Category Archives: Farmer’s Wife Quilt

The year in review: Sewing and knitting

I did comparatively less crafting in 2016 as compared to 2015.  About halfway through, the exercise bug bit me, and I’ve found I really only have time for one serious hobby.  I can do more than one hobby half-heartedly, and I can do some reading, but I can’t really engage with both crafting and exercising.  Perhaps as the kids get older, that will change.  Nevertheless, I did finish a few projects last year.

I started with a baby quilt for a friend’s little girl.  This project was based on a Red Pepper Quilts pattern, and I had to learn how to sew curves.  That was definitely challenging.




My next project was a throw quilt for my uncle who is battling a recurrence of stage IV colon cancer.  He mentioned that chemo made him cold, so I made him a quilt with wool batting but all cotton on the outside.  It was quite an undertaking as it was quite large, and each square had to be cut out and individually placed.  I bought fabric for the recurring diamonds but otherwise used exclusively scraps.


Next up, I made a couple of fully lined tote bags for L’s  preschool teachers.


I also made progress on my Farmer’s Wife quilt.  I have between 40 and 50 blocks pieced now; that probably means I’m somewhere between a quarter and a third done with the project.  Ah well – I’ll finish it sometime.



I ventured into the world of garment sewing last year as well.  I have mixed feelings on it.  I was quite pleased with the outcome of my first project, a dress for L:


My second project was a lot more work.  I learned a lot making a princess dress.  I was frustrated, and had to rip out lots of stitches, and the finished product was far from perfect.  Nevertheless, it was overall fun, and I’m sure I’ll do better the next time.  The hardest part by far was the gathering.  The skirt and the bustles were extremely full and required very tight gathering which was quite hard.  My solution in the end was to use 18 weight thread for the gathering.  I have heard others recommend yarn.  50 weight thread just broke and broke and broke.


I didn’t sew much else that I can recall, and I had no “finished objects” knit.  However, I did start a new knitting project that I’m quite excited about.  St. Brigid has been on my bucket list for many years, and I finally decided to take a crack at it.  I obviously have a long way to go, but I’m excited about this project.  Hopefully I’ll finish it in a year or so.


I’m not sure where sewing will take me in 2017.  I’m working on an Aerial Grove quilt from Carolyn Friendlander’s awesome quilt book, Savor Each Stitch.  I’d love to do another Friendlander quilt, or maybe another Red Pepper Quilts design.  Hopefully I’ll manage at least a couple of quilts this year.  I’d like to do some knitting as well.  We’ll see where the mood takes me.

I’d also like to try some new type of crafting this year – maybe embroidery, or cross-stitch (which I’ve done before, but not for many years) or perhaps weaving.  Weaving would require a loom, which runs around $300 for a decent one.  I love wool, and I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of weaving.  My inspiration comes from photos from Virtual Yarns.


farmer’s wife quilt – 40 blocks down

After taking a break to make a baby quilt for a friend and a second quilt for my uncle, I returned to my somewhat neglected Farmer’s Wife Quilt.  I find making these blocks quite enjoyable, if a bit time-consuming.  The easiest ones probably take an hour or so, and the harder ones far longer.  I am shutting down any perfectionist notions and forging ahead despite imperfections, and I do think that in the context of a large quilt, mismatched points and the like will not be particularly noticeable.

I actually did seven blocks sometime earlier this year that I never blogged about.  It’s been so long since I made them, I don’t remember much about them.

#24 Country Path

I like the way the colors worked out on this one – dark and medium brown with subtle purple and pinkish orange.

#25 Cups and Saucers

I think I recall this one being harder than it looked, but again, I’m happy with the outcome and the colors.

#26 Cut Glass Dish

This block is arguably one of the harder blocks in the quilt with a total of 51 pieces, many of them small, and triangles are always more troublesome than rectangles.  I’m not thrilled with how it came out, but it’ll do.  The photos is appropriately a bit blurry as well.

#27 Darting Birds

I’m not wild about the colors here.  I seem to recall having a bit of trouble with this one.

#28 Duck and Ducklings

#29 Economy

I always find fussy cutting a huge pain and often don’t manage it well, so I’m pleased that I managed to center the buck in the square and not chop off feet or antlers.

#30 End of Day

A nice mix of purple and peach

That ends the older batch.  The most recent batch I did over the last couple of weeks and consists of blocks #31 to #40.

#31 Evening Star

This one was an easy one.

#32 Farmer’s Daughter

Very similar to #31, though with a few more pieces.

#33 Farmer’s Puzzle

The original Farmer’s Puzzle is a swastika with a cross through it.  I am blown away by the number of people who make the quilt block as is.  I flipped two of the arms, turning it into a bow.  I don’t know how much I love the block, but better than a swastika on my quilt.

#34 Flock

#35 Flower Basket

I used water to curve a straight rectangular piece into the handle and appliqued it on.  I’m not thrilled with how it turned out, as I would have liked it to be more curved, especially at the ends.  I forgot that using an iron with lots of steam can make the handle a lot easier.

