Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt Along: Equipment Suggestions

Welcome to the third preparation post for the 1930s Farmer's Wife Quilt Along.  The first was a two-parter about fabric choices- see here and here.  This post is about the sort of extra equipment you may want to considering addition to your usual supplies - quilt ruler, rotary cutter, thread etc.  I've compiled three lists for three different construction methods: foundation paper piecing, template piecing (hand sewn or machine) and English paper piecing. These are just my personal suggestions, they are not sponsored or affiliate based.  Keep an eye out on Periscope today too, I'm hoping to talk about some of this equipment in my first live interactive broadcast, as Periscope is related to twitter you'll find me on both as @verykb on there and I'll post on Twitter when I go live.  **Edited to add I did manage to record my first scope only to delete it accidentally straight after, I did mange to say hello to some familiar and new faces and I hope to have a better handle of it by Monday! ** If you have other suggestions about equipment and gadgets, please leave a comment at the end of this post to share!  

Foundation Paper Piecing:
I plan to foundation paper piece all my blocks and these are my essentials!

From left to right:
  • Paper for printing patterns.  So far, each block has taken two sheets of paper for the foundation pattern pieces so that's going to be around 200 sheets of paper if you are making all the blocks.  You could use the excellent foundation paper by Carol Doak for CT publishing, or the vellum paper- I am a fan of both, but I am using very thin budget printer/copier paper. It is so thin, I need to feed the sheets individually into my laser printer so it doesn't get mashed up but it does the job and is easily available on eBay or in local shops.  
  • Add-a-Quarter ruler.  I am a recent convert to these, you can see my review of one here.  It is a quilt ruler with a quarter-inch lip and helps to trim seams whilst foundation paper piecing.  I also use it for templates (see below).  It stays in place and I find it safer to use than a standard quilt ruler and I am less likely to slice my finger tips!  Available in online quilt shops, there's a variety of lengths etc. 
  •  Elmer's Glue for glue basting seams.  There are some tricky seams to join in some of these blocks with many seam points to match up and glue basting is a great help.  Elmer's washable school glue isa USA phenomenon but I've bought it on Amazon UK and and I decant mine into tiny bottles (eBay) that crafters use for glueing gems- they come with a thin metal nozzle and aren't expensive. Tiny dots of glue are used on the seams and then the seam is heat set with the iron before sewing.  The seam will also open up relatively easily afterwards if you want to press open. Sharon Schamber is  is queen of glue basting and her daughter Cristy sell supplies.
  • Sharp machine needles.  I like either Schmetz Microtex 70, especially for finer fabrics like lawn or Superior needles 80 which are titanium making them hardwearing and long lasting.  I keep my paper needles separate from my other needles.
  • Hera Marker or blunt smooth blade butter knife  I use these to score and pre-crease the seam lines on the pattern pieces.  It makes it easier to flip the paper back and forth and helps when pre cutting your fabric for the different pieces.
  • Revolving cutting mat.  This is a bit of a luxury  but I find it really handy.  Not everyone likes them and you need sufficient room for it to rotate.  I've just ordered a tiny Fiskars mat specifically for these little 6" blocks.   Amazon and eBay are good sources.

There are a few options with templates.  You may choose to print out the templates from the CD onto card or printer paper and cut them out with or without seam allowances but there are other options left to right:

  • Sandpaper covered board. This is a homemade item.  I use a hard cover from an A4 notebook, a sheet of very fine sand paper and double sided tape to join the two together.  You then place your fabric right side down on the board, your template on top and the sand paper allows you to draw round the fabric without anything shifting.  Its a very handy basic bit of kit.
  • Elmer's Glue.  See above!
  • Sewline Pencil with ceramic lead.  I find these drawn on fabric without dragging.  Many people use standard soft pencils e.g a B lead. 
  • Template plastic.  You may instead choose to trace your templates onto template plastic- I use a mix of bought template plastic and recycling notebook overs.
  • Add-a-Quarter ruler  See above.  Especially useful for either adding quarter inch to fabric shapes that are drawn with no seam allowances.
  • Revolving cutting mat.  See above.

English Paper Piecing
Jo Avery of My Bear Paw is English Paper Piecing her blocks and using the templates to make her paper pieces.  You can see her first block here.  She'll be doing a number of guest posts for the quilt along and is posting her blocks on Instagram, she's @mybearpaw.  I've only included a couple of extras to help with English Paper piecing:
  • Needles.  These are very much a personal choice but good quality needles make a huge difference.   For hand piecing, I use Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage straw needles.  These are quite long and flexible and not really suitable for EPP but the sharps needles are sturdier.   You can find Foxglove Cottage needles at   Lots of people like Tulip Needles- available at Sewandquilt
  • Sewline Glue Stick.  Glue basting instead of thread basting can speed up the preparation in English paper piecing and this is my favourite temporary glue.   I only use a little dash as the fabric can adhere to the paper quite firmly sometimes.  I've got a tutorial here on how I glue baste.
Whatever method you are planning to use for your blocks, I hope you find something of use here.  I've aimed to keep it low cost and faff free rather than buying lots of expensive kit.  Remember to check into the errata page before you start a block in case there's anything extra you need to watch out for, otherwise, I'll see you 14th September with the first guest blogger, meanwhile, here's a sneak peek at the quilt along schedule for September:

 14th September
Block 1 Addie : Wynn of Zakka Art
Block 2 Aimee : Me

21st September 
Block 3 Alice : Me

28th September
Block 5 Anne : Jo of A Life in Lists
Block 6 April : Me


  1. I am gathering all my supplies to start the Farmers Wife 1930s QAL too. I wanted to let you know that there is a new model of Add a Quarter rulers called Add a Quarter plus. It has the same 1/4" lip on one long side, but the opposite side is tapered. This means you don't have to use card stock to fold your paper over on, just use the rulers edge. I'm excited to start piecing! Tracy

  2. I love collecting equipment together at the start of a project! I print my templates onto freezer paper and then iron them to the back of the fabric to prepare my pieces - it does mean that blocks come out in reverse unless I flip the templates but I don't tend to mind the mirror blocks!


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