This is a report on my progress for the first week of the Farmer’s Wife QAL which has been organized by Angie Wilson from Gnome Angel. We had three blocks to do this week named Becky, Bonnie, and Aunt. Moving forward we will be doing only two blocks per week. It will take us a year to complete all of the blocks for this quilt unless we are doing a reduced size version with fewer blocks. Some members of the QAL are already talking about doing two quilts simultaneously.

This QAL is based on the book “The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt” available from Amazon.

I have chosen to do my blocks using English Paper Piecing as my method. It is my intention to complete the entire quilt using this method, yet I am intrigued by the idea of attempting foundation paper piecing by machine. You know, that OTHER kind of paper piecing, the kind most people mean when they say “paper piecing.”

I must say that the Facebook group for this QAL is a flurry of activity with over 4,000 members already. Some of them are in a bit of a tizzy because the feed for the group is taking over their Facebook lives. I, however, am enjoying the flow of beautiful blocks in the group as well as the chatty discussion to which I strive to contribute in a meaningful manner.  Thankfully I have learned how to unfollow the group so it doesn’t flood my Facebook feed. Yet it seems that I spend most of my time with these lovely people.

Here are my three blocks for this week in the order in which they were assigned and completed, all in Kona solids:

#12 Becky

This one will definitely be redone. I am not loving the dark purple.

#16 Bonnie

#8 Aunt

This is the first time that I have ever used EPP techniques with ANY shape other than a one inch hexagon. I was naturally hesitant to attempt this QAL using EPP, but so far it is working out okay. We are starting with the easier blocks, so things will get harder as we go along, but I imagine that my skills will build to meet the challenge.

You may be looking at these blocks and asking, “Why would anyone do these blocks with EPP when they would be so easy to piece by machine?” The answer is that the more complicated blocks will not be so easy to piece by machine, and I want to do the whole thing with EPP as a matter of princple, even the very simplest of blocks.

Here is how I went about doing these blocks with EPP.

I started by printing out all three blocks from the CD, and then cutting them into pieces on the lines of the diagrams to obtain my paper pieces.

I pinned each piece directly to the fabric and simply cut around the paper freehand leaving enough fabric to baste under. I could have used templates if I had wanted to, but the EPP method does not require templates at all. The paper piece is not only your means of stabilization, but also your guide to cutting.

Here is a small square pinned to a piece of Kona Pansy.

The pieces below are for Bonnie.

I basted my pieces and sewed them together. You see Aunt in process below.

I was very nervous about the triangles. Triangles did not pop up until Aunt. I had gotten quite adept at basting squares and rectangles. I was afraid I would not fold the paper under accurately enough for triangles, but the edges matched up fine with the inner square, and my points turned out okay. I was a bit thrown by the little tails that the triangles created but I think I managed them alright.

I am using 20 pound copy paper for my paper pieces, but I think it would be worth it to invest in a ream of something a bit heavier, especially for those blocks with really tiny pieces.

Here is how Aunt looks from the back. I keep the bulk of the basting threads to the front because they are much easier to remove that way.

As regards presentation, I am not thrilled that I had to pierce the fabric to do the basting. It kind of ruins the presentation for the blog. I don’t like showing my basting threads when I photograph my blocks so I stopped piercing my fabric for my one inch hexagons a long time ago. I could have used glue on these blocks, but I am not a fan of glue, although it was looking like a good idea after I saw how much time it took to do the basting on these blocks.

There was a tutorial about doing these blocks with EPP posted by Lucy from Charm About You. I recommend that you read her entire blog post, but I will share a tiny bit of what she said here as it relates to thread basting. In that tutorial Lucy recommends that you baste with thread if you are going to EPP the whole quilt. She said that it will last, and that you need the papers to stay in place to sew it all together. That made sense to me. She had many other good suggestions about completing the pieces with EPP, but I urge you to visit her tutorial to benefit from her experience.  I suggested on the Facebook page that I might glue only the INNER papers on more complicated blocks and use thread basting on all pieces that make contact with the outside edge. Lucy responded to my comment and said that she thought that was a good way to go. It was good to have my instincts confirmed. I found it interesting that Lucy showed us how to recover our quarter in seam allowance on an EPP block if we planned to incorporate EPP blocks with other techniques. I never would have thought of that on my own. I can tell that this QAL will be a great learning experience with bloggers like her sharing their wisdom.

Next week I will have two new Farmer’s Wife Blocks to share with you.

If you are interested in joining in on the QAL you can find out more about it here.

The more the merrier. Let’s make that Facebook Feed Fly!

I joke a little about how some of the members are frazzled by their feeds, but I must say that, by and large, this is a calm group. Moreover, they are incredibly kind and helpful group. Most are truly interested in seeing the work of others and commenting in a positive tone to encourage. I anticipate learning a great deal from these ladies.

I am linking up with Angie’s link up over at Gnome Angle.

I am also linking up with Jessica’s Monday Morning Star Count over at Life Under Quilts. Those of you visiting from the Monday Morning Star Count might want to scroll down a few posts to see what I have been up to during the last two weeks.