On making the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Sampler

The quilt is finally being used!

It has taken over 2 years to complete all the blocks in the book and it feels like an achievement for sure. This is the largest and most complex quilt I’ve ever made.

There are some things that I have learnt from making the 110 blocks in the book and which I explain below the ridiculously long graphic with photos of the majority of blocks.

fwqsblocks

I have spent many hours making these blocks. Some are quite quick and easy to make, others can take 2 or 3 hours.

In which order I made the blocks

Before I started I thought of making the easy blocks first and the hard ones last, or the other way round but then, after looking at the order the blocks appeared in the book I realised that block difficulty was mixed, so I decided to just make them in the order of the book which, by the way, is alphabetical.

I made the blocks in batches. I first cut a handful of them and then I stitched them.

After I had had enough making blocks I put them away for a few days or weeks, even months, while I concentrated on other projects.  My only deadline was to finish the quilt by July 2014.

Failed blocks and unpicking pieces

I only had to make 2 blocks twice though I had to unpick many pieces regularly. I also had to add a small strip of fabric to a couple of blocks which turned out a lot smaller on one side than the 6 1/5 inch square they’re supposed to be.

Sewing and cutting accuracy

This quilt has helped me improving accuracy though many of the pieces in my blocks don’t match exactly and I had to press some blocks into submission.

As much as possible I pressed the seams open to reduce bulk.

While I was making the blocks I always had the impression that my blocks weren’t exactly square and that I would have problems putting them together with the sashing. This hasn’t been the case though. Except for a couple of blocks, the rest have been just fine.

Quilt style and block placement

I chose to make a scrappy quilt using white as my base colour to add some light and breathing space to the blocks. I used Moda Bella Snow.

While the quilt is scrappy I tried to use some colour scheme for each block such as reds, blacks/grays, greens, or a mix of complimentary colours such as violet and yellow, red and green and so on.

I grouped the blocks by colour starting in the middle of the quilt top with reds and then the other colours around the red with brown and blacks on the outer ring.

Corner triangles

The corner triangles are also scrappy. I saw this in another finished FWQS quilt and quite liked it.

Patchwork vs quilting

Choosing fabrics, making blocks and assembling the top is always my favourite part. And quilting is my least favourite. The arm in my machine is only 9 inch wide so I thought a queen size quilt would be quite a challenge to quilt. It was probably the reason it took me so long to complete.

The quilt was very heavy but overall it was far easier to quilt than I anticipated. My stippling doesn’t look as professional as if it had been made by a professional using a long arm machine but it’s still a beautiful quilt. And I it has encouraged me to make more this size.

Next post I’ll show you my top 10 favourite blocks in the FWQS.

Folded star pot holder

IMG_0240

I like fabric manipulations and fabric texture.

I have made a 25 textures quilt sampler and a 4-patch textured quilt with 15 more textures or fabric manipulations. And today I have yet another fabric manipulation to show you. It is made with prairie points which have been modified to reduce bulk.

There are many folded stars out there and different ways to make them. This one is just one of them.

Folded stars are a bit time consuming and this particular one requires hand sewing. But they look beautiful.

Materials

There are 4 rows of prairie points.

For each prairie point cut one rectangle 1 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in.

  • Row 1: 4 ochre prairie points
  • Row 2: 8 violet prairie points
  • Row 3: 8 ochre prairie points
  • Row 5: 16 violet prairie points

And

  • One 10 in square piece of muslin or calico.
  • Two 10 1/2 in square for the back and front.
  • Extra fabric for the binding.
  • One 11 in square of batting.

Modified prairie point

Take one rectangle and fold 1/4 inches in and press.

Then fold in half as per picture and press with your finger.

Take one side of the rectangle and fold it in as per picture.

Do the same with the other side.

Now you have a prairie point ready to pin.

Take the muslin or calico and find the center by folding it as per picture below. Press to mark the lines well.

Start pinning in the centre of the muslin piece.

You will need 4 pieces for this row.

Make sure all lines align.

Now stitch all points in the middle to the calico.

And then stitch along the bottom as per picture.

The first row has been completed.

For the second row you will need 8 pieces.

Use a ruler to establish the placement 1/2 in below the first piece as per picture.

Pin.

Continue doing first opposite pieces.

Finish with the last 4 prairie points on the corners.

Stitch all the pointy ends and the the larger sides as per picture.

For next row you will need 8 prairie points again.

Proceed as per the previous row. Place at 1/2 in from the previous row, pin and stitch.

The next row and last requires 16 prairie points.

Place them as the previous row and then add 8 more prairie points overlapping as per picture.

Stitch pointy ends and larger edge to the calico.

Your folded star is done.

Now take the 10 1/2 in square and make a circle smaller than the filed star.

Draw your circle.

Place piece over the folded star.

Now fold the fabric about 1/8 in all around the circle and pin.

Top stitch as close to the edge as possible.

Cut the muslin to reduce bulk.

Now make a quilt sandwich placing the backing wrong side up, the batting and the folded star on top.

Pin.

Quilt in circles using the foot’s edge of your machine as a guide.

 

Now trim off excess batting.

Ready to add binding.

Voilà!

Foundation piecing pot holders

IMG_0112

This is what you can do with last week’s block: a pot holder you can give away as a quick gift to teachers, family or friends.

 

If you missed last week’s post, go and check out the foundation piecing tutorial.

I have limited experience with foundation paper piecing but I find it most useful to produce beautiful complex looking blocks while minimising the inaccuracies of cutting and stitching individual pieces together. It doesn’t mean your blocks are perfect every time, far from it, but in my experience the blocks look better, flatter and more achieved.

Piecing blocks are usually made into quilts but I have found another use for them as pot holders to give away to teachers, family members or friends.

For my pot holders I have used the free foundation piecing templates from 627handworks.

Caldonia pattern (pdf)

Icky Thump pattern (pdf)

Zeppelin pattern (pdf)

Making the pot holder

You will need some extra fabric for the back and some batting.

Use the finished block size to cut a square of fabric which is about 1/2 inch bigger  than the block on all sides. Cut a piece of batting the same size as the back.

Make the sandwich placing the back fabric wrong side up, then the batting and the block on top as per picture.

Quilt any way you like. I didn’t use my quilting foot this time and used the regular foot width instead to guide me between lines which is about 1/4 in to 3/8 in.

Trim very close to the edge after quilting.

Nearly there!

 

Closeup.

Add the binding. Cut a strip of fabric long enough to cover the block all around plus the corners. I cut my strip 1 1/2 in wide.

 

There’s a good tutorial on how to add binding to your quilt at quiltbug.com.

Closeups of quilting and piecing