I started the Farmers Wife 1930’s Quilt back in November 2020. I was working at it regularly for a while and then I dropped the ball! I’ve since picked it back up again, and I’m aiming to finish my quilt this year!
Since re-starting this project, I have filmed Part 1 of my Farmer’s Wife Quilt 1930s video. It explains my scrappy approach to the quilt. It also shows how I go about constructing the foundation paper pieced versions of the blocks.
Table of Contents
- Farmer’s Wife Quilt Update (1930s Sample Quilt) – Video Part 2
- Supply List for the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt
- How To Make the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt
- Farmer’s Wife Sample Quilt Alternative Layouts (9 Options)
- Top Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
Farmer’s Wife Quilt (1930s Sample Quilt) – Video Part 1
The first YouTube Video I did about this quilt showed my process for approaching each block using the Foundation Paper Pieced Templates.
Farmer’s Wife Quilt Update (1930s Sample Quilt) – Video Part 2
This quilt is still a work in progress for me but below is the latest video where I talked about how many blocks I’ve finished and asked subscribers to vote for a final layout.
Where my Farmer’s Wife Quilt Journey Began (2020)
As you might know, I’m new to quilting. So, deciding to take on the Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt probably doesn’t sound like the place to start! There are lots of tiny pieces in some of those blocks!
But one of the things I have done recently to expand my knowledge and get more learning experience is to make some quilting friends and join a local quilt group here in Scotland, where I live. That’s how this project came about.
The quilt group I joined is called Thistle Quilters, and, as well as the larger group, they also have smaller “house groups”—although I joined in 2020 and no one was meeting in anyone’s houses then!
Anyway, the small WhatsApp “house” group that I’m in also met over Zoom once a week, and everyone has been very friendly and welcoming to me, although I’ve only ever met one of the members in person!
Everyone works on their own projects, but it seems like often enough someone suggests doing something at the same time – essentially forming an informal “quilt along.”
Supply List for the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt
Below you will find all the supplies needed to make the traditional quilt blocks for the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt.
- Sewing Machine – you can make this on a domestic machine.
- The Book – Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt.
- CD-Rom Drive & Printer with paper – if you’re wanting to print out the templates from the book. (However, I think I have an older version of the book…I think the newest edition doesn’t have a CD but rather has a link to download the templates which would have been much easier!).
- Fabric – you can use any fabric you like from reproduction 1930s fabrics to scrap fabrics you have leftover from other projects.
- Background Fabric – There are specifications for a white background in the book, but you can choose a different color if you prefer.
- Backing Fabric – chose a neutral, or piece a scrappy quilt backing design of your own..
- Thread – Chose colors that will go well with your fabrics.
How To Make the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt
Constructing the Blocks
You can construct the blocks for your Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt in a number of ways.
There are templates in the book that you can photocopy and cut out. The book also has cutting and piecing instructions, as well as assembly diagrams.
The book also comes with a CD that has all the printable cutting templates as well as templates for Foundation Paper Piecing which is the way I am making my blocks (I believe the updated edition of the book does not have a CD but rather a download link).
In our little house group, there are several of us following along using Foundation Paper Piecing, a couple doing traditional piecing, and even one valiant quilter who is piecing her blocks by hand!
When you do Foundation Paper Piecing, unless you are super precise with your cutting, you are going to end up with more small scraps.
So in order to not be left with another mini scrap pile each time I complete a block for this project I have been making a point of using those scraps to make more of my 3 & 1/2″ Scrappy Quilt Blocks.
Those ‘mini-quilt blocks’ then just get popped away into my plastic box with the other scrappy blocks to be made into a quilt in the future when I have enough!
Scroll down to see my finished Farmer’s Wife Quilt blocks and their mini scrappy quilt block ‘children’.
Thoughts on the Farmers Wife Quilt Book
As far as the book itself goes, it is gorgeous. It has lovely bright colors and it’s all set out very attractively inside.
There is a color image of each block alongside a letter from each of the farmer’s wives. The blocks and letters are in alphabetical order by the author of the letter and creator of the block.
Most of the letters are fairly upbeat, expressing the hope of the farm women of the great depression. It is a comforting experience, to read the inspiring letters as you follow along making each block.
There is also a section about piecing the blocks and assembling the quilt itself in various sizes (more on that below).
My only quibble with the book is that the printable quilt construction diagrams come on a CD. I don’t know about you but I haven’t had a CD-Rom drive in years!
In fact, most of us don’t have one. You can buy external CD-Rom drives of course but that’s an extra expense on top of the price of the book.
What our little group did was make sure every member had bought the book first and then one member who did have a CD-Rom drive downloaded the templates and emailed them to those of us who don’t have one.
Obviously, she is trusting us not to distribute them further and she wouldn’t have sent them to us if we hadn’t already purchased the book (and therefore technically owned a copy of the templates – although locked away on the CD!).
If I hadn’t been part of that group and heard about that solution to get the templates, I might have been put off buying the book because of the need to also buy a CD-Rom. I have to say I’m surprised the publisher hasn’t moved with the times and included a download with the purchase instead. (UPDATE 2023: I have had subscribers tell m the most recent version doesn’t have the CD anymore so this issue appears to be solved!).
My First 4 Quilt Blocks
I will say that although I have tried foundation paper piecing before, this is definitely the most complicated foundation paper piecing I’ve done so far.
Especially block 3 (the purple one) which had a lot of very little pieces and different sections to line up and sew together.
Block 1 – Addie
This was the first block I did. Corners not perfect even with the paper piecing but I’m not an un-picker usually (unless it’s really dire!).
Here is the block along side it’s scrappy ‘child’ block.
