Tag Archives: finishing

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 35 Flora Tutorial

Welcome to the final–yes, the very last!!!–block tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell. If you’ve made it this far and have completed all of the blocks, congratulations!! You have finished quite an amazing accomplishment! If you haven’t completed all of the blocks but are still following along, bravo to you as well! And welcome to the club 😀

farmers wife 1930 35 flora tutorialSince at this point in this Sew Along, I’m sure there are hardly any techniques or block approaches that need additional guidance, I decided, with the approval of Angie, to approach this tutorial a little differently. Today my tutorial will focus on “what next?” Now that this epic sew along is officially complete and you may or may not have all 99 of the blocks sewn, I will reflect on and share a few different approaches you might want to take.

Tips for Foundation Paper Piecing Flora

First, let’s get Flora’s construction covered. I foundation paper pieced my block, so 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. Trust me, it is a technique worth practicing and mastering, since it opens a whole new world of sewing possibility!

foundation paper pieced flora farmers wifeSince this block is not symmetrical, I printed a mirror image of the templates to help ensure I matched the color placement to that in the book. I selected simple dark, medium, and light green fabrics and carefully marked each piece of the template with a D (dark), M (medium), or L (light) before sewing so that once I had my fabric bits cut, I could chain piece the templates without too much thought. Those two preparatory steps (printing mirror image templates & marking each section of the templates) helped make the actual stitching of this block quick and smooth.

farmers wife 1930 floraThe final block has been sewn! Congratulations! So now what….?

Farmers Wife final layout warm coolIf we reminisce back to October 2015 when we first began this sew along, I originally planned (hoped?) to make 72 blocks instead of the full 99. I planned to sew some with cool colors on a white/low volume background and warm colors on a grey/black background and set them with solid blocks between. It seemed like a solid plan at the time, back when I had in my head that I was making “just a little 6″ block every week”. As you all know at this point, though, these little 6″ blocks pack a punch, often with 30-60 pieces and taking hours to construct. I’ve accepted that the 72 block plan just isn’t in the cards for me at this point in my life. I’m totally ok with that. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some options.

Keep Plugging Away

all of my blocks sans flora
My full block inventory, not including Flora = 15 blocks

One option is to keep plugging away at the blocks with the goal of completing all of them eventually. If you want to be sure to complete them in a timely fashion, you may want to set a new goal for yourself and try to hold yourself to it.  Perhaps you could aim to make one block per week, at least 3 weeks out of every month.  Or you could plan to make 1 block every 2 weeks, where week 1 is spent selecting fabric and cutting and week 2 is spent sewing the blocks together. If this is your choice, make a plan, write it down, and forge ahead!

Change your Block Setting

Adjusting the way you set your blocks could also help you get a decent sized quilt from the blocks you’ve made. If you have made all 99 blocks, you could set your blocks with simple sashing and have a nice, huge quilt.

background fabric between each blockAdding solid blocks between each Farmer’s Wife block can help you get the most bang for your buck with however many (or few, in my case) blocks you’ve made. Add sashing and that will make your quilt even larger relative to the number of blocks you’ve made. My original mock-up includes both the blocks between each Farmer’s Wife block, and sashing, so you can reference that (included a few images up) for a visual.

negative space block setting - aria lane alyssa lichtnerOr you could think even further out of the box and arrange your blocks in a more modern, negative-space filled setting. I love the idea of arranging blocks similar to the design in Alyssa Lichner’s Concerto Quilt pattern for Aria Lane!

Make a Smaller Quilt

If you made less blocks than you initially had planned, you could always make a smaller quilt!  Lap quilts are all the rage these days, right!? Are any of your local farmer friends having a baby anytime soon? A good handful of these blocks could be beautifully worked into a “Farmer’s Baby Quilt”. With these intricate blocks, you don’t need many of them to make a gorgeous quilt.

Placemats & Pillows!

If, like me, these 6″ blocks showed you who’s boss (and it wasn’t you) and you only ended up successfully making a bit over a dozen of them, they sure would make beautiful placemats or pillows! Both placemats and pillows are handmade items that are often seen and appreciated daily, making sure your painstaking efforts will be appreciated to their fullest.

background fabric between each blockI’m actually thinking the blue unicorn block I made very well might have to become a pillow for one of my kiddos. It will surely be cherished that way.

With all of those options on your plate, your beautiful Farmer’s Wife blocks are sure to find their way into a finished work of beauty instead of floundering in a pile in your sewing space, right?!  Choose your own adventure, enjoy the journey, and thanks so much for joining in on this wild Farmer’s Wife Sew Along experience!

