East Dakota Quilter


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1930s Farmer’s Wife Quilt-A-Long: 5 Blocks Complete!

If I make blocks in a different order from the officially organized quilt-a-long (QAL) and even change some of the blocks, am I still a QAL participant? I’ve decided the answer to that question is yes! And today I’m here to share the blocks I’ve completed so far. This QAL is graciously being hosted by Kerry, whose blog is VeryKerryBerry. Check it out or follow her Instagram hashtag (#FW1930sQAL) for more inspiration.

Block 18: Carol

As part of the blog hop, I completed Block 18, “Carol.”

18 Carol by East Dakota Quilter

For those who aren’t aware, block patterns come from the book The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt. Each block is paired with a letter that was written by a farmer’s wife and submitted to the magazine The Farmer’s Wife in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The letters provide a snapshot of life in that decade, but the letters selected for publication also tend to be uplifting, which is remarkable considering the challenges faced by farmers at the time.

The letter paired with my block was one of my favorites. You’ll have to buy the book to read the whole thing, but the gist was that by having a radio, the writer felt she sometimes knew more about what was happening elsewhere in the world than she did about her own community and neighbors. It’s crazy to think people already noticed the effects of globalization in a very real way back in the 1930s! I also love that the block shares a name with my Great Aunt Carol, someone who sewed lots of things for me through the years.

Fabric Selections

If you’ve been on my blog awhile, you might have read about what I call my Ugly Quilt. I used lots of gorgeous fabrics for what was to be my first-ever quilt, but they clashed fiercely… and so the pieces ultimately went to a thrift shop, where I wouldn’t have to repurpose my failure into a new project, haha.

Having learned from that experience, I decided the cohesion of this quilt would center around Heather Ross prints. Heather Ross is my favorite. I write about having met her in my review of QuiltCon 2015. In this quilt, I will use pieces from all her various fabric lines plus pieces cut from munki munki brand pajamas she designed (typically out of print/OOP since I discovered quilting long after she sold the brand). It’s true that not all the fabrics share a similar colorway, but I’ve decided not to worry about that for now. Please cross your fingers for me that all these lovely fabrics won’t become Episode 2: Ugly Quilt’s Revenge. Here’s a photo of about half my HR stash paired with the FW1930sQAL blocks:

(Yes, I spent a small fortune on Etsy.)

For those who are already HR superfans, you might be thinking to yourself, What the heck?! The mermaids in that Carol block are NOT in one of Heather’s original colorways. Did Tiffany STEAL Heather’s artwork? To that, I answer: nope! You should probably get your hands on a copy of the book Prints immediately. It’s awesome.

Prints - Photo by East Dakota Quilter

Included with the book is a disc of some of Heather’s artwork. The whole book is about using technology to design and change fabric, and she offers her prints as a starting point. In other words, you can customize the prints however you’d like and print them on Spoonflower! I started with the Mermaids print from the Mendocino line, making one a redhead and the other a brunette. Admittedly, she has TONS more experience with colorways than I do. I’m not sure that mine was an improvement. But it was incredibly fun to play with the prints in Photoshop. Perhaps my favorite thing about having the prints in electronic format was being able to increase or decrease the size of some so they would fit on the blocks in the Farmer’s Wife book. Each block is only 6″ finished, so many of the prints would have been too big without resizing. And where I had to choose to sacrifice either the print or the block design, I’ve decided in most cases to favor the print. You can see an example of this in one of the other blocks I completed (described below), Block 79.

Four More Finished Blocks

East Dakota Quilter FWQAL Collage 1

As I said, I’ve been sewing my blocks out of order. The first block I completed was actually Block 79, “Patience.”

79 Patience by East Dakota Quilter

This block was originally just a 9-patch block. After holding the elephant up to lots of different blocks featured in the book, I realized it wouldn’t fit on ANY of the blocks. I made the executive decision to combine several of the pieces to feature the elephant on a block. I am thrilled with the result.

Next, I completed Block 14, “Betty.”

