Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt

My daughters gave me the book, The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt for Christmas and I spent Christmas Day reading “letters from 1920s farm wives” and checking out the “111 blocks they inspired”.  The book is by Laurie Aaron Hird, published by Krause Publications, Cincinnati (

There are 42 letters from readers of Farmer’s Wife magazine in 1922, answering a contest question, “If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?”

In addition, there are 111 six-inch blocks with assembly diagrams, instructions for making a sampler quilt in any traditional size, and a CD with templates for all 111 blocks.   Please note that the blocks are 6″ unfinished (5-1/2″ finished) – fairly small blocks.  The book is written for hand-piecing, but I’m not good at hand work and prefer to do as much stitching as possible on my Bernina sewing machine.  I also don’t like to work with templates and picked out patterns that I could work out mathematically to cut with a rotary cutter.  Either way, there are a lot of blocks to choose from and these are the 12 that I chose:

  1. Hovering Birds – I liked this block very much
  2. Practical Orchard – very easy to piece
  3. Churn Dash – an old classic
  4. Contrary Wife – another easy one
  5. Cups & Saucers – the flying geese in this block were more difficult because of the small size
  6. Prairie Queen – looks more intricate but is easy to do
  7. Friendship Star – easy to piece
  8. Homeward Bound – the small pieces made some of this block a little harder to do
  9. Country Farm – had a little trouble matching seams
  10. Box – easy to piece
  11. Single Wedding Star – easy to piece
  12. Cut Glass Dish – the most difficult of the ones I chose – again, the small size of the pieces made it harder to match and to keep the bulk under control

I had a $5 bag of coordinating scraps I had purchased on a trip to Holmes County Amish Country last fall and the size of the pieces was perfect to make the small 6″ unfinished blocks.

I decided to set the blocks on point and used coordinating checkered fabric for the setting triangles.  The sashing and binding were cut from a dark maroon fabric, a color that showed up in almost every block.

I like to use fabric scraps to piece the backing on quilts and chose some that echoed the colors in the wall hanging.

The piece measures 29×29 inches and I like to use drapery hooks to hang a piece like this so I can use it as a hanging or remove the hooks and use it as a table cover.

I think it made a nice piece and I still have 99 block patterns to try out on another project.

This is an interesting book to read and a great source for vintage quilt blocks.

Primitive Santa Quilted Wall Hanging


In the early 1980s, we had just moved to a home in the country, on the Ohio/Indiana border.  It was a complete lifestyle change for me and as I was preparing for Christmas, I decided I’d like to have china that had a holiday theme.  I told my husband that’s what I wanted for an early Christmas gift and asked him to pick it out for me since I wasn’t familiar with the stores in the area yet. 

He stopped at one of his favorite stores, a small version of a discount store called Van Leunen’s.  He came home with a box containing four place settings of International China (Japan) in the Country Christmas pattern.  It was love at first sight for me.  The next day, I stopped by the store and picked up 8 more place settings to be sure I had enough for my growing family and to insure against breakage.  I never saw the pattern again anywhere until I chanced to look it up on eBay where I found it was selling for more per plate than we had paid for four place settings.  It was just perfect for our home in the country and has been used for every meal from St. Nicholas through New Year’s Day for over 25 years. 



Last year, I had the idea to make a kitchen wall hanging incorporating some of the design elements in the china and made this piece with a cow leading Santa’s sleigh. 


My oldest daughter liked it and asked me to make one for her.  Since she likes sheep so much, in this version a wooly sheep is pulling the sleigh.


To get the pattern, I took digital photos of the china, re-sized them and printed them out in black and white.  Then, I traced over the various pieces onto fusible material, ironed that onto the back of the individual fabrics and cut out the pieces.  An applique mat is really helpful in putting together the small pieces before fusing them to the background.  In each case, I used a vintage buckle as a hanger.  I enjoyed using a lot of scraps from fabric that had been purchased on our trip to Holmes County Amish country earlier this year.