Most quilters seem to have a big stash of “orphan” blocks – blocks they made that turned out too big, too small, too difficult, too simple, the wrong color, pieced wrong – you get the picture. I’ve made a few quilts and throws from blocks like these but don’t really enjoy putting together a lot of misfits. My youngest daughter who has been a recycler, “go green” person since she was a child, had come up with a plan to make all of her gift bags which could be recycled rather than using throwaway paper. She doesn’t like to sew and came up with an easy bag that is basically a piece of fabric folded in half, sewn along two sides, edge-stitched along the top and with a tie of some sort sewn to the back of the bag so it’s readily available for the next gift opporunity. In our family, it’s understood that the bag can be kept by the recipient or given along with a gift on the next holiday.
I thought this might be a way to use up some of the unwanted and unappreciated quilt blocks. The first step is to wrap a tape measure loosely around the largest part of the item to be wrapped and add 1/2″ (two 1/4″ seams) plus another 1″ for a little leeway in the bag.
Example: A typical American CD measures 12-1/2″ in width. Using a 9-1/2″ unfinished block, cut a coordinating strip of fabric 4-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ (3″ plus 1/2″ for two 1/4″ seams plus 1″ for some extra leeway).
Stitch a 1/4″ seam joining the strip to one side of the block. Press.
Cut a 20″ piece of ribbon, rickrack, seam tape, cording – anything you might have in your sewing basket. Place the center of the ribbon on the center of the 4-1/2 x 9-1/2″ strip, about 3-1/2″ down from the top and sew a few stitches to secure it for the tie.
Stitch the other side of the strip to the other side of the block, using a 1/4″ seam. Press.
Keeping the pieces right-sides together, fold the strip in half lengthwise, centering the strip in the back so there is a nice view of the block on the front, and stitch along the bottom edge, using a 1/4″ seam.
Press the top edge down 1/4″ and zigzag a close stitch along the raw edge (.90 x 3.1 stitch).
Turn the bag and press. Bag is ready to pack with the CD and tie with the ribbon.
Of course, any block can be used with strips added to make the correct size. Also, blocks can be sewn together to make the size you need.
Example: Two 12-1/2″ unfinished blocks can be used to make a bag big enough for a book, a small toy or small pieces of clothing. In this case no extra strip is needed.
Cut a 20-22″ piece of trim for the tie, and stitch it to the center of the block that is to be the back of the bag, about 3-1/2″ down from the top.
Place the two blocks right sides together, being careful to keep the tie out of the way and stitch along the sides and the bottom edge with a 1/4″ seam.
Press the top edge under 1/4″ and zigzag along the raw edge (.90 x 3.1 stitch).
Turn bag and press and another bag is ready to pack with a gift…..two less blocks in the stash and no big piece of wrapping paper in the trash.