Farmer’s wife cushion centre block

After 8 blocks, and having decided those with off-white in them should form a cross (either 4-pointed or in the 5 corners) I still couldn’t get a layout I was satisfied with – either all four blues were too close together, or the two with the dark burgundy background were next to each other, or the two with the tan background and burgundy chevrons were next to each other. I had thought the two-colour tan and burgundy one with the sort of windmill effect would be the centre block, but decided it looked too dull. The arrangement on the left was the best I could come up with. Then I decided to make the last block my centre one, to fit the arrangement on the right. I wanted it to have all four colours in (discounted the plain burgundy that appears in one block), and by luck the last design I wanted to make was one I thought could carry four colours. It ‘s called ‘Gentleman’s Fancy’, I don’t know why!

Having decided on the arrangement of the four colours within the block, it came together quite quickly.

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Because the centre off-white square measured up okay, and the finished square was the size it’s meant to be, I honestly thought the centre tan square was straight but just looked wonky because the angle I’d cut through the pattern wasn’t straight so it was an optical illusion. Not so! Sadly not until I’d sewn blocks together did I actually take the ruler to it and see it isn’t lined up right. So the very centre square of the whole cushion is wonky – could that be some sort of metaphor?! I’m thinking of it as like a sewer’s version of a maker’s mark.

Anyway, I’ve now done all the sashing, much of which was difficult because I started by making the same mistake I did with the windmill-style block, thinking so long as the sash was the same length as the block I was sewing it to, it would all fit together. Again, not so! When I had two blocks each composed of, say, four pieces of the same width, and sewed them to either side of the sash, they didn’t line up with each other and had to be unpicked and redone, this time with pencil marks on the back of the sash to show where the seams ought to line up. I got there in the end but it took yonks and once again I had to take it on the commuter train of a morning and afternoon / evening, not the most convenient! Still, at least you get good light through the train window. (I’ve been struggling with light at home, specially with the pencil lines on dark blue, and once it gets to late afternoon / evening and the sun goes down). Oh, and I nearly forgot to say, I remade the first block, the one I’d tried with paper piecing, using the draw-around-the-stencil-onto-the-back-of-the-fabric method I’d used for the other blocks. It does look neater and the centre point’s a bit better, and it made it easier to sew it all together when I didn’t have a different type of seam to master.

Herewith the finished front (two pics with different light / focus):

9 blocks]

9 blocks

Needless to say, I’m about a week behind schedule for taking it home on Thursday!

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Spider’s Web

The 8th of my 9 Farmer’s Wife blocks, and another tricky one. I’m just not used to triangle / kite / diamond-type things! This time I starched the fabric before drawing round the templates, I found otherwise the pencil was pulling on the fabric too much and it was hard to get it right, especially at the corners. When making the eight individual segments there were some pieces that just wouldn’t line up properly, usually the burgundy ones on the pieces made of three parts. I couldn’t see why just by sight, but making new pieces did the trick so there must have been an inaccuracy in drawing round the templates.

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These are the two halves ready to be sewn together. Lots of excess bits of pointy fabric in the middle to negotiate. When sewing sections together it was hard to see how they were going to line up until they did: I do admire the farmer’s wife who designed this in the first place! (Though I’m sure it wasn’t unique to her, and I find it astonishing there were / are so many talented craftspeople out there).

I would have liked all the lines I’d drawn on the back to line up, but in this section (below) they haven’t, so I hope it will be okay when I come to sew on the sashing.

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This is the finished item. Two shots, one indoors and one out to try and get the colour representation right (seeing as our landlords were away so I could photograph it on their patio, which we’re allowed to sit on in their absence). The one outside’s better for colour but casts quite a shadow at one edge. There is one point that doesn’t fit quite as neatly in the centre as I’d have liked, but with all those points to navigate I couldn’t do my usual and fiddle about with the fabric to get the needle in exactly the right place, so we’ll just have to live with it. By the time it’s quilted it probably won’t be too noticeable.

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Moving on to put the pieces together so I could decide on colours for the last block was quite a challenge, but that’s for another post!

A tricky Farmer’s Wife block (7 of 9)

This one took a lot of lining up! It’s similar to the first block I did, but the component parts are orientated differently and there is a cross in the middle. I thought about reversing the colours, but decided against it. I drew around the templates onto the back of the fabric, rather than using paper piecing as I tried in the first block, and found that easier but still time-consuming. For all I’d wanted to finish it by the end of the weekend, I didn’t quite manage it.

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On Friday night I laid out the six blocks I’d finished at that point onto various backgrounds to emulate the sashing I’ll do: first the plain burgundy I’d visualised, but it looked gloomy and the pattern burgundy fabric vanished into it. A few patterned ones followed, but in the end the plain blue was definitely best.

Having sewed the two sets of chevrons together, with the two horizontal arms of the cross, I then had to sew the two completed parts onto the vertical part of the cross. Below is my first attempt, which didn’t turn out as I hoped. One side took a few shots to get the points done accurately, but only when I’d ironed it did I see that the two horizontal parts of the cross didn’t line up with each other. I wanted to make this the central block, so didn’t want to leave it as it was.

not aligned

In order to line them up, I made pencil marks at the relevant spots on the back of the vertical part of the cross. It was easier said than done, but the end result is better than the first attempt.

I’ve a feeling the points at the edge of the finished block might not line up with the sashing too well, but there isn’t much I can do about it. When I’ve finished the last two blocks and made the final decision on block placement, I’ll start the sashing and then we’ll see.