The 4:25 p.m. Pacific Northwest....

departing Chicago....heading west..come ride with us

Monday, November 17, 2014

Unused train tracks...

Those old iron tracks that rumbled and rattled with the weight of passing iron horses are silent in many areas across America. Perhaps in Europe too, I don't know. The tracks I have made across Blogland have also been silent for awhile. But I'm back and ready to dive into some orphan blog re-construction! I have LOTS of candidates to work with. And you know what, I'm going to shrug off the doubts I have about what I do with them, ignore the idea that it might be time better spent creating from stash, and rise to the challenge that working with mis-matched parts creates. I've only recently mastered this new computer enough to upload new pictures, but for todays post, I'm showing some oldies. The first one...scraps! I have lots of raw material to work with. This is a small sample. And in the second picture, a "begun" quilt that I saw for the first time at a guild meeting. It's a 4 patch variation block, being made from someone's Dads work shirts. I've loved this quilt for years and years, and want to re-create it from my recycled plaids. I'll be cutting for that one soon! The third picture has a special personal meaning *VBS*. I'm going to be a great-grandma in January, Lord willing! How could I not be excited about making burp cloths, and flannel blankets, and a special quilt or two?? That picture is of some of my extensive baby flannel stash! So, if you've got time, hop on board and see the USA with me!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Checking in...

And a happy 1st of February to all who track the Orphan Train. I've been ONE BAD conductor and engineer this past year. Time for wake up and get busy call! Lots of Orphan blocks awaiting attention...wanna join me??

Friday, July 20, 2012

Extreme Makeover-Orphan Block Style....

 Here we are back at the semi-completed quilt top I showed you a couple of days ago. That was the last time it looked like this. A bit of time spent with my trusty new Clover seam ripper...
 and it became THIS ! I was even smart enough to NOT remove the thin olive green sashing...hoping it might just work out to be enough to fill the needed spaces and stay with the original quilt top. In this picture, you'll notice the change in carpeting? Yup, using the kitchen floor today for the photo op *VBS* I left a bit of space in between the rows so you can see how this is going to come together(I hope).
Here are the removed setting triangles which give me the 4 parts I need to make that needed 9th block. The triangles will all be "waste"(so to speak, since I waste very little), and there will be 2 extra of the 9 patch variation also. Only one of the side triangles had the green lattice added...I'm hoping against hope that it will fill in where it is needed as the outside of the missing block! Wish me luck!
As to where the quilt goes from here????...well, I'm trusting my instincts will  lead me to a way to complete it, minimum, a snuggle size quilt.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gathering steam.....

 and moving ahead, slowly at first, but moving. This is the next orphan donation I'm going to help find a new life. I apologize to its maker, but I don't remember who donated it. It came in a box with other orphans, I do remember that much.( Let me know if it's yours, please!)

 So once again I stand in that doorway of "what to do". And that's not a bad place to stand...
it just requires looking at what you've got and seeing what is possible. No additional parts came with this one, and it's plain to see that 4 corners made of pieced parts would have completed the design. All of the setting triangles are bias edged(never good in my book!) I have none of those fabrics, altho that's not the end of the world, but I would have to be REALLY creative if I went that route. So sat and had me a think this morning, and I had an idea. The blocks are 12" with the 4 put together that way. Hmmm...I checked for what were the 'long' seams that joined the rows and they run along the green lattice.
Soooo, the plan is to take the top apart into sections, use the parts of the setting triangle blocks to make one more block, and set them 3 X 3. A total of the nine blocks with odds and ends of background left over. It still will need additional stuff to make it big enough...but that's do-able! Happy frog-stitching Finn !

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Even frogs can be orphans.....

 and come wandering down the road, lookin' for a home. A year or so back, Julie, of Julie K Quilts, included these 12 little medical Frogs, with a first border of red, in a package of orphan blocks. And I wondered, "hmmmm, what to do with 12 frogs?" Then, this past spring, in a moments impulse, I added 2" muslin strips to those blocks...but still not big enough to do much with, and still, NO they sat. And then last occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, since the Frogs were then 8.5" instead of their original 6.5"...just maybe they would work with these....
 ...the 8.5" scrappy 16 patches I've been making all winter from odds and ends! So I gave it a "shot" and sure enough, they look pretty darn good together. And if I could arrange them right, the 12 blocks would come out "even"!
So I did, and they did...and I feel both liberated and scrap happy!! I dug in my drawer of green fabric and found a yard of this awesome green(almost an exact match for the frogs)and best of all, it was polka dotted.
So the top is complete at about 46" square. It will probably be donated 'as is' for a volunteer to finish.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quilts are for giving....

