Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Seeing in Iowa can be found on page 25.
April 1934 exposed the imperious control Hitler and his Nazi Party exerted over the private religious lives of German citizens. Catholics, Protestants, and Lutherans alike spoke out in political opposition to the Nazi's as soon as Hitler was elected. Pope Pious XI and Lutheran minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer both warned against the idolatry of Führer worship and a believer's submission to God replaced with submission to the state. The German government responded by banning and confiscating all Catholic publishing abilities (Catholic schools had been forcefully closed the year before.)
A large number of Lutheran and Protestant churches combined under an umbrella organization called the Confessing Church that arose out of a response to government efforts to unify Protestant churches into a singular, pro-Nazi organization. The Confessing Church, while opposed to Democratic National Socialism on moral and theological grounds, largely fought to maintain ecumenical independence from the government, a separation of church and state. The German government responded by arresting 418 ministers, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The ministers where contained in various prisons and concentration camps, most where executed.
After the arrests of the 418 ministers, the Nazi government established new regulations for all Christian churches regardless of denomination:
- the installation of pro-Nazi leadership
- the expulsion of members of Jewish descent and the implementation of the Aryan Paragraph
- the removal of the Old Testament from the Bible because of it's Jewish tradition
- the removal of "non-German" elements from religious services
- the adoption of a more "heroic" and "positive" interpretation of Jesus, who in pro-Aryan fashion, battled against Jewish moral corruption
The pro-Nazi sentiments forced onto these resisting churches lasted through the end of the Third Reich, but that did not mean that resistance ended. Underground services continued, where parishioners worshiped free of government influence, and even actively worked to smuggle Jews to safety when Jewish "resettlement" programs were enacted.
While working on this bloc series, I find the upheavals in Europe contrasted against the events in the United States sometimes quite jarring. It's not that Americans were unaware of world events, news reels played daily in movie theaters and a majority of Americans attended the theaters on a weekly basis. They knew of the growing Fascist regimes throughout Europe, there were even sympathetic supporters of German, Italian, and Spanish governments in the US. Americans knew of the genocidal policies of the Japanese invasion of China, Korea, an eventually the Philippines. But the efforts of surviving, let alone recovering, from the Great Depression, as well as a true reluctance to sacrifice American men to another European war created a collective feeling of insular attention.
Perhaps, because of the benefit of historical hindsight, it's rather odd that I find myself relating to Seeing's letter to the editor, and while simultaneously feeling a sense of clinical removal from the rest of the world events at the time. I find myself relating to Seeing as she reminds us to take a moment to see the beauty in our everyday lives. How the hectic hustle and bustle of family routines detracts us from living in the moment and appreciate the people around us and beauty of the world we live in. Sometimes a sunrise is all we need to rejuvenate us and reorient our state of mind to be present and patient.
Going into this block I was feeling confident, I knew there were Y-seams, I knew that I know how to sew Y-seams, but was I overconfident! I managed to get through the Ms. Fay block eventually, but there were plenty of seams that where redone several times!
As you can see from the blue B pieces in my finished block, not all of the points are nice and precise. That's because I settled for less than perfect and I'm at peace with that decision.
This block was difficult. It wasn't impossible, it was difficult. If you're newer to quilting or paper piecing (I'm no expert myself), don't skip this block! You wont improve your skills if you never challenge yourself and this block is a great way to do just that. Even if your points aren't perfect, that's OK. Practice those Y-seams and set a goal. Maybe your goal is an unpuckered block, maybe it's a square block, whatever it is don't skip this block!
The second piece of advice I'll give, is to not sew over seam allowances. Make sure to fold seam allowances out of the way and use a lock stitch when piecing your Y-seams. This will help you press the seams so that your block can lay flat and the fabric doesn't pucker. I learned my lesson here, you can see the holes in the paper template where I undid stitches and re sewed the seam.
That also means that sometimes you need to stop stitching a 1/4" away from the edge of the fabric. Lock stitches are your friend! You might be tempted to skip this extra little step on each seam, but it will save you the headache of having to resew seams that have come undone while the fabric is being manipulated or the paper template is removed.