Friday, November 8, 2019

Giving Orphans a Home: Row, Row, Row your Boat


Welcome to part four of Giving Orphans a Home, where we talk about different ways to use orphan blocks in a quilt. Today I feature row settings for your orphans.


If you have just a few blocks in the same design, think about setting them in rows or columns. For Swooning in Pink, I was given the two big swoon/carpenter's star blocks. I knew they would make a great quilt center, but couldn't figure out how to make a medallion out of them. Setting them vertically and then surrounding them on all sides was going to make the quilt the wrong shape.


I had terrible lighting the day I took these photos; sorry about that! But you can get a glimpse of how soft and pretty the fabrics are in the stars. People have donated so many lovely blocks to Covered in Love!



In order to make the swoons fit the way I wanted, I needed rows. Fortunately, the selection of orphan blocks sent to me had some nice choices, like these triangles. Over on her blog, Kat says they came from this baby quilt she made. I'm tickled to find out the origins of these cute prints! They worked really well as a row. 


I also had just enough of the buzzsaw star blocks (no idea if that's a real block name!) for a row and to fill in between the swoons. There were enough pink and orange string blocks for two rows, but not enough for a border all the way around. That's OK, just having matching top and bottom still adds symmetry and purpose. With a little pink sashing, things started tying together and a quilt was born!


In order to make the central buzzsaw stars work, I had to trim them down just a smidge. Can you see that the lighter one is narrower than the purple one? This is an example of my Rule #2 that it's okay to do a bit of trimming to make a block work. After all, all orphans want to be useful!


The backing of this quilt is fun row house fabric in the same pinky-greeny-purpley-orangey colors, plus a strip of the pink dot also used for the binding. The quilting is a simple, loose stipple.




Hold onto your hats, this one is a wild ride! My batch of orphans didn't just include those soft pinks to "swoon" over. No, there were some really vibrant hot hot hot pinks and lots of turquoise, too. Throw in a little yellow and the ingredients for Diamond Glow were ready to sizzle.



This big center diamond arrived as a single piece, along with a slightly smaller sibling. I cut the smaller one into quarters and placed them around the big one to end up with a rectangle. These blocks have fabulous piecing; a big thumbs up to whoever made them! They make a great center medallion. Diamond Glow is kind of a medallion/row hybrid. The diamonds are obviously the central focus, but there's no complete surrounding "frames." Sometimes a few bits of symmetry and lots of bright color can make it work. And when in doubt, add a bit of interesting quilting!

Here are a few of the smaller blocks. Many were not quite standard sizes: 8.25" instead of 8.5", for instance. Some had cut off points. And some were seemingly perfect. I used sashing to get them to size.






The six Hunter's star blocks have very subtle internal contrast, so they give the top and bottom rows nice big blocks of turquoise. I zhuzhed up the texture on those with swirly quilting.



The back is just as wild 'n crazy as the front on this one! There were several blocks that fit the color scheme nicely, but didn't quite work as elements on the front. I think they make the back interesting, though. I especially like the turquoise star. It might have gotten a little lost on the front, but really shines here.


My final example of orphans in rows is much quieter, but my favorite of the three. Serene Neutrals uses a selection of blocks with scrappy neutral backgrounds and bold geometric shapes. Amazingly, each set of blocks was almost exactly the same width when sewn together; I think I only needed to fudge the final sizes about 2-3" to make them fit the longest row, the Majestic Mountain blocks. Also amazingly, the pops of color in all the neutral blocks were either orange, green, or dark blue. That's a great palette, don't you think?


Check out these hexagons! I only needed to add corner triangles to finish them up, and the one octagon in the center was exactly the right size to play along.


These HSTs with the lions and the orange ones at the other end of the quilt are clearly from the same fabric line. I made giant flying geese out of them and used them to add symmetry at top and bottom. They are echoed by the tiny orange flying geese below the hexagons, too. You can also see a little bit of the binding here. It is a VERY traditional blue and beige stripe, ancient of days. But the colors work and I like that it looks kinda scrappy when you can only see a little slice of it.


This row is just the coolest design! I've never seen this pattern of interlocking squares before, and it looks like it was a real challenge to piece. It came to me as an already sewn-together row and I love how it works in Serene Neutrals.


The back is just big chunks of more neutral fabrics. The overall floral quilting is almost invisible, just nice soft texture. And yes, those are VW buses in the upper left corner.


So there you go, three very different orphan block quilts, all using horizontal rows as the underlying design. Do you have any blocks that could work like this? I'd love to hear about it!

