When I got my longarm last year, I decided to make practice quilts by sewing together some orphan blocks. I often use plain yardage for practice, but working on a real quilt top helps to develop my skills.
I had some leftover blocks from a design that didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I had 9 leftover blocks that I sewed together, added some borders, and made a crib-sized quilt:
I wanted to practice using ruler templates to guide my machine, and started by doing straight lines on the sashings and block centers. Then I did a different free-motion filler design in each block’s background. I chose a neutral thread, so the quilting is very difficult to see:
Trust me, there is dense filler stitching in each block. For the borders, I love feathers, but once again chose a matching thread. Here’s the center of a border:
Here’s the corner:
It’s ironic that at one time, I viewed feathers as being too challenging, and now, after some practice, they seem easy and are my favorite design.
We have all heard the warnings about using a balanced amount of quilting throughout the quilt top. Dense stitching in some areas with light quilting in others makes for a quilt that won’t lie flat. I thought that I had enough border quilting to balance out my dense block fillers, but I was wrong, and the quilt doesn’t lie flat:
You can see that I have “Friendly” borders, the kind that wave to you! I should have made the border quilting more dense. (I know that the borders were measured correctly and the unquilted top was flat). This isn’t a big deal, it won’t be a wall quilt, and it was a practice quilt anyway. This is another example of why pantographs and edge-to-edge quilting are so popular, because you know the quilting will be evenly balanced throughout the quilt.
Now to back up in my story a little bit, I had considered a few options on how to sew these blocks together. One idea was to quiet down this busy quilt by alternating the printed blocks with some solid fabrics. I made 4 blocks, but they didn’t look good with the other blocks. So now I have 4 new orphan blocks!
In this case, 4 blocks isn’t enough to make a quilt top, so they go back to the orphan block pile. Two steps forward, one step back!