Orphan Blocks repurposed in Toddler Nap Quilts

by Judy Tucker

If you've pieced a lot of quilts, you probably have a collection of "orphan blocks" from quilts you've made. Sometimes I loose count of the blocks and make a few extras, sometimes I cut more than I need and sometimes I put a quilt together as I go and I find I just didn't need all the blocks I'd sewn.  For whatever reason, when the quilt is completed, there are a few block left over.  

Often I incorporate extra blocks into the quilt's back. But sometimes the blocks can't be used in the quilt and those I save in a bin of orphan blocks.  I have used them to mend quilts when the dog ate a quilt while chewing on a dog toy (oops)!  I was very grateful to have a spare for repair!  But mostly my orphan blocks just sit in the bin.

This fall the Proper Bostonian Quilt Guild has committed to making 40 nap quilts for a preschool.  That prompted me to see how I might makes some quilt tops from my scrap collections...including my orphan block bin. Two tops are done and one more is in process. 

I've been really interested in Medallion quilts recently.  Medallion quilts are constructed around a central motif.  It is a great way to feature a beautiful block in the center of a quilt--a basket of appliquéd flowers or large star are two options often seen in Medallion quilts. (Check out Connie Griner's amazing collection of  Medallion Quilt pins on her Pinterest site).   Modern quilters are also using the concept of the Medallion quilts and that's what prompted me to experiment with constructing quilts around a central block.  Except for one I designed in EQ7  (Electric Quilt 7), my Medallion style quilts have been improv pieced. 

For the napping quilts I have used an extremely simplified variation.  The quilt top above has a panel which was donated to the guild. I trimmed the panel down to the piece I wanted to use. The yellow and white 4 patch blocks with the "bricks" next to them are the orphan blocks in the quilt.  I was able to use 6 of them.  Place end-to-end the strip was too long but since they were really scraps I had no problem cutting it down to fit!  I also have a stack of precut bricks of scrap fabrics than measure 3 x 6.5 inches.   I used these bricks to build a border around the central panel.  

In the pink quilt top, the center is made of 6 orphan blocks pieced together.  All of the borders around the central blocks are strips left over from other projects with the exception of the last outer border of pink polka dots which came from yardage in my stash.

These two quilt tops had medallion quilts as the inspiration but because they only have one type of block around the center feature, I don't think they really true medallion quilts. The bottom one is actually more like a single large log cabin block.  

I've never made a true, spectacular medallion quilt, but have recently made a couple other small experimental quilts which I'll share in my next post.