January 27, 2016

Chart 32: Scrappy Quilt with Pat's Basket, Bonus Block for the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along


Back in November we had a "two in one" day with Patience and Patricia. As I keep adding more blocks to the design wall, I find the big pieces in Patience look out of place. So, I am going to replace Patience with Pat's Basket, a block made with Set A and dedicated to a Patricia from my past.

Patricia was not a farmer's wife. She was an extreme city girl whose first job after graduating from the School of Journalism in the early 1980s was on a rural county newspaper. She was completely unprepared for a major assignment her first week on the job. She was sent to photograph and report on the Grand Champion Bull at the County Fair. Her version of a city girl's first view of a champion bull's "equipment" would definitely not have been appropriate conversation at a 1930s church ladies meeting, but we still laugh as we remember her telling us the story in 1985. You see, shortly after that rural experience, she moved to Atlanta and started a long career editing quilting books working for Yours Truly Inc., Meredith Press and Oxmoor House.

Earlier I mentioned that Richard and my first quilt company was named Yours Truly, Inc. We published the first books written by Jean Wells, Fons and Porter, Mary Ellen Hopkins, and others who became well-known authors and teachers. Pat Wilens was our book editor during those years. Sadly, ovarian cancer took Pat from us all just over three years ago.

At that time, Pat's sister found a wonderful scrap quilt top that Pat had made. It featured this cute "starry" basket pattern.

Pat's Basket Made by Pat Wilens

I was able to divide the quilt top into three smaller sections and made quilts for Pat's sister and one for each of her sister's daughters, the nieces Pat absolutely adored. I was not familiar with the block and called it Pat's Basket. However, I came across it in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, where it is called Baby Bunting and credited to Orange Judd Farmer, the western edition of the Agriculturist, 1901. But to me it is still Pat's Basket. This is one of the three little quilts. You can see another one just peeking out from behind.



My Pat's Basket Block



Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link to download the Chart for cutting and making Pat's Basket:

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

http://gnomeangel.com

http://www.sewnwithgrace.com/




January 25, 2016

Chart 31: Dolly (Aunt Dolly), Block #28 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along


Dolly is a two-day block. During the Sew Along, several blocks with over 50 pieces have been given an extra day. Maybe you want to cut one day and sew the next. My choice was to do a simplified Dolly with only 41 pieces, and then I'm posting a surprise bonus block in two days. You may like it as a replacement or an extra block if you are making a king-size quilt.

Just as there are no Quilt Police, there are no Sew Along Sampler Police! This is both a sampler quilt and your quilt. Make it the way you want. Let the book and the Sew Along be inspiration, encouragement, sharing and learning.

In that spirit, there are several blocks that I chose to simplify just a little. Just because you can put 57 pieces in a block, doesn't mean you have to, especially if the extra pieces don't really enhance the block.

Funny thing, this is another block that I made several weeks ago. At that time, I didn't realize I was making a block so similar to both Mrs. Brown and Lucy shown in FMM Chart #28.

My Aunt Dolly Block



Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for Dolly and Aunt Dolly:

From Marti Michell Chart #31

for Dolly, Block #28, and Aunt Dolly
 
Visit these other Farmer's Wife Sew Along blogs, too, for sewing tutorials and other info about the Dolly block:

http://gnomeangel.com

http://whynotsew.blogspot.com/

January 20, 2016

Chart 30: Heather, Block #42, and our Helen


Heather won't be in my quilt. I'm sorry, I have always liked both the name and the plant. I could overlook Heather's awkward adolescent appearance if she were template friendly, but… since she is not template friendly, I'm replacing her with a sleeker Helen, named after a girlfriend's mother who could have been called my second Mom.

When I was growing up, my family lived on the corner of a cross country highway and a country gravel road. Helen and Justin and their children, Jack and Judy, lived a quarter-mile down the country road and were our closest neighbors. Judy was 6 months older than I and we were constant playmates and best friends all through high school.

One rainy day when Judy and I were about 8, Helen was sewing and Judy and I wanted to "help." Helen showed us how to pull a thread to straighten a piece of chambray. Looking back, I'm sure she thought she could get rid of us with that little project. I know most of you have never "pulled a thread" but those of you who have are surely groaning! As for me, I remain thankful that that rainy day experience did not dampen my desire to learn how to sew.

