More from the Farm

Farmer's Wife 1930s

The process of making these fiddly little Farmer’s Wife blocks is so much fun. I spent a couple of hours last week (watching The Americans on Amazon) pairing up fabrics for the next 30 blocks on my list. That bit was just as enjoyable as actually finishing the blocks.

The method I’ve figured out so far involves:

1. Pairing up fabrics with the same feel as the ones in the book

2. Add a sticky note with block name and number to the chosen fabrics

3. Use Marti Michell conversion guides to cut the pieces from her templates for each block and lay out the pieces on a small design board

4. Sew, press, and photograph! Post on blog and Instagram, of course! It’s much more fun when you share your progress and poke around the various quilt-along hashtags to see the blocks others are making.

Farmer's Wife 1930s

I added some more fabric since I posted last week, bringing my fabrics used up to six collections:

Bread N Butter by American Jane

Lighthearted by Ayumi Mills

Morningside Farm by Darlene Zimmerman

Retro 30s Child Smile from Lecien

30s Playtime Basics by Chloe’s Closet (I absolutely adore this entire line but have restricted myself to a few fat quarters I picked up at my LQS – Urban Spools)

Milk, Sugar & Flower by Elea Lutz (I’m adding some scraps as I finish cutting out my Star Blossoms quilt. This line will be sparse in the final quilt.)




Some of my blocks have ended up a bit too large and I’ve lost my points – like the Mrs. Keller block above. I suppose I need to square up some of the components and be especially careful with the blocks that have so many pieces. I wonder if others who are using their own templates from the book are having this issue or if this is an issue with the Marti Michell templates? Or an issue with me?!

I’m collecting my blocks under a single hashtag if you’d like to see them all together (If you are also making this quilt, please do the same! I love seeing different quilters’ blocks all gathered in one spot.) Click {here} to see mine.

Springing Forward

Well, it’s about a million years since I last blogged. Whenever I look around and realize what day or month it is, I think “I can’t believe it’s the first of March already!” and look, here we are on the first of March and it’s practically spring. Life really does go by so very quickly.  I spent a good chunk of February extremely under the weather and now I’m making up for lost time.

I’ve been cutting out blocks to get going on my Star Blossoms quilt. I could not dig up the matching background fabric for the first and only block I made last year so I’m really starting over completely. Just plain, easy white Bella Solids 9900-98, my go-to white.

Star Blossoms QuiltThe fabric is Milk Sugar Flower by Elea Lutz. The cutest ever. Pink and mint and orange and red and aqua!

I’m also working on my Farmer’s Wife 1930s blocks! I bought the book for the first one and made zero blocks. This go round I bought the Marti Michell templates (which is quite an investment). The acrylic templates make the process much easier, at least for me. I hate making templates from template plastic. Marti’s templates all have those trimmed corners which make the blocks go together so smoothly, even with the tiniest pieces.

Farmer's Wife 1930s



So far three fabric collections have made it into my FW basket – Bread N Butter by American Jane, Lighthearted by Ayumi Mills, and Morningside Farm by Darlene Zimmerman. There’s plenty of fabric there but I may add a few fun FQs here and there as I go.  I absolutely love making these blocks and I think after I’ve finished the 99 (!!!) for the 1930s book, I’ll go back and do the original Farmer’s Wife.

Happy early spring to you all…

End of Year Reckoning

WIP OrganizationThat sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? 2015 is rapidly winding down and this week feels like a good time to take inventory of my works in progress (WIPs). I think I skipped this entirely last year and things have gotten out of control. I’m preparing to overhaul and organize my sewing room so I will have to face these piles and bins one way or another. WIP Organization

My full list is {here} but it’s way….way…way too long. I have it broken down into categories which supposedly helps me stay motivated to finish things. I’m laughing as I type that.  My plan is to work on nothing but these categories for the entire first quarter of 2016.  There’s plenty here to keep me busy for the entire year but I have to indulge my desire for NEW projects as some point. Feed the fabric beast, you know.