is a new blog about the quilts we make and donate. It's so nice to have a place to read about what other donation quilters are doing!! I haven't quite finished the red, white and blue orphan top I showed you in June, but I went ahead and began working on this one(again). When I limited that top to red, white and blue, I also limited what I had to work with. I'm closing in on a finished size now, but not quite. I'm going to share some "section" pictures of this orphan quilt for a reason. It's rather like the soup or casserole you make with all the 'odds and ends' from the frig.
If you had a bunch of orphan quilts started, you would eventually have enough orphan blocks of any color or size to do a whole quilt. Mostly we don't have that luxury...not even me, with many donated blocks to play with. I guess beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder and this is NOT a beautiful quilt top...I will be the first to say it....BUT, it is an interesting one! If I had to choose, I would choose interesting over beauty any day *VBS* That row you see to the far right? Yup, just a single row of 4.5" blocks, sewn to run vertically, bringing the final width up to 52". I had thought to stop at 48" but it needed a bit more. That's one way to get "more" and not add borders, since it doesn't need the length.
 I think you probably can see just how many orphan blocks, bits and parts and pieces joined together to make this top. If you've got the patience, they will make a whole NEW thing for you. If you only love beautiful children, this method is NOT for you. I'll be happy to take the orphans you don't want. Recently I got a small bundle from Cathy in Ireland *VBS*, what a nice surprise that was!
Here is the completed flimsy. It measures 52" X 72". It will not be having borders as my roll of batting is 54". The wonderful "HA" was donated by friend Betsy. After borrowing my WI Quilts book, she made an entire H.A. quilt. It was wonderful, bright, and happy. Her youngest daughter loved it. Do you see your donated blocks in there?????

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Orphans and scraps and pieces, oh my!!

 Yes, it does look like a mess, doesn't it??? This is a new donation, and it seems to be all(or nearly all) 2" strips. They were packed way beyond tightly in one of those heavy plastic bags that new sheets come in. I'm thrilled to get them, as I have several tops started using 2" strips!
 These orphan blocks are from a couple of different donations. I had set them aside until I had enough of something similar to make another Orphan Train quilt. Today I pulled out all the various red and white parts I had and began. The larger red squares in the picture were cut down to match the pile of navy 3" squares from a different donor.
This is about all the further I had gotten on this particular project earlier. Some of the orphans are mine, and many are donated ones. At this point the width is 48", which isn't bad for a donation type quilt. I'm going to see if I can get to about 60" in length. Not sure if it will get tied, machine quilted or donated as a top. I've decided it's high time for me to get busy with these again, and quit messing around in endless 'playtime'...unfortunately, it's something I do VERY WELL!
I have several other new donations to share with you, soon. But I'm going to try and finish this one up FIRST.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Quilt on the Orphan Train....

from our own Del Jeanne. She has created this lovely quilt for a dear friend. I'll let her tell you about it. "It's been awhile since I've written to you. The attached quilt was made for a friend when she lost her mother. Several contributed orphan blocks for it. She had told us she liked earth tones, but also bright colors. When I had all the blocks, they were pretty well divided between the two colorways, so I did an every other block layout, which worked out great! I found backing fabric combining the two major colors (red and earthy green)".
Del Jeanne
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Re-Printed from August 23, 2007...what we should remember..

