Hello there Sampler Sewists – welcome back to Bonjour Quilts for another block in GnomeAngel’s Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt Sew Along.
Today’s block is #86 Priscilla.
I sewed this block twice – once using Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP) and the other using templates. As Angie is outline her FPP adventures, I decided to write about using templates. I will show you both blocks at the end and my thoughts on which method I preferred.
Firstly, choose your fabrics – making sure you have enough contrast between the two colours and that they are ironed and wrinkle free.
Next, you’ll need to find some thin cardboard (cereal boxes and the like are perfect).
Print out the templates from the ‘template’ file on your Farmer’s Wife CD. Make sure you print at 100% and NOT ‘scale to fit’. Double check by measuring the 1 inch marker to make sure it is actually 1 inch.
I cut the paper templates out roughly and then stuck them down on the cardboard. Once the glue dried I cut the templates out, right smack-bang down the middle of the dotted line (this is your seam allowance around the shape itself). Try to be really careful with this step, as it is the basis for all your shapes to come.
I’ll point out that I didn’t use the template for the block’s middle triangles – I decided to rotary cut them. In the ‘rotary cut’ file on your Farmer’s Wife CD you’ll find a single measurement for Priscilla’s triangles. Instead of cutting individual triangles, I cut a square of the same measurement from each fabric and then cut it in half, corner to corner, to yield the two triangles.
I then used Marti Michell’s Corner Trimmer tool to cut the sharp points off my triangles. (More on this below – my triangles didn’t make the grade.)
Now it’s time to cut out the fabric pieces using your templates. I initially used a very sharp lead pencil to trace around each shape and then cut out that shape with scissors – again, right on the line. I decided that was all a bit painful so then I just cut them directly with my rotary cutter, which worked a treat.
It’s very important to make sure you have the whole template completely flattened against your fabric (use all your fingers at various points around the template’s perimeter) and then DON’T MOVE! You will have to play a bit of ‘rotary cutting twister’ as you work your way around the whole shape, but you really do not want to release your pressure on that template or move it at all, as it’s really tricky to line it up again in the middle of a cut. PLEASE BE MINDFUL OF YOUR FINGERS….the aim of the game is to still have all of them at the end :)
Also be careful not to trim off any of your cardboard template. If you do, then successive shapes will get smaller and smaller and will throw out your piecing.
Once you’ve finished cutting around your shape, gently pull all of the surrounding fabric away from the shape BEFORE you release your pressure on the template. That way, if you still have fabric connected you can recut with the template in place.
So here are all the pieces laid out:
Time to sew! If you’ve ever had reason to distrust your quarter-inch seam, now is the time to do a test-and-adjust. You really want your seam to be as close to perfect as possible so everything comes together beautifully.
I sewed all the pieces together in the manner recommended in the book. I began with the larger pieces (just warming up for those wee little triangles) and I pressed those seams away from the centre piece.
That point is cocktail skewer-sharp and I didn’t like the seams overlapping and creating bulk there.
I then picked up the wee triangles and decided that I didn’t like how they were not exactly the same size, so I fished out my corresponding Marti Michell template and recut the four of them. (You will find Marti’s conversion charts for all the Farmer’s Wife blocks over here on her blog.)
I sewed the triangles together and then pressed the seams open. Even if you are a die-hard to-the-side presser (you know who you are) you will want to press these seams open, trust me.
Next up, sew the triangle pieces to the long orange pieces. I pressed that seam away from the triangles.
Then match the centrelines between the two triangles together and sew the centre pieces together – again, press this seam open.
Now it’s time to join the outer pieces to the centre piece. You’ll notice that this will involve some pivoting as the line to be sewn is not straight. To ensure your points match up nicely in the centre, pin these edges together first and sew just the centre triangles to each other. This is where pressing your seams open will come in handy – you can see where the seam lines are and will be able to use them as the start and stop points of your seam.
Once done sewing that middle section, open your fabric and have a sneaky-peak to check that it looks okay. Then you can pin the remaining two seam sections out from the centre – some fabric manipulation will be required here. Don’t yank anything, just coax it into place. Then sew each of the seams, from the centre out, to ensure you don’t get any fabric bunching in the centre.
One side is done, now do the same again for the other side. I pressed both of these outer seams to the outside.
So there you have it, Priscilla in all her glory!
I mentioned earlier that I sewed two blocks, one using FPP and the one you’ve just seen with templates.
FPP (left) versus templates (right)
How did I rate the two processes?
I much prefer using templates. I am not a natural FPPer and find it requires a huge amount of concentration from me. This doesn’t work so well with the stop-start-15 mins-here-15 mins-there kind of life I lead. This concentration requirement also means I couldn’t drink wine while I sewed, which is generally a deal-breaker for me.
It took me four small sewing sessions over two days to complete the block and at the start of each session I wasted 5 mins refamiliarising myself with the FPP process. I know that more FPP would reduce this need, but this time round it was a much less enjoyable sewing experience for me when compared with the templates.
Yes, there is some fiddling around making the templates at the start – but the method is very straight forward. Whenever I had to duck away and cook a meal or wipe a bottom (or refill my glass ;)) it was very easy to jump back in afterwards.
I prefer the template process, but as far as results go, I can’t deny the FPP wins the day. Most of the points were better and the block ended up exactly 6.5″ square as it should be. My template block is about 1/8″ short in each direction. This small discrepancy is fudge-able with sashing, but it still irks me.
So if I had to make this block again, I would chose FPP. I wouldn’t enjoy it that much, but that’s what I’d do. Beauty over comfort (just like my high heel choices, sadly).
What about you? What method are you planning to use (or already have)? Don’t be shy – leave a comment.
For those who have been following along with my four square quilt – I decided that this would not be one of my included quilt blocks. However, through the power of photoshop, here is what it would have looked like:
Thanks for following along. Here’s more info on the Quilt Along for those in need:
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.
Where to find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Sew-Along.
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!
Upcoming block tutorials:
18/12/2015: Kitty @ Night Quilter
CHRISTMAS BREAK – 19/12/2015 to 04/01/2016
Thanks for dropping by and happy sewing!