#36 Flower Garden Path

This was a tough one.  The way the paper piecing was done required sewing Y-seams in order to assemble it.  I think with adjustments to the paper piecing layout this could be avoided, but it worked out OK in the end.

#37 Flower Pot

This one also required sewing Y-seams on the flower bud.  I think it’s a pretty block.


This block took forever, with a total of about 65 pieces.  It wasn’t really hard, just long.

#39 Friendship Block

A pretty and easy block and a nice break after the one before it.

#40 Friendship Block

Another easy block, and I like the colors.

That’s 40 blocks down and about 70 to go.  I’ve been working on this about 5 months now, off and on.  It’s definitely not a quick project, especially considering adding sashing to these blocks and assembling the quilt will be a ton of work, and probably a bit monotonous.  I’m hoping to make the blocks into a kind-sized quilt for either our bedroom or our guest room, probably the latter, so it doesn’t suffer as much wear but is primarily decorative.

I’m taking a break now to sew a little dress for L, and then I’ll come back and do another ten blocks.


Farmer’s wife update

Having finished up my sister’s quilt, which I was not thrilled with but will get around to posting about one of these days, I’m back to the Farmer’s Wife.

I’m not sure if I posted this picture before, but my farmer’s wife setup was a mess.  I finally decided to get organized, and it’s made a big difference.  Now, I cut the pieces needed for each block before I start piecing, and I have on my desk only what’s absolutely required – a few pieces of fabric, the book, rotary cutter, a couple pairs of scissors.  Oh, and the wonder clips I got for Christmas which have been super useful for sewing paper-pieced sections together.



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#17 – This one came out very wonky as I realized halfway through that the paper-piecing instructions I’d downloaded required Y-seams.  I ripped it apart and re-made it using the *other* paper-piecing instructions.  I may have to re-make it.  We’ll see.  But I like the colors.

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#19 – This may be my favorite of this bunch.



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#20 – I love the color combination in this one.


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#22- I made a bunch of mistakes trying to assemble this one as I was rather distracted, but I like the end result.

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I’m planning to pause when I’ve finished thirty blocks and begin putting the sashing fabric on.  It’s going to be a bit tedious, and I’m not sure it makes sense to put it all off until the end.

Farmer’s Wife Quilt Blocks 9 through 15

I’m really on a roll with the Farmer’s Wife Quilt lately.  I’ve just been having so much fun piecing together the blocks.  I’ve been doing one block per day and plan to continue through the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Then we’ll assign people for our family gift-exchange, and I’ll make a quilt or two for Christmas.  (If I do more than one, they will likely be whole-cloth quilts or something extremely simple.  We’ll see.)  For now, though, I’m loving the Farmer’s Wife.

Block #9: Box

This one was easy and fun to make.  I love the way it turned out.

Block #10: Bowtie

This one was easy also.  It actually does kind of look like a bowtie, right?

Block #11: Broken Dishes

I think the size of the triangles on this one is basically as small as I can go and still do a reasonable job lining up points and so forth.  Smaller than this, and things start to go awry.  (See Birds in the Air from my last post.)

Block #12: Broken Sugar Bowl

The photo is a little wonky, but it turned out well enough.

Block #13: Buckwheat

Lucky number 13.  I was on the fence about the colors for this one.  Heck, I’m on the fence with every block, but I went back and forth a bit more than usual with this one.  I was worried the two shades of salmon were too similar, but I like the way it looks in the end.

Block #14: Butterfly at the Crossroads

I love the name of this block.  It really fits the design.  I can see making a whole quilt just out of this block if it wouldn’t be way too much work.

Block #15: Buzzard’s Roost

The photo for this one came out a bit blurry, but you get the gist.  I forgot the four green triangles in the center strip at the top and bottom initially and had the block all sewn up when I noticed my mistake.  My repair job is less than perfect, but as always, I doubt it’ll be very noticeable when it’s part of a whole quilt.

My sewing area set up for Farmer’s Wife – organized chaos.

Note the nursing pad, baby ring, and of course pewter model of a flutist.  How could I sew without that?

Farmer’s Wife restart – the first eight blocks

A few months ago, I did a trial run of Farmer’s Wife and tried making the first six blocks.  I used templates and fabric I had on hand.  I learned a few things, and while a couple of the blocks might have been usable, I decided to start afresh.  I stocked up on some of Violet Craft’s Brambleberry Ridge, and my current plan is to make the entire quilt out of that fabric.  Last week, I began again and made the first eight blocks as listed in the book, in alphabetical order.

The first five are relatively easy, especially since I decided to use paper-piecing this time.

#1 Attic Windows

#2 Autumn Tints

#3 Basket

The handle on #3 was tricky.  I cut a rectangle on the bias and stretched / steamed it into shape using the iron.  I then hand appliqued it to the block.

#4 Basket Weave

#5 Bat Wing

I was tempted to second guess my specific fabric choices at times, but with this project you could make yourself crazy doing that.  I’m determined to not second-guess myself and to not worry over every block.

#6 involved the most little pieces thus far.  Paper piecing made it relatively easy, however.