So which adventure will I choose?

Once I completed Flora, I pulled out all of my completed blocks and put them up on my design wall to take stock of my progress. As seen above, I finished a whopping 16 blocks. I am not counting the three blocks that have foundation paper piecing templates printed, cut out, and fabric pulled, since they are not yet sewn, but I do plan to make them eventually.

smaller quilt same layout planAt first I considered the “Make a Smaller Quilt” option, and thought perhaps I’ll make a few more blocks to fill out a lap sized quilt in my original layout. Note that these photos are from a purely planning phase–fabric slapped up onto my portable design wall simply for the benefit of playing with different arrangements visually. It’s wrinkled and wonky and that’s all part of the fun! 

warm on darkSince I made the warm colored blocks with a dark background and the cool colored blocks with a white background, I probably will stick with those for sashing and background blocks.

Once I began writing this post, though, the negative-space filled setting inspired by the Concerto Quilt is really calling to me. I may opt to plug away and make some more blocks, with the end goal of setting them in a fade out pattern similar to the blocks in the Concerto Quilt. Time will tell, and since I know that I want to make more blocks before settling on any of the options, it’s absolutely okay to choose later!

snail and low volumes worked into greenery
Do you see Flora?

Flora is going to go live in my Greenery 2017 quilt, though, since the block reminded me strongly of dappled light through the treetops and I thought adding a Farmer’s Wife block to my year’s Greenery project would be the perfect touch! The quilt is already a green melting pot of blocks from all of the sew alongs and bees I’m joining this year so it feels only right that a Farmer’s Wife 1930s block join the ranks.

The moral of this story is: There are no rules. This is your quilt. You can do anything you want to with these blocks!  Enjoy the adventure!

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.


Favorite Finishing Techniques and Tools

With so many fabulous tutorials out there in this vast internet world, I try to avoid reinventing the wheel whenever possible. So far, when it comes to finishing my quilts and other stitched projects, I’ve had great luck in finding clear, well-written tutorials that help clarify exactly how to best finish a project. Today I thought it might be helpful for me to create a reference list of my top go-to finishing tutorials and tools to share with you.

finishing tips and toolsHere is a visual map I drew to help keep track of my favorite methods during an #Honestcraftroomies Periscope hop about this topic a few weeks ago, along with my top favorite finishing tools. (If you click the photo it should open in another tab a bit larger so that it’s easier to read. All of the information is in the blog post, too, though!)

I’ll begin by linking to each of my favorite finishing tutorials below with a brief explanation as to why it is a favorite (Each heading and photo link to the tutorial. Click and it will open in another tab. Peruse at leisure. Bookmark. Revel in sweet knowledge!)

Making Straight-Grain Quilt Bindings
by Bijou LovelyBijou Lovely making-quilt-binding

Holly DeGroot at Bijou Lovely was one of the first quilters I started following regularly, and for good reason. Her photos are superb and eye candy abounds! This tutorial is super straight-forward and has clear photos for every step. It also shows you how to get the end of your binding ready for the next step: attaching it to the quilt, which is very helpful. When binding any large, rectangular quilt, either entirely by machine or hand-stitched to the back, this is how I make my binding.

Attaching Binding to a Quilt
by Bijou Lovely 

Bijou Lovely binding attachingThis gets you set up for hand stitching your binding to the back of your quilt. The brilliance is in the overlap join where the beginning and end of your binding meet. For someone who initially struggled with getting that final binding seam sewn straight and in the proper place (hi, that’s me!), this tutorial was a lifesaver!

Machine Binding a Quilt
by Cluck Cluck Sew

Cluck Cluck Sew Machine-Binding-TutorialWhile I love hand stitching bindings to the backs of quilts, some quilts just warrant machine binding, either for durability or for the sake of saving yourself a bit of time.  This tutorial is fabulous! I now machine bind all baby quilts and kid quilts, and I use this tutorial to help machine bind things like mug rugs and table runners, too!

Binding Tiny Things
by Crazy Mom Quilts

crazy mom quilts binding tiny things mini tree and binding stripThis tutorial makes binding tiny things a breeze. Seriously! One tip I have to emphasize is the step where you press the binding away from the front of the quilt after sewing it on. This step makes all the difference in the accuracy of your final stitches and the overall perfection of your finished (finished! yay!) mini. If you are at all infected by the mini mini quilt bug, this tutorial is a must!

