Some folks call them orphan blocks. I have heard them called samples, mistakes, tests, errors, “craft-fails”, oppsies, slip-ups, etc. In any case, Strays are blocks that were left over from a project or class. They didn’t end up in the final quilt or they were meant as tests.
I like the word Stray, because they never seem to find a good home after the quilt is complete. They wander from one stash pile to the next, often the hanging out with other Strays, buried under fabric, just waiting to be found and moved again. Stray’s are a lot like dogs, cats or skunks that show up at your back door. You know you shouldn’t keep them, but something in your heart says, “It’s okay. Afterall, how much damage can a little Stray do?”
Lately, my group of Stray’s have been congregating on my long work space in a fabric bin. They’ve enticed other errant fabric to join them in the pile. The group has grown so much that, in order to see what is in there, the whole stack needs to be taken out. This leads to the inevitable resorting of fabric and finding more Stray’s you didn’t remember being there before. The box has been there for about a year. It moves from the work space to the floor and then back up to the work space. I’ve tripped over it countless times. Truly, the Stray’s have become a menace.
So what do you with your Strays? You can’t to live with them. And your certainly can’t just throw them away (well you could, but we know that won’t happen).
Lately I have been using my strays for practicing machine quilting. I’ll throw extra fabric on the rack and doodle. Last year I made the doodles into placements for Meals on Wheels. This year I am making wall hangings for the same group. Hopefully they will add a little cheer to an elderly person.
Remember to have fun! This is just doodling and practice. You aren’t creating the Mona Lisa.
Use a new design or quilting technique you have been dying to try.
If you quilt on a domestic machine, use this to practice speed and curve control.