Monday, June 27, 2016

Farmer's Wife 1930s Block 4, "Ann the Cat Burglar"

I made another something!  Another 6" foundation paper pieced block from the 1930s Farmer's Wife book.  Meet Block #4, Ann:

My Version of 1930s Farmers Wife Block 4, "Ann"
To me, this block has a strong mid-century modern vibe.  Like The Jetsons, vintage Tom and Jerry cartoons, and Alfred Hitchcock movies.  The floral print fabric with the little black cats reminds me of children's book illustrations from this era and the largest patches were just the right size to showcase the kitties.  The watercolor blue batik fabric made the sharp pointy shapes in the blocks look like prisms -- or jewels! -- to me.  So, putting it all together, this block is my quilty interpretation of the 1955 movie To Catch A Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.  These are the thoughts that amuse me while I'm sewing tiny bits of fabric together.
Argentinian Movie Poster for To Catch A Thief, with Kitty Cat
So anyway.  I paper-pieced the Ann block as usual.  In the book, all four of the triangles that meet in the center of this block are the same color, but I have an aversion to unnecessary seams in my quilt blocks.  If I'm going to go to all the bother to sew those seams and fight the good fight to match them up properly, then I want contrasting fabric so I can SEE the fruit of my labors in the finished block.  Hence the two lavender triangles.  It was either that or substitute a big pink square for the four triangles.

Precut Fabric Patches, Ready to Piece
After I added the little "wings" to each block quadrant, I shot them with some Mary Ellen's Best Press in order to get them to lie nice and flat after pressing.  Those skinny spikes created a seriously bulky seam allowance.

3 Quadrants Completed, 1 Still Needs "Wings"
Then, once all four block quadrants were constructed, I carefully peeled away the foundation papers.  I had noticed from photos online that some quilters have difficulty aligning seams at the center of this block, and it's because the foundation piecing sequence results in all four of those center triangle seam allowances to be pressed in the same direction.  So after I removed the foundation papers, I carefully re-pressed the seam allowances on the blocks with pink center triangles so those seams were pressed towards the blue batik fabric.  I made sure to press the "wing" seams in opposite directions as well.  That allowed me to nest those seam allowances for a more precise match.

Papers Removed, Matching Seams Pressed Opposite Directions
Also, I almost never press my block seams open, but I did it for the seams joining the block quadrants on this Ann block.  Ridiculous, crazy seam allowance bulk from these intricately paper pieced blocks -- no way would I try to hand quilt through those seams!  I left my stitch length at 1.5 (shortened for paper piecing) when I joined the segments together as an added precaution against the pressed-open seams pulling apart.

Seams Matched and Pinned for Stitching
Once the foundation papers are out, I'm joining the block segments the way I do traditional piecing.  Each of those seams is carefully matched and pinned, raw edges perfectly aligned, and notice how my pins are inserted with the heads to the left and nothing extending past the raw edge of my fabric?  That's so the pins don't get hung up on my little 1/4" seam guide.  I love, love, LOVE using the #97D Patchwork Foot with Guide for piecing on my Bernina 750QE.  It's one of my all-time favorite presser feet, especially in a situation like this where I'm going over impossibly thick seam allowances.  With dual feed engaged and full contact with the left dog, watching the raw fabric edges rub against the fixed metal guide the entire length of the seam, it's amazing how much more control I have to land each and every stitch exactly where I want it to go, even on a 9 mm machine.  And no, Bernina doesn't pay me to say that (but they totally should).

Joining Block Halves with Patchwork Foot 97D and Seam Guide
So here she is, up on the wall with her pals.  These intricate little blocks, each one unique, reminds me of a box of Godiva truffles:

Rose Dream and 1930s FW Blocks 1-4
By the way, although author Laurie Aaron Hird shows on point settings for both of her Farmer's Wife sampler quilts, I've already decided on a straight setting for my own blocks, and I'm keeping that in mind as I'm cutting my directional prints.   I absolutely LOVE those little black kitty cats in my Ann block!  My Rose Dream block still looks out of place to me, so it may or may not end up in the same quilt with these Farmer's Wife blocks.  Reasons: 1. So far, all of my FW blocks have white in them, but the background of the floral print in my Rose Dream block is ivory.  2. The Rose Dream block is the only one with curved seams.  3. The Rose Dream block only has two fabrics, whereas the others have three or more.

