Wednesday, 12 October 2016

hand-piecing tutorial: farmer's wife block one

after months of anticipation, i have finally started my farmer's wife 1930s quilt! wheeeee!

solid: from my stash
strawberry biscuit by elea lutz
robert kaufman just one of those days tilt in screamin' cactus (i got this in last month's flirty 30s club from pretty fabric & trims. can't wait for this month's instalment!)

i love the letter that accompanies this block, about moving to a farm and enjoying all the work that comes along with it. i also want a ranch, "mostly in timber"!

i'm planning to use 30s repro fabrics and a lot of really cute prints (like that strawberry biscuit!) in this quilt, and no specific colour scheme, but 1-2 solids in each block. i've also seen really wonderful examples of blocks that use only prints, but i think it works best to pick one or the other - either solids in every block, or none at all.

i'm also planning to hand piece all the blocks, although we'll see how that goes when i come to the blocks that have 40+ pieces...

my reasoning is that i like hand piecing and find it fun! plus this is going to be a fairly long-term project as i'm still collecting fabrics, so there's no need to get through a block quickly and onto the next one. i don't even have fabric for the next one yet! with that said, hand piecing doesn't really take that long, at least not for a simple block like this one. i think the sewing took me a little over an hour, although tracing and cutting out templates is a little slower than rotary cutting.

here's a little tutorial in case you want to try your hand (heh) at hand piecing these or any other blocks:

start by cutting out the paper templates, glue them to thin cardboard (such as a cracker box) and cut out the centres with an x-acto knife. (i feel like i should save the centres too but i'm not sure what they would be good for...)

your pattern will tell you how many to cut of each piece. trace around the outside and the inside of the template on the back of your fabric. when you cut it out you'll have a piece with a 1/4" seam allowance and the inside line will show you where to sew.

i think all the little pieces look so cute!

if you're fussy-cutting, as i did with the centre and the blue points, the process is slightly different. and fun! using your template as a "view finder" move it around the fabric until you find a motif you want to use. trace around only the outside of the template. turn it over after you've cut it out and trace the inside of the template on the fabric back so you have a line to follow when sewing.

then it's on to the sewing! i usually follow the general piecing order given for machine piecing, but if it seems like there's a more clever way to put a block together, go for it!

the stitch used for piecing is a standard running stitch. load 4-5 stitches on your needle, pull it through, then take a backstitch for strength and keep going. taking several stitches at once keeps your line straight and is the secret for a nice result. when you come to an intersecting seam allowance, don't stitch it down like you would when machine piecing. rather, lift it up, take a backstitch on the other side, and continue stitching.

i usually use all-purpose thread but a lot of people swear by quilting thread, which is stronger.

here you can see a unit from the front and the back. you don't need to use an iron to press the seams, you can just finger press them. i generally give the whole block a gentle press when it's done.

and that's all there is to it!

p.s. i often think that it's a little easier to be super accurate and get your points to line up with hand piecing, but i noticed as i was editing these photos that one of my points got cut off. oops! so you still have to be careful, heheh

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