Orphan Block Sampler Quilt Recipe

Friday, October 18, 2019


Happy Friday! I wanted to chat a little more about the sampler quilt I posted earlier this week, my Fantastic Quilt Voyage. Let's get into how it came together and how you can make something similar.


There are two big advantages in my mind to making a quilt like this. One, it's perfect for participating in interactive events like quilt bees, quilt alongs, and classes. And two, it can be a long-term, sustainable method for managing your leftover and orphan block stashes.


When I was pulling together a start for my quilt, I quickly realized I already had a couple of orphan blocks in my stash that had similar colors. Instead of starting from scratch I decided to use those blocks as the basis of my quilt for a traveling quilt bee.

I've been in a few virtual quilting bees over the years, and one of the downfalls is that you generally don't end up with enough blocks at the end to put together a big quilt. Knowing how long a traveling bee would last, I also knew I didn't want to wait until I had my blocks back to get started on what I'd need to make. This quilt took five years to make and I made blocks for it for all those five years. Here's some ideas for making this type of quilt:

The Start

Start your quilt with an orphan block or two that you already have, or pull a fresh new color palette to work with. You could also start with a quilt in progress that has a few blocks made already, then you'd be even more ahead of the game!

Join a Quilt Bee (or two!)

If you want, find a quilt bee to participate in and ask members to use your color palette to create blocks for your quilt. For my quilt, I asked the bee members to make whatever kind or size block they'd like, so that I'd get a wide variety of designs.

Participate in a Quilt Along

Want to make blocks for a quilt along, but don't want to commit to making the entire quilt? This is a fun way to participate and add to your quilt at the same time! I made blocks during the Fussy Cut Sampler Quilt Along to add to my quilt.

Test Blocks

This was one of the biggest ways I added to my quilt over the years. Every time I needed to test a new block design or try out a new-to-me block, I made the test block in my quilt's colors. This way I was adding blocks to my quilt and avoiding making additional orphan blocks! Win-win!

Ask a Friend

Depending on how specific your color palette is, your friends may have some orphan blocks that would match your quilt. Turn it into a fun block swap!

Learn Something New

Taking a class or workshop on a quilting technique? That's another great opportunity to use your color palette and add to your quilt!

Block Leftovers

Do you have a stash of leftover half-square triangles, flying geese, etc? Check to see if any of those match your quilt! Personally, these are some of the toughest bits for me to use up, so it felt extra good to include some!

Use up Scraps
Don't forget your scrap bin. Tame your scrap stash and make a few scrappy blocks for your quilt. Another win-win! I kept a small bag of coordinating scraps separate from my other scraps while I worked on this quilt.


I hope this post has been helpful! I'm excited to decide on a new color palette to work from for my test blocks now that this quilt is finished. I've made a few already in all hand dyed indigo fabrics, but I'm not sure quite yet if that will be my long-term palette. We'll see!

Happy Quilting!

Finished Quilt: Fantastic Quilt Voyage

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Happy Tuesday! I have a finished quilt to share today, woo hoo! Off we go on my Fantastic Quilt Voyage!


This quilt has been in the making for almost five years! It all started with a group of orphaned blocks from my stash. I joined a traveling quilt bee called "Fantastic Quilt Voyage", organized by my friend Jacey. I used that group of blocks as the start of my quilt and bee members added their own blocks along the way. My theme was "make do". I asked members to take the same type of approach and make something that suited their fancy, in cool colors. Check out the hashtag for more: #fantasticquiltvoyage

For more on the blocks I made during the bee and my quilt's journey, see these posts:
Fantastic Quilt Voyage Traveling Bee Part I
Fantastic Quilt Voyage Traveling Bee Part II
Amanda's Fantastic Quilt Voyage


The blocks for this quilt were all different sizes, so I knew it would be a challenge to put together. I made lots of additional blocks, including 12 blocks from The Fussy Cut Sampler. I also added in some blocks that were made for me by my friends at The Sewcial Lounge in Madison. It's a pretty big quilt, finishing at 64"x88". I needed a lot of blocks to get it finished!


The same week that I finished the quilt top, the kind folks over at Pink Castle Fabrics asked if I had a top that needed quilting! They let me guinea pig their new mail-in longarm services and quilted this for me! I chose the design #140 Star E2E. I think it's just right for this quilt, whimsical and cute. For more information on their longarm services (for local and mail-in customers), see their website here: Pink Castle Fabrics Longarm Services


For the backing I used a long-stashed print from Park Slope by Erin McMorris. The colors were just too perfect, I had to use it. It's bound up in one of my prints from Geometric Bliss.