Block 2 – Aimee
This is the second block, called ‘Aimee’ and I really like the colour combo of this one, I think it pops a bit more than Block 1.
And the photo below is Block 2 and the two scrappy 3 & 1/2 ” squares I made from the leftovers.
Block 3 – Alice
I have to admit this block took me ages – like two evenings I think.
A lot of the other women in the group were complaining about the amount of small pieces too!
I didn’t actually think it was super difficult, it just took some concentration and some time.
And here are the mini-blocks I made from the scraps.
Block 4 – Ann
After Block 3, this one was a welcome relief with its slightly bigger pieces!
I ended up with quite a few scraps from this block so I got 3 scrappy mini blocks out of it too.
Other Finished Blocks
I have 52 finished blocks that I like and am going to use in my finished quilt. Some of them are more modern patterns, I kind of just went with the scraps that I had access to when I was making it all.
Here’s an updated picture of all my blocks:
Farmer’s Wife Sample Quilt Alternative Layouts (9 Options)
The layout in the book is an on point layout, but I’m not crazy about it. I have come up with some alternative layout options, I’ll share them with you below.
I made all the layouts on a program I have called Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8) but I used their standard traditional-looking blocks for marking up my ideas.
In the program, I could have changed the colors and made my actual blocks, but it’s more of a mapping tool for my ideas so the blocks below are not the real farmer’s wife quilt blocks – just place holders.
I chose a dark grey background for each of the layouts as I think the bright colors of the blocks will really pop with this.
Layout 1 – On Point Strip
My idea here is to keep the blocks on point, but have more negative space, as to me that is more modern. I
Layout 2 – On Point Groups
Again, this layout is on point but the blocks are grouped together in sixes, still with the sashing, but again there is a lot more negative space.
Layout 3 – Staircase
This was a layout I made after I gave up doing on point, they wouldn’t need to be staircased like that but I thought it was neat.
Layout 4 – Rectangle
This was more of a geometric design and would work for the number of blocks that I have.
Layout 5 – Double Rectangle
I expanded on the design above and added a smaller rectangle within the larger rectangle.
Layout 6 – Rectangles and Lines Across
Again, expanding on the design above and adding these lines across the rectangles to join them together.
Layout 7 – Rectangles and A Cross
This is another expansion from the design above, but I got a bit silly with it because this would take even more than the 99 blocks specified in the Farmer’s Wife Quilt!
Layout 8 – Cross
I scaled the idea back and made this simple cross, I quite like it.
Layout 9 – Squares
This one was pretty different, just making square shapes out of the blocks. I like this one, and you could move the squares around, they wouldn’t have to be grouped like this. They could be randomly grouped or grouped in colors, depending on what you have.
- You don’t need to choose the exact quilt size you want to make before you start. I had originally thought I would do all 99 blocks, but it is such a long project, I am yet to finish it but when I do it probably won’t be with all 99 blocks.
- Join a quilting group. Whether it’s a Facebook group or a real-life in-person group, it’s super handy having others there to spur you on and to get tips from them if you do similar projects.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve never heard of the Farmer’s Wife Quilt, it’s a collection of sampler blocks assembled in a book along with some real-life letters written by 1920s farm wives and published in a farmer’s wife magazine.
Laurie Ann Hird compiled the collection of letters and blocks together into two books, the Farmer’s Wife 1920s Sampler Quilt and The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt.
It’s this second book that my little quilting group is following, if you click on the link you can get your own copy of the book and make your own sampler quilt!
This is a 99-Block Queen Size Sampler Quilt. If you make all 99 blocks, and the accompanying recommended background fabric in half-square triangles to put the blocks on point, you will end up with a traditional size Queen Quilt.
I think that is roughly the size we are all aiming for in my group, but I know already that there are a few quilters in our group who are sashing their blocks as they go so they might end up with a different layout and size.
I haven’t decided what I will do as far as sashing or background, so I’ll leave that to the end, but I am determined to make all 99 blocks. So far, I’ve made 4! So I’ve got a ways to go!
The Farmer’s Wife Quilt is made up of six-inch quilt blocks when they are finished. The blocks will be six and a half inches square when they are unfinished.
Paper Piecing is when you sew fabrics to a paper foundation in order to stabilize the quilt block. You would do this when there are unusual geometric shapes or small pieces used. I found it useful .
Of course not! It’s totally a personal choice. Most of the women in my little virtual quilt group are using more traditional fabrics, some liberty prints, and very clear color palettes like brown and maroon. Very much in keeping with the 1930s origin of the blocks and the letters.
I am, of course, attempting to make most of my blocks using scrap fabric, and I don’t have a whole lot of these types of fabrics.
Although I did find one liberty fabric scrap from a bundle I bought from someone else that I used in Block 3. It was touch-and-go as to whether I was going to have enough to finish the block!
Given that I’m working with what I have, I’ve decided to make a more colorful version of this quilt.
I’m going bright and I think in the end there will be a sort of rainbow theme to my Farmer’s Wife Quilt.
I’ll be dictated to a bit by what scraps I have but I am trying to make each block in a rough color family, so far Teal, Pink, Purple, and Yellow.
The vague idea I have is to have either sections or rows in the layout that have different hues of the same color and then move on to another color as you move along the quilt…we’ll see how that goes!
Want to Quilt Along with me?
This is an informal quilt along with my little local quilt group and as much as I’d love to invite you all to join the group itself, I’m the newbie so I think I might get in trouble for that!
But- if you fancy quilting along with me there is still plenty of time to catch up – seriously…plenty of time!!
I’d love to see your take on the blocks! Tag me on Instagram @scrapfabriclove so I can see your photos of your Farmers Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt Blocks.
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