Thursday, November 20, 2014

So Let's Talk Orphan Blocks...

We all have them.  Some of us sew them together into a whole new quilt top or a quilt backing.  Some of us turn them into coasters, potholders or trivets, or even small wall hangings for those extra large blocks.  Some of us do nothing with them at all and either throw them in a drawer or in the trash.  If you currently throw them in the trash please consider passing them on to a quilter that makes charity quilts.  Trust me that they will be put to good use!

As for me, I fall into the second category and like to turn my orphans into mini quilts to be used as potholders, etc.  In the spirit of full disclosure, first they usually go into a drawer, and I have quite a backlog at this point, but eventually I have a "deal with the poor orphan blocks" day and then they get to come out and play :-)

For those new quilters out there who don't know what orphan blocks are, they are the extra blocks leftover from making a quilt.  Yes, it does OCCASIONALLY happen that the number of blocks doesn't come out exactly to what you need and you have extra.  I say this tongue in cheek because this is not an occasional occurrence for me, it's a regular one LOL.  Or you make a test block that doesn't get used in the final quilt.  As a rule I'm not a test block maker, but I know many quilters are.  Or in the case of one of my recently quilted orphan blocks, I made a mis-cut when piecing for the quilt, so this one block had to get rejected because it wasn't going to end up at the correct size.

No matter how we get them, they seem to multiply much like scraps do.  So I am trying to not let them pile up quite so high and to deal with them more timely as they get produced.  I was traveling recently and binding little orphan blocks is the perfect handwork for airports and airplanes.  I got these two blocks bound during that trip.  I had lots of other handwork with me so I didn't get as many blocks bound as I took on the trip.

These two blocks have cotton batting in them so they will be used as trivets although they may also be fine as potholders as long as the temperature isn't too hot and the item isn't held too long.  I use Insulbrite in orphan blocks specifically intended to be potholders.  Then I know they are safe for use with high temperatures.  If you aren't familiar with Insul-bright, you can find it at the big box stores for a good price, especially if you catch it on sale.  It looks like this:

These two Christmas orphan blocks have Insul-Bright in them.  They end up a bit thicker and stiffer than they would with cotton batting and they have a little crinkle sound when you bend them.  That makes it easy to tell if Insul-Bright has been used rather than cotton batting.

Here are three more Christmas orphans that are quilted with regular batting.  The rectangular one would be great as a mug rug and the other two would be great for displaying some smaller Christmas decorations or simply using them as over sized coasters.

As a bonus to turning my orphans into mini quilts, I get to use up some of this:

Those are my bags of binding left over from binding my quilts.  I can generally find something in these baggies to match the orphan blocks and it is a good way to use up small lengths of leftover binding.  I also use these blocks to practice my machine quilting skills.  This is a good way to get practice without turning a large quilt into an eyesore lol. I currently have one poor little orphan that came out worse for the wear after I tried out some new quilting designs on it.  It's not the actual quilting that is so bad, but rather the designs I used, where I used them, and the thread that I used.  The quilting became way too busy and overwhelmed the block itself.  I am keeping it for future reference to hopefully show me how far my machine quilting skills have come!

I have more to say about orphan blocks, but this post is getting long so we will leave it as is for now :-).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Stashbuilder Fat Quarter Sets in Stock!

We got six new Stashbuilder Fat Quarter sets put together yesterday.  They include batiks from Anthology Fabrics, Michael Miller, Benartex and Island Batik.  Lots of color as well as some new black and white batiks and some black tone on tone batiks that we are now carrying.

You can find all of our fat quarter sets HERE.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Using up Batting Scraps

Do you save the pieces of batting that you trim off of quilts after they are quilted?  I do.  I don't like to waste anything and batting costs money just like everything else.  Using up the scraps on smaller quilts and projects just makes good fiscal sense in my opinion (that's the former accountant in me) and gives me more money to spend on new fabric.  Not that I need any new fabric, but that doesn't really matter, does it?  LOL

If you do save those scraps, then you probably find the pile growing faster than you can deplete it. Maybe you are like me and get in a rush so you just grab a new piece of batting rather than taking the time to piece together some of those scraps.  So they continue to pile up.  I keep mine in a large basket and also have a smaller basket where I keep narrower batting scraps that I use for making potholders, mug rugs and trivets out of orphan blocks.

The large basket was overflowing and I had a pile of small projects needing to be quilted, so today I have been using the batting from that basket for them, piecing them together as needed.  These orphan blocks are now basted and ready for quilting.

Can you see how I stitched two pieces of batting together for the large block?  Look about half way down and you will see the zig zag running horizontally.

It is super easy to piece batting.  First, I lay out the rough pieces that I need based on the size of the quilt backing.  Then I lay 2 pieces on top of each other that need to be stitched together.  I make a clean, straight cut along the side where they will meet.  Then I use a wide zig zag stitch with a longer stitch length to sew them together.

This batting for one of my small quilts is made up of 4 pieces sewn together.  I had one large piece, but it wasn't wide enough so I pieced together three smaller pieces to make another segment that was then sewn to the original large piece.  As long as you use a wide zig zag you shouldn't get bunching along the joining seam.  The 4 piece batting below is relatively flat in person.  I'm not sure why it looks so puffy in the picture.  I do a quick press with a hot iron which also helps keep the batting flat and the picture may have been before that final press.  PLEASE NOTE - I am using 100% cotton batting or mostly cotton batting in these examples.  Poly batting will need a much cooler iron or it will melt.

The quilt with the 4 piece batting isn't basted yet, but these two are and both battings are made up of scraps I pieced together.  If you look close, you can see that the pink and green quilt batting is made up of three pieces.  I do make sure that the join doesn't fall under a light section of the quilt like the very light sashing on this quilt.  After all of this basting, the basket is still overflowing, but at least it has gone down a bit!