Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Farmer's Wife 1930s Fabric Ideas: Melinda from Quirky Granola Girl shares her quilt

When I was preparing the post about fabric for the 1930s Farmer's Wife quilt along, I knew I wanted to ask Melinda of Quirky Granola Girl to share a few of her pictures from the first Farmer's Wife 1920s Sampler quilt and the Pony Club book.  She has a super eye for colour and puts together lively combinations.  I remember her rejecting blocks and remaking them in different fabrics and totally understood that attention to detail.  You can find Melinda's blog here, on Instagram here and on Flickr here.  She is also a guest blogger for the 1930s quilt- along.  Enjoy, you are in for a treat!

Hi All!

Kerry asked me to share a few pictures and talk about my Farmer's Wife Sampler obsession passion.
Here is a picture of my first Farmer's Wife Sampler as a quilt top.

Farmer's Wife quilt top

I had never made a sampler before and once I started, I was addicted.  I love how each block is it's own challenge, how a single block feels like a finished project and how I never get bored making them.

For my first Farmer's Wife Sampler, I used my favorite fabrics in my stash (it has 354 different fabrics in it).  When designing fabric combinations, I strived for color contrast, value contrast, different print scales and differing design styles.  My theory is when I put all of the work into piecing these blocks, I want each little triangle and square to shine.  I even went so far as to remake 14 blocks that looked muddy to my eye and I don't regret it a bit. 

This block has 30's repros, low volume background and a bright, modern graphic print to make the square in the block stand out.

My very last farmers wife block and I am in love.

Here is a block with a Japanese sewing print paired with a crosshatch.

farmer's wife sampler, block 75

This block shows two florals but vastly different colors, tones and scales.

farmer's wife sampler, block 9

When I looked at my fabrics, I also chose the largest scale fabrics that I *had* to include and then looked through the blocks to match them up to the right pattern.  This one combines a novelty print with a graphic print.

farmer's wife sampler, block 88

I'm hand quilting that sampler so I can enjoy each block all over again.


For my Farmer's Wife Pony Club Sampler, I decided to use all Anna Maria Horner fabrics plus solids.  That has been an all new challenge since AMH uses a lot of bright colors, many florals, often large scale and very few low volume prints.  Here is a picture of four of my blocks.  I hope they show ways to achieve contrast in color, tone, scale and print style even with one designer's fabrics.


I don't know what my fabric theme will be for my Farmer's Wife 1930's sampler.  I'm considering a focus on more modern graphic prints and stripes.  What fabrics are you thinking of?

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Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along: Fabric Ideas

Choosing the fabrics for a project has to be one of my favourite tasks and when it's for a large sampler quilt made of single blocks, each block as a potential canvas, I get very excited!  For the Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along the obvious choice is vintage fabrics or repros.  I do have some very old vintage from around this period but only in the form of these fan blades that a kind flickr swapper traded with me several years back. 

So instead I'm turning to a mix of my stash and buying in some extra fat quarters.  I did originally think I would use some of my vintage collection but the reality is that in a well used quilt, which I hope this one will one day become, they don't wear as well as new fabrics. 

As I start to pull fabrics for a quilt, sometimes little groupings emerge like this one.  Great colour match but maybe more suited for another project: the navy is very intense as is the deep orange, the flowers are also rather spread out and this would need to be considered when cutting out small pieces.

Pattern scale is an important factor for these 6 inch blocks.  Some of the blocks can involve 50, 60, 70 and more pattern pieces.  Some large designs or spaced out prints can get lost when cut so small.   Larger designs could still work and provide a good sense of contrast but I think I will only use these occasionally.  Many 1930s reproduction prints have the advantage of being small scale designs and either, non-directional with tossed designs that work in any direction or four-way so they can rotate in 90 degree increments and look the same.  These are great for foundation paper piecing, especially the tossed prints as you won't have to worry about directional placement and there's less wastage. 

I have a mix of modern prints influenced by vintage designed in my stash that I think will work in this quilt.  I find just 1930s repro can be a little too sweet for my taste and these balance that out.  Contrast is key when choosing fabrics for a block: there needs to be a sufficient harmony between the colours and prints but also a point of difference, something that creates a little tension, only then does a block shine!

I did pull a few small scale geometric prints too- too many floras can lack contrast and look busy;  geometrics give extra dimension to a block and lead the eye in particular directions.   I don't intend to break new ground with my fabric choices, like the book, I'll be adding a lot of solids too. Many repro prints are rather dense and solids create space and heighten colour choices. 

