Monday, 27 July 2015

Farmers Wife 1930s by Laurie Aaron Hird : Book Review

Do you remember the Farmer's Wife Sampler book of a few year's back?  It was one of the first online quilt-alongs that I took part in and it certainly introduced me to the delights of a sampler quilt block and the beauty of traditional quilt blocks.  when I heard that Laurie Aaron Hird had written a 1930s version,   The Farmer's Wide 1930s Sampler Quilt with 99 blocks not included in her previous books, I leapt at the chance to review it.


I liked the original Farmer's Wife book but I love this version.  Each traditional block has been renamed as either a woman's name or a noun that relates to a woman- like 'Granny'.  The blocks vary from relatively simple to complex with a fiendish number of pieces to sew together but they are all beautifully presented in a mix of reproduction fabrics and solids.   A range of construction methods are offered.  All the blocks have templates and foundation paper piecing options and there are rotary cut options for pieces that can be easily measured.   Here's a taster selection of some of my favourites from the book. 
The presentation is breathtaking.  I kept this book in the kitchen for the first few days so that every time I sat at the table I could leaf through it with every cup of tea.  The letters from farm women written during the Great Depression of the 1930s are collated from the original 'The Farmer's Wife' magazine - hugely popular in USA at the time - and considering the immense strain on people's lives at that time, they tone is generally optimistic and highlights the positive aspects of life.  Some made me laugh, one in particular from  'Little Irish Annie' recalls how she was born "an ugly duckling" and despite shaking her fists at her 'homely little face' she later learnt that although she was 'short on assets that you can "Cash in on your liabilities"'.  There are a lot more letters than the previous book - one for each of the 99 blocks- which makes for a thicker book and some very interesting reading.  I haven't read Laurie's Pony Club Sampler book but I wonder if this is more like that with it's more complex blocks and extended letter selection?


The layout of the book largely follows the previous Farmer's Wife book.  The letter excerpts and the block photos are presented side by side - each block is numbered for the construction pages that follow later and are they are not in numerical order in this section.  The photos show the blocks on point. I was very taken with 'Jewel',  it's quick to make and it was the first one I sewed up.  All the blocks I sewed for this post were foundation paper pieced using templates from the book CD.  



This block is 'Priscilla' and I did simplify it slightly- you can see extra seam lines in the book photo on the yellow triangles at the centre of the block and they were easy to omit.  It is a more challenging block  than would first appear as it involves Y seams around the centre propellor shape.





'Granny' is a straightforward block and I couldn't resist using a very similar floral to the picture, it's from Lori Holt's Flower Patch range.  You can find some at Pretty Fabrics and Trims as part of an orange repro style bundle


The letter excerpts and quilt block photos are followed by the assembly details with the blocks now arranged in alphabetical and numerical order- this also relates to the CD.  In the book you can see the block photos are now shown square on with the construction diagram and template numbers and quantities needed on the left.  Final quilt layouts and instructions are at the back of the book with fabric requirements for Lap Size (32 blocks), Twin Size (84 blocks), Queen Size (99 blocks) and King Size (126 blocks including some repeats).  The setting triangles for the suggested layouts are based on a two triangle templates but I am hoping I can work out rotary cutting measurements for these- she said optimistically.



The big difference with The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt as compared to the original book is that all the designs are available as foundation paper pieced pattern on the CD- I believe this was the same for the Pony Club book.  All the blocks I printed off took two sheets of paper and I found it easier not to trim the corners off as it can sometimes short-change the seam allowances on the long acute angled pieces (you can see this on my Jewel block).  For those who prefer to hand piece, you can find all the templates on the CD as with the original.  Laurie Aaron Hird hand pieced all the blocks in the book and it is certainly a method to be recommended for dealing with the more complex blocks with many pieces although it does require patience and a long term outlook onwards completion!



I was totally enchanted with this book.   You can see all my torn up envelope bookmarks in it below!   Having enjoyed the My Small World Quilt-Along so much I thought this could be the perfect project to move on to when that completes.  I got in touch with Laurie to check that she was happy with that and she graciously gave me her blessing so I will be starting a Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-Along #fw1930sqal beginning mid September which gives you time to buy a copy and start planning your fabrics!   I have a lot of floral prints in my stash and I deliberately stayed away from them for #mysmallworldqal but for this quilt I am going to indulge my love of a pretty print to the max!  I found a great selection at Pretty Fabrics and Trims which was a new-to-me shop and you can see my first order below.  Sarah was so helpful and I love the selection bundles she and her mother put together Sarah selects and Penny Picks and I am very happy to have them as blog sponsors, particularly for this project. 


The quilt along will be a long project running over a year.  The blocks are small- finished size 6" square  - and the piecing can be challenging with very small pieces and Y seams.  It will start mid September, just before the My Small Quilt-Along finishes.  To take part, you will need to buy a copy of the book.  I will post here every Monday and my aim is that it will be a collaborative quilt along:  I will share one block a week and a guest bloggers posting either on their blogs or here will share the other.  There will be occasional breaks for big holiday periods e.g. late December.   Posts will involve sharing techniques, fabric choices, the usual stuff and as with My Small Quilt-Along, being respectful to the original text.  It will be on Instagram and other social media using the hashtag #fw1930sqal.     I already know some people are planning to mix blocks from the first book with this book which sounds like a great idea and how far you commit and how many blocks you make are up to you: quilt-alongs are about the fun of sewing together, not compulsion!  The quilt-along will be running alongside a separate yet-to-be-announced Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew-Along which I can only hint at  but  the two projects provide support for Farmer's Wife block makers everywhere!   More info to follow soon, meanwhile, you can find all the publisher's info on the book here:
 Copies are available at the usual online sources depending on where you live.  Book Depository sells worldwide.  I also recommend checking out Laurie Aaron Hird's blog where she writes in more details about the original The Farmer's Wife magazine.

sib blog

22 comments:

  1. I've fallen totally in love with the book! I keep it beside my bed and read a couple of letters each night. It's one of those books I don't want to finish reading! The blocks are so beautiful. I'm really hoping I'll find time to do your quilt along. Great idea Kerry!

