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My name is Kirsty and I’m the guest blogger for the blocks Margaret and Milly in GnomeAngel’s Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt Sew Along. This Sew-Along is sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop and uses Laurie Aaron Hird‘s book The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt.
Margaret (block #57) and Milly (block #62) are very similar – they’re made with the same basic block (HSTs) with just some variations in fabric and orientation.
Angie has already shown you how to use Marti Michell’s fantastic templates (Set A) to make these blocks, so today I’m going to show you a different method: the ‘ole make-two-oversized-HSTs-at-a-time-and-trim-them-back-with-a-ruler method. This makes for perfectly sized HSTs which in turn gives you beautiful points in your blocks.
I like to use the bloc-loc rulers, but any ruler and a cutting board with a 45° diagonal will do the trick. (A fancy rotating cutting board is not a requirement, although it does make things easier.)
Let’s get started with Margaret:
The rotary cutting instructions in the Farmer’s Wife book detail sewing two triangles together to form one HST unit. I prefer the method of sewing two squares together and cutting them apart to make two oversized HST units which can then be trimmed back to give an exact size.
To work out the square size, take the size of the triangle given in the Farmer’s Wife book rotary cutting instructions and add 5/8″ to it. This will give you a whole number. If it’s not a whole number, add ‘er up again!
Margaret is made with three fabrics – one fabric forms the star, the other two form the background.
As far as fabric choices go – ensure your star fabric has enough contrast to stand out from your background fabrics. You will also want to carefully consider using directional fabric as it is tricky to ensure the pattern will always be ‘right side up’. I think small scale, non directional patterns and solids work splendidly with both Margaret and Milly.
You will need 4 squares of your star fabric and 6 squares each for your background fabrics (background 1 and background 2).
Match your squares in pairs:
2 x star squares with 2 x background 1 squares
2 x star squares with 2 x background 2 squares, and
4 x background 1 and 4 x background 2 squares
Here’s a diagram outlining how to sew HST units from your squares:
Your units are now ready to be trimmed. The HSTs should be trimmed to exactly one inch smaller than the squares they were made from.
If you are using the 45° line on your cutting mat, you’ll want to match the diagonal seam line on your HST unit to that 45° line and then trim to the size required using the grid squares.
An example of trimming a HST to 4.5″ using gridlines and 45° line
Whatever method you use, there’s no denying it’s painful – but it sets you up for easy and accurate block assembly. Accurate HSTs teamed with a spot-on quarter inch seam will see these blocks come together beautifully.
Once trimmed, set out your HSTs carefully according to the diagram in the book. This will take some concentration, especially if you are using colours different to the ones shown. Take the time to make sure you’ve got it right (it’s quicker than unpicking later).
I chose to sew my blocks together in rows, and press the seams to alternate sides. I then sewed the rows together, nesting the seams. The final step was to press the last seams open, to reduce bulk.
If you’ve been following my progress to date you’ll know that I’m planning to put my blocks in a four-square arrangement (you can see more on this over here). So I went ahead and made another three blocks and then joined them together:
Now that Margaret’s taken care of, let’s move on to Milly:
The squares for the HST units are the same size as for Margaret (take the size of the triangle given in the Farmer’s Wife book rotary cutting instructions and add 5/8″ to it to get a whole number).
Milly is made with four fabrics. To ensure your pinwheels are recognisable, you will want one fabric (grey shown here) to contrast considerably with the three others. Again, large scale prints will be lost in these small blocks and directional prints will make things a little more difficult (but not impossible).
The colour placement in this one is a doozy, so for ease of reference I’m going to use my colours in the following instructions:
You will need 2 squares of green, 4 squares each of navy and orange, and 6 squares of grey.
Match your squares in pairs:
2 x green squares with 2 x grey squares,
2 x orange squares with 2 x grey squares,
2 x navy squares with 2 x grey squares, and
2 x navy squares with 2 x orange squares.
Sew and cut apart your HST units the same way as shown for Margaret. The HST units should be trimmed back to measure 1 inch smaller than the squares they were made from. Lay your units out as per the book diagram. Check it carefully – there is a lot going on in this block and it’s easy to get it wrong.
With Milly, I experimented with pressing all my seams open. While it did make those busy seam intersections lie a tad flatter, it added the need for careful pinning when joining my rows as the seams no longer nested. Overall, I didn’t feel the flatness gained was worth the time lost – I would stick with the nested seams of the pressing regime shown above for Margaret (of course this is just my recommendation – you should press you seams however you like).
I completed four Milly blocks ready to make my four-square. As Milly is not a symmetrical block (like Margaret), two different four-squares could be formed depending on how the blocks were oriented.
I decided to go with the second configuration. I love the central pinwheel that’s created and the orderliness of the greens meeting together.
And if you’ve made it this far, well done!
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Here are some more links for those who need additional information on the Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt Sew Along:
The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.
Upcoming block tutorials:
10/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com
11/11/2015: Nadra @ Ellis and Higgs
12/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com
17/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com
18/11/2015: Jemima @ Tied with a Ribbon
19/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com
20/11/2015: Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins
24/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com
25/11/2015: Cassie @ Cassandra Madge
26/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com
Where to find answers to the most frequently asked questions.
The facebook group for the Sew-Along can be found here.
Don’t forget every Sunday there will be a link-up party over at GnomeAngel. Come over and show off your beautiful blocks!
Thanks for dropping by and happy sewing!