Heather Ross's new Tiger Lily collection has a great mix of prints and colours that would combine with 1930s repros.    These were a recent purchase from Eternal Maker, the top print is Hand Picked in Ecru by Anna Maria Horner.  I'm planning to add this in too!

You could make this quilt in any fabric combination- solids, modern prints, monochrome but I know many of you are inspired by the 1930s repro fabrics in the book,  so where to buy?  Here are some ideas:

Sarah and Penny at Pretty Fabrics and Trims have a big selection of repro and vintage inspired prints.  They also specialise in putting mini selections together in bundles and these come in different cuts, fat quarters and smaller.   They are one of my blog sponsors so many of the 1930s repro fabrics in these pics are from their shop.

Jessie at Sew and Quilt is passionate about 1930s fabrics.  She has a great selection of 1930s repros and has been putting a Farmer's Wife 1930s quilt kit together for those who prefer that approach.  She also stocks hand sewing equipment for those who want to hand piece or English Paper Piece their blocks.

Tiina at Tikki Patchwork stocks a wonderful selection of repro prints both as yardage and bundles online and at her shop in Kew, London.

I don't buy much fabrics from USA these days so many of you may have ideas you'd like to add in the comments to these suggestions.

Connecting Threads have their own range of in house repro fabrics like 'Line Dried' as well as stocking other well known quilting brands- Michael Miller, Cotton+Steel etc.

I saw a lovely bundle on Instagram that Amanda had put together with the Farmer's Wife 1930s sampler quilt in mind and she kindly sent me a photo to include:

Here's the link to this bundle as fat quarters or fat eighths as well as the Farmer's Wife 1930s book.

You may be lucky enough to have a local quilt shop with a great repro selection.  Otherwise, ebay or Etsy and searching under 1930s repro/reproduction or Aunt Grace fabrics will give you a huge number to choose from.  Please add suggestions from your country in the comments.

Lots of people got in touch with me when I first announced the quilt along including many who had made a quilt from the Earlier 1920s book.  Patty of A Stitch in Time used a limited colour palette to great effect- red/aqua/grey/white- see the results here, stunning!  I know a few people have mentioned to me that they'd like to make the 1930s blocks in just a few colours and Patty's quilt shows how effective that can be.   Melinda of Quirky Granola girl has magic touch when it comes to combining  fabrics.  She is thoughtful in her choices and the results are often unexpected and all the more exciting for it.  When I asked if she would like to share a few of her original Farmer's Wife and Pony club blocks, she wrote a wonderful post that I am privileged to host here, I will post it after this for you to drool over!  She discusses how she puts different fabrics together and in particular how she uses contrast in colour, tone, scale and print.  It is an informative read.

I'll be back next Wednesday with a few suggestions for tools and equipment for different construction methods.  Basic tools are all you really need but there are a few other inexpensive bits and pieces that may make life easier.  Don't forget the hashtag #fw1930sqal and you are welcome to tag me on Instagram for your Farmer's Wife pictures!  I'm @verykerryberry on there.

sib blog

Monday, 31 August 2015

August at Eternal Maker

Just sneaking in my monthly visit and Eternal Maker have had some big ranges delivered as well as starting their new pattern range, 'Two Stitches', the first is for babies! Let's have a look!

This is the Grow Babygrow pattern, a classic onesie design graded from newborn to 24 months.  Its designed for jersey fabrics and can be sewn on a standard sewing machine with zig-zag stitch or on an overlocker.  The pattern pieces are nested which makes tracing off a lot easier - this is a pattern to reuse in different sizes and it's aimed at the advanced beginner.   The Lillestofff  high quality organic knit fabrics are a great choice for this pattern.  They have 5% elastane and are a wide wish at 150cm.

Oakley (very Autumnal!)

You can find all five Lillestoff designs here - there are whales and camper van designs too.  You can also find clear sew-in popper snaps here.  Congrats on the new design!  A great basic and would make a lovely gift too. 

A big arrival is the Rhoda Ruth range by Elizabeth Hartman for Robert Kaufman: quilter, author, pattern designer and now fabric designer too!  This is a vibrant fabric line, a geometric feel to many prints but softened by some florals and the animal designs.  There's foxes - this is Bracelet in Nightfall:

Giraffes in a glowing golden colour way: Tower Giraffe in Nature 

Bloom in Nature which I think has great fussy cutting potential for all you English Paper Piecing fans:

Necklace in Grey: I imagine bias cut binding would work well with this print.