PIECING – ALMOST COMPLETE: Just needs a few more blocks/sashing/etc.

COMPLETED TOP: Time to baste!

QUILTING & BINDING: Self-Explanatory



WIP Organization

There are so many finished quilt tops that it’s really ridiculous. I made myself a simple printable to organize those so I can do some shopping for bindings and backings while the end of year sales are happening. It’s very likely that I have a lot in my stash I can use. (Why is that so hard to do?!?!?!)

You can download the printable for yourself {here}. The font I’ve used for the form fields is A Gentle Touch which you can download for free. If you don’t have it installed on your computer, it will default to a basic font.

See you all in 2016!

Counting Down to Christmas

Christmas 2015

We are fully in the holiday spirit around here. Our tree is trimmed…

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

All the presents are wrapped

Christmas 2015

The gingerbread house has been skillfully iced and stuck with candies

Christmas 2015

We are drinking plenty of cocoa for these 70-degree Texas winter days

Christmas 2015

This year’s Christmas quilt is nearly complete (you know, the one I started last year)

Christmas 2015

I even ordered Christmas cards!

Christmas 2015

All in all, it’s been a festive month and we still have 11 days to go until the big day. I’ve actually done a lot less this year than years past in terms of activities and it’s been nice to spend weekends at home doing quiet things with just the four of us.  2015 has been a big year in many ways and that bigness has been wonderful but also sometimes overwhelming. I’ve felt pretty constantly busy doing a lot of not so important things sandwiched in between big meaningful things. So I’m sort of taking December off from obligations and only saying yes to the things that I/we want to do. Fun family time. Picnics at the park. Naps for children and adults. Cookie making. Cookie eating. Small gatherings with dear friends. Marathons of old TV series that I missed. Drinking lots of lattes.

It’s been wonderful.

Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas season.

Fall Sewing

Fall is the time of year when I want to sew all the things! It has finally cooled off here in Texas. We’ve got rain and clouds all week long – the perfect weather to stay indoors sipping coffee and cutting out quilts (and watching Netflix, etc.!). The list of Christmas gifts, decorations, and quilts I want to make seems to grow each year and includes several projects lingering from last Christmas.

A few of the new additions this year are Christmas gifts for my children, including some sweet little Alicia Paulson softies.  I’m torn between the rabbit and the fox, though, so perhaps both! I’ve recently acquired a small stash of Liberty prints that will work perfectly for inside little ears, as dresses, and lining fox coats.

Liberty of London

My birthday was earlier this month and I treated myself to a couple of lovely vintage finds, including this strawberry crewel to decorate my sewing space:

Strawberry CrewelStrawberry CrewelThe berries are three dimensional and they may have even been crocheted and added to the crewel. It’s a darling and really well made piece.

Before I’m get too deep into Christmas sewing, I have a Halloween quilt I want to finish up. I have just a few more blocks to go before I can get the top pieced.

What are you sewing this week?

Boho Ottoman


Well, this long-running project is finally complete! I started this quilted ottoman after seeing a similar patchwork one without quilting in a boutique here in Dallas (it was $300). I balked at the price but considering how long it took me to quilt it and assemble this, that price tag is looking a little more reasonable.

I’d planned this as a Moda Bake Shop tutorial but I think it’s a bit too difficult and the materials would be quite pricey, as well.  I may do a smaller version that uses only one jelly roll, though.

I combined three Moda lines – Lush Uptown by Erin Michael, Collections for a Cause – Historical Blenders and Collections for a Cause – Love. There are some very traditional fabrics in there with pops of modern prints. I had three jelly rolls to start and there’s probably enough left to make a nice throw quilt for my sofa.


I added piping to my version  – and a zipper. There’s an inner cushion that’s filled with fabric scraps and polyfil. I wanted to be able to at least machine wash the outside since I do live with dogs and kids.


It’s a really large ottoman – 20″ square top/bottom and 13″ high. It’s quite hefty filled with all of those fabric scraps. I’ve left the inner cushion seam open so I can add a bit more filler as I cut fabric for some more quilts this year.