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  2. What a lovely book Kerry! I doubt I will have time to take part in the QAL but I will have to buy the book for all those lovely letters and the beautiful patchwork. I do like the idea of a year long running project and the fact you could do it all be hand. So I am tempted!

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  3. I bought this book a few weeks ago. With being busy this summer (who isn't!), I haven't read all through the book; so I was glad to read your review and learn that the blocks can be paper pieced. I am planning to do the sew-along with you and make my blocks red and white.

    I still have my first Farmer's Wife quilt to finish! The blocks are all made; I just need to finish sewing the rows together. I'll have to get that done before start the next one. lol

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  4. I've just bought it and I'm itching to start but can't pick what fabric to use! I'd be up for being a guest blogger if you're hunting for volunteers!

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  5. Count me in too 😀 have had this book s couple of weeks now, but haven't had a proper look at it yet as in the midst of farmgirl blocks. ✂️✂️

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  6. Found your blog this morning as I was searching about this fabulous book! Love your blog and I will be joining in. So great to find out about things before it is started! The book also available at Barnes and Noble, my workplace. I will order my copy today! Julie in MS.

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  7. Resistance is futile.....I shall of course be quilting along Kerry! I will combine my new blocks with those I have already made from the first book. Thanks so much for sharing your goodies from us, I've already started planning some new 30's bundles for the project. Sarah @ Pretty Fabrics and Trims

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  8. I'm up for the QAL. I've just ordered a copy as your review suggests it's just what I'm looking for.

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  9. This seems like a wonderful project, thanks for taking the initiative! I don't have the book yet, but would love to read all the stories, based on what I see in your photos. I'm thinking I need a good reason to expand my Kona solids section of the stash, and this could be it. I'm quite a newbie still, as you know from Instagram, but if it would be helpful to see how I would combine my fabrics, I'd be happy to be part of the guest blogging group. In fact I already have a crisp and clear colour palette in mind, which is very different from the reproduction type of romantic, patterned fabrics.

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  10. Though I still only have twenty something blocks made for my Farmer’s Wife quilt, I did order the book today! There’s so much temptation in your blog post! Not sure yet what fabrics to use, as I made a Dear Jane quilt using 1930’s repro fabrics. I’m looking forward to join in the quilt-along and maybe even be a guest blogger, though I’m not sure what that implies exactly... ;-)

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  11. Thanks for sharing this ... it's on my to-do list so I'm very interested to follow how this goes. The fantastic palette you've started with will surely help with such a long-haul project!

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  12. Sorry to read that the quilt-along will not be hosted by you, but thanks for the info!

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  13. thank goodness you are still doing the quilt-along - it will be fun to see all the different variations !

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  14. looking forward to taking part once I get my book nice to have a long term project and the blocks you have made already look great, very inspiring Kerry.

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  15. I love this quilt and would have liked to join the Quiltalong but am currently working on Sylvia's Bridal Sampler (about 1/4 way through). I wondered though if you could give me an idea, without breaching any copyright, how much fabric might be needed? I was thinking of starting to collect fat quarters in readiness, one a week or so, 30s prints and plains. I will be buying the book closer to the time but if I get it too soon, I'll be tempted to start and already have a few projects waiting to be finished! Thank you. I love your fabrics so far!

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    1. Hi Christine
      Fabric quantities for the blocks aren't given in the book. There are quantities for the background, borders and backing. I think the background quanities are on the high side, I am guessing with careful cutting you may be able to get away with less. Angie at Gnome Angel has given an idea of quantities for her quilt along as she is partnering with Fat Quarter Shop who are selling kits, you can see details here : http://gnomeangel.com/farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt-sew-along-faq/
      I hope that helps!

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  16. Hola, me han regalado esta navidad el the farmer's wife sampler quilt , quiero empezar mi colcha y buscando informacion he encontrado tu blog.me encanra el libro, pero el que muestras tu es diferente al mio. El mio es letters 1920 y contiene 111 blocks.
    Me gustaria poder hacer mi colcha con un grupo y poder resolver dudas. Ya has cerado el grupo? O puedo unirme,?
    Un saludo
    Cristina,
    España

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  17. Hi Cristina, this quilt along is with the newest Farmer's Wife 1930s book which has different blocks to the 1920s book. All the posts and tutorials on this quilt along will be for the 1930s book but you could mix in blocks from the earlier book

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  18. I have both Farmers wives books. My problem is that I use a Mac at work and home and neither have disc facility. Do you know if there is any other way of accessing the patterns. I haven't finished reading my book yet, so I may have missed soemthing

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    1. Hi Candice, I think you might have to turn to a friend with this, load the disc on your friend's computer and then save it to USB. I have a mac with a disc drive but it is temperamental and I have saved the files on to my computer and a USB so I can access them that way. You need to use the disc to get to the patterns- that's how the publishers have presented the different construction options for this book. I hope that helps!

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  19. Thanks for your reply. I will try to find the other books and mix the blocks!! Do you need my mail to follow the blocks? :)

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    1. Hi Cristina, you can follow the quilt along here by either adding my blog to a blog reader like bloglovin or checking in every Monday when a new quilt along post is added. Kerry

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