Tag Archives: farmer’s wife 1930s sew along

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 95 Sylvia Tutorial

Ahh, remember the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along!? Today is my day to share the Block 95 Sylvia tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell. Sure, I’m wildly behind on this sew along, but that’s totally ok! With my final deadlines being met within the next couple of weeks, I will have time to catch up a bit, chipping away at the missing blocks here and there. It’s all good! That’s part of what I love about Angie’s Sew Along–there’s no pressure. I’m making this quilt for me and I can take as long as I want to finish it!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEach of these Farmer’s Wife blocks manage to pack quite a punch in the little 6 1/2″ space. My method of attack when deciding how to piece each block has been consistent: how can I piece this with as little muss and fuss as possible? With Sylvia, at first I was thinking chain piecing would be the way to go, since it would help minimize the teeny tiny pieces in the inner borders I’d need to cut and sew. Looking at it more closely, I decided that with this block, even chain piecing would require piecing TINY bits, cutting, and then piecing again. Plus, sixteenths of an inch!? No thank you! Finally, I decided that foundation paper piecing was the way to go, since:

  • there aren’t any tricky joins,
  • the pieces are teeny enough that the foundation paper will be helpful in reducing wonkiness,
  • the block breaks into pretty manageable pieces, AND
  • all of the border pieces can be cut using a rotary cutter and ruler to decrease the paper removal at the end.

Those who know me know that I LOVE foundation paper piecing (FPP), and it’s true–I do! The precision one can get using FPP is unrivaled, and once the technique is mastered, it makes sewing teeny tiny pieces MUCH more manageable. I am not going to take you step by step through how to foundation paper piece, since I have  written two very clear tutorials already (why reinvent the wheel, right!?), but I will share some block-specific tips and tricks to help you piece Sylvia smoothly.

For those of you who do not know how to foundation paper piece, visit my Basic Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial here, as well as the Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial guest post I wrote for the Andover Fabrics blog here. Trust me, it is a technique worth practicing and mastering, since it opens a whole new world of sewing possibility!

Reflection on the Letter – In Spite of the Mortgage

Nearly every one of the letters in this book seems to talk to me in a very specific, seemingly personal way. After the first dozen times of reading a letter I shockingly thought was *meant for me*, I realized that all of the letters have a very widely applicable message and I was simply interpreting it in a way that worked for me at that moment. That said, I can completely relate to this letter!!

Sometimes it’s necessary to just head off on an adventure despite whatever chores, obligations, or need for frugality you have waiting for you at home. We did a lot of adventuring this summer, but like Mrs. A. M. from the letter, we were able to do it on a very tight budget, not paying for much more than gas money.  Day trips to beaches, mountains, playgrounds, and forested hikes abounded, and I was always sure to pack a picnic lunch, extra snacks from home, and full changes of clothes for all three kids (and myself)… just in case. It was a much needed change from the stay home and do chores days we could have had!

Tutorial

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialReady to get sewing? Make sure you have a grasp on how to foundation paper piece, and let’s make Sylvia!

Choosing Fabrics

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAs soon as I saw this block, I knew that I wanted to meticulously cut the center square. I’m arranging my blocks on point, so be mindful of your own plans before meticulously cutting your fabric! (I call “fussy cutting” meticulous cutting, and you can read why here). In looking for a fabric with a perfect color scheme and feature design, I stumbled across my precious Heather Ross Far Far Away unicorns (Windham Fabrics). I added some solid blue from an old project, and some Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle from her Whisper Palette (Andover Fabrics). While the colors are a bit more muted than my other blocks, I think they will all work together. Plus, this fabric combination was a match made in heaven… once it was together, there was no separating it!

Here are some general tips for foundation paper piecing:

  • Shorten your stitch length to 1.2 (if you are an absolute newbie at FPP, try 1.5 until you get the hang of it);
  • Hand crank your needle down at the beginning of each line to make sure you start off exactly where you want to;
  • Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line to secure your stitches (they will be much sturdier during paper removal this way); and,
  • Foundation paper piecing results in many trimmed thread ends. What better time to make yourself a thread catcher? Here’s a free tutorial on how to make the one I use.

To help you while you stitch up Sylvia, here are some block-specific tips for you with photos from my process.

Tip #1: How to make a fussy cutting template for FPP

Fussy cutting while foundation paper piecing can seem daunting, but with one extra step, it can be super easy! Simply create a fussy cutting planning template for the piece(s) you want to focus on. I go through making such template in detail in my FPP post for Andover here, but here are the basics: Print an extra sheet of paper containing the FPP template with the piece you want to fussy cut (printing on card stock will make the planning template sturdier).

