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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I have written in past posts about my zeal to collect old quilts, quilt tops and orphan blocks. Lately I've been acquiring sets of blocks that I think were set aside to be made into quilts at some point but never were. I'm not sure that these are actually what is meant by orphan block. But I haven't encountered any discussion of what the term "orphan block" means either.

To me, up until the last year or so, an orphan block was a singleton block that had no mates. It is found by itself and has not much to offer about who made it or the purpose for which it was intended. I heard someone recently say that many orphan blocks were made by young women who were learning to piece. So they may have only made one of a certain pattern before moving on to another pattern that would help them build skills, especially in hand piecing.

I do have sets of blocks that I consider orphan. One set of 7 blocks comprised of 100 tiny squares each and bordered in white, seem like they were to be part of a large project but somehow were abandoned to be found by me years later. The colors are bright and the white borders are clean. The blocks are made of a large variety of fabrics, most of which appear to be cotton.
I played with many ideas for making these "orphans" into something useful before I settled on a table mat. But with 7 blocks to work with, the best solution that came to mind was an octagonal shape made possible by cutting two of the blocks in half diagonally. There were two blocks that had many green pieces so I elected to cut those. After a few false starts and much anxiety, I did manage to cut the blocks and assemble the table mat. I kept as much of the white border as I could, supplementing with some extra white Kona brand cotton. This is the result after simple machine quilting and binding with more white cotton.
I like it very much and I use it on the antique round table I inherited from my grandmother. Lovely. Orphan blocks made into something at least.

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