I saved the best till last, Karen Lewis' debut collection for Robert Kaufman, 'Blueberry Park' is available for pre order, dispatch estimated November.  

It's a stunning range containing more fabrics than most shops can store so preordering is a great way to guarantee orders for the shops and variety for the consumer.  There are three roll-ups like these in cool, bright and neutral:

Eternal Maker did have a small quantity of Karen's prints for Festival of Quilts and they sold very quickly.  I can't wait to have some of these in person!
Enjoy the last of the holidays UK people, in typical bank holiday style the weather is underwhelming but I need to get out and spend time with the family before work and school calls us all back. xxx

sib blog

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Farmer's Wife 1930's Quilt-Along: Errata

If you find an errors in the Farmer's Wife 1930s book either in the book text or on the CD check whether it is listed below and if not, please leave a comment on this post and I will pass the info  on to the author.  She also has a list of known errata here

Quilt Blocks
  • p162 #3E cut 2 not 4
  • p224 #65F cut 1 not 4

  • Laurie Aaron Hird informed me that piece 15a is too small.  She apologies profusely and suggests printing out a block diagram of block 15, Blossom from the CD and use this to make the template.  You will need to seam allowance to this if that's your preference. 

Foundation Paper Piecing patterns
  • Block 3 Alice: J2 should be labelled J3 and vice versa;  K2 should be  labelled K3 and vice versa.
Rotary Cutting Instructions
  • In the rotary list, 13D should be 13C; 19A should be 19C.

Quilt Assembly
  • To make the Queen-size quilt you will need 99 blocks not 94.
  • The fabric requirements for the setting fabric seem very generous and book reviews report being able to use a lot less. 

sib blog

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along: Guest Bloggers and Quilt Along Details

I hope everyone's has a copy of The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt book or has one on it's way.  There is more than one quilt along so they are out of stock in some of the more familiar online stores, good luck!  It should look like this:

The blocks from this book are a different selection from the 1920s Farmer's Wife book with the brown cover.  You could mix the two together but this quilt is for this book.  Some of the blocks are hard:  have a flick through the book to prepare yourself!  It is a great way to build skills but it would be a mighty challenge for a beginner.  Guest bloggers have chosen their blocks and we will be working through the book in alphabetical and numerical order which will give a total mix of skills and challenge levels.  Here are the lovely guest bloggers, many of whom I have known for years, with their blogs and Instagram account links, I feel very lucky to have them all contributing.

Jo Avery  My Bear Paw  @mybearpaw
Ayumi  Pink Penguin  @ayumills 
Chase  Quarter Inch Mark  @quarterinchmark

They are a multi talented bunch and are going to be able to cover many techniques from foundation paper piecing to English paper piecing, hand piecing, templates, fussy cutting and more.  Some are going to post several times, others are doing just one or two posts and they all have a plethora of tips to share.  So you know what to expect, here are some of the things that will or will not be happening in the quilt-along:

We will...
  • share tips e.g. how big to cut some of your fabric pieces for foundation paper piecing.
  • share techniques e.g. the guest bloggers include expert quilters, hand piecers, English paper piecers and foundation piecing wizards!
  • share ideas e.g.simplifying a block by reducing the number of pieces.
  • share fabric and colour ideas.
  • share thoughts on the book and the letters.
  • note any errors and welcome you to do the same.  There will be an errata page here so if spot a mistake, please leave a comment there to flag it up.  Laurie Aaron Hird has already been in touch to tell me about one error and I've spotted the odd mislabelling.
  • respect the author and the book copyright.
We will not...
  • cover every construction method each week which means that we won't pick up every pitfall, errata etc.  The book offers three main methods of piecing: templates, foundation piecing and some rotary cutting.  The rotary cutting is few and far between so don't rely on that as a sole   I intend to foundation paper piece all the blocks so my tips will relate to that.
  • Break copyright and give measurements of particular pieces, e.g. for rotary cutting, even when those instructions have not been given in the book.  I can give cutting details for foundation paper piecing as these are approximations.
  • be teaching the basics of how to foundation paper piece each block.  If you want to use this technique and have no experience of it, many of these blocks are very challenging so start with something easier!  Find many  tutorial links here.  The same applies to the other construction methods.  Tips and tricks yes but step-by-step descriptions for each block could start to threaten author copyright.

On the first post of each month,  I'll post a four week schedule so you know what's coming up for the month ahead.  I have a couple of introductory posts planned:

  • Wednesday 2nd September: Fabrics: colours, ideas and shops plus and extra guest post from Melinda of Quirky Granola Girl.
  • Wednesday 9th September: Equipment ideas and recommendations
This is an unsponsored quilt along so the shops and recommendations are just personal recommendations and the emphasis is on using fabrics of your choice - you don't have to use 1930s prints-  and keeping your equipment simple.