#6 Big Dipper

Then came #7.  #7 has forty pieces!  The finished product is a little rough, even after ripping out the horizontal seam to try and fix the triangle point three times (unsuccessfully).  However, I think in the context of a larger quilt, these minor issues will not be obvious or problematic.  I figure after I’ve made all the blocks and can go back and re-make some of the wonkier ones if needed, but I’m not going to remake blocks as I go unless they’re truly terrible.

#7 Birds in the Air

I really like #8.  I think it might be my favorite so far.

#8 Bouquet

farmer’s wife quilt

I’ve been contemplating taking on the farmer’s wife quilt for a while now, and I’ve decided to take the plunge.  The quilt is described in this book.  The contains a series of letters in response to the question, Would you recommend to your daughter that she marry a farmer?  The letters are written by farmers’ wives.  With each letter, there is a quilt block.  There are a total of something like 111 unique blocks.

Here is what the back of the book looks like; it shows the finished quilt:

I’ve been poring over the Flickr group filled with Farmer’s Wife blocks and quilts.  I’ve been torn over what fabric to choose and so on, but to start, I decided just to try the first six blocks.  My game plan is going to be to try and do six blocks a month.  I’ve never done any detailed piecing before, only squares and one set of half-square triangles, so I figured that the first six blocks would be throwaways anyway.  Which they are.  Anyway.

Block 1:

This block turned out reasonably well, except that it came out to be 6 3/8″ rather than 6 1/2″, or 1/8″ too small.  I attributed this to general skill issues and moved on.   I used a mix of modern fabrics here and I like it but don’t love it.

Block 2:

This one was considerably easier to do since it had only squares and no triangles.  It came out to precisely the right size, and I rather like the mix of fabrics here.  It is also L’s favorite.

Block 3:

This is my favorite of the bunch.  However, it came out to be 6 1/8″ – much too small.  At this point, I realized that when I printed the templates, I had fit-to-page selected.  Normally, this wouldn’t matter since the page was meant to be 8×11 to start, but it was causing small scaling issues.   I love this block, but it’s not usable.

This one was tricky as well because I had to applique the basket handle on.  The handle is actually a rectangular piece of fabric that cut on the bias, wetted, and then stretched into shape.  This was nontrivial.  I have come to dislike fusible web as I don’t like the way the fabric feels stiff afterwards, and I just don’t like the way it looks.  I decided to do hand applique, which means I turned under the edges of the fabric and sewed the handle on.  I’d never done this before, so it was a bit tricky.

I started at the bottom right corner and went around, and you can kind of see how I got better as a went along.

Block 4:

This one as described in the book looks like a swastika.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I’d sewn it together.  I tore it apart and re-pieced it into a cross.  Now, the swastika used to be called the fire cross before the Nazis appropriated it, and it was a common symbol in traditional knitting and apparently traditional quilting as well.  With that being so, I think it was in poor taste for the author of this book to include blocks that look like a swastika.

Since I figured out the printing size issue, this block came out the right size, and I like it well enough.

Block 5:

This one came out fine in terms of size and general piecing.  I’m not a huge fan of the monochromatic nature of the fabrics I picked, however.  It’s just kind of boring and true blue.

Block 6:

This one was the toughest to piece, and you can see that the points don’t match up terribly well.  I believe this is because I used a single template over and over to cut all sixteen pieces of fabric.  The edges of the template got chopped off over time, and I think that resulted in the pieces of fabric gradually not being quite the right shape.  I think if I were to cut 4 or 8 copies of the template, it would come out better.  I’m not sure how I feel about the colors here, either.  I love the patterns, but again, it feels a little boring to me being so monochromatic.

One thing I struggle with is that the individual blocks I like best do not necessarily result in the quilt I like best.  The quilt is more than the sum of its parts.  111 beautiful blocks might look like a bit of a hodgepodge all sewn together.

Many of the blocks in this quilt are traditional, and it’s based on letters written in the 1920s.  That makes me want to use traditional fabrics.

Consider this stunning block.  It’s done using very traditional fabric – small florals, no bright colors.  Then there are the more modern florals – like this one.  Still florals, but larger and brighter.  Then there are more modern blocks – like this one and this one and this one.   As I was looking through all the photos on Flickr, I really gravitated towards the blocks made with modern fabrics.  Nevertheless, I’m leaning towards using more traditional fabrics for the quilt.  Actually, I can’t make up my mind long enough to even type out what I’m leaning towards.

Here are some full quilts I like:

From City House Studio:


From Blueberry Patch:


This one from Flickr.

This one from Flickr.

And this one by Heike Schneider:

© 2014 by Heike Scharmann


I’m torn about whether just to use my scraps, or to buy two or three fat quarter bundles.  I’ll only need about four yards of fabric to do the blocks themselves.  Even assuming 50% waste, that’s still only eight yards of fabric.  The amount of fabric in a fat quarter bundle varies tremendously (by number of prints and thus fat quarters), but most have at least a couple of yards of fabric, so it wouldn’t be a crazy investment to by three or four fat quarter bundles, given that the project will likely take a year and a half or more.  Decisions, decisions.  I’ve done my six blocks for June, so I’ll probably spend the next couple weeks pondering fabric and try to decide in time to do six blocks for July.