Sewing layers of quilted fabric, piping, and especially that zippered edge was not fun (the zipper is tucked between two rows of piping). And of course now that I’ve put it together I want to serge the seams inside so it’s nice and tidy. But in spite of the two broken needles and sore shoulder, this was a fun project. I love the colors and it’s an unusual but useful piece for my living room. Plus, it feels really good to have finished it!



Earlier this year I started Moda’s “Spell It With Fabric” quilt. You can download the free patterns for each letter {here}. Instead of beginning at the beginning with ABC, I started at the end with XYZ. I figured this was a good way to force myself to actually finish it, It worked! Well, almost. I still have to make the borders.


I’m using Sweet by Urban Chiks, which is a darling 1930s-inspired line. The colors are soft and so feminine and candy-like. It’s an older line (2009ish) so very hard to find now (one of the benefits of hoarding fabric.)


I finished the letters and filler blocks this weekend at a retreat.  My plan is to continue the scrappy look with the borders, though I am a bit nervous how they will look since they are uneven borders meant to square up the quilt. We shall see…


The filler blocks are a combination of Lori Holt’s crops and sunflower block patterns. These patterns are both in her {Farm Girl Vintage} book. I adore adore adore that entire book. Filled with cuteness.

Temptation Procrastination


There’s something that seems to be common among most creative people/makers that I know. None of us can resist the siren’s call of new fabric and new quilt patterns and quilt-alongs. It causes us to throw aside everything we had planned on making to start something wonderfully new. I call that temptation procrastination.

Temptation procrastination is the reason I have 15 completed quilt tops, 2 quilted quilts awaiting binding, and 3 basted and partly quilted quilts languishing in baskets in my sewing room. Let’s not even get into my WIPs that are just cut fabric and various quilt blocks. I can’t count that high.

Is there are cure for this ailment? I think throwing some money at my problem and sending a few quilt tops off to longarmers is a good start.  Then I’ll need a few good shows on the DVR to hack away at that binding and some audio books to keep me company during basting and quilting the rest of that sad, neglected pile. I may not leave my house for the remainder of the year…

Tell me, are you a one-at-time kind of quilter? What are your secrets? I must know.

My Small World QAL – Section 4


Welcome to Section 4 of the My Small World QAL. There’s a little bit of everything in this section – Clam shells, Economy square, pin wheel, 60 degree triangles, Orange Peel, and embroidery! I’ve gotten off to a slow start with this quilt after choosing my fabrics but once I got into my rhythm I’ve loved working on this. The tiny pieces are fun and challenging.

One of my hurdles in getting going was template making. There are a lot of tiny templates for this project and I was overwhelmed every time I sat down to trace and cut them.  In the end, I took paper copies of the template pages to my local print shop and had them laminated. It cost me less than $4 and I have quite a bit more confidence in the accuracy. Plus they’re labeled!


There are three things I couldn’t live without while working on this project – 1. Frixion pen, 2. Add a quarter ruler, and 3. Ziploc bags for keeping each section sorted. I trace my pieces with the laminated template and Frixion pen and then use my rulers and rotary cutter to add the 1/4′ seam. For applique shapes, I cut around the template, eyeballing the seam allowance.

Which brings us to my next hurdle – the applique. I’ve tried several methods in the past but my favorite has always been freezer paper. It involves quite a bit of prep but the results are pretty fantastic. Very crisp edges and perfectly shaped pieces. (Jan Patek has a wonderful video tutorial for this method.) If you have a Silhouette Cameo, I wrote a very basic tutorial on using it to cut your shapes that you can find here.

This summer hasn’t allowed me much extra time for applique prep so I’m keeping it simple with back-basting and needle turn. It took me a few rounds to feel like I was back in the hang of it, but now I’m in love with needle turn. It’s also VERY portable.


I use a bit larger seam allowance than most tutorials mention. Anything less than 1/8″ seams makes my edges fray and I can’t poke and prod it into submission.  Here’s my prepped applique piece – seam allowance marked and basted onto my background with a contrasting thread. I’ve marked lines on my background as well for a placement guide.