I chose to replace Heather with the more elegant Helen, but you can see they have the same diagonal lines. As with other replacement blocks, Helen was made several weeks ago. It wasn't until a few weeks later when I was writing the blog for Joy, block #47, that I recognized that my Helen is a simplified Joy.


My Helen Block


Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link to download the cutting and sewing chart for Helen:

From Marti Michell Chart #30

for cutting and sewing the Helen block
 
Visit these other Farmer's Wife Sew Along blogs, too, for sewing tutorials and other info about the Heather block #42:

http://gnomeangel.com

http://www.msmidge.com.au/blog/

Just Pass It On

The letter for Heather's block, on page 38 in the book, is another letter I love. The neighbor didn't have a "practice random acts of kindness" or "pay it forward" bumper sticker, but her actions and words portrayed that spirit.





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.


January 18, 2016

Chart 29: Kansas City Star & Grandmother, Block 40 in the Farmer's Wife Sew Along



Everyone who sees this block says, “Where is the handle?” or “Are you going to applique the handle?” In fact, this block was called Grandmother’s Basket and published in the Kansas City Star quilt pattern series in 1935 just like this – no handle.

As I say on the PDF printout, I am leaving the block in halves for end-of-row sections if I use the layout in the book. I will use the empty half to sign and date the quilt. 

About the Kansas City Star Patterns

In addition to serving the Kansas City area as a daily newspaper, the company produced several regional weekly newspapers in at least four Midwestern states. The quilt patterns appeared from September 1928 through May 1961. Patterns were both reader-contributed and created by Kansas City Star staff.

In the 1980s Harold and Dorothymae Groves of Kansas City, MO, started collecting actual newsprint copies of Kansas City Star patterns and with the permission of the Kansas City Star, reprinted the entire 34-year collection of patterns in 1988. The reprinted collection fills 11 comb-bound books -- 10 of patterns and 1 index. The two books I have seen have 100 pages each. If you love the 1930s Sampler and historic things, watch on Ebay, etc. for The Kansas City Star Classic Quilt Patterns. Be forewarned that the patterns may or may not be accurate but are certainly inspiring. Here is a glimpse of what you will see.


Some Stories Never End

When I flipped this borrowed book open to take a picture of the pages, my jaw dropped! We own a 1930s quilt made from the pattern on the right page. I have never seen another quilt like it nor did I know anyone who could identify the pattern. We lovingly call the quilt “Princess Radishes” —but that is another story. Here you can see a picture of our quilt in a book I wrote called Collector Scrap Quilts and How to Make Them, Vol. II, published by ASN Publishing in 1992 and now out of print. I daresay more people know this pattern as Princess Radishes than A Young Man’s Invention -- and that is one example of why so many blocks have different names.




Click on the image to see a larger version of Princess Radishes.

My Grandmother Block


Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for Grandmother:

From Marti Michell Template Conversion Chart #29

for Grandmother, Block #40
 
Visit these other Farmer's Wife Sew Along blogs, too, for sewing tutorials and other info about the Grandmother block:

http://gnomeangel.com

http://theelvengarden.blogspot.com/


January 13, 2016

Chart 28: Mrs Brown and Lucy in the Farmer's Wife Sew Along


The letter in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt book on page 103 that corresponds to the Mrs. Brown block is one of my favorite letters in the book. I hope you will read or reread it. The last sentence sums it up beautifully: “Pictures or people, the best light is the one that emphasizes virtues rather than faults.”

Mrs. Brown and Lucy are offered as a “two in one” day to emphasize recognizing that they are “built” on the same basic framework. In the book, each is made with only 3 fabrics. In my blocks, I added some fabrics and changed the coloration. You might say I was trying to “see them in a better light!”

Let’s examine the basic framework first. They are both made with nine square sub-units. The sub-units they have in common are the 4 corner squares and the four square-within-a-square units on the center of each side - to a degree.


The differences are easy to identify. Mrs. Brown has a 5th square-within-a-square unit in the center square and 4-patch units fill Lucy’s square-within-a-square sub-units.


Just a few slight changes in fabric position allowed Mrs. Brown’s star to shine brightly. Lucy could have also had a bright star, but she insisted she was too old for mother-daughter matching outfits. Instead, she chose a star, albeit more subdued, and emphasized the matching center square and corner pieces to pay tribute to her classic Churn Dash heritage.