All go with the blocks from Monday 14th September.   Each Monday I will write a blog post about one block and link to the guest blogger who will write about the other block.   I will use inlinkz at the end of a post so there will be an option for you to add a text link to your block.  I am also going to try a little vlogging to introduce the week's blocks with Periscope.  I plan to do this on Monday afternoon, around 2.30pm GMT each week. Persicope broadcasts are only available for 24 hours after going live.  Read more about Periscope here and here. I am @verykb on Periscope.  If you follow my twitter feed of the same name you will see when a Periscope is going live or download the Periscope app for free and follow me there!

If you are new to quilt-alongs,  the level of participation is up to you. Quilt-alongs are all about providing encouragement to all those taking part and spur each other on.  It gives us a sense of community to a pursuit that most of us do alone.  Sharing your progress is a popular part of a quilt along so this could be on Instagram with the hashtag #fw1930sqal, in the Flickr group or on your own blog.   Find the blog buttons here.  You might make all the blocks, or maybe just a few but we'll be here every Monday until next September with our thoughts on the two blocks from the book!

sib blog

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Azure Striped Boat Neck: Girl Charlee

A few weeks ago Girl Charlee Fabrics UK & Europe sent me an email offering me some fabric to try from their recently launched store.  I chose a Azure/cream stripe  with half a mind on an Agnes Top - I must have been swayed by the pattern cover picture!  The fabric is a good quality lightweight cotton/rayon blend so very drapey and more suited to a looser style so I revisited "She Wears the Pants' and made another version of the cover picture top. 

The fabric is a little tricky to handle because of the rayon and stripe matching but ballpoint pins are perfect on fabrics like this.  I needed to be very careful not to stretch it out of shape and even then, the cuffs especially looked a little wavy.  Washing and pressing seemed to even this out and the resulting top has a fluid feel and is an easy wear on these inbeween grey days that we get so many of in the UK.   These are iPhone pics during a family walk on a breezy day so you get the feel of the fabric movement.
Like their USA counterpart, Girl Charlee have a huge number of knit fabrics to choose from and its a family run business with the emphasis on choice and customer service including a rewards scheme.   Go take a browse at what they offer!

sib blog

Sunday, 23 August 2015

My Small World QAL: Part ii of Part 5

Welcome to the second part of #mysmallworldqal part five.  You can find part one here.  Danielle has been leading the way on this section and has two great posts featuring lots of hand piecing techniques - part one here, part two here

For those of you who are machining most of your My Small World quilt, I've some tips based on my experience of piecing it.  Starting with the dresden.  I wanted to machine piece this together and to use a machine based quick technique for turning the points on each fan blade.  For this, I took the original template piece (far left in the pic below) and drew round it on paper.  I added a horizontal line across the top of the piece and  a ¼" seam allowance all round the new shape- these lines are  shown in orange.  I then traced this onto template plastic so my new template included the ¼" seam allowance.  Then, cut out your fabric pieces without adding any more seam allowance.  When the top horizontal edge of the blade is folded in half with right sides together and sewn along (like the chain pieced examples at the bottom of the picture, it opens out to form a point the same as produced by the original template but a lot faster!  I then sewed my fan pieces together at the sides and all the pointy raw edges are already neatly turned under!  I pieced my centre semi circle into place as the pattern recommends but you could also appliqué it on top.

 For the piecing of the triangle arc and hexagons see here.  Before I trimmed the hexagons to fit the BF semi-circle  I sewed around the edges using a short stitch length about ⅛" away from the freezer paper pattern piece.   This was to hold the edges together as the hexagons were hand stitched.  
To turn the raw edges on both arcs including the mini inner arc, I sewed a generous ¼" away from the raw edge using a 3.5mm stitch length. This makes a memory line in the fabric which makes it easier to turn with an iron.  I also painted a little starch on to the edges.  Once the arcs are pinned in place and appliquéd on, the stitches can be carefully removed.  This technique is used a lot in dressmaking, especially for hems and I find it really useful in quilting too!

I used appliqué pins to hold everything in place and I did tweak my placing quite a lot.  I cut away excess fabric at the back so the layers aren't too thick.  It didn't quite fit exactly as the picture despite everything being to size and my finished section is a little out of shape but once it is part of the quilt and also quilted, it will all be fine!
sib blog