Farmer’s Wife Quilt: My Declaration of Indepenence

I’ve been working on this quilt now for four months. Up until recently I have done every block assigned and posted them within days of their completion. I even got ahead of the game with a few blocks. Now, however, I put a stop to that foolishness. and declare my independence. I no longer feel compelled to follow the crowd.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, I needed to prepare work for my stint at the Michener Art Museum, so I went off track to baste up a few blocks to have them on hand for the demo. However, the main reason for my reluctance to follow the crowd is that a block came up which I refused to do. It wasn’t because it was hard. It looked easy. It was because I didn’t want it in my quilt. At that point I realized that I didn’t need to make every block to prove I could make them. I had already proven that when I did Daffodil.

Here is the offending block.

#40 Grandmother

It isn’t an ugly block. It is just not an interesting block. If I had been working with patterned fabrics I might have been able to fussy cut something interesting to go into the basket, but I am doing this quilt in solids, so that option was out. I took one look at this block and something inside me said a loud, “No.”

Choosing not to make this block was a very freeing experience. After declaring my independence I realized that I didn’t need to do every block. My layout would probably require me to make choices among the remaining blocks anyway. Instead of making every block moving forward it would make sense to put some effort into examining the blocks I have made so far, come up with a design scheme, and to give some thought as to how future blocks can flesh out that final design.

I started by sorting my blocks into three categories: all green, all violet, and mixed. What I found is that I have 40 blocks completed, some of which have not yet been featured on the blog. Four of them are green, eight of them are violet, and 28 of them are mixed.

My instincts tell me that I should be making more green blocks. So the next couple of blocks I make will be all green unless they scream for some violet to be included.

After looking at the colors of my blocks I then resorted them into ones I definitely want to incorporate into the final quilt design, and ones that might be better used in testing out a sashing strategy on a smaller sampler piece. Here are the results:

31 blocks made the cut for the final quilt, and nine may get sacrificed for the greater good. Here is a potential layout for the sampler piece. I anticipate the hunter green area to be broken up with some Raisin.

I’ll feature the Daffodil block in the center of the sample. I do not intend to make any more flowers, though that might change. The only reason I made Daffodil was to prove to myself that I could make it. Having made it I now believe I can make any of the blocks if I choose to. So now I can choose not to make any of them that I think will not be a good addition to the final piece.

I have at least four blocks that I have not yet shown, so my next post will be devoted to that task plus any more I create between now and then.

Hand Stitching Demo at the Michener Art Museum

Last week my husband, Ted, and I drove to the Michener Art Museum to see Mark Lipinski, Liza Lucy, and Meg Cox demonstrating hand stitching. They were doing hexagon Blocks from the Glorious Hexagons QAL. While we enjoyed seeing the demo immensely, and especially enjoyed seeing Mark Lipinski out and about and looking good, the main purpose of the visit was to see the Kaffe Fassett exhibit called Blanket Statements. The secondary purpose of the visit was to see if I could drive to the museum on my own the following week. I was schedules to demonstrate hand stitching myself with three other women on behalf of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild and I didn’t want to bother my husband to drive me. It turned out that we got seriously lost on the way to museum, so my husband said he would drive me yesterday for my demo, and he did. What a sweetie he is.

Here we are, the representatives of the CJMQG, in a picture taken in front of one of the Kaffe Fassett quilts. From left to right we are Janneke, Linda, Lee, and Terri.

Here I am sitting at my space working on the Farmer’s Wife Quilt.

I brought some Kona Hunter Green fabric to cover the table to set off the display of the Farmer’s Wife Quilt blocks that I have completed so far. I brought 25 blocks with me. I actually left 12 blocks at home, so I guess that means I have 37 blocks finished now. Even paring down to 25 there was no way that I was going to be able to lay them all out, so I just spread them out a bit and encouraged people to pick them up to examine them.

I answered a lot of questions about English Paper Piecing and talked about how I was going to be laying out and sashing my blocks.

In addition to the Farmer’s Wife Quilt blocks I also brought some traditional hexagon paper piecing work I had done when I first started up quilting again a couple of years ago.

Here are the Farmer’s Wife blocks I brought with me:

We demonstrated from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM and we had a fantastic time. We all agreed that the time simply flew by. I looked at my watch at about quarter to three and simply could not believe that we were almost finished. I could have stayed another two hours easily. With all the talking we did none of us got much work accomplished, but that wasn’t the goal of the demo. The goal was to engage the visitors, and I think we were a hit in that respect. A lot of people stopped by to talk with us, and seemed to be very interested in what we were doing. I remembered to bring my business cards with me and encouraged people to take a card and visit my blog. One lady even asked if I was available to speak at guild meetings. I was surprised and flattered. Who am I kidding, I was thrilled. When she asked I said, “Oh, I never thought of that. I suppose I could talk about paper piecing and do a trunk show.” However, I don’t feel worthy of that. I’ve got to work on my feelings of self worth. I am reading “The Artist’s Way” so that should help.