Fussy Cutting Note. We talked about fussy cutting a little with the last block. Here again, you can see how much the op-art polka dot square adds to Mrs. Brown. However, the careful positioning of the tiny white heart clusters and plus signs on Lucy’s red fabric is so subtle you probably hadn’t noticed until I pointed it out. If you have read much of my blog, it won’t surprise you that I love that kind of attention to detail. I am also quick to note, that detail doesn’t keep the person who eventually sleeps under the quilt warmer, but it is also important to warm the heart of the quiltmaker.

My Mrs. Brown Block


 

Click the images for larger view.

And My Lucy Block




Click the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for Mrs. Brown and Lucy:

Visit these other Farmer's Wife Sew Along blogs, too, for sewing tutorials and other info about the Mrs. Brown Block #67 and Lucy Block #53:

http://gnomeangel.com/lucy-is-block-53-of-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt/

http://www.blossomheartquilts.com/blog/







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

January 11, 2016

Chart 27: Mrs. Morgan, Block #72 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along


Coming Soon! Blocks to Cut with Set S

In only 3 weeks we will start cutting pieces for 6-inch blocks that are designed on a 5 x 5 grid. Our Set S of Perfect Patchwork Templates was designed to make that easy. Because Set S includes the smaller pieces that combine to fit Set M pieces we offer a special price for both sets together. A few pieces from Set M are used.

Planning to make a King Size quilt? Volume 4 of the Encyclopedia of Patchwork Blocks can help you find more blocks that can be cut with Set S.

 

Mrs. Morgan Learning Opportunities

Mrs. Morgan is really a relatively simple block with only 32 pieces, but it is full of patchwork learning opportunities.

Grainline Geek! Prove you are a grainline geek by taking time to cut the same size triangle (D-29) from the same fabric with the hypotenuse on straight grain in one set of 4 and the legs on straight grain in the other set of 4….and then use them in the appropriate positions.

A Cutting Trick with Template B-13. Here is another reminder of the flexibility of templates to be able to cut pieces for which you do not have an exact-size acrylic piece.

Efficiency Practice. Cutting and stacking strips to reduce the number of cuts needed saves time and reduces stress on your hands and wrists as long as you use a sharp blade in your rotary cutter. It is a double bonus when you are able to position fabric strips right sides together and cut the pieces that are to be sewn together at the same time. Do not separate the pieces. They are ready to sew and much more accurately aligned than if you pick each color from separate piles and try to align them for sewing.

Fussy Cutting. As you have read other blogs and looked at pictures of Farmer's Wife blocks, you have seen lots of examples of fussy cutting. I have been remiss in not talking about fussy cutting yet, as it is one of those things that adds so much more interest to a quilt. The closer you look, the more you see and quite often a small fussy cut piece is the “frosting” on the block. I love my op-art polka dot squares in this block.

My Block

As you will see, I did not follow the values of the fabrics in the book or even the number of fabrics. If I use the book layout for the quilt, I feel confidant that I would want white or light gray fabric for the setting triangles so most of my blocks have dark fabric on the edges. I did not want that dark fabric in the center star so that meant I needed the fourth fabric.

Click on the image below for a larger view.


See the “mistake”? My friend Faye says to her quilting classes, “If you point it out, take it out!” Most things we point out as a problem can not even be noticed by others and when it is only visible from the back…..not taking it out! Look closely and you will see that the seam allowances on one of my polka-dot squares “marched to its own drummer!” Who cares?

Click the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for Mrs. Morgan:

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

http://gnomeangel.com/mrs-morgan-is-block-71-of-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt/

http://www.talesofcloth.com/






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.

January 6, 2016

Chart 26: Lily Block, in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew-along


Or Lillian, Our Simplified, Very Template-friendly Version Named after Marti’s “Auntie,” her Aunt Lillian

Lily, as shown, was designed on a 7 x 7 grid, and 6 inches divided by 7 + 1/2 inch for seam allowances results in sizes that are very hard to cut and not template friendly. Easy solution: let’s do a quick redesign! I thought that basket of lilies looked awkward on the tiny little base in the corner and surely it would tip over the minute you set it down. So, I decided to get rid of it and the skinny strips on two sides of the block. That made a 6 x 6 grid design with a nice new balance. Woo-hoo! And 6 inches divided by 6 + 1/2 inches is easy to cut.

The Same, But Different! 

When deciding on the best order for the blocks, I wanted this block to follow Joy because they are the same, but different. This is a bit of a quilter’s curve ball. At first glance, it looks like this block has mirror image parallelograms, like we just made for Joy.

