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1930's Farmer's Wife: Grandmother

The Grandmother block can be found on page 144 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 199 for template instructions.)

The Grandmother block can be found on page 144 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 199 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Granddaughter in Idaho can be found on page 6.

June 1937

Scandal rocked the British Empire when the Duke of Windsor married Wallis Simpson, an American two-time divorcee. Because the British Monarch is head of the Church of England, it is prohibited for the monarch to marry a divorcee. As a result, King Edward VIII chose to abdicate his throne in favor of his wife, making his younger brother, George VI the new king. Interestingly, the Duke of Windsor is a peerage title that was created for Edward after his abdication.

The marriage and scandal between Edward and Wallis Simpson hounded the royal family that had only just begun recovering from the death of George V, was facing a very real threat of war on the continent, and stood against whispers of personal connections between Nazi higher-ups and Edward himself. But George VI stepped into his brothers role admirably, albeit unwillingly, and lead his empire through the Second World War. The King’s Speech is a wonderful movie from George’s perspective on this particular time in British history, it’s one of my favorite movies and I highly recommend it.

The corpse flower blooming in 1937 at New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library and the New York Botanical Garden

The corpse flower blooming in 1937 at New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library and the New York Botanical Garden

In the United States, things were a little less scandalous. The world's largest flower bloomed at the NY Botanical Gardens. A 12’ corpse flower bloomed and interested Americans lined up to see and smell this botanical oddity.

While I personally have a fondness for plants and botany, (Handsomepants has barred me from anymore additions to my plant collection) I would not appreciate a 12’, bright yellow column of plant tissue that smells like rotten meat gracing my living room window sills. I do think this plant is interesting, but I doubt I’ll be visiting the next time it blooms. Corpse flowers are capable of blooming every 3 to 10 years.

On a more pleasant note, Granddaughter’s letter to the editor is a touching one. When she describes how the whole family comes together to take care of “the grandmother problem” of a single, elderly woman living alone and feeling isolated from her family, is endearing. It’s really a new, American idea that families are nuclear and not inter-generational. With the proliferation of the old-people’s-homes, I wonder about how much relationship is lost between grandparents and their grandchildren, and what kinds of impact that has on society at large.


The Block

The Grandmother block is so cute! I've secretly always admired basket blocks, I think it's the tradition behind them that I'm drawn too.  A classic design that's survived the centuries and through the generations, basket blocks were popular in the early 1800's and saw a revival in popularity in the 1920-30's.

  I'm debating about adding a handle to this block or keeping it original to the book, I haven't decided yet. Adding a handle through applique wouldn't be too difficult, if my machine is up to the task, the dog feeders have been finicky lately.

Since I’ve been focusing on moving house lately I have lost my notebook with all of the pre-cut measurements. I’m sorry you’ll have to suffer though estimating or self-measuring the squares and rectangles your self! The only tricky part is a single y-seam needed to complete the bottom right corner.


Happy Quilting!

  • Rita

Lori Holt's Granny's Garden Sew-A-Long: Week 3 Update

This is Lori Holt’s original design. If you’re interested in purchasing the kit or the templates for this pattern you can find that information either on her website  HERE , or I’m sure your favorite local or digital quilt store can help you out.

This is Lori Holt’s original design. If you’re interested in purchasing the kit or the templates for this pattern you can find that information either on her website HERE, or I’m sure your favorite local or digital quilt store can help you out.

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Another week of the Granny’s Garden Sew-A-Long has come and gone and here are my blocks 9-12. I certainly learned a bit about the intricacies of applique, that’s for sure! Those tight curves on the heart shaped petals and the small 4-petal flowers sure kicked my butt! I didn’t seem to matter how many times I pressed seams or stitched and restitched the fabrics onto their backgrounds with the aid of tweezers, I could not get smooth curves in my designs!

Those little unintended corners are most noticeable on the dark blue petals of Block 10. I’m sure those mistakes are exaggerated a bit by a combination of the color contrast and the print pattern of the blue fabric, but I’m still pooped that the fabric got the better of me.

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I had mentioned in last week’s update that I would be cheating every now and then on the block patterns. Well I cheated again this week on Block 11 this week too. Instead of creating an eight petaled flower with alternating fabrics in the petals, I chose to create a single, homogeneous flower. I decided to do this because I wanted to show off the print on the fabrics. There are a number of other blocks that I’ll do the same with because those blocks use other fabrics with large, floral patterns and I don’t want to disturb those prints.

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I’ve also been getting feedback and suggestions on Instagram about how easy interfacing is to use on the large, white background circles. I know that my circles look wonky in the pictures as the pressed seams don’t perfectly hold, but I assure you that those seams will be repressed before I applique the blocks onto their background fabrics when I finish the quilt.

I look forward to updating next Friday for week 4 of the Granny’s Garden Sew-A-Long with blocks 13-16!

Happy Quilting!

  • Rita

1930's Farmer's Wife: Lily

The Lily block can be found on page 34 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 210 for template instructions.)

The Lily block can be found on page 34 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 210 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Mrs. E. E. H. in Wyoming can be found on page 18.

July 1930

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in the early morning of July 7, surrounded by family.  He had made plans with family members to try to contact them "from the other side." Conan Doyle was a well known Spiritualist, a widespread belief that communication with the dead was possible. Conan Doyle had established or member to a number of psychic and supernatural clubs throughout most of his life. He had even ended, in a very ugly and public manner, a long time friendship with Harry Houdini over the validity of seances, Houdini was an avid opponent of the Spiritualism movement. The day of his funeral, 6,000 spiritualists were in attendance, and renowned medium Estelle Roberts claims to have relayed a message to Conan Doyle’s widow fro him. Whether or not Conan Doyle was capable of reaching across the divide from death, I don’t know, but I’m doubtful.

