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Mr. D's Baby Quilt


Handsomepants and I are so excited for some friends who recently had some big changes in their lives.  They bought a house, which in the Denver market is a feat in itself; and more importantly they had their first baby, a little boy, and the delivery was apparently went "freaking awesome!" 

I haven't had a chance to meet the little guy because I've been unable to shake a nasty stomach flu and the last thing new parents with a 2 week old need is a stomach flu!  But i did manage to make this little baby quilt finished on time for MR. D's baby shower (I missed it because of this stupid stomach flu), so I know he'll be nice and warm in this crazy Colorado weather.

Cutting Instructions

Some other materials you'll need include a fabric choice for the letter in the center block, and paper of some kind to create a template for your letter.  I used freezer paper so that I could avoid using pins to secure the paper to the fabric.  If you like to use fusible webbing for applique, grab some of that and ignore the applique instructions in Step 1.

White Fabric

A (2) 7 x 43" strips

B (2) 7 x 28" strips

C (6) 3 1/2 x 7" rectangles

D (2) 3 1/2 x 28" strips

Blue Fabric

(9) 7" squares

(1) 6" square

Step 1

Start by making the center square with the letter on it.  Trace and secure your paper template to the fabric and cut the fabric 1/4" away from the paper.  My letter was 5.5 x 4.4"  I originally wanted the "D" to be 4.5" wide, but I free-handed the curve of the "D" and being off by 1/8" was close enough for me.

 Iron under the 1/4" allowance so that the letter has a smooth edge the won't unravel.  Snip the 1/4" allowance into small sections around corners and rounded edges if you need to.


Step 2

When your letter is finished, center the letter on the 7" square that is going to be the center of your quilt top.  You can do this by subtracting the height of your letter from the height of the fabric square, and divide the difference by two.  That result is how much space you'll place your letter away from the top and bottom edges.  Repeat that math formula for the left and right sides.  

To clarify, my letter is 5.5 x 4.4".  To determine the distance from the top and bottom of the 7" square I should place the letter I follow this equation: 7 - 5.5 = 1.5  then I divide 1.5 / 2 = .75.  That means that my letter should line up 3/4" from the tops and bottoms of the 7" square.  To determine the distance from the left and right sides of the &" square I should place the letter, I follow the same steps according to the width of the letter.  7 - 4.4 = 2.6, divided 2.6 / 2 = 1.3.  As you can see in the picture above, I used two ruler to help me center my letter.  The top black ruler is set 3/4" of an inch from the top, and the side yellow ruler is set 1.3" from the edge of the square.  Pin your letter in place.


Step 3

Sew on the letter to the 7" square.  I lengthened my strait stitch as long as possible and eyeballed the needle placement.  Try to keep the needle placement as close to the edge of the letter as possible, that will keep the letter's 1/4" allowance from slipping out and unraveling.


If you choose to use a decorative stitch to applique the letter on, I would suggest a few basting stitches to keep the letter from sliding around. 

I would also suggest removing the paper template before you start the decorative stitches or else you'll spend the next couple of hours digging out tiny pieces of paper from underneath the stitches.  I learned my lesson when I last minute decided to use a zig-zag stitch instead of a strait stitch.  I didn't catch my mistake until I finished the inside of the "D."

Step 4 

Piece together the 7" squares and  3.5 x 7" rectangles so that there are 3 squares and 2 rectangles to form three rows.  Attach the rows with the 3.5 x 28" strips.  Then piece the 7 x 28" and 7 x 43" strips and square up the corners.  Press seams open.


I will admit that I regret how the stitches look in the quilting.  I don't know if the tension was off slightly or what, but I just don't like that it looks like the needle stabbed the fabric to death.  At first I didn't realize how stippled the the stitches look, but the more I look at these pictures, I'm rather frustrated with how they turned out.

 This is one of my favorite fabrics.  I don't usually gravitate towards batiks, but this one reminds me of fireflies in the summer and I love it!

This is one of my favorite fabrics.  I don't usually gravitate towards batiks, but this one reminds me of fireflies in the summer and I love it!

Because I'm a classic procrastinator, I didn't have much time for much fancy quilting, so I did a simple stitch in the ditch around the 7" blocks and then 1" away from the blocks.  Simple and basic, but it helps reiterate the grid pattern of the quilt.