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialMark the specific piece you want to meticulously cut. I went a little overboard on marking mine for the sake of clarity here. I circled the number but also traced just outside the line of the particular piece, both with bright pink sharpie. Simply circling the number would probably suffice!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut out the center of the piece, creating a window that is exactly the size of the piece you want.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialDraw a 3/8″ seam allowance around the window. I used a green micron pen for this example to ensure the line didn’t get confused with the printed lines on the paper.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut along the line you drew.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialYou should how have a planning template to help you cut your fabric for fussy cutting. Notice that I placed my planning template onto the fabric upside down. This is because in foundation paper piecing, we are sewing the block on the reverse side of the template. It did not matter too much for this particular piece, since it’s a square, but always be mindful of directionality of the fabric as well as wrong side-right side. If need be, mark your planning template with “right side up” or “wrong side up” so that your fabric is cut properly!

Tip # 2: Color code your foundation paper

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialBetween sewing the fabric on the reverse side of the paper, having the block broken into sometimes odd sections before sewing, and the many pieces involved in most foundation paper piecing patterns, it is in your best interest to color code your paper template before beginning to sew. This way, you can be sure you sew each fabric in the proper place.

Tip #3: Be generous with your fabric pieces

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEspecially when first getting started with foundation paper piecing, one of the biggest tips I can offer is to be generous with your fabric pieces. It’s better to have to trim a bit more off than to be short and have to rip stitches! For my bright blue squares on Sylvia, I cut the fabric into 1 1/2″ squares, which as you can see includes ample overhang.

Tip #4: Use rotary cutter and ruler for rectangular shapes

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialThis tip goes for bag-making as well: just because there is a template created for a perfectly rectangular piece, it doesn’t mean you can’t use your rotary cutter and ruler! The outer pieces of Sylvia can be easily cut using a rotary cutter and ruler, which will save time with paper removal at the end. Since these pieces are not easily measured (let’s avoid using sixteenths of an inch if we can help it!) simply cut out the foundation paper piece templates and use them as a guide when rotary cutting. Use the foundation paper piecing method to piece the center portion, then add the D, E, H, and I rectangles using traditional piecing methods. Easy peasy!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAnd there you have it. Sylvia, in all her glory.

Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Important Links

http://www.interweavestore.com/the-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quiltThe Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

 

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 31 Eva Tutorial

Today is my day to share the Block 31 Eva tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva TutorialAs with Autumn, a first look at block 31 Eva may cause you to balk: 37 pieces in one 6″ block, and many of them are tiny squares!? But with a creative look at the block construction,  Eva can come together smoothly and without too many teeny pieces. This sew along continues to show me that there is nearly always a faster and easier way to approach block construction than purely cutting out all of the pieces and sewing them together. With a few shortcuts and piecing tricks, Eva comes together quite smoothly. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use strip piecing to save a bit of time and create larger, more manageable pieces, and fill in the gaps using Marti Michell templates (Set A) or rotary cutting to help make putting Eva together smooth and enjoyable.

Note: Exact measurements for the pieces needed to construct this block will not be provided in this tutorial in order to protect copy write. It is a prerequisite of making this block that you have a copy of the book, The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them. All measurements can be found in this book and its associated media. That said, even if you aren’t sewing along with us, I think you will find some really helpful tips in this tutorial that will help you look at all block construction more creatively!

Reflection on the Letter – Two Little Sparrows

The letters in this book continue to move me in their honesty and relevance in my life today. It’s amazing how similar the worries of today are to those of the farmer’s wives back in the 1930s. Losing sleep over financial stability seems to me to be part of the human condition. Especially at our current stage of life, growing a young family, recently having bought our first home, and working hard as a one-income family of five so that I may be a full time mom raising our children, my husband and I unfortunately do not escape the worries of making ends meet. Mrs. P. G.’s dream of two sparrows drawing nearer together when faced with the winds of adversity really resonated with me, and gives me renewed hope that “every little thing, is going to be alright” (thanks, Bob Marley, and Mrs. P. G.).

Tutorial

For this block, I specifically chose fabrics with small or nondirectional prints, so that I could quickly strip piece the components without worrying about fussy cutting or directionality. Note that I am arranging my final layout on-point, but for the purposes of being consistent with the diagram in the book, this tutorial pieces the block squared. If you plan to set your blocks on-point, be sure to account for that with any directional fabric placement.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva TutorialWhen broken into more manageable pieces, this block is composed of the center 9-patch, two pairs of mirror image blocks, and 8 surrounding triangles, cut with templates and/or a rotary cutter. I first made the blocks using strip piecing to speed up the creation of the components, and then sewed them all together. Let’s break it down.

Making the Center 9-Patch

In the book, the cream and yellow fabrics were used to make the #31E 9-patch. Choose your coordinating fabrics (I used black and orange and will refer to the fabrics as black and orange throughout).