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Messages from the past....remember me...
As I read the comments about my last post,far off in the distance, I could hear the sounds of an old stream drawn train. The long lonesome whistle calls at the stations and crossings, the clicky-clack as those steel wheels inched their way West. I was amazed and moved by comments left regarding ancestors who rode the orphan train. Excellent factual information was provided and a link to a wonderful website that I'm adding to our sidebar. We, the little group participating in this orphan blocks challenge, know what our challenge is about. If there is blame to be placed, is for me. I'm the one who called my quilt 'Riding the Orphan Train', and it was an 'honoring' of same when I did. A sharing of knowledge about those trains, and the stories of the children and the families then created is a much bigger thing.
I wrote to Ann and asked permission to share her comments more publically. She graciously agreed and thanked me.
Ann said...
"My grandmother, Marjorie Peterson, was an orphan train rider. She was indentured as a nanny by a family in MN at the age of 8. The family changed her name from Mary to Marjorie. In her middle years, Grandma wrote her autobiography, which my family knew, but it remained private until her death in 1991 (age 93). I made a quilt in Grandma's memory and use it when I read from her autobiography and tell her heartwarming story to audiences (including quilt guilds!) across the US. An article that I wrote about the orphan trains and her story was published in "Quilters Newsletter Magazine," Jan/Feb 2005. Read the article, see my "orphan train" quilt and learn more on my website at My book "They Named Me Marjorie" was published in June 2006."

Interesting note: The term "orphan train" is somewhat misleading because Charles Loring Brace/Children's Aid Society and other placement agencies never used this term for their placements but rather The Home Finding Department or Emigration Department. Almost one-third of the children from the CAS may have been placed in New York and never rode a train. The Foundling Hospital sent out "baby" or "mercy" trains. The term orphan train may have been coined as recently as 1978 when CBS aired a miniseries called "The Orphan Trains." Nonetheless, the period from 1854 to 1929 (75 years!)and the adoption/indenture/foster care placement of an estimated 250,000 children was the most significant movement of children in the US and was the genesis of American adoption and foster care programs.

August 19, 2007 9:03 PM Ann's website is

Evelyn of Starfishy Quilting mentioned that Anne in Anne of Green Gables might have been an orphan train rider. From what I remember, Anne came from an orphanage, but I don't think she would have been on the train, as the story is set on Prince Edward Island. The Orphan Train was used in the United States.
Annie, of Little Orphan Annie, altho not an orphan train rider, could have been. The story is was set in the 1920's in New York City. The setting would have been a fairly typical orphanage. There are many examples of how little value these children had in society. One of the American Girl's stories...Samantha, is set about 1904 and deals with a girls orphanage. Again, the conditions are similar to the other stories. The Little Princess is another, And Cider House Rules comes to mind.

We don't have orphans as such, in America anymore. In the dictionary sense, a child is an orphan if there are no parents to claim and take responsibilty for the child. In today's world,it takes a bit of time,but a child left without parents becomes a ward of the State. This "ward-ship" stands(as parent)to the child until they are legally adopted, either by family members or someone who wants them. Three of my chlidren were surrendered to the State of Wisconsin. Two were surrendered to the ward-ship of a private agency.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Climbing those mountains.....

 takes a full head of steam from the old Orphan Train. Mostly it's a 'slow-go'...but progress is being made. This "begun" has grown...
 into this over the past week. The parts in use are mostly from Em. Sometimes I dis-assemble or partly dis-assemble an orphan block and it becomes something else. That's the case with the little tan house in the lower left corner. And the row of pinwheels.
 This humble beginning, mostly Em's...has been growing quite nicely also.
As of this morning, it looks like this. This top has parts from Sara, Em, San,Betsy and my pineapple passion bonus HSTs. There isn't much of anything you can do wrong working on an orphan blocks and bits quilt top. No rules to follow, not many suggestions. Working row by row, is perhaps the easiest. All you need is the materials; orphan blocks and leftover parts. Fitting them together usually involves "fillers" or odds and ends of scraps. Keeping the row the same height is about the only challenge. Some of your rows might be 12" high while others can be 6". When you reach the width you want, stop or chop off the extra...easy peasy! Give it a try during your play time.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

New Beginnings...jumping in, pushing on....

