Orphan Blocks Quilt

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:

orphan blocks 1I 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:

orphan blocks 2Trust 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:

orphan blocks 3Here’s the corner:

orphan blocks 4It’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:

orphan blocks 5You 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!

orphan blocks 6

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!

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