October 10, 2016

Chart 72: Crystal, Block 25 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along

Help! We Need a New Expression!

There was a day when paper patterns reigned supreme. It came right before rotary cutters (invented in 1979 in Japan) and after both newspaper foundation paper piecing and what we in the U.S. call English paper-piecing had almost disappeared (somewhere in the 1940s to 50s.)

Now when I say, “Just use the paper patterns” I discover that Laurie actually calls paper patterns “templates printed from the CD” in the book. Naturally, to me, templates are acrylic at least 1/8-inch thick and made for rotary cutting.

When I say “cut” that may imply using scissors. Even though most of us still have scissors for cutting paper, we prefer cutting fabric with a rotary cutter. So when I say “cut using the paper patterns”, I always mean the individual pieces, not the combined shapes you can also print off the CD in the book that are laid out for foundation paper piecing. In addition, I mean that while you will put the paper pattern on the fabric, you will immediately cover it with an acrylic tool and align an edge and/or appropriate corners of the acrylic with the edge of the paper so you can cut the fabric with a rotary cutter.

Why is this a Good Idea?

Almost everyone cuts straighter edges and corners when cutting with a rotary cutter compared to scissors, and the smaller the pieces you are cutting, the more important accuracy becomes. It is easier to control accurate grainline when rotary cutting as compared to foundation paper piecing.

But what do we call this method of paper and acrylic cutting?

I Nominate “Paper Pattern a la Mode”

There should be a phrase that is understood by every quilter to mean "cover a paper pattern with the most appropriate acrylic tool you have and rotary cut the fabric piece you need."

My first thought was “paper pattern ala mode” but then, my favorite breakfast is hot oatmeal with ice cream! So why wouldn't I think of that?

I heard someone else suggest “cutting safety style” because the acrylic edge prevents cutting up the paper pattern and protects your fingers at the same time. That is certainly more concise, but not much fun!

My Crystal Block

Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link below to download the Chart for cutting and making Crystal:

Visit these other Farmer's Wife Sew Along blogs, too, for sewing tutorials and other info about the Crystal block:



Make a Comment

So, what would you suggest for the new descriptive expression? Comment by October 17, 2016, for a chance to win the small Kaleido-Ruler. Even though it is a multi-size tool, it makes a great 6-inch finished block, in case you are looking to make extra blocks for your quilt.

This giveaway is closed. 

Congratulations to Mary, her comment, #1, was selected to win the Kaleido-Ruler!

 We'll use a random picker and post an update on this page to announce the winner, so be sure to check back on October 18 to see if your name is selected! The winner will have two weeks to contact us via our 800 number or by email. Our contact info is at http://www.frommarti.com/contact_us.shtml  If we don't hear from the winner by Halloween, we'll select a new name and update this post with that person's name -- so be sure to bookmark this page!  Good luck and thanks for making your blocks with our templates!

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.


  1. It is confusing. English paper piecing and foundation paper piecing are totally different ways of putting blocks together. I like the a-la-mode idea. Paper on the template for more perfect cutting!

  2. I love that block! And that ruler looks very handy! I can't wait to make my Crystal block!

  3. APF ...acrylic to paper to fabric...not as much fun as ... "paper pattern a la mode"

  4. How about paper protected cutting? I've done this before to save the template.

  5. That's a tough one. I really think it needs to be described each time you refer to it. Personally, I've done it both ways-cutting directly from the paper and using a ruler. My method is to trace around the paper shape. Then cut on my drawn lines!

  6. I love your templates. Marti. Thanks so much

  7. adapta-tool ... hmmm,I will keep pondering the possibilities

  8. It's an interesting concept. I'm thinking paperback sandwich. The paper backs the ruler and is sandwiched between the ruler and fabric. I think it becomes self evident as soon as you put the ruler on top of the paper and fabric.

  9. Looks a useful bit of kit to try and have a go on.

  10. ACPP acrylic paperpieced would work for me, that way it designates
    User will need both paper and acrylic templates. Always looking
    for new useful rulers.

  11. Sloops like another very useful template. I love using your templates on Farmers Wife quilt

  12. I thought'crystal clear' ruler.i think it is associated at the same time of the crystal block and you would be able to make perfect measurements having paper making and acrylic marking sandwiched together.

  13. Your templates are wonderful. Purchased the complete sets to do both the Farmer's Wives quilts and now working on my pineapple blocks with your ruler. Keep 'em coming!

  14. Acrylic paper fabric cutting. Sandwich cutting(acrylic, paper fabric) love the ruler and would make a kaleidescope quilt right away. Thanks for the chance

  15. I would call them see thru paper templates. Thank you for your tutorials each week, makes completing the Farmers Wife 30's quilt much easier.

  16. How about template cutting?? I think the best way is just to follow the instructions.

  17. I'd call them see- thru paper templates