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1930's Farmer's Wife: Caroline

The Caroline block can be found on page 60 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 179 for template instructions.)

The Caroline block can be found on page 60 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 179 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by What-Is-Man in Montana can be found on page 12.

July 1933

A governmental decree made it illegal for a parent to name their Hitler, or any variant of Hitler. This decree came at an interesting time, just days before an Austrian newspaper printed a three page story claiming proof that Hitler had Jewish heritage on his mother’s side, and still had Jewish family members in the city of Polna. Other rumors have been added to the mystery surrounding Hitler’s family origins, including a debate on whether he is the product of an incestuous relationship between his mother and her uncle, which some scholars believe to be substantive. Either way, it is interesting to note that Alexander Basch, the Polna city registrar had died around the time of the newspaper’s publication. Hitler also ordered the destruction of all official documentation regarding his heritage, so it is very unlikely that historians will ever have any solid evidence to validate or refute these rumors.

The United States was experiencing it’s own bit of rumor as a bizarre event was unfolding, known as the Business Plot. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, at the time the highest ranked and most decorated Marine, claims to have been approached by a number of wealthy business men with the intention of creating a fascist veteran’s organization that would launch a coup against the United States government and overthrow President Roosevelt.

At the time, the Business Plot was dismissed as a hoax, but historians now agree that something was afoot even if a coup never actually materialized. It’s believed that Roosevelt’s decision to end the gold standard, the Securities Act of 1933, and the promise of government subsidized jobs were the main motivating factors for the alleged coup. Those reconstructions of the US economy lead to inflation and the undermining of personal and corporate wealth (the value of the dollar dropped 30% practically overnight), and were seen as socialist expansion of government control over private business. In 1934 it was decided that a Congressional investigation was necessary, although the investigation found there was no evidence to substantiate the claims make by Butler.

 But what I find interesting is that as events were taking place world wide that set the groundwork for some of the most life altering, atrocious events in history, everyday Americans were focused on living and life. The early thirties were the height of the Great Depression and Americans like What-Is-Man were counting their blessings. All things necessary for the sun to rise, or snowflakes to fall, or bodies to form and function are amazing if you just take the time to think about them.

The Block

 While writing this blog post I couldn’t find any pictures or notes I usually take while making each of the Farmer’s Wife blocks. So that means there’s no paper template or pre-cut sizes for you today. I would suggest, as always, to color your paper template so that it’s easier for you to keep fabrics in order. There are lots of pieces that are the same shape and size and it’s better to be prepared than it is to rip seams!


Happy Quilting!

  • Rita

Baby Bow Tie Quilt


Several months ago I finished this bow tie baby quilt that I had pieced together from my WIPs collection and apparently I never wrote a blog post about it. So now I’m playing catch up.

I had tried to take some nice, clear pictures of this quilt, but the Prime Minister decided to he wanted to help. I might be biased, but I think the pictures turned out cuter this way.


The quilt is a nice lap or tummy time size and measures 36” x 54”. I used a layer cake of Moda’s 1930’s Playtime Basics and some other red, purple, and white fabric I found in my stash. The backing is some kind of polyester blend designed to imitate a felt. I don’t remember where I got it from, but it was thick enough to use as a baking and skip batting all together. I know you’re not supposed to mix fabrics when quilting, but this fabric was just cute and fuzzy enough I think that the cotton top will mesh nicely with the backing, and after a number of washings I haven’t noticed any real shifting or shrinking in the layers.


The quilting itself is very simple. I just used a stitch in the ditch along each of the 36” seams. My Singer Quantum has been on the fritz lately and I haven’t been able to sew on it, so I used the Featherweight, meaning I didn’t even try free motion. But that’s ok, the Featherweight is quickly becoming my favorite sewing machine and I love simple straight quilting anyways.


When I made this quilt, I didn’t have anyone in mind to give it to. I just wanted to knock off another to-do from my WIPs collection. M seems to have claimed it for herself though because I keep finding it wrapped around her baby dolls and favorite stuffed animals. That’s just fine with me, I’d rather my quilt be loved than stuffed in a closet waiting to be gifted.


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