If you missed it, here are the first three parts of this series:


28 comments:

Joanne said...

At therate i am going i should just send you my orphans! I promise to show my orphans some love in 2020 though.....

Kat said...

Those interlocking squares are mine. I was obsessed with trying to develop a pattern for that design but it was just too difficult. At least, for my skill level at the time.

Kate said...

Hooray for you, Louise, great quilts! Kathleen

Cathy said...

Wow, Louise, you’ve done it again! Those amazing and beautiful quilts (Diamond Glow!) make me want to run downstairs and start playing with my orphans! xo

KaHolly said...

Louise, you’ve certainly got 'vision'! Well done! Well written!

Heide said...

Louis, You do such a great job putting the orphan blocks together. Each quilt looks beautiful.

djquilting said...

Great job Louise. They all sing!

Pamela Arbour said...

Thank you for sharing your ideas. Very inspiring.

Debbie said...

Super post! Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. I like your rules because they go against the establishment! while I prefer the neutral one too, I think all three have a place in the world of comfort and love.

Vicki in MN said...

You are the queen of orphans Louise! You really do have a knack for this type of quilt, good work:)

JanineMarie said...

You’ve made me think of row quilts in a whole new way, Louise! I really love the idea of the giant middle row as a sort of medallion. I know you said that it helps that you have a lot to work with, but I am still in awe of how you identify the blocks that will work together in these quilts. It’s a gift!

Carol E. said...

They all look great! I love the 3rd one. Those interlocking pieces are fab! And I'm especially glad to know that zhuzshing is a word.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

You've done amazing things with those orphans, Louise! You're such a great partner for Kat! I hope your sewing machine is doing okay - I read the other blog and noticed your husband was having to do some work on it. He wrote that you couldn't get along without your sewing machine, and I can sure relate to that!

The Colorful Fabriholic said...

Amazing! That diamond quilt is stunning - you'd never know it was someone's orphan. Well done, all of them!

Fiona said...

Oh wow, those are all brilliant and great use of the blocks... you are so clever in putting them together.... I love them all.

Hugz

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Just fun and fabulous, Louise!!! I agree with you on all your comments--love that interlocking squares row, the last one is my fav, that turquoise block on the back 👍. Great job!!! On all three!

Nicki said...

It truly amazes me that you have such a vision to see the potential that one little orphan block has. You have been gifted with such talent in how to use those orphan blocks. Thank you so much for sharing your insight & thoughts on how you make these quilts happen. I love the Diamond Glow quilt & especially intrigued by Kat's interlocking squares. You are amazing!

Michelle said...

Some of the most interesting quilts are made from orphan blocks. Yours are no exception. These are fantastic!

Sandy Panagos said...

Some very cute orphan quilts are born on your boat! You are so clever.

Anne / Springleaf Studios said...

You have done an amazing job using all the different orphan blocks. It's been fun to read about all the ways you have found to incorporate these blocks that don't always play nicely at first glance. I applaud your efforts on all fronts.

Mystic Quilter said...

You are a whizz with these orphan blocks!! Just back to blog post reading so tomorrow I'm going to go back to your first post in the series and read thoroughly! As I have a box of parts I'm sure what you have to say will be extremely interesting and helpful.

Janice Holton said...

Hi Louise! So much fun reading about and seeing the pieces parts you have put together into wonderful quilts! I really, really, enjoyed reading this series. Hope you had as much fun making them!

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

Another great post on orphan blocks. I will be getting my orphans out again in 2020. My suitcase is overflowing again. Thanks for linking up with Oh Scrap!

karenbbsnow said...

Great post. My orphans need some love and this may be just the inspiration I need!

grammajudyb said...

Thanks for all your posts in this series! I learned a lot! It’s amazing how seemingly unrelated and diverse blocks can join together to give someone some comfort and love! A life lesson if I ever saw one! Thumbs up 👍🏻

Sandra Walker said...

You're a whiz my friend, and that is good advice, Rule #2, must remember that. Love the backing too. My favourite part that I am mesmerized by is that interlocking row of blocks...I love stuff like that! Thank you for these posts. And right now as we are being DUMPED on, the earliest since we moved back here, and I think we may be setting a new record, I am thankful to see your boat and blue skies and sunshine.

Lisa J. said...

You have a gift for taking orphan blocks and tying them all together in a quilt. I can see why you like that last quilt but I like the diamond one the best. Louise you continue to inspire me.

Kate said...

You tied all those different palettes and blocks together beautifully. That takes a lot of vision. Thanks for sharing these three. I'm not sure I could be that visionary with my left overs.