 Every child is different, similar in make-up, but unique. The same is true of Orphan block quilts. I thought I'd share a journey with you, from the beginning......hopefully to the end. In my last post I share a peek into the box of orphans and scraps from Em of Em's Scrapbag. The unit you see in today picture are "parts" I pulled from that box....6 rectangles of fabric. I'm not sure if they came from the same quilt or not. It really doesn't matter in Orphan block quilts. I thought they are a bit on the dark side, but they sort of seem to like each other. So I sewed them together. And where does it go from there? Well, anywhere your heart desires. I keep an assortment of scraps in containers near my machine. Last week I got new scraps from Betsy. One of those hadn't made it into a drawer as yet. It was long enough to put on two sides of my new "center" unit, altho the scrap was narrower on one end than the other. Does that matter, nope! So lets sew it on and see.
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Looks good to me...definitely a darker feeling, but ok. This morning, as I sewed the Corn and Beans UFO for Pieces from my scrapbag, I needed something to send through as a leader and ender. There was left over binding near the machine from the dozen potholders I made for DD in early October. Hmmm, that light with touches of gold looks pretty good next to the dark, so I sewed that on. And that's how it Orphan Blocks Medallion is being born. What will I add next? Well, we'll just wait and see. It could become an "almost" Round Robin type, but probably not. It would be hard to have enough of anything to fit around 4 sides.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cold mornings, cold engine....

 makes for very slow start ups! Boy, am I not the slowest of the slow? There is an old saying "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak", fits me to a T. I did, however, get a kick start this past week. It arrived in the form of orphan blocks and spare parts from Em of Em's Scrapbag. She has graciously shared scraps and blocks with me before, and it add so much fun getting new ones to play with. Thank you again Em!
 And it certainly was a week of gifts. I had lunch with friend Betsy, my sewing buddy, last week. She sent me home with a bag of selvedges and some of her orphan blocks. She does alot of MAM(mile a minute) piecing, but doesn't do orphan block quilts. I don't mind, I'm happy to get them.
 Here a small top I made from very small homespun or brushed flannel scraps. They were all in a box of donated orphans. The majority were the size you probably don't save. But the Finn in me wanted to see what she could do with them. I was amazed to get 36 6" blocks with very little left overs.
I'm thinking it probably needs a border to "stop" it at the edges. I'm considering black. Any opinions?? I also wondered about a rust, or maybe even a reddish purple.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Reckoning....

 now that's a phrase you don't hear much anymore...LOL. But I like it and it fits todays business. I've strayed away from the sorting of projects and parts, but not too far. My Chippewa gathering basket is serving its purpose well. It now holds orphan blocks and orphan block tops that I've begun and need to finish up. It helps to took through them, sort them somewhat by size or color. Add a few more with lime green to the "beginnings" I already have partly formed, etc. And it emptied two boxes and 1 drawer in the process.
 These are stacks of orphans. The ones on the left are from several of you, just waiting to be chosen and used. The pile on the right is all from one quilt and one person, Susan of WI. I'm not sure she reads this blog, but she knows of my work with orphans and sent these along last spring. I think there may be enough for a small quilt in just this pile...we'll see. Lots of lovely batiks in here and great colors. Makes me wonder about the quilt they are left from.
And last but not least, our trusty resident critic, Ebony. She has a BIG day coming up tomorrow. It's her ANNIVERSARY...4 years ago tomorrow, the 29th of September, she arrived in the Valley. Full of complaints and ready to re-structure my life. We've gradually found a comfortable relationship and altho the complaints come hot and heavy at times, she's uniquely herself and here to stay. Tomorrow a look back at her best moments *VBS*
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's cooking...?

 Beginnings of a new MAM quilt top, for one thing. As I had mentioned in the post below, I found I really like the MAM blocks latticed. And the pre-cut purple paisley from friend Jean worked well. But moving right along, I have a lot of odds and ends of 2" white and off white strips laying around. I'm not in the mood for a log cabin, and decided they would do nicely for lattice in this MAM. I've got a stack cut at 2" X 6.5" and am adding them to blocks as I finish each block.
 Saturday I did some marathon sewing accompanied by Season One of The Waltons. The aqua and white burp cloths were given me pre-cut from scrap flannel(One side plain and one patterned). They are a bit smaller than I make them, but didn't let that stop me. The other 3 are made from one gently used receiving blanket. I wouldn't "gift" them( from used flannel) but they will help DD#2 with baby AJ. Poor little guy, he's has acid reflux despite the fact he is being nursed. He spits up A LOT! So the 8 of these are off to his Mommy. I have a couple more gently used receiving blankets and will sew those up for her too. Flannel burp cloths wash, dry and wear beautifully, and get softer with use.
 I managed to get several pillowcases cut, and at least one is sewn. It's headed off to a young man who needs a new one *VBS*
And in the scrappy odds and ends department, this oldie is back out and on the table. Hoping to get enough units made to finish it up...SOON!!
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