Block 24, How we love the 16th of an inch!

Some blocks are easier than others, some blocks are harder, that's typical with this quilt, and then there is block 24.  It looks easy enough, but underneath, it has a deadly little secrete... it harbors the dreaded 16th of an inch measurements!

Have you ever written directions to make a quilt block from scratch?  No?  I have, and it takes a lot of time and work.  My friend Karen has written more than her fair share as well. Did we both make miscalculations?  You bet'cha!  Sometimes they are biggies, and sometimes they are as small as a 16th of an inch.  Now you are saying, so, its only a 16th of an inch, that's 3 or 4 threads, no biggie and that is where you are wrong.

Here is what a 16th of an inch looks like, not big at all, 3 maybe 4 threads at most!

Now here is what a 1/16th of an inch looks like.  Ok, so you say, I can work that out with the feed dogs of my machine...

Maybe, but your finished center will look like this......  Wrinkled and painful, points that don't match, just sad.

This block is supposed to measure 6 1/2.  Not 7+.. not a happy block!

So what went so honorably wrong?

The little 16th of an inch measurements on all of the little squares that are around the middle.

Believe it or not, 1/16th of an inch from two sides made the block go together with no problems.

So instead of being 1 5/8, they are 1 9/16, that is 1/16th less (or the trimmings you see above)

Here is how the math works.

When you sew the two small squares together (the orange and brown on my block) they should measure the same size as the center block, which is 2 5/8".  What Karen did, was to jot down the small square size as 1 5/8... simple typo and when you are typing as many numbers and fractions as she does, well, it goes without saying that a booboo or two is going to happen, it's not rocket science, it's a quilt!

So the math looks like this: All of the small squares should measure 1 9/16", even the ones for the center corners so they match the side squares.  1 9/16" + 1 9/16" = 3 1/8".  Now remove 1/2" for the seam allowances (1/4" on each square) and you have 2 5/8", the exact size of the center square!

This block does require that you sew a PERFECT 1/4 inch seam, not a SCANT, if you sew a scant, you are adding back in 1/32" to each seam and nothing will fit and you will be right back where we started from!

Yes, a 16th of an inch makes all the difference in the world!

Karen has made the corrections in her lessons, republished them and if you have purchased lesson 8 prior to 9/10/14 you will need to get the updated copy.  If you need help in finding the update, send Karen a message at, and she will get you a corrected copy right away.

If you have not checked our her blog, Laugh Yourself into Stitches please do so, she has freebies, wonderful patterns and always answers her e-mails with a smile :)

Happy Farming!

FW Progress 70 Blocks and Counting

The last post I made was on July 14, it is now September 8, needless to say, it has been a very busy 8 weeks!

I have not had time to think, let alone sew, which bothers me some. Sewing, or making quilt blocks, is my comfort zone, my time, and I have had little of that as of late.  But with a break from work today, I find the house quiet and time for me!

I have always liked hand work, not so much applique, but the simple act to hand sewing.  Never did much of it, but I have recently found that I have a good nack for it.  I was with a friend, shopping, for stuff on sale or that I can use my 50% off coupons, (what, you have never done that?) we went walking down the paper crafting isle and my eye caught a paper punch that was a perfect 1 inch Hexagon. I had tried to cut this shape with my Accuquilt dies, but paper and the dies, really aren't made for that, so I was pleased when I found this.  I also found a punch that had two holes in it. For what you say?

Well, when you pin the card stock to the fabric, there is always a distortion, with the holes, you pin through the paper to the fabric and no distortion and when you go to remove the papers, you put your tweezers in the holes and 'pop' out the paper.

I used my Accuquilt die cutter to cut the next size up fabric hexagon, wrapped it around the card stock cutouts, basted them in place and viola!, perfect hexagons!!

Put a few together and you get a hexagon flower.

Put a border on the flower and you get a bigger flower
Put them all together and you get this!

That took me about 6 weeks, evenings in front of the T.V. and a couple of field trips waiting for the teams to come back to the bus.  It needs a border, backing and then quilting.

While I was doing this, class 8 of the Farmers Wife Revival Quilt was released.  I have only done 3 of the 11 blocks, but have confidence I will get the rest done soon.  Class 9 has been released as well, so I have some catching up to do, but I also have fall break coming at the beginning of October and that will give me 10 whole days to catch up (I hope)

So here is a recap of what I have done so far.....