My Top 3 Finishing Tools

Finishing a quilt includes more than binding. To me, quilting and burying threads count within the ranks of “finishing steps”, too. I have three top tools that I couldn’t live without when it comes to actually quilting a quilt and burying all those threads. (Each tool name is linked to where you can buy it, but they are not affiliate links; they are just there for your convenience. I’ve heard rumors that Maine does not allow affiliate link payout, and I’m thinking they may be true. You probably will see a lot less affiliate links, but I will always link to products because I think it’s helpful to you!!)

Hera Marker

hera marker in useWhen I first heard of a Hera marker, I envisioned a special pen. The name is misleading a bit until you realize that it “marks” the quilt with creases, NOT with actual physical marks like a pen, pencil, or chalk would. (The white thing in the photo above is the Hera marker for those of you who have not yet heard of them). Hera markers are my go-to quilt marking tool, and I use one for marking straight lines for small quilting projects, marking increments before free motion quilting, marking seam lines when joining binding or sewing HSTs, and just about any other time I need to mark the fabric somehow.

Painter’s tape

painters tape marking quilt linesPainter’s tape is another fantastic tool for those of us who shudder at the thought of actually writing on a quilt top. I use painter’s tape to help keep straight line quilting evenly spaced and as a visual guide when sectioning off areas of free motion quilting. It is easily repositionable, and paired with a ruler, can be placed exactly straight. You NEED some of this in your quilting arsenal. (I also use it to tape up quilt blocks for photos!)

Self-threading needles

self threading needlesThese needles sound magical, and trust me–they are! When you have a gabillion threads to bury after epically quilting your quilt baby, the self-threading (also called easy-threading) needles are your bff (that stands for ‘best friend forever’, for those of you who aren’t savvy to teenage acronyms). The drawing I did of the self-threading needles shows how they work best (in my humble opinion) so I’ve included that above. Basically, they have an open top so that you can just pop your thread end right down into the eye of the needle, easily burying threads like a champ, again, and again, and again, and again…

I hope this collection of resources is helpful to you. There’s nothing like finishing a quilt, and these tutorials have helped those final steps be as smooth as possible for me. You know me; I love to share the love!

I’m sure there are more great tips and techniques that haven’t yet crossed my quilting path, and I’d love to learn about them. What are some of your favorite finishing techniques or tutorials that I haven’t included here? Thank you in advance for sharing!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday and Quilting Mod’s Lessons Learned Linky #3.

September Goal {ALYoF}

I completely missed August for A Lovely Year of Finishes (ALYoF), so I’ll just call it summer break. The ALYoF link up is one of the most successful ones at getting me to finally finish projects, though, so I want to be sure to sneak in September’s goal setting post before it’s too late (in other words, before midnight tonight). I’m choosing a quick and easy goal for this month, since there are a lot of behind-the-scenes projects going on, too.

summer epp table runnerMy goal is to finish my Summer EPP Table Runner. I have a small bit of hand quilting remaining, and then I need to bind it. Easy peasey.

EPP table runner viewWe spent a lovely relaxing family day at the beach today, so I decided to have an impromptu photo shoot. I always carry a couple of hand-sewing projects with me, either a small hand quilting project like this one, some English Paper Piecing, or both! The strong cool breeze of the ocean made the 90 degree day feel absolutely perfect, but it made it a bit tricky to photograph this light weight runner. I took a few photos in full sun, which is typically a photography no-no, but with the gorgeous view and glittering water, how could I resist?

Then I decided that the trek over to the shady half of the beach was worth it. This is just a tiny little lesson in quilt photography. Photographs in full sun result in washed out colors and highly emphasized wrinkles due to resulting shadows (above). Shady photos, however, provide much richer, truer, and almost more gentle colors and a more forgiving look at the quilt despite the lack of an iron’s smoothing touch (below).

summer epp table runner on the beach

summer epp table runner be sweet backingI decided to back this table runner in Bee Sweet in the Morning colorway from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey fabric line. The bees in the table runner top are from the Bee Sweet in the Sunset colorway, so it coordinates fabulously.

summer epp table runner hand quiltingI have only a bit more hand quilting to do, and then I MIGHT do a little bit of machine quilting to make sure all stays nice and securely despite the many inescapable washes that surely await anything that will live on our table.

aurifil 12 wt threadI’m using 12 wt Aurifil thread #4140 Wedgewood, which is a perfect match. I love the subtle effect of the large quilting stitches in a coordinating color, and I’m very much looking forward to having this table runner finished and on our table. It can be a lingering reminder of our fun and beautiful summer. And it WILL be finished by the end of September!

I’m linking up with the September Goal Setting Party for ALYoF at Fiber of All Sorts and Sew Bittersweet Designs, then going to bed (with a couple hours to spare).