Saturday, September 03, 2011

Orphan Fairies, Too!

A while back I acquired a stack of Orphan blocks from a quilter I can’t quite recall! I’m going to have to start keeping these baggied up with the contact person’s info attached so that I have a way to show them just WHERE their lovely donations ended up. I’m making a note for myself right now to do that…don’t you think that’s a good idea?

I’ve gone round and round about the best way to keep these Orphan blocks. And I admit it..right now they are in a HUGE rubbermaid tub…just IN there. And when I want something, I dig and dig and dig and try to find what will work.

Sometimes I’m looking for things within a certain color family.

Sometimes I’m looking for things of a certain size.

Sometimes I’m ruling things OUT…like…"No…I really don’t want to use the Christmas themed blocks!" ((For instance, remember the quilt that went to Japan after the tsunami, and I wanted to remove the skull fabric? I was looking for something particular to replace it –-))

So, because I work from so many different categories, so far it just all stays just “IN THERE” so to speak.

The other day, I decided to piece a back! ((And the fact that I had BOUGHT enough fabric for a back of this quilt in Alaska, and had forgotten about it already shall not be mentioned!)) I had found some REALLY crazy browns that just needed to go away happily find a purpose in this quilt!

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Ooh…lovely 1990’s brown floral. Actually? I still think this is still quite pretty. And these brown/turquoise to ice blue colors are still popular. But I had YARDS of this…about 3. And was I ever going to use it in the front of anything? Probably not at this point. Brown Floral! You are Backing Contestant #1 on "The Backing Is Right!"

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Ooooh…LOVERLY 1970’s brown calico!! Actually, this isn’t SO bad..it kind of has a retro look to it, doesn’t it? Well..it’s the real deal, and there was about 2.5 yards of this stuff. Brown Calico! You are contestant #2 on “The Backing Is Right!”

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And THIS one…is staying as a small photo..because it is so blurry when you blow it up it will hurt your eyes! Only click to Biggie Size it at your own risk…This is Backing Contestant #3 on “The Backing Is Right!'

And this is where my Orphan Fairy comes in to play. I wish I could thank her! Sometimes I am encouraged to use the donated blocks in my own projects, or I use them for a donation quilt, or given free reign as to where they should go. Sometimes I marvel that there are quilters out there who are willing to gift such cute blocks in my direction!

Did you gift me with these blocks?! I used them to extend the brown fabrics to make the backing big enough for the quilt:

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Your funky pinwheel blocks have been sandwiched between two of my own blocks..I was shooting for size here, so anything that finished to match your 8” blocks was fair game!

So what about the brown fabric that I bought in Alaska…which was SPECIFICALLY BOUGHT for this quilt? Well, because I cleaned out Backing Contestants 1, 2 & 3, and a handful of gifted and orphan blocks..I’ve got room to get what I bought in Alaska ON the shelf. And this is a good thing too!

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Here is the BACK of the quilt, with the blocks all quilted through! Isn’t this fun? Much better than a one-fabric back if you ask me! I wish I could show you the front, but it will be a while before I can….

Suffice it to say though, that now that the quilting is done, there is binding and a sleeve to start hand sewing down!


  1. I love the idea of using orphan blocks on quilt backs... remember the quilt you shipped off to Germany with the entire back made of orphan blocks? Loved that...

  2. I love brown fabrics, but even I wouldn't put those on the front ;o) Your backing looks great and I love that it will have a story behind it for one of your trunk shows!!

  3. Hey Bonnie...I am betting that it just might be the mystery quilt you have there. My hubby doesn't like pieced backs but I trump him all the time. Hope you're enjoying the cruise....

  4. You could tear off the return address, and keep it in the bag with the donations, and IF you happen to know their e-mail or bloggy address you could put that on the back of the paper. That way when you do use their wonderful goodness.. you can drop them a line thanking them, send them an email or a picture to show them their much appreciated fabric donations. I am always so happy to have the joy of fabric show up in my mailbox.. and then I cannot remember where it came from, so this is a great reminder to be thankful.

  5. I usually piece all my backs too, with all the leftover scraps from the front so I don't have to ADD to my scrap bins that multiply when I am not looking anyway.

  6. The back is going to be almost as interesting as the front. Such a fun way to move fabric and extr blocks through the stash.

  7. I love your pieced backings, but as a hand quilter, I worry about having extra seams to stitch through. Do you ever piece the backings of quilts that you hand quilt?

  8. Love the back. It is a good idea to put the blocks in bags with the senders name and info in there, that way you will at least have it in one place. Another way would be a journal and just number them and then record the info in it. Hope to see the front soon.

  9. Thanks to your influence, I am piecing more and more of my backs, but not the ones I plan to hand quilt (which are few and far between).

  10. aaah, I recognize that brown Wamsutta with the little orange and yellow flowers--I used it in a rust colorway in a quilt in 1977 or 78. Then in the 1980's they reprinted it in some more colorways.
    I'm guessing the reason I remember all this is that back then it was really hard to find 100% cotton fabrics.

  11. I loved #3 backing fabric, I used alot of it in quite a few projects I made, in the red, brown and green colour way, ahh happy memories! Happy quilting, Sue SA.

  12. What you need for "organizing" your orphans is a database. Not an Excel spreadsheet, but a real database. something where you can have a list of colors, a list of block names, a list of block sizes, a list of ... whatever. You should be able to add new items into any list. then when you have a set of orphan blocks you open up your database or application, make your selections (as many of them as you want) and SAVE! (somewhere in there you either enter or are assigned a unique identifier that you attach to the package of orphan blocks) later, when you are looking for blocks to put into a particular project, just enter your specifications and let the database/application search for you and list all possibilities (also listing the unique identifiers that you use to go find those specific packages). (Is it obvious that this is what I do for a living?)

  13. I know I still have the second brown and did have the first one. My fabric collection is probably about the same age as yours. Some fabrics just seem to want to live on forever.

  14. So, here's how I sort pre made blocks. I use them a lot, in the Gwen and Freddy parts department method. I sort them by size into the cardboard tray that comes under a case of soda. I just pick these up at the grocery store, no buying soda required. I am not strict on size- the 6.5 inch go in with the 6 inch, for example. These cardboard trays keep everything together and can be stacked in a big tote or cabinet, with sharpie marker used to label what's in them. Then I can just grab a tray of similar sized blocks and make a row or column or border or what have you. The trays are shallow enough that it's not overwhelming, and free, so if they get broken down I just recycle them. The blocks stay flat, too.

    Hope this idea helps!

  15. Bonnie, check out things at Material Obsession right now. They are doing very interesting things with hexagons!

  16. I have 2 of the 3 brown fabs you used on the quilt back! And I love them both!!!! LOVE HUGELY what you did with those orphans ---

  17. Just happened to click this link on the bottom of one of the current blog posts. I read your blog everyday and don't remember reading this one at the time it was posted but can't help but to laugh now about that brown,blue, red floral from the 90's. I realize that it is a small scale version of a similar large floral that was offered as part of a Joann's BOM that was issued around 2003 or 2004 and that I made up in 2009/10! Just goes to show these color schemes and designs recycle again and again (everything old is new again)!


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