Class 1

Class 2

 Class 3

Class 4 

Class 5

Class 6 

Class 7

Happy Farming!

FW Progress Blocks 61-70 (class 7) What the heck is a scant?

What a difference a couple of threads make!  I know you have heard that before and that using a scant quarter inch is ... what the heck is a scant??

Well let me try to break it down for you... Most nationally know teachers will tell you that a scant quarter inch is moving the needle to the right by one click.  Great, that is if you have a machine that moves the needle for you or that you can move the needle... but even if you do, your machine may not be able to move '1' click.  Maybe it is an older model that when you move your needle, it moves it all the way to the right or all the way to the left (my old singer did that, only 3 needle positions) Now I have a machine that has a 7mm swing in the way the needle moves, it is only 5 years old and it is out of date with the amount that you can move your needle....  

So what is a quilter to do?

They say to use a quarter inch foot and a single needle throat plate.  Ok, so let's change the throat plate on my machine.  Not an easy task.  One has to remove the surrounding cover that covers the bobbin area.  Then remove the presser foot and the attaching ankle.  IF you really don't want to get stabbed in this process, you take out the needle as well.  After that is all done, you take out the two screws that are holding the plate in place (the larger holes in the picture)only AFTER you find the little stubby screw driver because you only have 2 inches of clearance to get to these screws!

Once you do that, you discover that you need to clean the bobbin area, so one takes out the bobbin, the bobbin race and then starts to clean the hook area.  Why stop there, go for it and remove the rest of the bed area and give it a good cleaning there as well.  DO NOT use canned air.. (reasons are listed in a prior blog) Ok, now that you have that all clean, you put it all back together, bed pieces, bobbin race, single needle throat plate and those pesky little 1/4 screws with that 2 inch screw driver, foot ankle, foot, NEW needle (good a time as any to put in a new needle) replace the surrounding bobbin cover, replace the bobbin.  Whew!  

Get out a scrap of fabric to make sure everything is working right, turn back on the machine, go to adjust it to the scant quarter inch.... and the machine won't move the needle!!!  Well crud!  Get out the book and after reading for 1/2 hour, find that with the single needle throat plate on the machine, the machine has a safety that will not let you move the needle so it can only sew in the center position! All that work for #(%&^$( nothing!  

So I decide to work with what I am given.  I do a test strip and find that with the 1/4 inch foot on and the needle in the center position, the needle is just slightly to the left of the opening in the foot. Curious, isn't is supposed to be dead center in the foot? Yeah that is what I thought too.  So do a test seam.  I measure with my trusty 1/4 gauge and a couple of more rulers.  I find that the edge of the fabric is on the quarter inch mark, and the stitching butts up to the edge of the ruler.  IF I was a betting woman, I would say that is a 1/4+ seam.  So not to second guess the high and mighty sewing machine companies, I make a block using the edge of the foot as a guide.  Turned out perfect, then I measured it.  These are FW blocks, unfinished are supposed to be 6 1/2 inches.  This blocks measures a perfect 6 1/4 inches! (one on the left) 

Now I am really ticked!  I go through the whole procedure to put back on the zig-zag throat plate minus the cleaning, move my needle to the right by 1 click (which on my machine is 4.5 mm (4.0 being center) remake the block and it measures a perfect 6 1/2 inches! 

1 click, same foot, now the needle is in the middle of the foot. 

Wanta know why such a big difference? 

Because each seam now is being sewn 2 threads to the right of center... a scant quarter inch.

In the picture to the right is a piece of RJR fabric.  The blue line is 1/4 inch and there are 16 threads in that 1/4 inch.  

If you look at the block, there are 4 seams, 2 fabrics in each seam, for a total of 8 places to make an adjustment.  Uh Oh, I just saw math pop in your head!  

4 seams x 2 fabrics each = 8 sides
8 sides x 2 threads each = 16 threads
16 threads = 1/4 inch

2 threads = Scant Quarter Inch

So now that we have solved that mystery and the machine is clean... Here are Blocks 71-70 of class # 7 of The Farmers Wife Revival Quilt.

Happy Farming!

