Orphans No More

If you’ve been making quilted objects for a while you’ve probably built up a pile of sewn together orphan bits. They may have been surplus to the final project, made as trials, cut off from tops because they just didn’t work, or built up from smaller bits. If you say you don’t have such a pile you are either in denial or ruthless in pitching anything left over from a project.

As I cleared out unwanted stuff from my creating space I reviewed my saved bits and bobs, tossed some stuff, and set out to use as much of the remainder as I could. I ended up with three quilt tops.

“I Like Red” was the first and most difficult to make because my remainders had strong personalities and different styles. If you’ve ever tried to make a coherent quilt from blocks donated by several makers you are familiar with my problem. When I didn’t like an effect I simply fused another piece of fabric down rather than rip seams.

Realized too late that the large quarter circle is actually a dark navy, not black. Oh well.

“Dreaming of Spring” is built around leftover simplified tree blocks I made some years ago. I made more trees and put together a soft palette that included lovely painted lavender fabric. I used dyed damask and hand painted and printed cloth as well. Now that I see it on the screen I may make more changes.

“High Summer” allowed me to use painted pole wrapped shibori fabric, plus a dyed damask napkin and a few pieces of Marcia Derse fabric. It’s still a work in progress so it may change.

After I began these tops I read a blog post by Maria Shell about her Kitchen Sink Quilting workshop, which she is offering online. It’s all about using leftovers. Well, I’ve often been self-taught.

Mine are certainly not serious art quilts, but they allowed me to make “someday I’ll use this” happen. And my orphans have found families. They’ve even fought with each other, just like most families.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

16 responses to “Orphans No More

  1. Crista Mc

    These are just beautiful! Amazing that your orphan blocks are so unified.

    • Thanks. It helps that some of my orphans are leftovers from projects, so they were made to play nicely together. Also, I hold onto scraps so I can usually find bits of the fabrics I used in those blocks to add.

  2. Fantastic use of orphans, siblings and step siblings! I have two boxes of orphans that I am trying to use up, and off cuts and other bits and bobs from past quilts and planned quilts that got abandoned before they took shape. You’ve inspired me!

  3. Rebecca in SoCal

    That figure in the middle of “High Summer” looks so very dimensional! I think I’d try to touch it if I were there.

    Nice uses of your orphans! You did well, sorting out the siblings.

  4. Jane Herbst

    Great results, Joanna! The navy quarter circle works in part because the quilt is “I Like Red” not “I Like Red with Black and White.” Most likely it’s just the black fabric on its neighbor block that shows it to be not so dark. No worries. My several siblings and I liked to say that we were enough alike to be seen as a family and enough different to be seen as individuals. I like your wip and your “maybe-wip” and am interested to see where each goes. I also like the part about making the world go away in your studio. It’s good to know I’m not the only person who does not see denial as a bad thing!!

    • I think I’ll deal with the dark navy by using navy thread for quilting. I can use that block as a litmus test for picky viewers. You know, the ones who notice every crooked quilting line.

  5. Such neat results (even the wip) and very good that you have been able to use so many orphaned pieces. I’d take black paint to that navy piece, but that just me, and I wouldn’t have noticed it if you hadn’t mentioned it.

    • My new motto is if I don’t think I’ll use it, I have to get rid of it. Last week I donated many cut squares to a charity quilting project. The makers were thrilled to have precut pieces. I think the navy will stay that way as I don’t like the stiffening you get with paint, even after mixing in GAC 900 and the like.

  6. Norma Schlager

    Great use of orphan blocks. I especially like the Dreaming of Spring..

  7. Dear Joanna! Great post! I was wondering if I could share your work with my students. I tried to find an email, but couldn’t, so I am posting here. You can email me back at mariashell4@gmail.com Thank you! Great work!

  8. Fabulous quilts! You were so productive!

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