Farmer’s Wife cushion cover- block 1 (yikes!)

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Block number 1, labour of love and hair loss (due to tearing it out), so I’ll see how block 2 goes as to whether it’s worth keeping going!

Having received a Farmer’s Wife book for Christmas, I decided to make blocks from it for the cushion cover I wanted to make for my brother, to replace the Christmas one I’d made him while it’s stored away as a Christmas decoration. The book comes with a CD of templates which I dithered about what to do with… I’m still not sure from the books I’ve looked at if it’s possible to sew these shapes together without using paper piecing, so thought that was the method I should try. However, my attempts at making paper pieced hexagons ages ago had gone awry and have pretty much been abandoned, so I knew this would be difficult. Anyway, I chose fabric from my stash, including from a January sales spending spree (!) and some designs from the book, with the intention of trying one to see how it goes.

This is the long list of possible fabrics, from which I quickly chose the three in the picture. I’d like to use the plain blue because it picks up the blue flowers in the piece with the burgundy background (and it’s for a boy, to stereotype!), and then I think one other lighter one.

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When I drew up a short list of blocks from the book I found it easier to draw the outlines of them on graph paper, so I could see clearly what they are without the patterns of the fabrics used in the book distracting me, and without having to flip back and forwards through the book.

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(Designs from Laurie Aaron Hird, ‘The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt’ (2009) )

I chose to do this one first because it seemed to me a striking design and could be my lead piece, as it were, around which the colour choices for the others could be based.

I’ve taken the paper out of the middle pieces,  because throughout I was worried I was sewing through the paper and was keen to see if I had or not, and wanted to see at least part of it without the tacking stitches, but thought I should leave them in the pieces at the outer edges for when I come to sew them onto the sashing. I’m pleased with the colour choices, being now sensitive to colour choices due to the mess of the autumn quilt. On the whole it’s not bad, but the result is not so neat as I’d like, particularly the very centre point where the four points of the parallelograms meet, and the top plain burgundy one of the four looks like the point is blunt. I found it very difficult to do the whip stitches evenly and they are quite messy.

The blocks are meant to be 6 inches square when finished, and it’s a 20 inch square cushion pad, so I was thinking 6×3 = 18, so 9 blocks with an inch-wide border would do it. I’ve only chosen 7 blocks and will either repeat 2 of them or choose two more. I don’t like the bears claws designs or the ones with a shopping basket or maple leaf so much, and there are some I don’t think I could do yet (or indeed ever), despite liking them, namely the stars and mariner’s compasses. I may change the first one in the picture for one where instead of a square in the middle, it’s orientated as a diamond. For some reason I hadn’t taken into account that as the designs go right up to the edges they need sashing, so now realise I’ll have to have a very thin sashing and border to make it fit a 20 inch cushion pard, rats! That’s if I actually get to the stage where they’re good enough to be made into a cushion!

The square has turned out not to be 6 inches, but 5 5/8 inches; I don’t know why. Also, one edge is actually 5 1/2. I’m now worried that the next block I try will turn out to be a different finished size to this one… what to do if that happens?! Abandon it, or hope sashing will disguise it if it isn’t too much, or try and offset the blocks – no, that sounds too complicated! I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m quite keen to try making the next one without paper, but don’t know if that’s feasible. That’s for the weekend. Meantime, I’m pleased I’ve eventually chosen a design for the next autumn block, after dithering about it for the best part of a fortnight, so at least have something to just get on with instead of having to try to make decisions, not my forté!

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