I made the borders for the quick Jinny Beyer palette quilt that the Biffle and I have been making. Unfortunately, I’ve been working on it alone, since the Biffle is in Brooklyn now.

I really prefer to quilt with a friend. I like the chatter, the catching up, the sharing. When I quilt alone, sometimes I let worries circle in my head. I replay conversations that I’ve had with people and think of all the things I could have said to them (but didn’t for one reason or another). Sometimes I listen to NPR. Sometimes I listen to Pandora. My current favorite “station” is the “Walking in Memphis” station. I love that song. The piano really gets me – it is so prominent. I rarely quilt in silence. What fun would that be?

Sometimes my son, Max, brings his computer into my sewing room and hangs out. He does his thing, I do mine. He usually interrupts me to look at his latest website or something else that he’s coded. I don’t mind. Sometimes my husband hangs out in the sewing room with me, too. If I had more space, I’d put a sofa or a recliner chair in there just for guests.

So, here is the quilt with the borders on it. One of the miters is PERFECT. I love it when a multi-border miter comes out perfectly. One is puckered, but I think I can fix that when I quilt it later. The other two are okay. If you notice, you’re looking too hard. 🙂


A Break from the Farmer

So, it has been quite a while since I posted to this blog. And, I have to say, I didn’t go into my sewing room for quite a while. I was really frustrated with the way this “quilt-along” is really a quilt alone. I mean, this was my first quilt-along and I thought that it was extremely cool idea to be part of a worldwide group working on the same quilt.

But, no sooner did we start the quilt-along, did the instructions of what to work on abruptly end. I reached out repeatedly to the person running it (I actually don’t even remember who that is), but I never got a response. In the meantime, there are lots of people who are introducing themselves and chatting, which is nice, but it isn’t really what I was looking for. I really started to lose my interest in the quilt and I just didn’t feel like working on it.

Luckily, in the middle of everything, I started a different quilt! Every week, I get an email from Jinny Beyer’s shop. And one week the special sale item of the week was a quilt made with every single fabric from her pallet. Now, those of you who know me and who have seen my quilts know that I *love* Jinny Beyer’s fabric, designs, sense of color, border fabric, and person. She is so approachable – I recently sent her an email with a book I thought she’d like and she responded. I just love that.

Anyway, I ordered this quilt kit. The coolest thing is that all of the little pieces of border fabric came pre-cut. That was really a time saver. This is a pretty simple quilt, so I decided to see if my biffle, Viv, wanted to learn how to quilt using this kit. She did the sewing for many of the colorful blocks. We had a really good time working on it together. Then, she had to go back to Brooklyn (bummer!) and I decided to keep going.

It has stitched up pretty darn quickly. Most of the top is done – now all I have to do is put on the borders and binding, sandwich the bottom, batting, and top, and quilt it. That means, I’m just about half way done! What’s funny is that my friends who don’t quilt usually think that when the top is pieced, the quilt is almost finished. But that is really not the case. When the top is pieced, it is about at the half.

I’ll try to post more photos as I go along. It has been a nice change to just whip up a very easy quilt very quickly. So, who wants it? 🙂

Nothing’s New…

So, I have to wonder how these quilt-alongs work. I thought that every week, the person leading the quilt-along tells the participants which block(s) to complete that week. Then, we all complete the block(s), post pictures, share tips, answer questions and basically act like we’re doing this “along”.

Well, I’m stil waiting to know what block(s) we were doing for last week. Yep. I look at the group email every day. And every day I look for the block of the week. And every day nothing.

I could just go on and work my way through the blocks. But, I might as well do that alone.

So much for quilting along.

Trying to Catch Up?

Well, I finally found out which two blocks were supposed to be completed for this week’s Block of the Week. Part of the fun of doing a quilt-along is when everyone works on the same blocks at the same time. That way, if you have a problem, run into a glitch, or have something interesting to share, everyone is working on the same thing. Also, it means that at the end of the week, everyone shares their interpretation of the block.

Until this week, I could not figure out which blocks we were supposed to do. It was a little frustrating, but rather than dwell on frustration, I just started with Block #1 and kept going. Afterall, if I get frustrated when I’m quilting, there is no bastian of peace left!!

This week we were to complete two blocks: Contrary Wife (who makes up these stupid names?) and Butterfly at the Crossroads (which I prefer to call Butterfly @ Crossroads because it is so much more 21st century). These blocks weren’t particularly challenging because I didn’t do anything fancy with the fabric.

