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1930's Farmer's Wife: Peony

The Peony block can be found on page 145 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 240 for template instructions.)

The Peony block can be found on page 145 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 240 for template instructions.)

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

January 1938

January 1938 opened the year with some ominous changes in Europe.  In Germany, Jews where prohibited from changing their names to prevent them from hiding familial origins.  Both Italy and the Soviet Union began expanding their navies, Romania stripped the citizenship of some 270,000 Jews, and Japan suspended all diplomatic communication with the Chinese government as Japan expanded it's military occupation.

In America some more benign events too place: the first ski-tow came into operation in Vermont, the March of Dimes was founded as an organization to fight childhood polio, Benny Goodman held the first Jazz concert at Carnegie Hall, and the US National Bank elected it's first female president, Frances Moulton.

The events taking place in the States sound boring compared to those around the world, but I think people forget that boring is a blessing sometimes.  A lesson that Longing for the Farm learned the hard way.  The glitz and glamour of the big city wasn't all glitter and gold for Longing, who took for granted the calm and quiet of the country and the true relationships offered by neighbors.  A nice lesson for those who dream about what others have (myself included) rather than being thankful for what's in front of us.  Maybe instead of coveting the green grass on the other side, we should water our own.

The Block


Dear God, for the love of all things holy do not make this block like Laurie did! That woman is a master of magic because I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how she pieced the Peony block!  


I thought I had everything figured out: I had my pattern colored and laid out, I had my pre-cuts arranged just so, and then for the next 5 hours it all went down hill from there!  I don't know if I pieced in the wrong order or what but clearly things did not pan out.  That's why my version is different, if not a bit sloppy, because I ended up making it up as as I went along.  I think you can tell from my pictures that I had a change of plans!

I've still listed all of the pre-cuts I measured out originally, maybe one of you number whizzes can spot if that's where I messed up, because I think we all know that numbers are not my strong suit!


pre-cut measurements

A1 (1) 1 1/2 x 1 1/2"          B1 (2) 3 x 3"                   C1 (2) 2 1/4 x 2 1/4"

A2 (2) 2 1/4 x 2 1/4"      B2 (4) 1 3/4 x 1 3/4"         C2 (6) 1 3/4 x 1 3/4"

                                  B3 (2) 1 3/4 x 1 3/4"         C3 (4) 1 1/4 x 1 1/4"

                                  B4 (4) 1 1/4 x 1 /14"          C4 (4) 2 x 1 1/4"


I had no problem piecing the parts of the pattern.  My problem arose when it was time to piece all of the parts together.  Now that I'm finished with the block and I'm no longer a stressed out monster mom, I'm starting to think that there were probably some Y-seams required that I wasn't originally aware of.  Y-seams and partial seams in one block, that's just mean!  Maybe I'll try this block again, but then again I say that a lot and never actually do!


The sections of the pattern that I ended up discarding was the A2 piece and all of the C pieces.  

The 2 1/2 x 1" rectangle and the new A2 piece added to the B pieces.

The 2 1/2 x 1" rectangle and the new A2 piece added to the B pieces.

The A2 piece I increased in size to a 3" square, which was sewn onto the B1-B3 seam. Cut 2 squares in half for 4 half-square triangles. 


All of the C pieces were replaced with(4) 2 1/2 x 1" rectangles.  In the pictures, the rectangles I added on where wider than 1".  That's because I over compensated with the intention of trimming down, I got the 1" width from measuring the final block.

This is the final layout I went with.  The partial seams aren't hard at all if you've never done them before, just remember to back stitch at the start and finish of your stitches, and always leave the seam allowance unstitched!  

The block squared to 5 1/2".  Some of those seams are thick!

The block squared to 5 1/2".  Some of those seams are thick!

If you were cautious like me, and over estimated the width of your rectangles, why will hang over a bit, but just trim them to size when you finish piecing so that your block is more likely to be squared.

Also, because I didn't really know what I was doing after a certain point and I'm terrible at math and Handsomepants wasn't around to help me, I ended up with a block was too small, around 5 3/4".  I squared the block to 5 1/2" because I some bias pulling and uneven seams, and then added a boarder of (2) 1 x 5 1.2" strips and (2) 1 x 6" strips and then trimmed down to a nice 6 x 6" square.  

 If you're not interested in adding a small boarder I think you can skip it if you cut the A1 piece as a 2" square, but I would double check that math! 


 I hope you have better luck on the Peony block than I did! Don't forget to share on Instagram with #PQCfarmerswife

Happy Quilting!

- Rita