Look again! The sooner you can dissect this block and realize that each of the 3 lilies in the block is made with 2 mirror image units like the one unit in Joy, the easier this block will be to make.


The best name I can give this arrangement is a “double mirror image.”

Cutting

We recommend cutting the parallelograms with matching color right sides together and with the legs of the triangle you are using to cut the parallelogram on straight grain. However, they then need to be separated so the units are sewn with one of each color. (Technically, because the first units you sew have one parallelogram of each color, you might not call them true mirror image units, but they are mirror image shapes.)  It is these units that then become mirror images of each other.

After Cutting

It is much easier to get the sewing right the first time if you separate the pieces and lay them out right side up as they are arranged in the block. Then make the left half of all 3 units followed by the 3 right halves. 

My Lillian Block


Click on the image for a larger view.  Click the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for Lillian:

From Marti Michell Template Conversion Chart #26

For Lily, Block #51 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew-along
 
Visit these other Farmer's Wife Sew Along blogs, too, for sewing tutorials and other info about the Lily block:

www.gnomeangel.com

http://www.charmaboutyou.com/

About Lillian

I come from a line of relatively small families, so I didn’t have many aunts. There was Aunt Dolly, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Virginia, Aunt Edna, the other Aunt Edna who we called Just Edna, and Auntie. Auntie was my mom’s sister, Lillian. She and Uncle Carson had no children so she doted on her nieces. She was the closest aunt geographically and because she and Mom were also very close emotionally, we spent more time with her than any of the other aunts. In our minds, she didn’t need the secondary identification of Aunt Lillian, she was "Auntie." I guess today she would be called the Alpha Aunt of the family.

As my sister Mary and I had children, we honored our Auntie by becoming Auntie Marti and Auntie Mary to each other’s kids.

January 4, 2016

Chart 25: Joy Block #47 in the Farmer's Wife Sew-along


Happy New Year! 

What a Joy to be back with all of the Farmer’s Wife Sew-along quiltmakers. And what a great name for the first block of the year!

Joy is a great word – if you are looking for a word of the year, you might pick “joy.” And it is a beautiful block, one of my favorites. Even better, Joy is a beautiful attitude. So, lets hear a little "joy" for the four mirror-image pairs of parallelograms in this little 6-inch block! What? No love for parallelograms? We need a little attitude adjustment already? Remember, it wouldn’t be any fun if every block were easy. One of the reasons we love to do sampler quilts is because of all the things we learn and new skills we develop (and the variety of fabrics we get to use, of course!). Some people say that parallelograms are like dogs -- they know when you are afraid and they make you pay. Altogether now, let's show those parallelograms just who is in charge!

Our first and most recent parallelograms were in Chart 10 on October 28, 2015, with the Jenny block. Instead of me rewriting all of the basic information about parallelograms, please go back and read that post, “Parallelograms 101.”

Even though I love parallelograms and find JOY in a block with beautifully executed mirror-image parallelograms, the first thing I do when I see them is slow down and give a little extra thought to grainline. Should the straight grain (preferably straight lengthwise grain) be on the short side or long side of the parallelogram in this block? Just like triangles, the answer varies, depending on how the parallelogram is used.

These parallelograms are cut from 1-1/2 inch strips, right sides together, using Set D's triangle template 29 with the legs on straight grain. (Click the image for a larger view.)

Sewing

The assembly is really straightforward. Carefully follow the sewing layouts for the parallelogram units on the conversion chart. I like to arrange the pieces right side up in the position where they belong. Then, I turn one piece right sides together onto its seam partner and sew. Then I put it back in position to check that they were joined on the correct seam. On this block, we pressed the seams open on the parallelogram units.

My Joy Block


Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for Joy:

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

http://gnomeangel.com

http://www.ohhowsweet.com/

Nathalie DeLarge has done a terrific video tutorial for this block. http://ouvragesdenat.com/n47-joy/

More Joy ~ for the Mystery Quilt!

Joy is also your first 8-1/2 inch Mystery Quilt block of the New Year! The From Marti Michell templates used to cut it are B-12 and B-14. Historically, according to Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, this block was first published with the name Joy Bells in Hearth and Home, a popular periodical in the early 1900s.

To measure the 1-15/16 inch strip needed to cut the parallelograms, measure and cut The Marti Way with template B-14. Put the leg against the ruler and let the tip confirm the width as it just touches the trued-up edge of fabric.






Vintage new year clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy



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.