A quilter’s knot holds my applique thread in place (no, I’m not using a matching color. It doesn’t show since you work the stitches in the back.). I pull the needle up right at the basting thread.


An important tip is to keep the thread perpendicular to the fabric edge. If you are bit haphazard your shape can get skewed and wonky. I fought those wonky stitches in the binding of my first few quilts and they always looked twisted and ugly.

Then you sweep the seam allowance underneath the shape with your needle and take a stitch, hiding your thread in the fold you create with the fabric. Press with your finger as needed. You may also need to cut out the basting stitches as you travel around to give you room to push the fabric edges underneath.


Here’s my finished block of orange peels and you can see a peek of my clamshells (which I just adore!  I want to make and entire tiny clamshell quilt.)


Excuse my untrimmed threads.

There are a few things that have helped me while working on section 4:

  • Edge-stitching each section as I completed it and going around the entirely of Section 4 once it was finished. This will prevent too much fraying on the edges and keep all those seams together while I work on the rest of the quilt.
  • Don’t press your background/sky as you sew. Just use your fingers to nest the seams as you go and press the whole thing once it’s all pieced.
  • Trim and square up as you go. Even the tiniest pieces! I can see a big difference in my pinwheels that I squared up versus the ones I just sewed together. Will it matter in the long run? No, but it makes me feel more accomplished to have perfect little points.
  • Pay attention to the pattern. I had to recut several pieces because I cut with abandon instead of paying attention to the direction of the template.
  • And there is a little cheat if all of the tiny pieces are keeping you from starting this quilt! The pattern shows with dimensions of the subsections of each section to help you keep things accurate. You can use some cheater fabrics or larger pieces cut to these dimensions. If applique is not your thing, put in a favorite print instead!
  • My main challenge with this quilt is honestly choosing fabrics. The pieces are quite small so many medium-scale prints won’t work and forget large-scale! I am trying to cut down the time I spend staring at and fondling fabrics by choosing colors that are similar to the original. There’s no such thing as the perfect fabric combination with so much going on in this quilt. You really can’t go wrong.

The only bit of Section 4 I have left to do is the embroidery. I have to think more on my plan for quilting before I get to that, though. I imagine I will add the embroidery on the top layer of my finished quilt.

I hope you are inspired by this wonderful Jen Kingwell pattern! Don’t forget to check in with my co-hosts on their blogs and especially on Instagram. There are so many lovely inspiration photos in the #mysmallworldQAL hashtag, as well.

Happy Sewing!

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

Little Joys QAL

I’m taking part in Fat Quarter Shop’s Little Joys Quilt Along! It features Elea Lutz’s brand-new Christmas line, Little Joys. She designed the fantastically pretty Flower Milk Sugar and this Christmas line is beyond cute, too.

We are making a Christmas mini quilt –

When this fabric came in the mail, my 3-year-old son was very excited because, well, Christmas! He wanted me to start sewing it together right away but I told him we had to wait a few weeks. Then he said, “And then it will be Christmas!” How sweet are they at that age?

Fat Quarter Shop has kits and the free patterns will be released one week at a time, starting July 8 (next week).

Here’s the full list of bloggers who are sewing along with us!
Sedef of Down Grape Vine Lane (@downgrapevinelane)
Nadra of Ellis & Higgs (@ellisandhiggs)
Tina of Emily Ann’s Closet (@emilyannskloset)
Greg of Grey Dogwood Studio (@greydogwoodstudio)
Jessie of Messy Jesse (@messyjesse1)
Melissa of Oh How Sweet (@ohhowsweetco)
Kristyne of Pretty By Hand @prettybyhand)
Kerry of Very Kerry Berry (@verykerryberry)
Lisa of Vintage Modern Quilts (@vintagemodernquilts)
Erin of Why Not Sew (@whynotsewquilts)

This will be an Instagram-based Quilt Along, so don’t forget to follow us @fatquartershop and @elealutz and use #LittleJoysQuiltAlong to show us your beautiful blocks!