Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tips for Using Orphan Blocks

Hello and happy Thursday! While doing a little cleaning in my sewing room this week I happened upon my stash of orphan blocks. Orphan blocks are extra blocks made to test block patterns or blocks that were made for quilts or projects that never got used. As I was sorting through my found "treasures" I started thinking of all of the different ways I could use them...and that gave me the idea for this post!



If you have a few of these unused blocks sitting somewhere in your sewing


room, I hope you'll gather your blocks and get some inspiration from these ideas for putting them to use!

Tips for Using Orphan Blocks

1. Gather and store your orphan blocks together.

First you'll want to gather any extra blocks you have from previous projects...or from projects started but that you know you won't be finishing. Decide on a place to keep all of these extra blocks so you always know where to find them.

2.  From now on, piece test-blocks from just one style of fabric.

I like to make all of my tester blocks from either Christmas fabrics, red, white and blue fabrics, or brights so that I can use them in scrap quilts later on. Doing this will help your stash of orphan blocks to grow quickly, and you'll have more ways to use them.

3.  Use an orphan block from a project for part of a quilt label.

This is a great way to use extra blocks from a project. Add some extra fabric so you can include label information, and incorporate the block into the backing of your quilt.

4. Use orphan blocks on quilt backs.

If you have a few blocks left over from a project, put them together to make a row for part of a quilt back. And they don't even have to go on the back of a quilt they were originally pieced for--use a variety of scrappy blocks for the backing of a scrappy quilt!


5.  Make a pillow.

Making a pillow with an extra block is a great way to use orphan blocks. You can make a decorative pillow to go along with the quilt...or to use somewhere else. Just add borders to a larger block, or use a group of blocks for your pillow front if they are smaller. The pillow above was made with four blocks I made to test out a new ruler

6.  Make a table runner.

Making a table runner is a great project for incorporating more than one block. I like to use groups of 3 or 5 blocks for table runners. My table runner below uses 9-patch blocks along with a backing, border, and binding to tie it together, so it would be easy to do with extra 9-patches from other projects (tutorial for this project here).




7.  Make place mats with orphan blocks.

Place mats are another great way to use up extra blocks. Simply add squares or rectangles to the sides, top, and bottom of the block until you have the size you want. If you make test blocks using holiday fabrics you can have a variety of holiday place mats ready to make from your stash of orphan blocks!

8.  Make a wall hanging with an orphan block.

This is one of my favorite ways to use orphan blocks. When I made this pineapple block I actually made it just so I could make a mini. Then, I loved my mini quilt  so much I decided to make a pineapple quilt! I'll definitely be making at least one extra block for my quilt to put on the back!




9.  Use orphan blocks on bags or pouches.

This is a fun idea I've seen used recently by a few different quilters. Simply add fabric to your extra block until it measures the size needed for the front panel of a small pouch or bag...and your project just got a lot cuter!

10.  Make a sampler quilt. 

Make a straight set or on-point set quilt with blocks of similar sizes, or add borders as needed to individual blocks to set them together into sections. Then sew the sections into a quilt top. This is a great way to use blocks from a variety of different fabric types and styles...fun, scrappy quilts like this are perfect for picnic quilts!

I hope these ideas have inspired you with a few ways to use those extra blocks you might have just sitting around...they truly can be treasures!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

9 comments:

Judy H said...

I keep forgetting to put the 'orphans' in an 'orphanage' to keep them together. But I really like the idea of using only one color/fabric for the testers. Duh...makes sense. And the idea of using them on the back of the quilt, either as a quilt label or part of the backing, I like too. Great post!

Brenda said...

Great ideas, especially the one about making test blocks in a limited colourway. for now, my orphans are all hanging around together in a drawer, waiting for some inspiration.

FiestyPixy said...

One idea I was thinking about recently was to use them as pot holders.

Hildy said...

Great ideas! Other thing you can do are putting them in a frame and hang on your wall or use them for cards you send to a (quilty) friend.

Bear Creek Quilting Company said...

Thank you the great ideas!

Little Quiltsong said...

Enjoyed all of your tips. Great ideas - especially using same fabric line or color combo to test the blocks. Thank you, Sherri!

Lucy said...

Thank you for the great ideas I am making your 3 1/2 inch square block using
3 1 1/2 strips by 4 and trimming the down to 3 1/2 inch. Maybe I can make a table topper or table runner.

Rosemary B❤️ said...

These are great ideas! Thank you for sharing your list. I am putting all of my orphan blocks in one storage container. There are a lot of great ideas on the internets, just for making a cute gift for someone too ♥️

Alice said...

Your post inspired me to check the leftovers drawer, where I found enough orphan 4-patches for a border! Yay!

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