Orphan blocks – most quilters have them stashed in a box in the back of a closet, tucked away in a drawer, or perhaps made into potholders for emergency gifts during the last holiday season. Orphan blocks are single blocks made in a class, created for a quilt started but never finished, received in swaps, found at yard sales and estate sales, or created as an experiment in a new technique. What can you do with these mismatched blocks other than stashing them away?
Montana-resident Shirley Y, member of the Quilting on a Budget Yahoo group, came up with her own solution to this quilter’s dilemma – she calls it her MOE quilt. “MOE” stands for “accidents, Mistakes, Orphans and Experiments” quilt.
Shirley did not worry about the notorious “quilt police” knocking on her door, but instead threw traditional quilt rules out the window and just had fun making the quilt. “It was liberating to make wonky stars and crooked blocks. I dismantled a UFO that I didn't like. I added odds and end swap blocks and also several class blocks; and set them all in a VERY random un-pattern,” says Shirley.
“I had an old UFO Bear Paw, some orphans and lots of ‘wonkies’, ‘chunkies’, and just plain crooked blocks. When I spread them on the bed they were my mistakes-orphans-and experiments.” And so the MOE quilt name was born.
Shirley’s MOE quilt was initially inspired by an old appliqué quilt she saw which had a pattern that seemed to float across its background. “I thought it would be fun to try to get that look with pieced blocks,” says Shirley. She struggled to get the blocks to float in the same manner as her inspiration quilt, “because I kept lining them up in rows.” Her solution was to piece-quilt-sash just one block at a time and to incorporate random size sashings on each.
“What I like most about the quilt is that it makes people smile -- there is nothing serious about this quilt!” “I even worked hard to get all the ‘waves’ on the edge to match”, laughs Shirley.
Shirley’s advice on being a frugal quilter? “Join quilting groups, ask questions, and take advantage of all that free wisdom.” And never discard a less than perfect block – it could turn into a MOE quilt!