I also have a little mishap once finished.  Little Man got a hold of an orange highlighter and I was able to stop him from scribbling all over the quilt, but he did manage to do some damage.  I washed the quilt and thankfully had no problem getting out the stain!

 Vanity shot: check out that stitch in the ditch!

Vanity shot: check out that stitch in the ditch!


I can't wait to not be sick anymore so that I can go visit little Mr. D for the first time!  I would say that making baby quilts gives me baby fever, but I only have another 10 weeks before another of my own little peanuts pope out!  What a great excuse to go fabric shopping!


Happy Quilting!

- Rita

1930's Farmer's Wife: Nellie


The Nellie block can be found on page 102 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 236 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Happy in Minnesota can be found on page 10.

February 1935

Some unwise changes were taking place across Europe in regards to Nazi Germany.  Britain and France voted in favor of legalizing German armament, which had been outlawed in the Treaty of Versailles as the end of the First World War, and limited German arms to a police force.  For some reason the French and British delegates sought to offset German armament with a treaty promising mutual military support if either Britain or France were the victim of an aerial attack from Germany. 

Hindsight is 20/20 of course and it's easy to judge decisions made in the past, but why the legalization of German armament was on the proverbial table, I don't know.  But Britain and France were not the only country to suspect that Germany was up to no good.  Polish spies in Germany were working to uncover information on the 1939 German Invasion of Poland as early as 1932, but spying was dangerous work.  On February 16, the Baroness Benita von Falkenhayn became the second to last person in German to be beheaded by axe after she was tried and found guilty of treason and espionage against Germany on behalf of the Polish government.  If you're interested in more on Benita von Falkenhayn, check out this link to the Time's original article published on Feb. 25, 1935.

In the United States, things were a little more relaxed.  One major headline plastered across announced the closing of the final chapter of the Lindbergh kidnapping case.  A jury deliberated for 11 hours before finding Ritchard Hauptman guilty of kidnapping and murdering Charles Lindbergh Jr.  He was sentenced to death.  

The Parker Bros. released the first version of the game Monopoly.  Monopoly had first been patented under the name The Landlord's Game, created by Elizabeth Magie in 1903.  While some initial controversy over the proper patenting of the game impacted American patent law, the game itself had a real world impact on Americans.  During World War II, the US and British secret service created false humanitarian charities that distributed the game to POW's in German prison camps.  Within the game pieces were real money, maps, and other small instruments that could help the soldiers to escape.  It's rather amazing that a simple game can change or even save lives, it's little things that can make all the difference.

I really appreciate the simple pleasure that Happy in Minnesota takes in the simple luxuries in her new home: a linoleum floor, a new range oven, and a lamp in the living room.  I can certainly relate to how nice having a finished floor is, considering we lived without one for the last 4 months.  But what I thought was the most interesting thing Happy was excited for was the lamp in her new living room.  In the 1930's only about 70% of Americans had electricity in their homes.  Most of those American's lived in cities.  If a farmer was blessed enough to have electricity, they had to provide it themselves with the use of either a water turbine, a windmill or a gasoline generator.  How often do we take these small luxuries for granted, and are they really that small?  

The Block


The Nellie block is one of those blocks that you definitely want to color the templates before you start chopping up your fabric!  There are so many tiny 1 1/2" squares that's easy to get your eye's crossed and mess up!

Even though I colored my templates blue and yellow, I decided to switch to a purple.  This gave my block a muted look instead of a bright, vibrant checkerboard look.  Also, I know that I labeled 4 sections for pre-cuts, but the B and C are essentially the same sections.  Sometimes I just do things without thinking them through all the way, and things always end up more complicated than they needed to be.


A (4) 2 x 2     

B (4) 2 x 1 1/4   

C (4) 2 x 1 1/4   

D (40) 1 1/4

Keep your seams neat and strait because all of the corners in this block will be immediately noticeable.  Also keep in mind to press your fabrics, not iron them.  Stretching your fabrics will help skew your corners.  This block was the potential to be bogged down with with thick seams, so pressing is important!


Happy Quilting!

- Rita

1930's Farmer's Wife: Anne

 The Anne block can be found on page 46 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 164 for template instructions.)

The Anne block can be found on page 46 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 164 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Ruth in North Dakota can be found on page 10.