Interestingly enough, after a cursory glance at what we were doing one of the visitors said, I thought you were a modern quilt guild. And I said, “They wouldn’t let us bring machines.” With that said she understood. I also pointed out that I considered my blocks modern because they were made strictly of solids.

One last thought… Why is it that the longer I quilt the more I look like my grandmother? In the pictures below I am 62 and she is 19.




Glorious Hexagons: A Facebook Quilt Along

The Farmer’s Wife QAL has been taking over my creative life. I have mentioned it a few times, and as I look back over the titles of my blog posts over the last few months I know this to be true. I seem to have time for nothing else, and I write about nothing else. For that very reason, in the spirit of the Slow Stitching Movement, I must drag myself away from my new comfort zone. I also want to write about something besides The farmer’s Wife Quilt.

So I have joined up with the new Facebook group called “Glorious Hexagons“.

This QAL is being organized by Liza Prior Lucy, Kim McLean, and the folks at Paper Pieces. In order to participate in the QAL you need a book and a booklet. It also helps to purchase the templates for fussy cutting as well as the papers used for paper piecing. I decided to lay out cash for the whole shebang, and you will find the evidence of that below:

I had already purchased the book above from Amazon awhile ago.

The rest of the items I bought from Paper Pieces starting with the Glorious Hexagon booklet.

I got the pack of papers for the first month of blocks.

I got the set of templates for the New Hexagon.

I got the add on templates for the Kim and Liza blocks.

I also picked up the three inch hexagon template. Man, a three inch hexagon is seriously huge! I am used to using one inch hexagons, and these three inch babies are really huge. But, heh, that is a good thing because it means that throwing in a few of those big mother hexagons will make the work go faster.

At the present time I am feeling just a little bit intimidated by the idea of fussy cutting and working with patterned fabric. I might decide to get started with this using some solids. I really like the way the blocks looked in the New Hexagon book when they showed them done in solids for a rainbow table runner. This might also give me cause to purchase some new Kona solids. I need blues, yellows, and oranges, and a greater variety of reds. I’ve got the greens and violets pretty well covered.

The Farmer’s Wife Quilt: Priscilla and Autumn

We have had a short vacation away from assigned blocks on The Farmer’s Wife Quilt. As much as I promised that I would get ahead, I barely kept pace. I put off the two blocks assigned a couple weeks ago, and took my good old time finishing them this week.

#9 Autumn

Autumn uses the Kona Solids:
Pansy, Peridot, and Celery

When I first looked at Autumn I did not like her at all. I knew that I had to change her to suit myself. Quite frankly, I found her boring. I decided to start piecing her from the center. After finishing the square with the four Pansy colored triangles in the corners I knew that I wanted to make the outer rectangles with Celery rather than Pansy. This way the small inner rectangles would not be so isolated in the block. This would also fix my biggest complaint about Autumn. She was boring because she used the same color for three separate contiguous areas of the block. BORING! When the large outer rectangles were no longer assigned to Pansy that problem was immediately solved.

Now Autumn is one of my favorite blocks. Even though the little Pansy triangles are the same color and contiguous with the larger Pansy triangles they are more interesting to me now as they peak out from the center square.


#86 Priscilla

Priscilla uses the Kona Solids:
Morning Glory and Pansy

The interesting thing about Priscilla is that English Paper Piecing allowed me to make her with fewer pieces than called for in the design. I was able to combine a few pieces that in the original design were the same color, but composed of multiple pieces.

Next week I should be receiving a new assignment of two or three blocks. Back to the old grind.

Farmer’s Wife Quilt: Malvina and Cat

I am very late posting my progress this week. I had my blocks finished by Monday and could have posted then, but I was very caught up with reading about the new Weight Watchers Points Plus plan on the Weight Watchers web site and also on various Facebook groups to which I belong having to do with Weight Watchers. I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers for over 40 years, and have had my ups and downs. I even worked for Weight Watchers for six months back in 2006 and 2007. I had planned to make it a second career, but I gave it up when we moved rather than look for a new location to work for Weight Watchers.

I have always been quite open about my weight loss journey and maintained a daily blog over on Spark People for over a year when I lost weight using the Body Media Fit armband, which has since been taken over by Jawbone. In any case, I might choose to blog about the new program and my success at maintenance since I have been under goal now again for a few weeks. The new Points Plus program is the biggest innovation in Weight Watchers in over 50 years. There is a lot to be excited about. Maybe I will write more about that in a later post.