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialCut one (1) 1 3/16″ x 19″ long strip of your cream equivalent fabric (I used black). Subcut two (2) 4″ long pieces. Set the remainder of the strip aside.

Cut one (1) 1 3/16″ x 16 1/2″ long strip of your yellow equivalent fabric (I used orange). Subcut one (1) 4″ long piece and one (1) 1 3/16″ square. Set the remainder of the strip aside.


*Measurement tip: 3/16″ is halfway between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Since the 1 3/16″ measure was used so often in cutting for this block, I marked it with painter’s tape on my ruler to help avoid confusion. 


farmers wife 31 eva tutorialSew black strips to orange center as shown. I prefer to press my seams open for ease of matching seams and reduction of bulk. Feel free to press open or toward the darker fabric.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorial
Ruler marked with 1 3/16″ measure.

Cut into three (3) 1 3/16″ wide strips as shown.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialNext, carefully unsew one of the black squares. Sew the orange 1 3/16″ square to the other side to make the center strip for the 9-patch.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialThis is a great time to use a leaders and enders project to help smoothly sew these tiny pieces without the fabric getting bunched in the machine. If you don’t have a leaders and enders project in progress, sew through a scrap piece of fabric before sewing the tiny squares together. This will help your stitches stay smooth despite the tiny fabric size!

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialYou now will have your three strips for your 9-patch.

FW Eva front back 9 patchCarefully sew them together, pinning just after each seam join. Press seams open. Above shows my block, front and back. Note how nicely the pressed-open seams sit! Set your 9-patch aside.

Making the Mirror Image Blocks

In the book, the cream, yellow, and blue fabrics were used to make the remaining blocks, each comprised of a #31C and two #31D-#31E units. (I used black, orange, and yellow-orange fabrics and will refer to them as such throughout).

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialCut one (1) 1 7/8″ x 11″ piece from your blue-equivalent fabric (I used yellow-orange). Retrieve the fabric strips set aside during the 9-patch construction, and subcut one (1) 1 3/16″ x 11″ strip from the orange. From the black strip, subcut four (4) 1 3/16″x 2 5/16″ pieces. If you have the Marti Michell template set A, the A-3 template is exactly 2 5/16″ and can be used to easily cut the pieces.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialSew the orange to the light orange as shown. Press seams open. Subcut the strip set into eight (8) 1 3/16″ segments. Using a ruler marked with painter’s tape as shown previously in this tutorial will help this step go quickly.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorial**MIRROR IMAGE ALERT** At first glance the blocks above may look the same, but notice that they are actually mirror images. The two on top are mirror images of the two on the bottom. Carefully arrange your pieces as shown above, paying very close attention to the direction of the orange bits: orange bit facing down on the left and up on the right for the top two; orange bit facing up on the left and down on the right for the bottom two.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialVery carefully sew the blocks together, pausing midway to double check the alignment before sewing the second strip onto each center. Press seams open. Set these four blocks aside.

Cutting the Triangles

In the book, the cream fabric was used to make all of the triangles that comprise the background of this block. I used black fabric.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialCut a 2″ x 18″ strip of black fabric. Using Marti Michell templates A-4 and A-6 or the templates provided in the media associated with the book, cut four (4) #31A and four (4) #31B pieces. The photo above demonstrates how to efficiently cut the pieces from the 2″ strip. One more #31A (the large triangle) and one more #31B (the smaller right triangle) remain to be cut in the photo above.

Assembling the Block

Farmers Wife 31 Eva TutorialNow you have all of the components necessary for piecing Eva! Grab all of your blocks and triangles and let’s lay them out. Here is where the mirror image blocks can get easily mixed up. Take your time, cross referencing with the picture in the book or the photo above to make sure that all of your pieces are heading in the proper direction.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva Alignment Diagram*Note: The orange squares all converge in a horizontal strip in the center of the block. If an oval is drawn horizontally across the center, it should contain all orange squares. 

Once you are sure you have your layout correct, I suggest that you take a photo with your phone for reference. Refer to it before each step, since it’s much easier to take a second look than to rip stitches to resew (ask me how I know! I began assembling the block before realizing that two of my orange bits were facing the wrong direction. Hello, bff seam ripper!)

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorial assemblyWe will assemble this block in diagonal strips. Begin by sewing the large #31A triangles to either sides of the top right and bottom left mirror image blocks, and the top left and bottom right mirror image blocks to the center 9-patch. Press seams open.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorial assemblyNext, sew the #31B triangles onto each unit.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorial assembly pinsFinally, sew the top right and bottom left units to the center strip. I find it helpful to pin just after each seam match for perfectly matched seams. Between the pressed-open seams and the pin *just* after each seam, my block comes together just how I like it!