One thing I’ve noticed from the last several Farmer’s Wives’ Letters is a running theme of thankfulness and an attitude of count-your-blessings. Mrs. E. E. H. makes no bones about being poor and homesteading in Wyoming. But she’s thankful for the good man and father her husband is, she’s thankful for the health of her four children, she’s thankful for the beauty that comes with the changing of the seasons, and she’s thankful for the fulfillment she finds in the work of raising poultry. I can’t help but wonder at the excess that modern Americans live in and how many of us ever stop to be thankful for it.


The Block

The Lily block was fun and much more simple to make than I had thought. When I first looked at the block, I had thought that Y-seams would have been part of its construction, but the lily petals are actually a series of squares and HSTs that create half the block.

I would recommend that you cut the B pieces a little longer than the templates if those are what you're using. As you can see from the top right corner of the main picture, sometimes blocks don't always come out just right!

Also beware of creating thick seams! With all those little pieces it's very easy for seams to pile up. Don't be afraid to rip out some paper template if you need to during block construction so you can press seams flat.


Happy Quilting!

  • Rita

Mr. J's Baby Quilt - Wildlife Quilt: Throwback Series

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I recently found an external hard drive that had been missing for about 3 years. I am so excited because I had previously come to terms with loosing several years worth of family pictures and quilt pictures. But lo and behold, I found it and now I can add several quilts to the blog! A number of the quilts are unfinished in the pictures. I don’t know why I took pictures of unfinished quilts, but I’m glad I did because most of these quilts were gifted away several years ago so these pictures are the only records I have of them.

I’ve decided to make a mini-series of these quilts not only to show off my profile, but it’s also interesting for me to see how my quilting has improved over the years. I was always a little intimidated by the immaculate, intricate quilts of my mother in law or the displays in fabric stores, so I think it’s good to show people that everyone starts somewhere!

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This wildlife quilt was made for some friends who had their son about three years ago. I used Elizabeth Hartman’s “Fancy Fox” pattern as the basis for this quilt to make the fox and raccoon faces, and I altered the pattern slightly to make the bear face. The deer pattern I drafted myself. When I had all of the animal face blocks finished, I had to Macgyver the rest of the quilt pattern with flying geese so that I could nicely piece the entire top. Good thing Handsomepants is an accountant so he could do all of that math for me!

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The back of the quilt is supposed to look like a bear rug. I thought it would be a cute way for Mr. J to channel his inner Sean Connery during tummy time. The bears ears and tail are movable so he had something to play with too. The bear himself is made with a faux fur, and it was a pain to applique onto the back. I don’t think I knew what WonderUnder was at the time, but I’m positive that would have made my life a lot easier at the time!

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I quilted around the bear, to prevent the fur from being forced flat, but the rest of the quilt was quilted with a simple wood grain inspired pattern. I do remember this quilt being a bit difficult to quilt because of my thread constantly breaking, but I don’t remember why I kept having so many issues.

But I’ll get to make up for those issues by creating a nice easy quilt for Mr. J’s baby brother who’s due in November. He actually shares a due date with Pickle! I’ve been blessed to share pregnancies with three friends now, and I’ve been blessed to give those babies each a quilt!

Happy Quilting!

  • Rita

Lori Holt's Granny's Garden Sew-A-Long: Week 2 Update

This is Lori Holt’s original design. If you’re interested in purchasing the kit or the templates for this pattern you can find that information either on her website  HERE , or I’m sure your favorite local or digital quilt store can help you out.

This is Lori Holt’s original design. If you’re interested in purchasing the kit or the templates for this pattern you can find that information either on her website HERE, or I’m sure your favorite local or digital quilt store can help you out.

Week 2 of Lori Holt’s Granny’s Garden Sew-A-Long has come and gone and I am so happy with the results. These blocks are adorable and somewhat challenging. Lori certainly has the talent for creating designs that are cute but not over-the-top sappy.

The Prime Minister was intent on playing with my quilt blocks, this was the least blurry picture I could manage.

The Prime Minister was intent on playing with my quilt blocks, this was the least blurry picture I could manage.

When I prepared for this sew-a-long I decided to use the freezer paper method to turn my seams and I found myself having a bit of trouble creating nice, perfectly smooth rounded seams. I tried my best and even added some extra work by finger pressing the fabrics first before pressing them with an iron. I even used a pair of tweezers to hold the fabric in place as I sewed on the pieces, and still there are times when a tiny little corner would inappropriately pop up on what’s supposed to be a circle.

Maybe that’s just part of my learning curve, or maybe that’s a problem that inherent to the freezer paper method. Either way, those pesky little corners are something that I’m really going to focus on improving as the sew-a-long continues.

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I’ll also admit to cheating a bit. Some of the leaves and petals throughout a number of blocks are supposed to be pieced so there are multiple fabrics on the same leaf or petal. I’m warning you in advance that I’m skipping that step. The leaves in the first block are supposed to be split between two fabrics, and I’ve decided to skip that step largely because the other green fabric I’m using doesn’t really match well with this green when they’re placed side by side. I would rather have the large over-sized leaves that look cohesive with the whole block.

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Looking forward to updating you next Friday for week 3 of the Granny’s Garden Sew-A-Long for blocks 9 through 12.

Happy Quilting!

  • Rita