Next up on the agenda is Block #5, Anne (with an "e").  Looking at my wall, I decided that I need some yellow, so these are my fabric picks:

Fabric Selected for Farmer's Wife Block 5, "Anne"
I think I'm going to use the print fabric for the background and the two blues for the little pinwheel in the center of the block.

I'm linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times, Visa och Berätta måndag at Bambisyr med sin Quiltglädje (Bambi's blog), Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt, Design Board Monday at Bits 'n Bobs, Moving It Forward at Em's Scrapbag, and Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts, and Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, and WIPs on Wednesday at Esther's Blog.  Happy Stitching!


Churn Dash said...

Good grief those blocks look hard. Really, really cute though!

I gave up on Dear Jane because my blocks looked so bad, this looks way harder!


Rebecca Grace said...

With foundation paper piecing, they are really not too bad. After years of struggling to piece “perfect” blocks the old fashioned way, sewing down a printed line and having it come out perfect on the first try almost feels like cheating! As for Dear Jane – I am working my way up to that one. Those blocks are 4”, but the Farmer’s Wife blocks are all 6”. I have been thinking I might resize a couple of Dear Jane blocks larger so I can mix them in with my Farmer’s Wives. Bigger blocks are always less daunting than smaller blocks, don’t you think?

Thanks for stopping by,

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Your write-up about this block is charming - it's fun to be inside your head and know what you were thinking, giggle!

sewyouquilt2 said...

love your kitties so adorable and that block is so precise

verykerryberry said...

Nicely done! Nesting seams makes life so much easier. Love those cats peeping out too!

Sandra Walker said...

What a sweet block; I just LOVE that black kitty fabric; whose is it? Love how you compare them to a box of truffles. There's something rewarding about making small blocks isn't there? I'm slowly doing Tula Pink's city sampler.

Rosa said...

So beautiful block.I´m a lover of paper piecing patterns thought this year I will do more piecing with the 365 challenge sampler but have two sampler quilt done with paper piecing pattern that are waiting to be quilting.

Nancy said...

It's amazing how many seams are in that one block! Serious seam overload. And look how perfectly you aligned them all.

I nearly always press my seams open and have never had a problem with them pulling apart. I reason that clothes sewn at home before sergers nearly always had seams pressed open and they rarely pulled apart.

--Nancy. (ndmessier @,

Anonymous said...

Rebecca - I love your fussy cutting. And I totally agree about making the center triangles in 2 colors...if you are going to the trouble to piece it that way, it needs to show! By the same logic, if I am making a block that uses two half square triangle units to mimic one flying geese unit, I always convert to a flying geese unit...a little more finesse and trouble required, but why have a seam where none is necessary? Lovely block, Claudia W

Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts said...

Those cats! So darn cute. Thanks for sharing your process on dealing with the bulky seams on this block and for showing that seam guide. Sometimes my quarter inch foot just doesn't do the trick. I have a seam guide on an older White machine I have that I can use on my Janome - I will get that out and try it to see if it helps. Thanks for linking to Main Crush Monday; this post has so much great information!

LA Paylor said...

What fun! Your fabric and the tone of these blocks is so mid century I am loving them. I am also mid-century born, lol. LeeAnna

Helen Anne said...

It looks like you are having fun with the blocks. Good luck with your quilt.

evaj said...

Many thanks for your inspiration and link to the Show and Tell Monday! Hug Bambi

evaj said...

Many thanks for your inspiration and link to the Show and Tell Monday! Hug Bambi