OMG! A give away!!

Now who doesn't like a good give away?  Freebies are wonderful little gifts!  This time, it's not just a free embroidery design of an flower, or a free quilt block that you probably have in a quilt book already on your book shelf, it is 6 Farmers Wife Lessons!!!  How cool is that?

laughyourselfintostitches Karen's lessons are great, exact and to the point.  Her lessons will improve your piecing skills, teach you how to put together blocks that you never thought you would make and are down right fun to do.

Need an excuse to do a little fabric shopping?  This is it!  

Have a stash that is out of control and you need to make a dent in it?This is it!

So what are you waiting for?  You have the book, you have the fabric, now you have the motivation.. free classes that are proven to create perfect blocks!

So, what do you have to do to win?? 
1. Be or become a follower of Karen's blog by clicking here
2. or become a follower of Karen's Craftsy Pattern Store OR her Etsy Shop
3. Click here, go to Karen's site AND leave a comment letting her know, are you a modern farmer or traditional farmer like her dad? 
It's so sad when she can't reach you to say "Yippee!!  You won!".

Happy Farming!

Testimonial - Farmers Wife Revival Classes

One day, a few months back, I was standing in front of my bookshelf shelf looking for inspiration. 

I had just won a full quilt shop box of Thimbleberries – Shades Apart and wanted to make something using this line, but what.  There are 70 different shades, I didn't want to make a scrappy quilt just for the sake of using the fabric, I wanted a project, not a quickie quilt.  

There, sitting on my shelf, was The Farmers Wife Quilt book.  I had read through it a while back and decided that it was no interest to me, but now I had a whole box of coordinating fabric, it might be worth a second look.  If you have the book (and you must have the book to do these lessons) you know the book does not have cutting information, nor does it have assembly instructions, one of the reasons that I shelved the book in the first place.  But I was determined to do this quilt.  

I started to think that I could draft all of the blocks in EQ and then place the actual fabric to see what the blocks were going to look like.  EQ provides the cutting instructions, even paper piecing templates, but even with the cutting instructions, they were templates, not modern ways of constructions, just the pieces.  I figured that with 30+ years of quilting experience, I could do this, I hate templates, but I could do it. 

As I was drafting the blocks, I was also searching on the internet for others that were doing the same as me and I stumbled upon the fact that there was a companion CD that had all of the blocks drafted for EQ and I found Karen Walkers Farmers Wife Revival Classes. 

 I started reading her blog and taking in all of the information that she was posting and thought, OK, so she knows what she is doing, maybe this is the place I need to be.  It takes me a while to make on line purchases, but I dove right in and purchased classes 1 & 2 right from her as I didn't (past thence), like to give my credit card to web sites.  I quickly received the lessons back via e-mail, I started working through class one.  Not only was it  was easy, fun, but well written.  

But at the end of class one, I discovered I needed to be more organized, so I created my notebook, had my book spiral bound and started my own blog (which you are reading now). 

 Class 2 was next up.  I was finding that, although I had been quilting for 30+ years, I had never created a lot of these blocks.  I was also find out that the blocks I was afraid of making, were, in fact, easy once I knew the tricks.  

I also thought that my accuracy was spot on, I was using a scant quarter inch and doing everything all of the teachers tell you to do, and my blocks never quite turned out, but were acceptable.  Now that I am making blocks that measure 6 1/2 inches and have 49 or more pieces, I have found that my accuracy has greatly improved and that scant quarter inch seam allowance is for the birds!  
If you cut accurately and then piece with 50 weight thread, there is really no need for adding that 2 or 3 threads extra, and as I am finding out as I work through these lessons, accuracy, TRUE accuracy is the key. It doesn't matter what foot you use and in fact I am using both of these feet to create these blocks, it totally depends on the method you are using. Also moving your needle to the dead center position, is the key, no more one click to the right!

Marking sewing lines and then sewing ON the line, not next to it is the key.  At first, my blocks were coming out at 6 to 6 1/4 inches, now they are coming out at the full 6 1/2 inches, even the one with the 49 pieces was a full 6 1/2 inches!  Thanks to Karen’s instructions, perfect cutting directions, it is possible to create a perfect block using 11/16th measurements. 