Block #14: Butterfly @ the Crossroads

Butterfly at the Crossroads presented a bit of a challenge in getting the points to all line up. I’m trying to use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance – which means I’m actually eye-balling it next to my 1/4″ presser foot. When I just used the presser foot as the seam allowance, the block really ended up too small and out of shape. Consequently, it is hard to get precision when eyeballing measurements.

Block #21: Contrary Wife

Max selected the fabrics for this block. Pink, olive, and dark brown. I didn’t know if they’d work together, but they look great. In fact, these are the colors that Jinny Beyer once selected for me when I took a class at one of her conferences. This block was super easy and came together well.

I have asked the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Yahoo Group for a history of which blocks have already been assigned, so I can really catch up. In fact, I’ve asked three times now. Maybe someone will answer my latest request. Until then, I’ll just move on to the next block in the book.

Progress and Detail

Finished To-Date July 21, 2011

It was an extremely productive week from a quilting perspective. First, my family left town and drove to Denver. I got to stay home (who wants to be in a Mini Cooper with 3 other people for 20 hours???). And then, I decided to spend some evenings quilting. I even took half a day of hookie to quilt, too!

All-in-all, I think I started to get the hang of how to effectively use border fabric in the blocks. It has been a challenge. And I keep doing things like cutting on the wrong line, creating templates of the wrong size…none of that helps!

Block 6: Big Dipper

Block 6: Big Dipper

This block was pretty easy to create. I didn’t do anything fancy, just made the block. Easy peasy.

Block 7: Birds in the Air

Block 7: Birds in the Air

This block was also pretty easy. I decided to use the crystal piecing technique to make all of the half-square triangles. The crystal piecing method basically has you draw lines on the wrong side of the fabric, sew 1/4 inch in from the lines, and then cut. Someday, when I have the time, I’ll post information about this technique. The other ways to create this block would be to template cut and piece teeny little triangles or to use paper foundations. I really love the way this block turned out. I think the fabrics work really well together.

Block 9: Box

Block 9: Box

Oh this block had me STUMPED for a while! I knew I wanted to use border fabric. But, I kept trying to figure out a way to use the border fabric for the center and spokes. One thing about working with border fabric – if you don’t have opposite edges line up (such as putting two triangles together or two hexagons together), you don’t end up with a new pattern in the print. You just end up with the print back where you started, only missing the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Trust me. I’ve thought this through.

Once I realized that the border fabric needed to be placed in the four outer triangles, life got easy. Here’s the detail of the pieced triangle:

Block 9: Box Detail

Block 10: Bowtie

Block 10: Bowtie

How to take an otherwise incredibly boring block and make it interesting! I love the way this block turned out. The center diamond is pieced from border fabric:

Block 10: Bowtie Detail

Doesn’t it make the block SO much more interesting? I’m not so sure it looks like a bowtie, but that doesn’t matter. I just like the block.

While we are here, I want to add another photograph. this is a close up of the detail from Block 2: Autumn Tints:

Block 2: Autumn Tints Detail

Post-Frustration, Some Success

Part of me thinks I’m making this quilt way more complicated than it needs to be. Afterall, if I had just picked 6 or 7 straightforward fabrics, I wouldn’t be fussy cutting every other piece in the blocks. And, I wouldn’t be recutting and screwing up so often.

But, the results of my efforts are really interesting designs (in my very humble opinion). Check out my new blocks:

Block 2: Autumn Tint


Block 4: Basket Weave


Block 5: Bat Wing

If you are wondering what happened to block 4, I didn’t like it. So, I didn’t do it. I’m not going to do the blocks that are…how do I put it…kitchy. Like the ones that are May Baskets with curved handles. They just bug me.

In the mess I made cutting and recutting fabric, I realized (too late) that I pieced a fairly intricate square that was too large for the block I was working on. Trimming it down was just not going to look right. So, I thumbed through the book until I found a pattern that had a square approximately the same size. I ended up created Block 88:

Block 88: Star of Hope

If you look closely at the square, you’ll see why I just didn’t want to throw away this block.

FWS Block #1 Finally Done!

