocks. I don’t think I’ll make the 25-block version 😀

 

2021 In My Studio

Good morning! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday, whether religious or secular in nature. Here are most of the projects I’ve done this year:

Magic Kaleidoscope, 30″ x 30″

Practice for Charm Weave, 40″ x 40″

Mill Wheels, 51″ x 51″

Super Simple Squares, 52″ x 52″

Oriana, 47″ x 48″

Rumble In The Jungle, 54″ x 54″

Splendid Stars, 51″ x 53″

Sunrise, 75″ x 50″

HST Stars, 78″ x 53″

Fossil Fern Stars, 59″ x 44″

COVID swap block quilt, 55″ x 72″

Hayden and the bag he made

Fabric bowl, from the Modern Fabric Bowls book

Christmas napkins

And the Japanese Maple in the fall!

Retreat! (At Last)

Our retreat group was so happy to get together again after having to cancel the last two scheduled get-togethers due to you-know-what. We went to Kim’s Summit Retreat in Maggie Valley, NC, and it was perfect.

We were greeted by this beautiful Sassafras leaf on the front steps

Assembling some of the triangles from one of our previous swaps

Haha! This was a donation quilt project we were scheduled to do in October of 2020!

This was picked up from the quilter and I got it bound. More later.

One group member modified the free Kaffe Fasset pattern “Carnival” so she could use smaller blocks

This is a paper-pieced block-of-the-month that two of our members are doing

One retreater is making at least two quilts from fabric featuring national parks

I took these orphan blocks and put them on the design wall…

…then made additional blocks and strips to fill in the holes

That was so much fun! We are looking forward to the next one 😀

 

Can This Quilt Be Saved?

Ha! Many, many years ago there was a column in a women’s magazine called, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” I have no memory of reading the content, but somehow the overly-dramatic title has stuck with me. (I just asked Ms. Google, and I’m not the only one who remembers this: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/can-this-marriage-be-saved_b_58404189e4b0b93e10f8dfdf)

Anyway, in moving I have come across some experimental pieces that I’ve kept. I learned something from each of them, but sometimes what I learned was that a particular piece was not especially attractive!

Well, this didn’t work

The above piece was an experiment after reading a book by Freddy Moran. It’s well made but not especially attractive. For me, the colors don’t “gel” and the prairie points are entirely too regular in their arrangement.

This unquilted piece, approximately 42″ square, is the THIRD attempt to make something with these dotted fabrics! The other versions were no better, but I’ve saved some of the fabric by cutting out circles and using them as applique.

Rescued Dots

I think the “rescue” was pretty successful, and I’ll probably do something similar with the rest of this fabric. So I guess that’s 4 iterations of a design with those dots before finding something successful! 

And then there’s the Stuffed Olive Block. Never mind why I designed it in the first place. I made it into a pillow, but really, we have more than enough pillows. I think it just has to go!

I’m a firm believer that no experience is wasted, so we’ll call it good even if some of these just go out with the trash.

Of course that’s nowhere near all the experimental pieces I came across, but that’s all for now 😀

P.S.: I enjoy seeing “barn quilt” blocks as we travel, but this one struck me as unlikely:

 

 

Wonky

I’m currently on a program of finishing 2 UFOs (unfinished objects) before starting each new project. I caught up quite a bit last year, but there are a few things still to be done.

Most recently I pulled out these swap blocks from a long time ago. They should finish 24″ square. Of course, since they are medallion style blocks, there’s plenty of opportunity for the size and shape to get “off” with each additional border.

There was one in the group that surely was not perfectly square. I put 4 of them together anyway, figuring this could be a picnic quilt and “fixing” the wonky block was way too fiddly.

This worried me a little, even in a picnic quilt. (OK, like most quilters, I’m more than a little O.C.)

Then my daughter came along and said, “It’s not wonky, it’s organic in design!” Ha! So there! Art-speak is frequently useful!

Some Finishes

The random number generator picked comment #3, by Mary Lindberg, as the winner of the book on quilt finishing. I have been unable to contact her. If you read this, Mary, please contact me by 6:00 this evening so I can send your book. If I don’t hear from Mary I’ll ask the random number generator to select someone else.

It seems like I’ve done a lot of quilt-making in 2021, but had little to show for it. Here, at last, are a couple of finishes. These are made using blocks from a batik swap with one of my groups, done during COVID time when we couldn’t get together.

This first one is lap size, made just for fun. It doesn’t have a home yet, but I’m sure it will find one.

Name: Batik Swap One

Size: 66″ x 54″

Blocks by: Jeri, Mary B, Rena, and me

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Here’s the second quilt from swap blocks. This one is twin size, intended for use on one of the bunk beds in the “brothers’ room” at our new house.

Name: Brothers’ Bunk Quilt

Size: Twin

Blocks by: Jeri, Mary B, Rena, and me

Quilted by: Julia Madison

And speaking of the quilter, look at these pretty sunflowers she did on one of the quilts:

Last but not least, here is the latest stack of quilts made by the same group. I’ve been slow to deliver them, but they finally went to Ronald McDonald house this past week.

 

My Favorite Color Update

I bought the pattern for “My Favorite Color is Moda”, thinking I would repurpose the fabrics I had decided not to make into a temperature quilt.

Block 1 was big (36″ square!) and bright:

Then I found that many of the other blocks were repeated in different color combinations. Oops, I don’t like making the same block twice. Made a few anyway.

Things went sideways for me from there, though two of my friends finished their quilt tops and one even has it quilted and on her bed already!

So I simply made block 1, which was 36″ x 36″, into a quilt to be donated to Ronald McDonald House. They send that size to the hospital for use on preemie incubators.

Anybody else doing this pattern? How’s it coming along?

More Donation Quilts

Before I show the latest group of donation quilts, I want to say how happy I am that my long-time blogging friend Melanie has started posting again.  She’s an expert in medallion quilts and does beautiful work, so you may want to check her out here.

These quilts are going to Ronald McDonald House, so here’s a last look at them before they go.  

improvisationally pieced quilt

“In Fairyland”, original design, 2013.  53″ x 67″.  I like it, but it’s never been used, so off it goes.

 

Serendipity I”, 2020, 51″ x 61″. Pattern is from Love Jelly Roll Quilts.

 

Black and floral quilt

Unnamed, 55″ x 69″, 2011.  Made to use some of my huge stash of florals, but never used.

Kaffe Leftovers, 48″ x 60″, 2020.

I designed “Spring Sun” using piecing papers from a Judy Niemeyer pattern, 2012-2014.   It was juried into an AQS show but has never been used, so it’s time to donate it.

“Elizabeth’s Village”, 40″ x 40″.  Center design is by my friend Elizabeth and pattern is available in her Payhip store. I added borders so it would finish crib size, 2020.

“Baby Stars”, 45″ x 45″, 2019.  Pattern is “Lucky Stars” by Atkinson Designs.

Star Swap Quilt, original design, 2019. 40″ x 40″.

I hope the families at Ronald McDonald House get enjoyment and comfort from these quilts.  They were just stored in a closet here, so they need to be used.