It’s been so long since I did any sewing that I had to literally dust off my sewing machine and cutting mat to prepare this tutorial today! I didn’t plan to take such a long break from my sewing machine, but I’ve enjoyed spending time in the garden, catching up with family and friends and all those end of year summer activities that make this such a busy time of year. I also had a lovely trip to Wellington back in October, I gave a talk at the Capital Quilters Guild which was a big challenge and a lot of fun! I’m guessing I won’t do a lot of sewing or blogging over summer but I’ll definitely be back sometime in the New Year.
In the meantime, today is my last stop on the Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sew-along. It’s block 99, Widow, the last block in the book (but not quite the last block in the sew-along).  I’m using a mixture of techniques for this block; freezer paper templates as cutting guides, strip piecing and foundation paper piecing.
Choosing fabrics;
In keeping with the original version, I’ve chosen a light (Cotton and Steel pink), medium (Art Gallery brown) and dark (Cotton and Steel blue) fabric. The pieces in this block are small so I’ve chosen small prints for the blue and brown fabrics, the pink fabric has a larger print but I like the quirkiness the birds add.
You’ll need;
  • Usual sewing requirements
  • Freezer paper; available in supermarkets in America. In other parts of the world, look for it in your local quilt store. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand your local Spotlight should stock it, it’s also available on Amazon. This is what the box looks like;
  • A stapler and/or washi tape.
Step 1: Print the paper piecing pattern for block 99
The paper piecing pattern for Widow can be found on the CD at the back of your Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt book. Make sure that your templates have printed at 100% by measuring the 1″ line included on the page.
Step 2: Create freezer paper templates for the middle square
For more information on creating the templates see my previous tutorial No Ripping Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial Part One.
  • Cut a piece of freezer paper large enough to cover the template pieces J and K with room to spare. We’ll reuse the K template to piece section I so there’s no need to create a separate template for I.
  • Place the piece of freezer paper (matt side up) behind the pattern print out, making sure that the freezer paper covers section J and K.
  • Staple through the two layers (pattern on top) to hold the freezer paper in place (see photo below).
  • Sew along the solid template lines with the needle on your sewing machine (remove the thread, you may also like to use an old needle).  Note there is no need to sew along the 1/4″ dashed  line as we’ll add the seam allowance in the next step.
  • Remove the staples.
  • Using your rotary cutter and ruler add the 1/4″ seam allowance to your freezer paper templates by cutting 1/4″ beyond the perforated line.
  • Mark the templates with L (light), M (medium), and D (dark) to show which fabric goes where, see photo below.
  • Your templates are ready, rethread your machine.
Step 3: Cut fabric for centre square
When foundation paper piecing always cut your fabric larger than required so that you can trim back later. I hate wasting fabric so I always cut my pieces as small as I can, if you prefer more wriggle room, feel free to cut your pieces slightly larger.

  • Light fabric (pink); cut four rectangles 2″ x 1 1/4″
  • Medium fabric (brown); cut two 2″ squares and cross cut to yield four triangles
  • Dark fabric (blue); cut one 1 1/2″ square
Step 4: Piece the centre square
A. Prepare to sew the first seam
  • Because each section only has three pieces of fabric, it really doesn’t matter which piece you start with. I’ve chosen to start in the middle. Iron the centre fabric for each template, wrong side down, to the shiny (sticky) side of your freezer paper templates. Position fabric so that it covers the template and allows 1/4″ seam allowance (see below), if you have directional fabric you may like to take note of the direction.
  • Fold the template back along the first seam line, it doesn’t matter which side (left or right). Trim excess fabric from that edge so that there is a 1/4″ seam allowance beyond the fold seam line. I use my rotary cutter and ruler for this step but you could also use scissors.
  • Line up the next piece of fabric with this cut edge (right sides together). See below.
B: Sew first seam
  • Keep the freezer paper folded back along the seam line.
  • Sew your stitches as close as you can get to the paper without sewing through the paper. Use your normal stitch length.
  • If you do sew through the paper, don’t worry, just gently pull the freezer paper away from the stitches before the next step (yes, I’ve done this many times!).
  • Unfold the template
  • Iron fabric to the freezer paper as shown below.
C: Sew second seam
  • Fold template back along the next seam line and trim seam allowance to 1/4″ as shown below.
  • With right sides together, line up the next piece of fabric with the seam line and again, sew as close as you can get to the paper without sewing through the paper.

D: Finish each section
  • Unfold the template and iron fabric to the freezer paper.
  • Trim excess fabric from all edges, using the freezer paper as a guide.
  • Gently remove freezer paper by peeling away from fabric.
  • At this point I flipped the direction the centre seam was pressed on the middle piece so that it would nest with the outside pieces when sewn together.
  • Repeat the process for section I, reusing the section K template.
E: Complete Centre Square

Once you’ve finished the three sections, sew them together to complete the centre square.

Step 5: Create freezer paper templates as cutting guides
A. Create freezer paper templates to help cut the strips

Because the pieces for the remaining sections are not easily measured on an inch ruler, I created templates using freezer paper. It’s really easy to do, just place your freezer paper over the pattern print out, and using your ruler and rotary cutter, cut the freezer paper along the solid lines of one of the long sections in the pattern (you’ll cut right through the pattern paper, but that’s ok because we’re not using it again). Use a loop or two of washi tape to hold the freezer paper in place. Your freezer paper strip needs to be about 10″ long.

B. Create a freezer paper template for cross cutting the strips
Use the same technique as above, but this time include the seam allowance in the width, cut a strip of freezer paper 2 1/2″ long. This template will be used in Step 8 below.
Step 6: Cut strips
Using the template created in 5A above, iron the template strip on to your fabric and cut fabric adding the 1/4″ seam allowance to the top and bottom of the template. Reuse the template until cutting is complete. Cut:
  • Dark fabric (blue); one strip 11″, two strips 10″
  • Medium fabric (brown); one strip 10″, two strips 5″
  • Light fabric (pink); two strips 11″ each, one strip 5″
Step 7: Strip piece
  • Lay out your fabrics as below and sew each section together.
Step 8: Cross cut strips
  • Using the template created in 5B above, iron it to the top strip (10″ dark/med/dark) and use it as a guide to cross cut your strip (see photo below). This section will yield eight pieces.
  • Repeat the process for the short section (5″ med/light/med), this section will yield four pieces.
  • Cross cut the remaining section (11″ light/dark/light), to yield four 2 1/2″ squares.
Step 9: Piece corner sections
  • Lay out the three strips that make up each of the corner squares and sew together.
Step 10: Piece the block
  • Lay out the nine squares and piece in rows. Not like this! Oops!

That’s better!

  • Piece the three rows together.

Hooray you’re done!

For more information on piecing this block head over to Angie’s tutorial here and Marti Mitchell’s tutorial here (Marti has a giveaway running on her blogpost!). Below are the blogposts coming up before Christmas…

13/12/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell – Block 96
15/12/2016: Peta @ She Quilts A Lot
20/12/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell – Block 84
22/12/2016: Cat @
Cat & Vee

One thought to “Widow Tutorial: Block 99 in the Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sew-Along”

  • Anonymous

    Holy doodle that's a lot of pieces in a small block! Nicely done, and happy summer to you.


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