The Best Way to Use Up Orphan Quilt Blocks

by Nicole

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind for me, so I didn’t make as much sewing progress as I planned. But I did manage to get a set of quilt blocks done.

Stack of quilt blocks

But I was left with a bunch of blocks that didn’t make the final cut.

Orphan quilt blocks

These leftover, or orphan blocks, were the first blocks that I made when I started designing the quilt, but I didn’t like the direction I was going with them.

Related: From Frustration to Fun: Designing My Latest Quilt

So what to do with these orphan blocks?

Related: Top 10 Ways to Use Orphan Blocks

I’m planning on stitching the orphan blocks into the backing of the quilt. Using them in the back of the quilt is the best way I’ve found to use them up right away. That way they don’t hang around long after the quilt is finished and I’ve lost all motivation to work with them.

What do you do with your orphan blocks?

Nicole Neblett signoff Modern Quilting blog



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GerryART March 7, 2016 - 11:09 am

We use our orphan blocks as Potholders, MugRugs, Placemats‼️
And, sometimes on the reverse side of quilts😊


Nicole March 8, 2016 - 12:47 am

Hi Gerry! Those are all great ideas. My favorite is using them on the back of quilts – it makes the quilt reversible! Thanks for sharing, Gerry!

Shasta March 7, 2016 - 4:15 pm

I tend not to reject blocks, so I don’t have a lot of orphans, but when I do, I try to use them somehow in the quilt, like the border or the back. Anything else, including leftover scraps, get put into a small leftover improv quilt. Usually the leftover quilt gets done before the original.

Nicole March 8, 2016 - 12:50 am

Hi Shasta! An improv quilt is a great way to use them up! I, too, sometimes finish the “spin-off” quilts before the main quilt. As long as it gets done, what difference does the order make?!? Thanks for sharing, Shasta!

Meredithe March 7, 2016 - 5:22 pm

Sounds like a great way to use those very cute orphans.

Nicole March 8, 2016 - 12:50 am

They were too cute to toss, Meredithe!

Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge March 7, 2016 - 7:32 pm

My orphan blocks often end up on a shelf. Depending on how many there are, they might become a baby quilt or perhaps a zipper pouch. I try very hard not to make extras… it’s just too hard to let go of those orphans!

Nicole March 8, 2016 - 12:51 am

I know what you mean, Jenn! I have a whole bin of them. That’s why I’m trying hard not to let them make their way into the bin!

Pam the Goatherd March 18, 2016 - 12:48 pm

I haven’t made enough quilts yet to have very many orphans (even though I’ve been quilting for almost 40 years now!) but as I accumulate more I’m thinking that I’ll make an improv quilt with them when I have enough. I’ve recently discovered Gypsy Wife quilts and think I might be able to use my orphans in something like that.

Nicole March 19, 2016 - 11:28 pm

Yes, a Gypsy Wife like quilt would work well with orphans! So much variety!

Emily March 29, 2016 - 11:56 pm

I’m collecting my orphan blocks b/c I cannot part with any scrap of fabric smaller than a postage stamp. Eventually (ha! ha! ha!) I will sew into a crazy, random quilt!

Nicole April 3, 2016 - 9:48 pm

Great idea, Emily! I have seen quilts like that. It’s a great way to use up all the orphan blocks at once!

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