15 unexpected uses for a single quilt block

Posted by on October 17, 2013, in quilting & sewing, ,

Squirrel wall hanging from The Quilter's Home Fall
"Use me! Use me!"

What’s that? It’s your stray quilt blocks calling! We’re betting many of you have an assortment of lonesome quilt blocks nestled in boxes and closets. Maybe your blocks are left over from completed quilts, or perhaps they were the beginnings of something wonderful…that never quite panned out. Maybe you stitched up a block to test a color scheme, practice a new technique, or experiment with specialty fabrics. However they got there, now’s the time to find your singleton blocks a home.

Check out the following 15 ideas for using your extra patchwork quilt blocks and random bits of appliqué. Then gather your blocks and make them into something useful, or simply display them as the beautiful things they are.

1. Pincushion

Turn your small blocks into quick and pretty pincushions. Just stitch on a backing, leaving a hole for turning. Then turn your piece inside out, stuff, and stitch the hole closed. For quilterly appeal and extra dimension, layer contrasting buttons at the center and tie them in place with embroidery floss.

Pincushion from Four-Patch Frolic
Find the pattern in Four-Patch Frolic.

2. Wall quilt

No one ever said a quilt has to be big. Maybe one block is all you need to make a charming wall hanging.

One-block quilt from The Civil War Sewing CircleFind the pattern in The Civil War Sewing Circle. One-block quilt from Twice as NiceFind the pattern in
Twice as Nice

3. Hot pad

Call them hot pads or pot holders, they certainly come in handy in the kitchen—so why not make yours with fun patchwork blocks? Whether you take it easy with a four patch or get fancy with some fluid appliqué, you’ll enjoy the splash of color every time you see your pot holder in the kitchen. In her pot holder (below) from The New Handmade, Cassie Barden pairs insulated batting with a layer of cotton or wool batting to get the proper level of heat protection.

Pot holder from The New HandmadeFind the pattern in The New Handmade. Pot holder from Sew DecorativeFind the pattern in Sew Decorative.
Pot holder from Quilting Those Flirty '30sFind the patterns in Quilting Those Flirty ’30s.

4. Baby quilt

Okay, maybe you don’t have any giant blocks hanging around the house, but you can oh-so-easily whip one up! You can find patterns for super-big blocks here, here, here, and here, or pick a favorite block and resize it.

One-block quilt from Quilts Made with LoveFind the pattern in Quilts Made with Love. One-block quilt from Large-Block QuiltsFind the pattern in Large-Block Quilts.
Free one-block quilt from Sew One and You're DoneDownload the pattern for free here; see more like it from Sew One and You’re Done here. Butterfly quilt from Lickety-Split Quilts for Little OnesFind the butterfly quilt
pattern in
Lickety-Split Quilts
for Little Ones.

5. Pillow

Swiftly update your decor—and put spare blocks to use—by making pillows. Keep them simple by adding a quick border, or play with decorative binding, ruffles, or prairie points to spruce things up. If you’re after a coordinated look, stitch an extra block when making your next bed quilt, and then turn that block into a matching throw pillow.

Pillow from Bed and Breakfast QuiltsFind the pattern in Bed and Breakfast Quilts—the eBook is on sale for only $6 through October 20! Pillow from Simple GracesFind this Kim Diehl pillow pattern
and matching pieced pillow case
Simple Graces.
Pillow from Bloom Creek QuiltsFind the pattern in Bloom Creek Quilts. Pillow from The Quilter's Home SpringFind the pattern in The Quilter’s Home: Spring. Pillow from Christmas Is ComingFind the pattern in Christmas Is Coming.

6. Tote decoration

Turn edges under and appliqué a block to a premade tote. Or make a tote from scratch, piecing the lone quilt block into the design.

Daffodil tote bag from Nature's Beauty in Applique
Find the pattern in Nature’s Beauty in Appliqué.

7. Place mat

Imagine a beautiful quilt block under your plate! Start with a rectangular block to get the right shape, border a large square block on two sides to make a rectangular mat, or combine smaller blocks.

Place mats from Double Take
Find the pattern in Double Take.

8. Quilt label

If you admire striking quilt labels, fashion your own from a spare block. To get words on your label, try printing onto fabric with an inkjet printer, writing with a permanent fabric marker, or embroidering by hand or machine.

Selvage quilt label from Bloom Creek Quilts
Notice how this block label from
Bloom Creek Quilts is bordered with selvage fabric? It’s Vicki Bellino’s cool idea for documenting the fabric line used in the quilt.

9. Medallion quilt

Border a small block again and again, medallion style, to make a utility lap quilt, a picnic quilt, a beach quilt, or a quilt to have in the car for just-in-case moments.

Medallion quilt from Fast and Fun First Quilts
Find the pattern in Fast-and-Fun First Quilts.

10. A quilt lover’s banner

You’ll need several lonely blocks for this idea. Add backing, sew almost all the way around the edges, and then turn inside out. Stitch the blocks to a strip of bias tape to make your banner.

Floral Pennant Banner from Cool Girls Quilt
Find the pattern in Cool Girls Quilt (it’s also available as an ePattern).

11. Armrest storage pocket

Do you enjoy doing a bit of hand sewing while watching television? Store your remote and your stitching tools right at your elbow in an armrest storage pocket. Use a colorful quilt block for the front of the pocket, and then stitch a bright pincushion strip across the top to make it extra useful.

Armrest storage pocket from 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks
Find the pattern in 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks.

12. Coaster

Got some tiny blocks, leftover pieced units, or squares of a favorite fabric? Then you’ve nearly got yourself some coasters. Just add backing and batting, then bind ’em up to finish.

Coasters from Everyday HandmadeFind the pattern in Everyday Handmade. Coasters from The Quilter's Home SpringFind the pattern in The Quilter’s Home: Spring. Coasters from Twice as NiceFind the pattern in Twice as Nice.

13. Framed art

Your quilt blocks are pieces of art! Frame one of your beauties as is, or add triangles to each side to set it on point. Just one framed block would be lovely—but the more the merrier! If you’ve got multiple blocks looking for a home, stitch them into a row and then display them in a handsome rectangular frame.

Framed quilt block from Simple Graces
Find the pattern in Simple Graces.

Framed quilt blocks from A Cut Above
Find the pattern in A Cut Above.

14. Ornament

Christmas tree looking a little bare? Need a quick gift? Combined with a backing and a simple ribbon loop, any quilt block can become a handmade holiday ornament.

Quilt block ornament from Folded Fabric Fun
Find the pattern in Folded Fabric Fun.

15. Rice bag

Whether you’re looking to warm your tired muscles or your fresh-baked bread, a heated rice bag does the trick. Line your block with flannel or batting, add backing, stitch almost all the way around, and turn inside out. Fill your bag with aromatic rice and then stitch the opening closed. Simply microwave your rice bag for one or two minutes to warm it up.

Quilt block rice bags from Time to Quilt
Find the patterns in Time to Quilt.

How do you use your leftover quilt blocks? Got any great ideas we missed? Share your suggestions in the comments!

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