After many trials and tribulations on what should have been a VERY simple block, I decided to make it easier on myself. Rather than working with border fabric, I just picked a few fabrics and used the paper foundation template for the block. Here is the result:


Block 1: Attic Windows

The most interesting thing is that the block is now backwards. If you look at my previous post, with my rejected block 1, you can see that the fabrics lie on opposite sides. The reason for this difference has to do with the way you use the paper piecing technique. Using paper piecing, you sew on the front of the page, but the fabric is on the rear of the page. Hence, the pattern gets flipped around.

Carol Doak is the queen of foundation piecing. Click here for her website. Here are some other resources for more information on this excellent and super accurate technique:

I also completed block #88 today. More on that when I get a photo of it.

Off to a Less Than Perfect Start!

I am back from Hawaii and I have started my Farmer’s Wife Sampler quilt. The first thing I did was print out all of the templates. I really hate templates, but if I am going to fussy-cut the border fabric as I intend, I will need to use some of them. I am trying to rotary cut the pieces, but that only works for certain shapes such as squares and half-square triangles.

Next, I moved onto fabric selection. I have decided to use a Jinny Beyer border fabric as my central motif and to select all of the fabrics in the palette from the border fabric. So, I pulled 8 border prints from my stash and asked my Facebook friends to vote on them:

Jinny Beyer Border Fabrics

Ultimately, fabric 8 was the most popular. So, I decided to pair it with fabric 5 and use them both. They look really good together. (hint – click on the image if you want it to display larger on your screen)

Next, I picked the rest of the palette. I ended up with 24 fabrics! You can never have too many fabrics in a quilt:

Palette for Val's Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt

Finally, I made my first block. And…unfortunately, I cannot get the seam allowances to line up. I ripped out a few pieces and resewed them. That helped, but ultimately, something is wrong here.

I have sent a post to the Yahoo! group and  I hope someone can set me straight. Straight, get it? ha ha.

In the meantime, I think I’ll move on to another block.

Taking the Plunge!

Okay! I am taking the plunge. I ordered the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Sampler book and it is waiting for me to pick it up at Barnes & Noble today! One thing I don’t get is why it is about $10 more expensive to pick it up at the store than to have it shipped to me. Afterall, they were offering free shipping and I’m saving them that money. Plus, you’d think they’d want people to go to the store – that way, customers are more likely to buy additional books. Color me confused.

I have joined the Yahoo group. I have engaged in discussions on My Quilting Place. I have looked at Flickr (I think I need to join that, too). I’ve seen some beautiful fabrics being used by others…And I think I’m ready! As Greg says, at minimum it will give me a reason to go into my sewing room every week and make something.

I’m hoping to locate the foundation paper patterns, as I really don’t like quilting with templates. I’d rather strip piece or use foundation papers. And I’m probably going to need to create a pallet to work from first. Otherwise, who knows how this quilt will end up. I think I’ll use the same color shading methodology that I used for Wine Country Cabin. That quilt has an interesting pallet and one of the things I like best about it is that I used dozens and dozens of different fabrics, all in the pallet.

I’m so excited to pick up the book today!

Farmer’s Wife Phenomenon

In the process of curating my quilt article site, I came across a number of blog posts about the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Along. Intruiged, I decided to Google Farmer’s Wife Quilt. Lo and behold, I found a very interesting event going on in the blogosphere.

Two quilters named Amanda and Jessica have started an e-quilt along. People are using the pattern Farmer’s Wife Quilt. Amanda and Jessica have challenged everyone to create 2 blocks each week. There are 111 blocks in the quilt total. In about a year, each quilter will have a queen sized quilt.

I love so many things about this:

  • The use of the internet for community to join in and share.
  • The wonderful and creative photos that people are posting as they complete their blocks.
  • The stories of people’s lives as they attempt to keep up with the schedule.
  • The entire idea of having a worldwide quilt along. It’s like a virtual sewing bee.

There is even a Yahoo group for this quilt along. The group is run by someone in Australia. Go figure.

The Farmer’s Wife Quilt is not a style of quilting that I would normally use for my own quilts. And the fabrics that most folks are using in their blocks are not the types of fabrics I normally use. However, I am seriously thinking about joining in. I’m sure it will be completely impossible for me to keep to the schedule. But, perhaps that’s the point. If I don’t have a schedule to keep to, I don’t make the time to quilt. Thinking….

Here are some links to blogs for people participating in this quilt challenge:

Laurie’s blog: (Laurie is the author of the pattern, by the way.)

Flickr group hosted by Amanda and Angela:

Amanda’s blog:

Angela’s blog:

Stephanie’s blog:

Pam’s blog:

Katy’s blog: