November 9, 2015

Chart 13: A New Block: Alta, and Aimee, Block #2 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along

My Mother Was a Farmer's Wife

My parents, Alta and Coldren Glenn
on their wedding day

If it hadn’t been for the title, Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt, this quilting daughter of a farmer’s wife might not have even picked up Laurie Hird's first book in 2009. The book features a collection of letters, first published in "Farmers Wife" magazine in the 1920s in answer to a contest question, “Would you like your daughter to marry a farmer?” Quilt blocks for a sampler quilt, another weakness of mine, accompanied the compelling letters. It was fun to read the letters and try to guess how my Mom would have answered that question!

My sister Mary and I have inherited the small family farm in Iowa. It has been in our family since the early 1860s. We were raised on that farm in the same house my Dad was born and died in and, while we cherish the farm, we both married engineers! (See the big tree on the left? That was our Christmas tree when I was about 10 years old! The house was updated with picture windows when I was a kid, too.)

My Iowa farm home

Me, Mom and Dad, and my sister, Mary,
on our parents' 25th anniversary

After reading the letters, I looked more closely at the blocks and realized I could easily cut nearly all of them with our From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates. What a fun way to showcase the versatility of the templates as well as the accuracy with the small pieces for 6-inch finished blocks!

So, with the publisher’s permission, I provided the conversion information for the From Marti Michell templates that could replace the Farmer’s Wife paper patterns and added a few cutting and sewing tips that we commonly use with our templates.

A Multi-generational Quilt

To honor my Mom, I made all of the blocks for the first Farmer’s Wife Sampler using '30s reproduction fabrics. Our daughter, Stacy, sells her hand-dyed fabrics all over the world, but mostly in the United States and Japan (  When she saw what I was doing, she gave me two perfect hand-dyed solids ('30s green and '30s blue) for the sashing strips. How cool is that for a multi-generational quilt? And how great are the blue and green sashings?!

I'm planning to machine quilt my Farmer's Wife quilt in two sections; until I do that, I'm using it as one of my samples in my machine quilting classes.

Fast Forward to June 2015

We learned Laurie Hird's new book, The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt, had been published when we began receiving emails asking if we were going to convert these blocks for template cutting, like we did for the first book. Looking at the quilt photo, I could tell there were quite a few blocks that are not template friendly, so we answered that we probably would not be doing conversion charts but if that decision changed, we would write again to let them know.

Then, we received an email from Angie, whose blog is called GnomeAngel, about joining in on a sew-along with Fat Quarter Shop and 30 other bloggers. They would love to have me do the template conversions, and I shouldn’t worry about the non-template friendly blocks as she and/or other bloggers would talk about hand piecing, foundation-paper piecing, etc. Wow, it sounded like fun!

So, once again with the publisher’s blessing, we have begun converting close to 80 of the 99 blocks to template cutting! In addition, for every non-template friendly block in the book, I will be offering new template friendly 6-inch blocks as alternatives for anyone who prefers template cutting as much as I do. These additional blocks may also supply those of you who want to make a king-size quilt with the additional blocks needed.

To go along with the book theme, the alternate blocks will be named after my mother’s friends and my friend’s mothers who were Iowa farm wives in the 1930s. We added Mabel last week and Alta today. Watch for Helen, Emma, Gladys, Blanche, Lillian, Louise, Viola, Callista, Florence, Alice, Vera, Victoria and maybe Mrs. Tucker.

Alta and Coldren on their 50th Anniversary

My Alta Block

Click the link to download the 2-page Template Conversion Chart for Aimee and Alta:

In addition to our template conversion PDF download, you will want to read Gnome Angel's tutorials for these blocks.

In Case You Missed the First Go-Round!

We divided the blocks in the first Farmers Wife Sampler Quilt book into 10 sets of 10 blocks, and we still regularly offer to email free the conversions for 10 blocks every 2 weeks. The next mailings start November 20, 2015. You can sign up on our website using the "join our email list" link.


  1. Hi Marti, I just discovered your page and was delighted to read a little about you and your family. Love your templates and have been using them for years. I buy the new templates as and when they are available. Thanks so much for your templates and all of your hard work.

    1. Thanks for such a nice comment, Dyannoel. And for being a devoted template user, too! <3

  2. HI Marti, I so enjoyed meeting you at the Houston Quilt Festival. Love reading about your family and what a lovely picture of your parents and the farmhouse is beautiful, what a treasure. Thank you for all your work providing so much good information for the sew along.

  3. Thanks for sharing this family story ! The farm house is very pretty !

  4. Thanks so much for the alternate Alta block. I made it and it turned out lovely. Although I like foundation paper piecing, my printer is on the frtiz and thanks to you, I was able to keep up!

    1. Glad we could help you keep up! :) There are some blocks that aren't template-friendly and we will have "something to say" about each one of them. My blog posts aren't just about using templates, the articles often include info that everyone can use regardless of what techniques they're using -- check back from time to time! :)

  5. Your Templates are the BEST! I looked at the block and knew your Kaleido ruler would work for the center. Thanks for making my stitching these blocks easier!

    1. Go Mary! :) We love it when people "think tools"! Thanks for using them. <3

  6. Wow! Aimee is so pretty, but Alta is gorgeous! I love that thin frame around the center block.

    I'm a bit behind in the sew-along still, but I'm loving it and am learning so much. Your templates and conversion charts are amazingly helpful!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to post such a nice comment, Taylor. We're glad you're having fun with the sew-along! and we appreciate knowing you like using the templates.