Thanks to Kim for this guest post and educating me… here are two acronyms to add to your vocabulary that relate to Artist Trading Cards (ATCs):

  • OOAK – One Of A Kind
  • ACEO is the same thing as ATC basically but it stands for art card editions and originals. This is what you would call them if you plan on selling your ATCs.

About Kim

I am a mother of three beautiful daughters, a wife, a quilter, an artist, and an apple orchardist. I have been creating for as long as I can remember. I made my first quilt for my brother when I was 5 years old. I pieced it by hand from my mother’s rag bin and it even included the furry toilet seat cover! When I met my now husband, I discovered his mother was an avid, talented quilter and a great teacher. She soon taught me the tricks of the trade and I have continued to grow in my quilting endeavors.

Find Kim here: Web site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

And she has two Etsy shops: and

ATC – with Orphan Blocks

When Michele told me the next swap she was having was ATCs and asked me to share with you some that I have created and how I did them I was re-inspired! I hadn’t made any for quite awhile but my mind was already racing with ideas at the first mention of them.

The possibility with ATCs are truly endless and FUN since they’re little and don’t take much time. I love a project that I can start and finish in one sitting.

I came up with three ATCs that I’m going to share with you today. All of them were created using some of my orphan blocks. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “orphan blocks” they are blocks that were made to be a part of a quilt but never quite made it into the quilt for some reason or the other – hence, they are orphans. I have a secret love for these blocks since I enjoy a challenge of finding a place for everything (probably why my craft room has to keep expanding…).


  • Orphan Blocks – Assortment
  • orphan blocks

  • Embellishments – fibers, scraps of fabrics with fusing on them, beads, etc.
  • embellishments

  • Thread
  • Light Backing Fabric (light enough to write on in the end)
  • Stiff Interfacing (I used Timtex)
  • Fabric Glue Stick
  • Fabric Pen (I used Micron Brand)

The Modern Orphan ATCs

modern orphan block

I started my first ATCs by cutting an orphan block left from the 2011 Modern Solids Quilt Along.

Step 1: Cut orphan blocks in 2.5″ x 3.5″ pieces.

two modern orphan block atc

I tend to cut out at least two from each block if I can. This way you can create a ‘series’ of ATCs if you want. If you can only get one 2.5″ x 3.5″ from your orphan block that is completely acceptable as well.

Step 2: With this modern look I wanted to keep my embellishments to a minimal.


I decided to simply quilt each of my ATCs and keep a clean feel to these.

Step 3: Cut out a 2.5″ x 3.5″ piece of thick stabilizer (Timtex).

Step 4: Cut out a 2.5″ x 3.5″ piece of backing fabric.


Step 5: Layer these three together like a quilt sandwich using a bit of quilter’s glue stick to hold them together.

Step 6: Using a satin stitch, stitch around the edges of your ACEO to finish it off. This is the method that personally works best for me. I’ve tried to finish them by flipping them inside out like a pillow but I’m just not that good at getting my corner’s out and finishing it nicely. I’ve also tried binding like a quilt but it’s so small and you really do have to keep it at the 2.5″ x 3.5″ dimensions that binding doesn’t seem to work for me either.

Step 7: Using your fabric pen, label the back of your ATC (or ACEO) with it’s name, if it’s OOAK or which number of a series, your name and the date you made it.

Here are the two ATCs I made from my Modern Solid Orphan Block.

modern solid

Elephant in the Grass ATC

elephant in the grass

Using the same method as I described in the Modern Solid ATCs I created this fun “Elephant in the Grass” ACEO. I only made one from this particular orphan block but I’m so happy with how it turned out. My inspiration started with the brass elephant charm. I loved it and knew it would be happy on this orphan block from my Boxed In Spring Quilt.

To start this one out I cut a piece that was about 4″ x 3″.

First I added the fiber embellishments using hand-dyed green fibers and ‘hairy’ green fibers. Next I added the elephant charm. He didn’t seem quite happy yet so I decided to add a fun green flower sun for him. Something was still not quite right but when I added the sparkly pink ric rac I knew this piece was done!

Now that it was done I cut the piece down to the required 2.5″ x 3.5″. I made a quilt sandwich with some Timtex, a light fabric backing and I satin stitched the edges closed. To finish this piece up I labeled the back so I can always remember when I created it!

I had such a great time creating these miniature pieces of art, I know that I will be making more – and soon! I hope this little piece helped inspire you to use up some of your orphans and create your own pieces of art to share with others.

Making Artist Trading Cards from Orphan Quilt Blocks

One thought on “Making Artist Trading Cards from Orphan Quilt Blocks

  • April 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I love all these bloogs and will definitely try one or two real soon. I am a new lady to this group but excited to try my hand at a project. Blessings…Jill

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