Would I highly recommend her lessons to even the most seasoned quilter, you bet I would!  I have learned so much that I didn't expect to learn and created blocks that I would have never attempted before. Because of her instructions, even the most complicated looking blocks are as easy as a simple 9 patch! 
Thanks Karen!!

FW Progress Blocks 51 - 60 (Class 6)

To re-cut or rip and re-stitch, that is the question.  Be it easier to re-cut than to rip out a 1 1/2 inch HST and given the fact that I am at block 70 and have not yet reached the half way in my fabric allocation for this project, I thought it best to re-cut.

So let me back up a few days.  Class 6 of the Farmers Wife Revival project (link on the right) showed up before I was finished class 5, along with the end of school, the beginning of summer school and a whole bunch of other things, I found myself behind on my block construction.  My goal was, and still is, to keep up with the classes.  I know that if I fall behind, I will probably just put the project in a box and set it on the shelf for a later date, which will never come, and I don't want to do that.

I was able to find a weekend with nothing planned and finished class 5 and surprisingly, the cutting for class 6.  Class 6 introduces Traditional and No Waste Flying Geese.  I have to say, I was not thrilled at the aspect of making flying geese, never have been, but, after making these 10 blocks, I have no issues using them now.  I really don't have a preference as to which method either, but the no waste seam to be a slight bit easier and the results were a little more consistent.

Now brings me back to the first line of this blog, cut or rip.
I remade this block, why?  Well, because it was the first one that I had done with the no waste flying geese, and the geese turned out the wrong size.  The left one is the first attempt and the right one is the completed correct block, much easier to re-cut and rip as the blocks were different sizes!

 Then comes this block.  I had everything done, pressed, pictures taken and then as I was going through the book to put numbers on the blocks, I see the block on the left.  You say, whats wrong with that?  Its fine.  HA, that's where your wrong.  The block was supposed to be the one on the right.  I just turned the four pieces the wrong direction when sewing them together and I thought it was supposed to have the pinwheel in the center.  So in this case, it was much easier to re-cut than to rip, because I like the block on the left and I might just make a quilt using this one block with the pieces turned.  Sometimes mistakes are good!

I was watching the movie Amadeus while I was creating most of the blocks in lesson 6.  One of the lines in the movie happens when Mozart is composing an opera and the directors opinion was "There are too many notes" Really? Motzart says, "There are just enough, if there are too many, which ones would you have me remove?"  Good question. That is just what I was thinking about Block 87, too many pieces for a block that is only 6 1/2 inches, just enough and if you remove any, the block is not pleasing to the eye.. 49 pieces.

When I was looking through the instructions for this class, I was thinking that block 36 would be better off if it was paper pieced, because like the block 87, too may small piece and this one had a bias X in the middle of it, so I printed out the PP pattern from EQ and cut strips of fabric instead of the pieces indicated in the lesson and put them in the book.  Didn't give it another though till I went to put it together.  I don't think I will second guess the instructions again, needless to say, its wasn't pretty given the fact that there are so many seams and that the paper just adds one more layer.... I re-cut the fabric according to the instructions and had no issues putting it together to make the block.

Here are the finished blocks from Class 6

Happy Farming!

FW Progress Blocks 41 - 50 (class 5)

This has been a long lesson for me.  I started this one back on 5/3/14 and life just got in the way.  The end of school was coming, lots of long hours and field trips kept me away from my machine.  Other projects have also gotten in the way for the new granddaughter.  So now that they are almost finished, it is time to get back to the farm and finish the last 3 blocks of the lesson.

Most of the blocks in this lesson went together quite easy and fast, HST, Magic 8 and corner triangle units are now easy and quick to put together and my accuracy in putting these together is getting a lot better.

Then came blocks 57 & 100, The last two in the lesson. They are exactly alike except for the center square which is a different color.

Sounded easy, make two of the same thing.. But for some reason I kept turning the HST and the corner rectangle block the wrong way when sewing.  Thank goodness I had starched the fabrics well or I would have had to re-cut all the little pieces.

So here is my progress so far.. Lesson 6 is cut and ready to be sewn together, off to the machine!

Side note: The block numbers are not 1 to 60, that is the number of blocks I have completed, for the block numbers and names, refer to the book Farmers Wife Quilt.