October 21, 2015

Chart 8: Piecing Tips and Katherine and Susannah blocks, Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along

Cutting Trick

This conversion chart features another “we don’t have that template” cutting trick. I admit to being easily amused, but I always think it is fun to discover a new template trick. Before this quilt is made, maybe some of you will come up with template tricks we don’t know. That would be so cool!

Strip Technique

When I need a lot of four patch units, I have a great way to make them with templates - faster than with strips!! However, when I only need a few simple 2-square units like this, I would not cut individual squares, but would use a strip technique, shown in the conversion chart PDF (below).

Piecing Tips

I can’t believe we got this far and I haven’t mentioned thread, needles and a single-hole throat plate — three of my favorite tips for accurate piecing. I also talked about these things in the Tip #4 Video for the Farmer's Wife Sew Along:

  • Thread. I use Aurifil Mako 50wt/2ply. It is made from extra, extra long Egyptian cotton. So while it is fine, it is also strong. A fine thread makes a big difference in the ability to sew an accurate 1/4-inch seam allowance. I love it so much I might quit piecing if someone took away my Aurifil thread!
  • Needles. Dull needles can push fabric slightly out of position and prevent nice smooth stitches. I don’t think I know anyone who actually changes needles often enough - especially if they insist on sewing over pins - which you can tell by my attitude, I don’t recommend.
  • Single-hole Throat Plate. As a rule, the more expensive your machine, the more you need a single hole throat plate…UNLESS you happen to have one of the newer machines that has an automatic adjustment. 

    Let me start at the beginning. First, there were only single-hole throat plates. Then zig-zag stitching demanded an opening big enough to accommodate the moving needle. Next came decorative stitches, and then wider decorative stitches, and every “advancement” meant a wider opening or hole in the throat plate.

    The result is that the pressure of the needle -- especially dull needles -- pushes fabric down into the big wide hole and the resulting stitch is not as smooth or straight as desired. It doesn’t sound like much, but can prevent a really crisp seamline.

    Introducing my Katherine Block…

    …and her cousin Susannah!

    Click on the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for both of these blocks:

    For Block #49 Katherine and Block #94 Susannah

    In addition to our template conversion PDF download, you will want to read Gnome Angel's tutorials for these blocks.
    Thanks for being part of the sew-along!  How do you like it so far?

    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.


    1. How interesting that there is more than one way to make the blocks with templates! I made both these before your tutorial, but using template C19 to cut rectangles and snowballing the corners with the triangle!

      1. Hi Jodie! Great thinking! You probably already know, the templates can do loads of tricks like this. :D

    2. Thank you so much for your conversion charts. They are extremely helpful. Years ago I attended regular quilting classes at a local shop. We made many of the quilts designed to be used with your templates so I am fortunate to have many of your template sets. I know from experience they do help create more accurate blocks.

      The sew a long has been such fun and I am keeping up which makes me very happy.

      1. Hi Mary Ann -- You made us very happy, too. :) And so did your LQS! It's great that the shop shows the templates' versatility and that you are continuing to use them for different projects. Thanks for taking the time to write such a nice comment. <3