February 1933

February 1933 introduced some odd and deadly new programs in Nazi Germany.  The concentration camp Dachau was opened.  Initially Dachau was not a death camp, but instead used to house political opponents, dissidents, alcoholics and prostitutes.   This led to an intellectual and political exodus out of Germany, including Albert Einstein who emigrated to the United States. 

At the same time Hitler introduced one of his first socialist programs: the People's Car program, or more commonly known as the Volkswagen.  Porsche motors was tasked with the chore of designing a family friendly car that was completely subsidized by the German government.  The Volkswagen has since become of the most easily recognizable vehicles today.

Meanwhile in America, the Great Depression reached it's highest levels of unemployment, nearly 26% of Americans were out of work.  For those who did still manage to hold down a job, the average annual income was around $1,550.  In a few months consumer and employment conditions would worsen when severe drought and strong winds devastated middle-American farmers with the Dust Bowl, which resulted in some 2.5 million farmers and their families abandoning their farms in the hopes of finding employment in a city.  With these farming and employment conditions, it's no surprise that Ruth in North Dakota admits to not being able to afford a radio or her own books to read.

I have to admit, Ruth's description of winter in North Dakota sounds absolutely miserable.  There is a reason I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado and I hear the North Dakota is colder than Wisconsin, like I said, miserable.  And not being able to see friends for weeks at a time, I would die!  I am every bit a classic extrovert and I need people to survive.  North Dakota in winter sounds like the kind of place that Handsomepants would love, he's weird but I still love him.  But despite the lonely cold, I can appreciate Ruth's admissions to keep life simple.  Sometimes we get too caught up in the business of life, keeping up appearances, and running the kids around that we forget the important things in life: quality time with your self, with your family, and with your friends.

The Block

 Sorry I forgot the D pieces, I don't know what I was thinking when I took pics!

Sorry I forgot the D pieces, I don't know what I was thinking when I took pics!

At first glance I thought that the Anne block was more intimidating that it actually was.  I think it's because of the slight variations of angles, but I got nervous for absolutely no reason.  But because some of the angles are wonky, the pre-cut sizes I list below are over sized.  Be sure to trim your seam allowances after ever seam in order to keep your block neat and organized.    

It's also very helpful to twirl your seams as you begin piecing the templates together or else you will end up with a ball of seams at the center of the block.  The center is going to be quite thick anyway, but twirling will greatly reduce that extra bulk from the seams.

The Pre-Cuts

A (8) 2 3/4 x 2 3/4"

B (8) 2 3/4 x 2"

C (8) 1 x 2 1/2"

D (8) 1 1/2 x 1 1/2"


Happy Quilting!

- Rita

1930's Farmer's Wife: Katherine

 The Katherine block can be found on page 28 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 208 for template instructions.)

The Katherine block can be found on page 28 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 208 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Mrs. H. B. C. in Texas can be found on page 12.

February 1931

Some events in Europe began unfolding that at the time might have seemed significant, but would lay the groundwork for some very momentous events indeed.  In February 1931, the Spanish government of Damaso Berenguer fell, leaving  Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar-Cabanas as Prime Minister.  Aznar became prime minister at a time when the Spanish public was split between factions of loyal monarchists, constitutional-monarchists, communists, and republicans.  (Republicans were not like the American party, they were largely a group who advocated for a full democratic political system.)  While Aznar attempted to save the political party of King Alfonso III, the king was still forced to flee the country only 2 months later.  The political tension in Spain would explode into full civil war in another 5 years, resulting in Francisco Franco ruling Spain as a dictator from 1936-1975.

In the United States some interesting events took place.  Serious efforts to begin the repeal of the 18th Amendment and end Prohibition were cropping up throughout the country.  Catholics were able to hear the voice of Pope Pius XI for the first time as the Vatican began broadcasting from it's own radio station, this was quite significant considering the Catholics are still the largest religious denomination in 35 states today.  Over the course of 1931 unemployment rates doubled to 17%, affecting roughly 21,080,000 people.  Unemployment rates continued to grow as the spending power of the American consumer fell, causing manufacturers to close as demand for their products fell.

