3 more Farmer’s Wife blocks

After finding the results of my attempts at paper piecing to be ‘not that great’, I decided to make my next block the one on the top right, which I could make without paper piecing. I measured the template for the central square then made the rectangles and half-square triangles in the method I’m used to (the triangles by pinning two squares back to back and stitching two parallel diagonal lines, a 1/4 inch either side of a line drawn corner-to-corner across the square, then cutting along the line and unfolding the resulting two half-square triangles). The plain blue picks out the flowers in the burgundy nicely.

So buoyed was I by the success of this that I tried to make the next block, the one on the top right which is composed entirely of half-square triangles, the same way. Boy, oh boy! First I got the measurements wrong and calculated them as for a 6 inch square after it’s been sewn to the other blocks, i.e. 6 1/2 inches. I only realised after I’d made all the squares and sewn two rows together! I toyed with trimming them down, but that would cut through the stitches. Then, unbelievably, I got the next lot of calculations wrong and ended up making them for what would have turned out to be a 5 1/2 inch square. I am now the proud owner of a whole lot of half square triangles with nowhere to go. Then when I finally got the size of component parts right, the first row I made was still a bit too long, i.e. long enough that a bit of manipulation wouldn’t cure it. I decided this was drawing along the quilter’s quarter with lines that were too thick, so took them apart, bought a mechanical / propelling pencil with 2B leads, and redrew the lines. Eventually, it’s the right size, and looks fine when you stand back and see it from a distance, but at close range it’s clear the squares are wonky. Yikes. Lisa Bongean’s blog tip to use starch helped, but I reckon using my usual method to make half-square triangles just isn’t go to work with such tiny pieces. (P.S. the photo’s a bit dark, the blue’s the same one shown in the photos of the other blocks).

For the last one, I made the inner square and rectangle without making templates, but for the trapeziums I traced the templates onto plastic, tracing round the inside part of the template provided on the CD accompanying the book I’m using. I was confused what to do about the border, so decided that I’d trace the inner part of the template onto plastic, use the new plastic template to draw round onto the fabric, then the quilter’s quarter for the border. Using my new propelling pencil! Also using starch. I was uncertain at first, just following the advice in Lisa Clement’s book to start with the points where the lines meet (once I found this advice, which I missed first time round because I was looking in the section on templates), and afterwards realising I need an extra stitch either side of the line so the borders are sewn down. I had to go back and do these stitches, but apart from that it came together better than I thought, and much more quickly. Admittedly, they’re bigger pieces, but it was so much easier than the last one, I started it on Sunday afternoon and had finished by the time I got off the train after work on Monday, apart from the last iron down. This was aided by taking my new craft mini iron to work, so that when I got to my office at 8.40, and using a folded up teatowel as an ironing surface, I could iron in place the pieces I’d done on the commute in before starting work at 9, ready to take up again on the commute out! Fortunately, I have an office to myself and no one came to see me, but I won’t be making a habit of it. But wasting the best part of 2 weeks on 2 abortive attempts to make a 6 inch block out of half-square triangles will lead to desperation. Patchwork messes with your mind!

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