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorialViola! There you have Eva, easy peasy! I love the look of this block set squared, but since my quilt blocks will be set on point, I decided to have her orange strip head uphill, since optimism makes the world a brighter place, and the letter encourages sticking together in the face of the winds of adversity. Chin up, here we go!

Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Important Links

http://www.interweavestore.com/the-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quiltThe Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

 

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sew Along

I’m excited to share another behind-the-scenes project for which I’ve been preparing: The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sew Along hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell, which kicks off on September 28th, only 2 weeks away!

The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sew-along: Learn to sew the 99 Blocks from Laurie Aaron Hird's book The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt" with Angie Wilson of GnomeAngel.com, Fat Quarter Shop and From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates. Find out more here: http://gnomeangel.com/farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt-sew-along/
The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sew-along: Learn to sew the 99 Blocks from Laurie Aaron Hird’s book The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt” with Angie Wilson of GnomeAngel.com, Fat Quarter Shop and From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates. Find out more here: http://gnomeangel.com/farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt-sew-along/

The Farmer’s Wife quilt is one that while straight-up traditional, I’ve been itching to make for a while now. I’m not technically a farmer’s wife, but I certainly live in farm country and some of my closest friends are farmers (I’ll call mine the Programmer’s Wife in Farm Country quilt). There was just something about the idea of reading “inspiring letters from farm women of the Great Depression” and then making the respective quilt blocks that really appealed to me. Inspiration plus quilting: what’s not to like? When Angie asked if I would join the official bloggers team for the sew along, I knew that this was my chance–how could I say no?

farmer's wife 1930s sampler quilt
The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

This sew along is going to be super cool. All you need to participate is a copy of Laurie Aaron Hird’s book The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt and your fabric of choice. I’m going to try to make mine almost entirely from stash, since frugality is part of the farmer’s wife experience.

Over the course of the year, Angie and the blogger team (including me!) will share tips and tricks to help you create all 99 blocks from the book, 2 per week in a non-chronological, easy to more difficult, order. Blocks finish at only 6″ square, and can be paper pieced, hand pieced, you can use templates, do English paper piecing, use a rotary cutter and sewing machine, or try all methods. I will most likely use a variety of methods, heavily favoring the rotary cutter-machine piecing and foundation paper piecing options.

fermers wife meets my chickensI have my book, took it for a little photography tour of our homestead, introduced it to our chickens, and have been thinking about how I want to make my quilt. I really lean heavily toward the modern aesthetic, so I want to try to make this uber traditional quilt “night quilter style”. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

warm vs cool color palette fabric pullThe fabric pull is pretty predictable, but this time instead of a simple rainbow gradient, I want to play with warm vs. cool colors. I’m planning on making the warm colored blocks with a black background and the cool colored blocks with a low volume/white background.

warm colors with blackI really like how fiery the warm colors look paired with black.

cool color with white fabricConversely, the cool colors look almost icy paired with the low volume/whites. I’m really hoping I can find a layout that emphasizes these visual characteristics!

Now that I have EQ7, it makes playing with layout options *really* quick and easy. Knowing that I am a busy, busy mama of three and that there is a decent chance I won’t be able to make ALL 99 blocks, I’ve opted for a layout that includes whole cloth background squares between the blocks, as well as sashing. I plan to use Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal for the whole cloth background squares, or *maybe* (with the last layout) a gradient from even lighter to darker. Here are some of the layouts I’ve played with. I haven’t landed on one I LOVE yet. What do you think?

Note that rather than buy the entire Farmer’s Wife block file for EQ7, I just used some of the free quilt blocks included in the program. I made them the colors I wanted and then used them in duplicate to get the general aesthetic of the quilt.

Farmer's Wife Layout 1: Warm Cool Converge
Farmer’s Wife Layout 1: Warm Cool Converge

Layout 1. This one feels too stark to me.

Farmer's Wife Layout 2: ROYGBIV blend
Farmer’s Wife Layout 2: ROYGBIV blend

Layout 2. Note that I’ve pretty much decided I’m not going to use this layout. It’s easy, sure, and looks great, but I want to try to stretch my color play muscles a little bit.

Farmer's Wife Layout 3: cool warm
Farmer’s Wife Layout 3: cool warm

Layout 3. I like this one, with consistently colored sashing and background/filler squares. But I’m still not sure it’s exactly what I want. I want to create the effect of the fiery warms rising to meet the cool colors, which are dripping to meet and mingle with the warm.

Layout 4: Cool Warm Converge Blended Background
Layout 4: Cool Warm Converge Blended Background

Layout 4. I like this one more than Layout 1, but I’m still not sold completely.

For now I will plan to start making my cool/warm blocks when the Sew Along begins in two weeks, and will continue to play with layout until I find one I love. Will you be joining in on the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along? If you do, be sure to join the super active Facebook group, too. It will be a fun journey!