Perhaps it's with this background of knowing a bleak financial future awaits more Americans, I found Mrs. H. B. C.'s Letter to the Editor rather bitter sweet but I don't exactly know why.  I admire how she and her husband worked to make themselves successful farmers and successful parents.  I think we forget how hard farming was at the beginning of the 1900's where electricity and running water were rare.  But Mrs. H. B. C. is writing to share how she can take pride in a fertile farm she helped develop, despite some years of hardship.  She can take pride in a loving family that she raised.   And now she can reminisce all of the good times, and the bad, and relax and enjoy the rest she's earned after decades of hard work. 

The Block


When you piece together the A and B pieces, be sure to keep your 1/4" seam allowances, or else you'll end up with blunt points.  Look up at the top picture and you'll see when I mean.  Some of the blue pieces aren't so perfect.  But that being said, the Katherine block was pretty fun, quick, and easy to piece together.



A (8) 1/2 x 2"

B (8) 2 1/2 x 2 1/2"




I don't know about how your year has been going, but our family has been through the ringer!  Two boughts of the stomach flu, a sinus infection and step throat all before the end of February!  Handsomepants and I are are worn out and the kiddos a have new mattresses, and I can only hope we avoid the flu.  At least I've had some quality quilting time and hopefully I'll have some more quilt posts up for you guys soon!

Happy Quilting!

- Rita

1930's Farmer's Wife: Aimee

 The Aimee block can be found on page 20 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 161 for template instructions.)

The Aimee block can be found on page 20 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 161 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Bookworm in Wisconsin can be found on page 8.

February 1934

February 1934 was an interesting time in Europe.  Politics between Austrian Socialists and the conservative Christian Home Guard had been pitched since the end of WWI, but had finally become violent in the early 1930's, finally culminating in a 4 day civil war between Feb. 12 and Feb. 16.  The chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss disbanned the National Council, effectively making himself dictator.  He styled himself after Mussolini and the Estado Novo in Portugal.  

Dollfuss also dissolved all opposition parties including the Democratic Socialists and the Nazi party (the National Democratic Socialists), who made up a combined 44% of Austria's voting population.  This proved to be a disastrous mistake for Dollfuss, who was assassinated later that year by order of Adolf Hitler who was then able to annex Austria with the support of a considerable portion of the population. 

Fortunately things in America were less volatile.  Outside of a cab driver strike in New York City and a tragic train derailment in Pittsburgh, life in America remained relatively benign.  The Great Depression was still in full swing although the unemployment rate had begun to fall and was now hovering just over 21%.  Movie attendance was still high, with 60 million Americans visiting a cinema at least once a week.  And Ladies in the country were saving their spare pennies to purchase new books, like Bookworm in Wisconsin. 

I felt an immediate comeradery with Bookworm and her need to build a personal library.  Once upon a time I was quite the book worm myself.  But when I moved for college I donated about a third of my books, when I got married I donated another third, and when we moved to Denver I donated about half of what was left.  My little collection now only takes up 3 book shelves and I find myself missing those books I got rid of.

I appreciate Bookworm's recognition that sometimes we just need an escape, even if it's only for an hour before bed. Whether your escape is a book or that new addictive TV show everyone is talking about, it's important to take some you-time to decompress and relax.  I, for one, am a fan of hot baths behind locked bathroom doors where tiny humans can't find me!

I like the last two lines of poetry that Bookworm ended her letter with, so I looked them up.  They come from the poem The Land of Story-books by Robert Louis Stevenson and I've added the poem below.  I reminded me that we as a society in general don't read poetry any more, which is rather sad even if I'm guilty myself of not reading it.

At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.

Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back.

There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter’s camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed.

These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink.

I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about.

So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Story-books.
— Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850 - 1894

The Block


I really like this block, but I can't figure out why some of my stitches are clearly visible at the seams, oh well.  I guess I'll have to be more careful with my pressing next time.


Because all of the pre-cut sizes I listed below are either squares or rectangles, be sure to trim your seam allowances after you piece each seam.  This will keep you seams clean and will prevent thick unseemly seams (see what I did there!) when you press your block.



A1 (4) 2 1/2 x 2"           B1 (4) 3 1/4 x 3 1/4"

A2 (4) 3 x 1 3/4"          B2 (4) 3 3/4 x 1 1/4"

                                 B3 (4) 1 3/4 x 1 3/4"

                                 B4 (8) 1 3/4 x 1 3/4"


Happy Quilting!

- Rita