How to Use Orphan Quilt Blocks

Created By:

Fran Gulick 

Skill Level: Intermediate

Hi there! It’s Fran from Cotton and Joy, and today I’m here to talk about those extra blocks we all seem to end up with from time to time!



Do you ever find yourself with some extra quilt blocks, and you wonder - what do I do with these now? Maybe you’ve been following my HSTs Three Ways series (posts 1, 2, and 3), and you loved making the blocks but are unsure of what to do with them. Well, fear not; I’ve got you!


One of my favorite ways to use extra blocks is to turn them either into pillow covers or table runners! Both of these options make for fast and fun projects, and they’re a great way to add some handmade touches to your home without the commitment a full quilt requires.


Add The Sashing

When working without a pattern, there’s always a little measuring and math involved, but I’ll walk you through the steps, and I promise they’re easy peasy!


Before cutting out the sashing you’ll be adding to your blocks, you need to decide how wide it’ll be. My default is 2” finished, so I will need 2.5” strips.


Next, you need to measure your blocks. If you’re working with the blocks from my HSTs Three Ways series, each block measures 12.5”. So you’ll be cutting sashing that is 12.5” x 2.5”. Since we are working with three blocks, we’ll need 2 strips.



Sew the blocks and sashing together, as seen in the diagram below.



Add The Borders

Before cutting the borders, you’ll need to decide how wide it’ll be same as you did with the sashing. Usually, I cut my borders the same size as my sashing for projects like this. However, you can make it wider or thinner depending on your needs and personal preferences.


First, let’s cut the side borders, two 12.5” x 2.5” strips, the same as the sashing, and sew them on either side of the quilt top.



Next, you’ll need to measure how wide your quilt top is currently. If you’re using the HST blocks and following the same measurements I have, your quilt top should measure 44.5”. Depending on the WOF of your fabric, you’ll need either two or three WOF strips to make the borders.


In my case, my fabric was only 42” wide, so I cut three 2.5” x WOF strips. Sew them into one long strip and then cut two 44.5” strips. Once you have your border strips, sew them to the top and bottom of your quilt top.




And that’s how you turn three extra blocks into a table runner – almost! We have the quilt top, and I’ll be back next month with a quick tutorial on how to quickly baste this quilt top and then quilt it on your Janome!

Everyone is Talking about How to Use Orphan Quilt Blocks

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Around the Table Dresden Placemats
Saturday, December 17, 2016

I like the concept, but the directions are "sloppy." Nowhere in the supply list does it mention the felt or the batting (how much?). Also, I would never use a high loft batting in a placemat, or a table runner, as I think that it would be too unstable for a glass. The next time I make these, I will cut out the batting (I use flannel) and spray baste it to the wrong side of the Dresden plate before I put the Dresden plate on the felt to cut out. I have not yet washed the finished placemat, and am hoping that the single layer of felt does not curl up, or become distorted after washing/drying.
Fun Great Gift!
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teatime Quilted Tablecloth
Friday, February 24, 2017

I made this today but your cutting directions need to be changed. You only need 4 of color 1 and color 3 4.5 squares for the triangles. Also the inner border, you only need 2 cuts as WOF is long enough to cut each in half to fit the sides.
Great Machine
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I've had this machine for only a week now. I bought it used from a lady who makes her own clothes, but she no longer needed the machine. During the purchase, she noted that she is almost sad that it's better to give it away because of how well the machine performed. (I also bought it along side a computerized machine of another brand.} She demoed the machine for us, showing it worked and gave us everything (including the box it came in!) She took amazing care of this machine. I have used it a few times now, and the directions for threading were easy to follow (albeit my hands are quite large so the lower looper was a pain, but that is no fault to the machine or brand.) And I recommend this machine to anyone who wants to learn to serge and wants a machine that can grow with them. I will happily use this machine time and time again.
S9 Review
Sunday, February 25, 2018

I love, love, love my S9! It's sews and embroiders beautifully and it's simplicity of use amazes me. I would recommend this machine for both a beginner and an experienced seamstress. If I would ask anything of Janome it would be to upgrade the programming to run a larger hoop size. I understand that it can't get much wider but there is most definitely room for it to go longer. That is the only limitation of this machine.
Monday, February 26, 2018

I purchased a Memorycraft 15000 a few years ago and it was the best purchase I ever made! This machine can do just about anything you would would ever want! I love the capability of using the Acuedit app to set up my embroidery pattern on my Ipad and then download it to the machine! I love how my embroidery looks upon completion and I love all the good lighting it has to light up your workspace. That way you don’t need to worry about where to set up your machine. It also has plenty of room to do machine embroidery on any size quilts! There are many decorative stitches from which to choose that are outstanding! It’s hard to choose which one to use! There are so many great features it is hard to decide what I love the most. If you want to buy only one machine to last a lifetime, I would recommend this one!
S9 Review
Sunday, February 24, 2019

The S9 is amazing. I learned to sew by hand when I was just 5 and in my grandmothers way as she was quilting. I took seeing classes in high school until they would no longer let me sign up. The S9 makes me appreciate my current skills as well as motivate me to want to learn more. This machine is awesome.
Horizon Memory Craft 15000
Thursday, November 19, 2020

My Janome Horizon Memory Craft 15000 is fantastic! I love, love, love this machine! When I came across the Eye for and Eye embroidery design today, I wanted to make it. However, the embroidery file is missing. Nothing downloads when I select the download button. Please help!
Treat Bag fun!
Monday, August 16, 2021

I made the Halloween treat bag for my new granddaughter and I’m sure it will last for years. No embroidery machine so I appliquéd the lettering. Need a little more skirt fabric for a better gathered look, and I used thin double-bias tape for the skirt hem, over edge stitch on skirt sides. I’m pleased with my results!
Very helpful tutorial
Wednesday, October 25, 2023

I want to say thank you for teaching me this method of applique. I was able to do it with a small letters. This method is the best so far from all of those I've seen and tried.
So useful
Thursday, November 30, 2023

I'd like to express my gratitude for teaching me this appliqué method. I successfully applied it with small letters, and, so far, it's the most effective among all the methods I've seen and tried.

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