Friday, March 20, 2020

Giving Orphans a Home: Modern

Welcome to part five of Giving Orphans a Home, where we're exploring different ways to use your orphan blocks and finish some quilts!

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

Today I'm sharing a quilt I finished recently from blocks donated to Covered in Love. I'm calling it Modern Love after one of my favorite David Bowie songs. The blocks are all orphans from other quilters' projects and I put them together into a piece that I think is kinda modern.

The Seasoned Homemaker lists these traits as part of what defines a modern quilt. Not every element will show up in every modern quilt:
  • The use of bold colors and prints
  • High contrast and graphic areas of solid color
  • Improvisational piecing
  • Minimalism
  • Expansive negative space
  • Alternate grid work

I had a batch of mostly black, white and dark gray blocks, with many of them containing one more bright color.  Can't get much more high contrast than that! And most of the block designs were fairly minimal. Isn't this curvy ombre shape interesting? I wish I could see the quilt this orphan block is from.

I set the eclectic group of blocks fairly loosely together with a tonal white-on-white background. The columns don't line up exactly. I did that on purpose, and called it "modern  alternate grid work." It's not a mistake, it's a Design Element, ha! How do you like them apples?

Here's another orphan block quilt I did a couple years ago, with a similar feel. That "off grid" idea seemed so weird to me at the time, but putting the purple border around each group of blocks gave it a floaty feeling that seemed to work.

Remembering that, I bordered up a couple of the blocks in Modern Love, too, using various grays. Check out the cool star! She was a little on the small side, so I gave her a couple of on-point log cabin buddies.

The dark gray strips were also donated, so I figured, why not use 'em? So I added a few of the strips in random places. Oop, sorry. Not random. Modern! Minimalist! High contrast! The lipstick binding was another donation and it makes me happy to have this quilt covered with tiny kisses.

The border is made of gray and white rectangular blocks that were already sewn together. Each block contained three squares, so I laid them out in a way that no two similar fabrics were next to each other.

Some black and white pieced stripes/strip sets ended up on the back, and then dangled precariously over the water in Key West. I think this adds to the modern edginess, don't you?

OK, maybe I'm being a little silly, but I hope you're getting the idea that modern quilting can be fun and freeing. But I'm no expert, so here are some other examples of using orphan blocks in a modern way, from around the quilt blogosphere:

Modern doesn't have to be black and white! Here's Sarah's small group of blocks floating off-center, off-grid in a large background of dotty negative space. I think most of us have a big block we could stitch up like this to make a great baby quilt.

Check out Cynthia's left over strips, sewn together in chunks and set off grid onto a clean white background for tons of contrast. The blocks are different sizes, but the colors are harmonious and fun. So pretty!

Cathy's Whigmaleerie in blues and purples is a great example of a different type of off-grid work. Look at all those sizes of blocks! There's no grid at all, really, but the value contrasts within the blocks define lots of yummy edges and angles.  What a great way to use a whole bunch of orphan blocks.

I hope you got a few ideas of ways to use your own orphan blocks in a modern way. Thanks for stopping by this edition of Giving Orphans a Home. See you next time!


  1. those are so great... they don't look like orphan blocks as they all seem to be coordinated.... excellent putting together of quilts..

  2. A wonderful variety of blocks and quilts. Hope you doing well floating around the ocean. Trust you can also get the supplies you need. Challenging times.

  3. The layout of those blocks really works and made a great looking quilt. I think there is an element of random in modern quilts, especially if doing improv. I like the appearance of the floating blocks; it makes the quilt look fresh and modern. That black/white stripe in the backing is so fun, and I love the binding! Who wouldn't want kisses surrounding their quilts?! Hope all is well with you two!

  4. I love seeing the creativity with all of your quilts. You truly know how to make something out of nothing!

  5. Yesterday I rearranged my sewing room and found not only orphan blocks but also orphan HSTs. I feel sad every time I see them; but I just read the first four parts of your series, and now I know I have a plan for my orphan blocks, and it excites me! I love looking at what you have created. I really don't know how you have time to do all you do.

  6. Another great addition to the series, Louise. I absolutely LOVE the fact that you surrounded this Modern beauty with kisses!!! :o))

  7. Black and white always looks modern to me and I really like the 'off grid' layout. You did a great job explaining your thought process also. And what could be better than ending with kisses. Another successful orphan project!

  8. I really like black and white with pops of bright color here and there! Your idea to add the frames around each block pulls them together, too. Great finish for orphan blocks, Louise!

  9. You go girl!!! Another successful chapter in the Orphan Block series. Looks like you've found your comfort zone with all the orphan blocks because you do so very, very well with them. I hope to see more of this series & watch your magic unfold. Stay safe at sea!

  10. I invoke 'design element' a LOT! 8)
    I love your orphan posts! And this one with the kissy binding is a terrific addition!

  11. I really like your idea of “corralling” like blocks together with a border strip. And those luscious lips... on the binding, I mean!! 😂😂

  12. Lots of ideas for using those orphan blocks, I love Whigmaleerie! My orphan blocks are a real mix of colours but I will definitely make them into a quilt - one day!!

  13. I continue to enjoy seeing your orphan block adventures. I really don't care how they are labelled - modern, traditional, whatever - you simply have the knack of pulling them together into a visually appealing whole. Looks like you're having fun doing it!


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