This past week we had two blocks to complete, #55 Malvina, and #22 Cat.

#55 Malvina

Malvina is made with the Kona Solids:
Sweet Pea, Thistle, Wisteria, and Amethyst

Malvina From Behind

There is a story behind the creation of Malvina. I generally use only as many fabrics as the diagram shows in the book when I create my blocks. Malvina was shown in the book with only two fabrics. She was kind of boring in my opinion. I was really happy that I waited to start work on Malvina. Because I waited I was lucky enough to see the work of Tracy Holzer, which caught my eye as I was looking at the Farmer’s Wife Facebook Group feed. I was impressed with her choice of fabrics because they brought forth a star shape that exists in Malvina, but which isn’t apparent if you make her with only two fabrics. Tracy’s work is shown below. The star shape is subtle because there is not a lot of contrast in the value of the green and brown. I like that. I tried to emulate that in my color choices as well.

Malvina as Adapted by Tracy Holzer
Work shown with permission.

What is especially nice in my opinion about being inspired by Tracy’s work is that we struck up a conversation on Facebook about it. She then looked me up through the Gnome Angel Linkup Party. Having found my blog she make a few comments on the blog post previous to this one, and our conversation continued there. This is exactly how a QAL is supposed to work. This is why I participate. I will be looking for Tracy’s blocks in the future and I hope that she will be looking for mine as well.

The second block of the week was #22 Cat.

#22 Cat

Cat is made with the Kona Solids:
Celery, Lime, and Limelight

Cat From Behind

Celery has become a staple choice in my Farmer’s Wife Quilt blocks. I had been wanting to use Lime and Limelight for awhile, but was a little concerned about how bright those colors are. I felt that the small amounts used in this block would play well with the celery. I am hoping to work them into future blocks.

We have one more week of assigned blocks until we get a few weeks off for the holidays. For me that means time to get ahead. Last week I was discussing my progress with a member of my quilt guild who has taken an interest in my Farmer’s Wife posts. I mentioned that I was making it a point to do an extra block every time a block is assigned that I had done ahead. I had gotten five blocks ahead at a recent sewing retreat in November. I told her that I do that so I continue to be five blocks ahead. She jokingly asked me, “What happened to Slow Stitching?” She knows I am a proponent of the Slow Stitching Movement. I replied, “They each take me about six hours to complete, you can’t get much slower than that!” You had to be there.

Farmer’s Wife Quilt: Ava and Daffodil

#10 Ava

Ava was made with the Kona Solids:
Amethyst, Thistle, and Celery.

The week started off with the assignment of Ava. It just so happens that I had completed Ava when I was at the CJMQG Retreat in November. So I started working on another block in her place so I would keep my position ahead of the crowd. I won’t reveal the name of the block until she is assigned.┬áLater in the week Daffodil was assigned.

#26 Daffodil

Daffodil was made with the Kona Solids:
Celery, Pansy, Wisteria, O. D. Green, and Sweet Pea.

Daffodil From Behind

I was lucky enough to see some examples of Daffodil before I started work on her. There were a few wonderful versions of this block that utilized a greater number of fabrics than the prescribed three. Although I had taken a bit of a pledge to remain true to the number of fabrics called for, I decided to break that promise for Daffodil in order to make her a bit more dimensional. I also decided to make the flower purple. I could have used two very yellowish greens such as the Celery pictured here in the background, but I felt that if I was going to not make the flower yellow that I should make it purposefully not yellow, thus the choice to go with violets.

Daffodil is the first block that I have felt compelled to display on point. This block screams to be displayed on point. And while half of the blocks will eventually be positioned on point for the final quilt, they will not be displayed that way unless they scream for it as Daffodil does.

Daffodil was much harder to make than I anticipated. Here are a few process photographs of Daffodil.

Daffodil is one of those blocks with pieces that must be turned backwards before you pin them to the fabric and cut the fabric. If you don’t do the reversal the pieces will not fit together. If you reverse none of them they will fit together, but the image will be backwards, which is actually not a big deal. However, if you start reversing the pieces you must reverse them all.

I came up with the idea of labeling the colors of the pieces, which also served to remind me to reverse them. If I pinned the piece to the fabric and I could still read the color symbol I had failed to reverse the template. I did this at least three times and actually basted the pieces before I discovered my mistake. I had to do those pieces a second time. I am a slow learner apparently.

I am “attending” the Link Up Party over at Gnome Angel.

Farmer’s Wife Quilt: Patience, Patricia, and Grandma

It is the end of another month of working on the Farmer’s Wife Quilt. Above you will see all of the blocks completed in November excluding those that I worked on ahead of time at the CJMQG retreat a couple weeks ago.