Thank you to all the bee members who made blocks for my quilt: Jacey, Amanda, Holly, Deedrie, Natalie, Are Jane, Melinda, Amanda, and Nicke.


I can't believe this quilt is done! It has been so long in the making, and it feels really good to finally wrap this project up. This type of quilt is pretty far outside of my comfort zone, especially a layout like this.

Happy Quilting!

Improv Pieced Wall Art

Friday, October 11, 2019


Happy Wednesday! Today I have a different type of quilt project to share, wall art!


This project took a long time to come about. I picked up these blocks and coordinating scraps off of a sharing table at Camp Stitchalot hosted by Pink Castle Fabrics in Pleasant Lake, MI either in 2012 or 2013. I can't remember which. I also don't know who made them! (if it was you, please let me know!) They sat in my stash for many years until this past Summer when I decided I needed a big piece of artwork for above our mantel. I knew I wanted to make something, so I came around to the idea of stretching some patchwork over a frame. If you're looking for some inspiration, I recommend checking out the work of Heather Jones.

I couldn't find a frame the dimensions I wanted, so I made it with some lumber I already had on hand. I made mine similar to this tutorial. My frame finished at 48" wide and 34" tall.


The piece ended up being a little too big for our mantel, but worked perfectly in our dining room. Unfortunately I took absolutely no process photos of making this. I made the decision to use these blocks and made the entire top in one afternoon, so it was pretty spontaneous. I made two blocks from the matching scraps and used various off white scraps and yardage from my stash to sash the blocks and border the patchwork.


When it came time to stretching it over the frame, I decided to add a layer of plain kona white underneath, to make it more opaque. I didn't want the frame to show through. Then I slowly stretched it over the frame and secured the pieces with staples. There is a lot of room for improvement if I made another piece like this, but it was really fun! I am thinking I would like a smaller piece for over the mantel eventually, just need to decide on a design and colors. I do think it suits more organic lines and shapes since the seams do get somewhat warped when stretched. So something scrappy and improvisational would be great.


Here is a video showing the back and more on how I put it together.


This was a super satisfying project, and I already had everything on hand to make it. This big piece of artwork cost $0 extra dollars to make, which is pretty darn cool. Plus I was finally able to use up these fun blocks. I hope that the person who made them likes what they became! I'm just glad they aren't sitting in my drawer anymore and I can enjoy them everyday!

September Monthly Report

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Happy October! It's time for September's monthly report. See past reports here.

Thank you for your kind comments and emails on my last post, it was tough for me to share something so personal, but I felt relieved after I wrote it. I appreciate your support and patience with me!


I finally hung up my pincushion shelf! My Dad helped me make this simple shelf when we lived in the apartment in Madison. It's been sitting in the attic since we moved and this month I finally got it up. It's completely stuffed and there are more pincushions that didn't fit! I probably should make another, but for now it's nice to have most of them displayed!


Speaking of pincushions I started another set of snack size pincushions, this time out of Liberty lawn! Find the pattern here: Snack Size Pincushion Pattern.


Another task I was procrastinating was piecing a backing for my scrappy pineapple quilt! I picked up this print from Noe by Erin McMorris last year. I knew I wanted to pattern match it, so that held me up a little. I think it turned out pretty good though!


Currently working on a new vintage sheet quilt! I forgot how taxing free-motion quilting is. Only a couple thread breaks at the beginning and it turned out to be a bobbin issue, so it went pretty smoothly after that.


To keep myself accountable for my stash goals, I track my yardage for fabric and yarn each month. Read more about how I track here. Here is how I did in September:

September Fabric
Used up: 6.75 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: -6.75 yards
Year to date: -77 yards

September Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: -426 yards

I actually did a lot of sewing this month, despite my low yardage number. I made 7 drawstring bags! All testers for my expansion pattern. I have so many to share, hopefully really soon. No fabric in this month, which was good since last month I brought in quite a bit!


Not much longer for the garden, so I figured I better keep sharing while I can. This dahlia just opened it's first flower this week, so pretty late. Hopeful that our warm Fall continues so I can get a few more!


I put up the Halloween decorations last week, so we can enjoy them for a whole month! This is the only new piece I've picked up this year, I love these little candy dishes. This bat is from Target.


Michael and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in September!


George, always tangled up in hay! Such a sweetie.

Have a great month!

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