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1930's Farmer's Wife: Fern

The Fern block can be found on page 62 of the  1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler  (page 194 for template instructions.)

The Fern block can be found on page 62 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 194 for template instructions.)

Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by I Serve in Indiana can be found on page 16.

July 1932

 1932 was not a particularly good year for the international economy. The Anglo-Irish Trade War stated at the beginning of July when the British Parliament implemented a 100% tariff on all Irish goods. This tariff was a retaliation against the Irish decision to end the payment of land annuities to the British that dated from the 1880’s. The annuities had been designed as a way for Irish tenant farmers to purchase land from their British landlords, but ultimately constituted a never ending form of income for those British landlords and their descendants. In the short term, the trader war was devastating to the Irish economy which had already felt the extended effects of the American Great Depression. But in the long run, the Irish would benefit from the trade war with increased trade, no tariffs, and the repayment of £400 million in over taxation by the British government.

 In the United States the economy was faring even worse. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 41.22 points, its absolute lowest point of the Great Depression and a 90% loss of its value from the peak of September 1929. As an attempt to boost the economic power of the average American, President Herbert Hoover signed the Emergency Relief and Construction Act into law.  The ERC Act released federal funds for public construction works, with the intention of creating temporary government jobs for the duration of construction. Unfortunately this only helped lead to inflation and an even greater drop in the buying power of the dollar.

 But as the US economy was slipping further into depression, Americans like I Serve reminded one another to serve both our communities but also ourselves. Serving communal needs helps to build relationships and remind us that sometimes the grass really isn’t greener on the other side. And while I Serve warned that too much self-service leads to selfishness, it is important to take a moment for ourselves. I think we can all relate to her sense of peace and accomplishment that comes with finishing a quilt, especially when we can share them with friends.

The Block


Unfortunately I lost the list of pre-cut sizes I had written down while making the Fern block, and I’m just too lazy to remeasure them, so you’re on your own this time. But I have faith you’re capable of measuring template sizes.

As always, I would highly recommend coloring or labeling which fabric goes where. There are lots of little pieces and it’s easy to place the wrong fabric in the wrong place.

The Fern block can be a little tricky if you’re not used to Y-seams, but the angle of these seams is rather large so the seams aren’t too tricky to sew. I started by sewing the very center seam the aligns with the A piece, the very center square. Lock your seams at the start and end of the line, this will make it easier for you when you start manipulating the block.


When you’re ready to sew the seams along the C pieces, pin in place, and finger press the block open before you use an iron. This will help you see if you need to pull out the seam ripper and readjust the pieces. When I was happy with the way I had sewn the seams, I pressed the seams towards the center of the block.

I typically don’t press dark fabrics towards light fabrics, but sometimes you just do what you have to do in order to make a block sit flat.


Happy Quilting!

  • Rita