We had three blocks to do this week. Luckily one of them was the simplest block in the book.

#79 Patience

Patience is made with the Kona Solids: Lime, Pea Pod, and Thistle.

Patience From Behind


#80 Patricia

Patricia is made with the Kona Solids: Sweet Pea and Tarragon.

Patricia From Behind

#39 Grandma

Grandma is made with the Kona Solids: Cabbage, Celery, and Dahlia.

Grandma From Behind

Process Photo of Grandma

I am linking up to the Farmer’s Wife Link Party over at Gnome Angel.

I am also linking up to the Monday Morning Star Count with Jessica over at Life Under Quilts.

Farmer’s Wife Quilt: Jewel and Sara

This week we had two blocks to complete for the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Along.

#46 Jewel

Jewel was created with the Kona Solids: Pansy, Tarragon, and Lilac.

Jewel was completed at the CJMQG Retreat last weekend. She only took about four hours to do. I was surprised that one of the five blocks that I did to get ahead was chosen as one of the blocks of the week. After all, there were more than 80 blocks left to go.

#90 Sara

Sara was created with the Kona Solids: Purple, Amethyst, and Ivy.

Sara took about five and a half hours to do.

Sara from behind.


Here are a few process photos of Sara.



I am attending the Link up Party over at Gnome Angel.

I am also linking up with the Monday Morning Star Count with Jessica over at Life Under Quilts.


Farmer’s Wife Quilt: Aimee and Nancy

Our blocks for this week were #2 Aimee and #76 Nancy.

#2 Aimee

Aimee is made with the Kona Solids: Dahlia, Cabbage, and Heliotrope.

Aimee was quite a challenge because she had the smallest pieces yet. Those triangles were really tiny. I did find out though that I was able to baste them without pinning the fabric to the paper. I later tried this with the slightly larger triangles in Nancy and was successful basting them without pins as well.

I paid particular attention to the grain of the fabric in the central portion of Aimee. When I first started to cut pieces for blocks I used to align the right angles of triangles with the grain of the fabric. It was later that I realized that sometimes the hypotenuse needed to be aligned with the grain. Aimee presents an even greater challenge with the placement of the green triangles needing to be eyeballed to go along with the grain.


#76 Nancy

Nancy is made with the Kona Solids: Heliotrope and Dahlia.

Nancy is one of my favorite blocks so far.

This weekend I was in the unique position of attending a quilting retreat. I was at the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild annual fall retreat, which I attended last year. It is three days of stitching with friends in a hotel. It is a great way to get to know other guild members.

I was lucky enough to be sitting right next to someone who had been following my blog posts about this quilt with interest. So I got a lot of positive feedback about my progress during the weekend. I felt as if I was being cheered on, which really helped because of how slow it is working on these blocks with the EPP technique.

Going into the weekend I had Aimee finished. I completed Nancy over the weekend and five other blocks that I chose from among those not yet assigned. So I am a full five blocks ahead. Those blocks are pictured below, but I will not bother to name them at this time. They will make their solo appearances when they are assigned, and will be named at that point as well.

I will admit to choosing the block in the middle so I would have a feeling of accomplishment completing an easy block. I’m not in love with that one, and it may not even make its way into the final quilt. I am also not in love with the block on the bottom, but that may be because I did not provide enough contrast in the color choices.

Edit: A couple hours after posting this I discovered that the bottom block in the photograph above is the first block for this week. I am hoping that one of the others is chosen as the second block. That would blow my mind. What are the odds of choosing even one of them with so many blocks yet to go.

Mid way through the retreat the guild Instagram photographer walked about and posted some pictures. I was surprised to see the one below. I’m glad I tidied up just shortly before it was taken.

Photo Credit: Laura Bennet

I am linking up with the Link Up Party over at Gnome Angel.

Farmer’s Wife Quilt: Addie, Margaret, and Milly

This week was a difficult week with three blocks to complete, all of them with a lot of detail. Here they are in the order in which I completed them.

#1 Addie

Addie was made with the Kona Solids: Dahlia, Pansy, and Lime.

#57 Margaret

Margaret was made with the Kona Solids: Bright Periwinkle, Wisteria, and Peridot.

#62 Milly

Milly was made with the Kona Solids: Tarragon, Ivy, Dahlia, and Celery

Addie was the easiest of these three to complete. She had only 25 pieces compared to the 32 pieces in the other two blocks. Margaret was the second easiest because she did not require the nesting of eight tails except in one location. Milly brought back bad memories of Caroline. Milly had a total of five locations where it was necessary to nest eight tails.

I think of all the blocks I have completed so far I like Milly the best in terms of my selection of colors.