14 Betty by East Dakota Quilter

I basically started with all the largest-scale prints and then looked for a block that had pieces large enough to accommodate them. This block not only fit the mountain top, but placed it at the top of the block like the skiers were skiing down from the top of the mountain. I made the lower left skier look like he’s falling on accident, but otherwise, I love the effect.

I took a long break after this block to sort the rest of the prints with blocks that had appropriately-sized pieces. I saved a snail print for last since it had some of the smallest images of any of the prints. So when I finished sorting, I sewed Block 6, “April.”

06 April by East Dakota Quilter

The center block actually came from a charm pack of Gardenvale fabric that I got as a freebie at QuiltCon. Pretty sweet, right?! I like how it included the snail colors but added a few more to the palette. Without the center piece, this block would have had almost identical colors to Block 79. I like how a single fortuitous print opened the door to so many options!

Finally, I completed Block 2, “Aimee.”

02 Aimee by East Dakota Quilter

This incorporates another image from the book Prints. The image was actually intended for gift tags, but I thought it would be cute for a quilt, which of course is another handmade item. Sadly, when I cut apart my Spoonflower fabric, I accidentally cut these pieces too small. I was glad I thought to save the scraps, and the scrappy look that resulted isn’t something I mind at all!

In case you’re curious, this is how my yard of Spoonflower fabric with edited images from Prints turned out:

Spoonflower Prints by East Dakota Quilter

Watch for these images in future blocks!

Thanks for visiting, whether you’re a longtime follower of my blog or visiting for the first time as part of the Blog Hop!

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Botanics Plus Quilt: A King-Sized Success!

A little over a year ago, I got married. It was an awesome wedding. We were surrounded by friends and family. Family members included a new sister-in-law, who offered to cook for the entire guest list. And then the refrigerator of the industrial kitchen we were renting died the night before the wedding, so she cooked the entire meal again the day of the wedding!!! Perhaps the sweetest part of all is that no one told me until the wedding was over so I wouldn’t have to worry. Yep, I have the best friends and family ever.

We talked late that night about the cool air, how quilts are great for snuggling against the chill. We bonded over our preference for really thick quilts. (Even though they’re a bear to sew and I understand why others avoid making them now that I sew myself.) I told her I would make her a quilt. It might take me 40 years, I said, but I would make her a quilt.

Just before our first wedding anniversary in September, I finished her quilt! I’ve always been an over-achiever, but 39 years ahead of schedule is a new personal best!

Botanics Plus Quilt by East Dakota Quilter

By contrast, the photo might be a personal worst. This beast is king-sized. It has both wool and cotton batting. It weighs nearly 20 pounds! The day this photo was taken, I was furiously sewing on the binding (see the Clover clips to the right and bottom?). My husband and his brother were about to drive from Chicago to Colorado Springs to visit their sister, and I wanted them to be able to present it to her in person. I sewed right up until the last second and barely had time to throw it in their car before they left. I didn’t really have time to stage a photo. I took this unfinished photo while the light was still okay, realizing I’d already missed the best window and that it would be even worse when I finished the quilt. I was working from the shop of their family business, so I threw it over the lofted area and held it there with some paint cans. (It is possible one fell, broke open, and left a tiny paint mark on the almost-finished quilt, which I noticed as I put in the very last stitch. Doh!) The purpose of this narrative is not so much to apologize for the photo as to point out it perfectly captures what sewing this quilt was like!

The fabrics are from several 5″ charm packs of Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics line, plus some charm packs of the coordinating Kona solids. (I thought some coordinated better than others.)

One final note: the quilting bar on my Janome machine made quilting the cross-hatch SO MUCH EASIER than it would have been on my Singer! The dual feed meant my top layer didn’t get “pinched” or pucker repeatedly. I thought for years that I was just infinitely less talented than every other quilter; I learned the tools make a huge difference. I even tried some free motion quilting (FMQ) along the edges. Although the plus shape is comprised entirely of straight lines, turning the quilt at every corner and jamming it through the throat space was a nightmare. Using FMQ instead was *slightly* better. I still have lots of practice ahead of me!