Friday, June 24, 2011

Letter #1: Living In God's Open Air

Like me, you have probably been seeing all the posts across Blogland regarding The Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-Long. I commented to Cindy about how tempting it was after coveting  the fabrics she was going to use. Her response included using the word "please" three times...once in all CAPS.  What's a girl to do? I said "yes" and now plan to blame it all on her from here on out!!  111 six inch blocks...two each week...hmm....let's get started!

The Farmer's Wife book includes letters from contest winners written in 1922 in response to the question, "Do you want your daughter to marry a farmer?" Each letter is accompanied by two 6 inch blocks. A disc in the back of the book contains the templates for making all 111 blocks. Here are the fabrics I chose for the first two blocks related to the first letter titled "Living in God's Open Air." Cindy is using all solids, so it will be fun to compare as we post each Friday over the next year. I'm using bright pastel prints with an emphasis on turquoise and plan to use white sashing between the little blocks.
The first thing to know about this book of patterns is that it uses templates. Being a bit allergic to templates myself as well as being a bona fide member of the Modern Quilt Guild, I will to attempt to avoid them.
These are the tools I plan to use, if at all possible, in making my blocks. The farmers' wives would have used them, as well, if they had been invented by 1922. I'm certain of it!
The author, Laurie Hird, is not easy on us 21st century quilters....first up: Cut Glass Dish....It contains 24 one inch half-square triangles. HELP!
Like Cindy, I decided that my best option was to create bigger patches and then trim them down to size. Cutting 2.5 inch squares, I drew a line from corner to corner, sewed down each side of the line and then cut them apart with my modern rotary cutter.
 Here's what a pile of 24 one inch half-square triangles looks like! Whew! These farmers' wives don't mess around!!
Three hours later (kidding...maybe), I was ready to make my second block for this week.....Kitchen Woodbox. Not many people can say they have a kitchen wood box anymore and most modern quilters (like me...hee, hee) wouldn't want one nor do they want to make this block using that one funky shaped template.
Thinking....thinking.... thinking. Oh, hey,forget that geometric whatchamacallit.. it's just a log cabin block with flip and sew squares on the corners....I can do that!  Look.....
I measured all the templates and cut the fabric with my rotary cutter and ruler. Using my lovely electric Bernina (not a treadle machine today), I sewed the block together. Then I cut four 2.5 inch squares and drew a line from corner to corner before pinning them to my block.
I sewed on the line and then pressed the square up across each corner before trimming out the extra fabric from underneath.
 Voila! Two modern made Farmer's Wife Sampler Blocks! Mrs. J. E. F. from Valley County, Montana, the author of the first letter, said she could give a hundred reasons for answering yes to the question of a farm life for her daughter, beginning with the chance to live in God's open air. Living in the country, as I do, the June flowers certainly speak of the handiwork of God!
I grew up on a farm in Colorado for the first 10 years of my life. I remember my grandmother sewing clothing and quilts on her treadle sewing machine in front of her picture window. We heated our house with a Warm Morning stove stoked with woodbox. Be sure to visit Live A Colorful Life to see Cindy's blocks and hear about her fabric choices. See you next Friday when we will make Country Path and Silver Lane.( I'll start sooner next week!)


  1. I love the fabrics you are using..imagine how long it took to make a quilt back in the day...

  2. oooh wonderful! If only I can find this book!!

  3. I started my first one two night ago and picked a block that was all HSTs. I got totally overwhelmed by how teeny, tiny the squares were! What a great idea to cut bigger and trim down to the right size.

  4. I love your fabric choices and your modern methods!! Woohoo for modern tools and techniques!

  5. Those fabrics are just wonderful.

  6. You are very brave!!! I love your fabrics you are using, very pretty.

  7. You're off to a wonderful start! I admire your audacity - is that the word? - for starting this challenge. I especially enjoy the way you're writing about it. You have a real gift for words. Thanks for letting us tag-along on your quilt-along.

  8. So cute! I love how you pieced the Kitchen Woodbox block! :)

  9. I love your fabrics, Carla. And WHERE were you when I was trying to make that trapezoid-y thing work?? Doing it your way of course never crossed my mind! What a creative genius you are. I would have texted you, but by then it was 10 p.m. PDT. You would not have appreciated me.

    P.S. My word verification was "croma." Do you think they really meant "coma"? That's how I felt after making all those teensy HSTs!!

  10. i borrowed this book from the library a few weeks back - someday i will join in the quilt a long - i will definitely be watching you to see some modern shortcuts!

  11. Thank you for such a brilliant post! I'm a bit late joining this QAL and have never made an HST before! I just completed the cut glass block as per your method and it looks great (even if I say so myself!) I'll be blogging about it later!

  12. I have only just bought the book - and was pondering the templates. This is a great help - thank you for sharing your wisdom!

    Pomona x

  13. You are cracking me up with your talk about the templates and being in the modern quilt guild! Too funny! I've been enjoying seeing these all over blogland but don't think I have the patience for all those tiny parts. Your blocks look great!