Orphaned blocks or Heirlooms

Many years ago I was given quilt blocks that were made by my paternal grandmother. I now have a finished quilt made by her as well.

Quilt by grandma, top by an aunt
Quilt by grandma, top by an aunt

My grandm Nevada, who died before I was born, was a quilter. I wish I had asked my dad more about her. But even more than having my questions answered I would have liked to talked to her about quilting.

My grandmother’s quilt blocks were given to me by my cousin, who had inherited them from her mother. She knew I made quilts and figured I would make something using them. The blocks were not made especially well and the fabric was not fine, but instead flour sacks, dress fabric and thin muslin (some of the patches were even pieced). But holding those blocks connected me to my grandmother the only way we could connect: We both had experienced that soothing motion of the needle rocking up and down through the fabric and the joy of making something with our own hands.

I knew I would not make the blocks into a quilt so I decided to ask my dad, a woodworking hobbyist, if he would make a glass top coffee table for me to display his mother’s quilt blocks. He did and now I own this unique and special memory of each of them.

dadtable nevadablock

There were still many blocks left, so I placed the blocks on fabric, typed captions (This was before our home had PC/printer) to go below each block, framed them and gifted them to my family members. The caption had the name of the block, the circa, the maker with date of birth/death, and the names of her children.

nevablock unframed1
nevablock framed1

So if you have blocks with no place to go, whether family made or just orphans, I hope this gives you some ideas so they continue to be admired and treasured.

If you have done something unique with lone blocks please share your ideas.

Quilting Away, Ann

P. S. This blog reminded me to take those stored quilts out and refold them!

By Ann Scott

I started sewing and designing using fabric, thread, and paper when I was a child. I taught myself to make quilts, at first not following the "rules," then watched some experts, learned the rules, and made many hand quilted and appliqued quilts. I spent years focusing on miniature landscape quilts. Now I am a fiber and mixed media artist and that encompasses everything I have a passion for. I have taught, lectured, and my work have show nationally and internationally, some pieces have been published.


  1. I love the table your dad made for the quilt. What a great idea. I have used orphan blocks in table runners and by just framing the block to put on the wall. All my blocks eventually find a home somewhere.

  2. Great ideas, Janet! I know you use blocks in the many quilts you donate too.
    Thank you for the comment.

  3. Great ideas! I finished one of my mother-in-laws unfinished quilts by adding borders and by chance, finding some fabric that matched what she had in her quilt. Love the cute table idea.

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