Friday, February 9, 2018

Orphan Quilt Blocks

What are orphan blocks?

Orphan blocks are leftover quilt blocks, usually just one or even a few from a project that didn't make it into the finished quilt.

Why do I have them?

I often make more blocks than I need so that I have placement options. Or sample blocks that were made to test color/contrast options. Or even just blocks that were made as experiments. Sometimes I make blocks in different sizes to see what scale I like best. I rarely know what my finished quilt is going to be so I often have blocks leftover just from my typical quilt making trial and error process.

What to do with them?

However, when renovating my quilt room recently, I came across a whole bin full of orphan blocks. I know, some folks collect UFO's, I seem to collect orphan blocks. (Don't be misled...I have two bins full of quilt tops waiting to be quilted, so my UFO's do exist as well!)

If I have enough orphan blocks to make a whole row, they usually go into the pieced backing of the quilt. Sometimes I use just one for the quilt label. I've even sewn a few together to make a small pillow. There is no set formula. It really is just something that depends on the situation.

But now I find myself with a whole collection of blocks that are unrelated and I don't have a clue what to do with them. I am taking suggestions if you have them!

Enjoy every stitch!


  1. Looks like you have a great start on your next orphan block quilt! These are my favorite types of quilts, the scrappier the better. I made one last year in the potholder method and I challenged myself to make irregular (not just square) shaped blocks and I had a ball. It is my favorite quilt to date. I call it "Pot Luck". Can't wait to see what you do with these little leftover gems!

  2. If you want the blocks to get along in a quilt, try setting them in the center of a block (star, churn dash, etc.).

  3. I want to put together an "Orphan Quilt" and I have enough blocks to do so. I've just never got around to it. I think it would be a fun quilt because it would remind me of a bunch of the other things I have made. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  4. i put them altogether for a quilt top. People love them!

  5. I agree with some of the previous comments - put them together in a quilt top and add additional blocks, strips of HSTs, flying geese or whatever to help pull everything together. My guild in Pensacola did this one year to make silent auction quilts for our quilt show. They were a huge hit and inspired several bidding wars!

  6. Sooo glad to know I'm not alone on this one. Will be awaiting suggestions you get...

  7. I recently found a design I had made years ago for a panel of a tote bag. The last thing I need is another tote bag, so I've decided to use it for the front of a sewing machine cover I need to make. You could also put some of them together to make a cushion for a dog or cat.

  8. decide what oolor you want your quilt to be. set them with blocks of that color or take the color blocks cut them into triangles and border these blocks then set either together or with sashing. have fun playing lots of ways you can pull them together I did some slab quilting with friends and used my fav color blue to tie them together into stars. the blocks were the center of the stars. so so pretty

  9. A lot of my orphan blocks get added to the kennel quilts I make for the local no-kill animal shelter. Often I’ll add more strips to bring them up to a certain size, or just piece several together.


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