Down On The Farm Quilt

Here in Canada we LOVE our red and white and especially love using this colour combo “Down on the Farm.”  When I saw these beautiful reds, tans and cream tones I just knew what type of design to focus on – a good ole’ barn raising and images from my Past, Present, and Future.  I hope everyone has as much fun with this quilt as I did . . . remember to customize it however you like to make it a “one-of-a-kind” quilt that creates memories for you.

1 – “Midwinter Reds” layer cake by Minick and Simpson
First and Third borders: 3/4 yard
Second border: 1/3 yard
Inserted Flap (Flange) border: 1/4 yard (optional)
1/2 yard background fabric for paper-pieced blocks
1/2 yard for centre squares and binding fabric
1 1/2 yards of backing fabric
46” x 54” batting

Scraps of embroidery thread to stitch your hometown name on the elevator


The blocks shown above are for your reference during the construction process.  If you are using a planned colour placement for your blocks you could cut your strips and label them as to the placement number as shown in the block above on the right.  If you are making your block scrappy, just be sure to follow the light side for your lights and the dark side for your darks.
I have designed the pattern so that the upper farm scene can be adjusted to fit your measurements, so please do not stress if your blocks are a slightly different size!
Now it’s time to open up that lovely layer cake and make a few decisions.
Do a quick flip through all those gorgeous prints and pull out any of the duplicate ones and set them aside.
Now have a look at your buildings, fence and tree blocks and decide what prints you want to use where.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter for the smaller pieces like the windows, doors and the roof on the house – scraps left over from making the log cabin blocks will work fine for some of those small pieces.  The elevator, barn, house, and tree use a bit bigger pieces and you want to make sure that you don’t run out of the print that you want to use for those blocks.  So pick out your favourites for these and set them aside . . . they may already be some of the duplicate ones that you’ve set aside and that is just fine. 
Don’t worry about how many 10” x 10” squares you use – there is enough fabric in your layer cake to cut extra strips if needed.
How to cut Log Cabin Strips:
Make a stack of light, medium and dark 10” x 10“ prints – having approximately 4-6 prints in each stack (or whatever number you are comfortable cutting through at one time).
Line up the left hand edges of your stack as close to perfect as possible.  Measure 1 5/8” from the left raw edge and make your first cut.
Flip the strip around and trim off the raw edge to make a perfect 1 1/2” strip. 
Continue cutting 1 1/2“ strips.
From the light strips cut 4 – 1 1/2” strips from each print and from the dark prints, cut 5 – 1 1/2” strips – all your strips will be 10” long – do not cut into shorter segments at this stage. .  If you prefer cut one strip less of each of the prints and then just go back later in the construction process and cut a few of the prints that you feel you want to have a bit more of.

Using the yardage that you have chosen for your center squares, cut 1 – 1 1/2” x 42” strip and sub-cut into 16 – 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” squares.
Before you start sewing – check your seam allowance.  A perfect 1/4” is preferred, but in all cases ensure that whatever seam allowance you start with you continue through the entire quilt construction process.  To achieve the 7” finished square blocks for this project, I needed to move my needle setting over to the right by a couple of nudges.  Everyone’s machine may sew just a bit different and everyone’s presser foot might be a bit different, so be prepared to maybe have a 7” x 7” finished block, and maybe not.
How to Sew Log Cabin Blocks:

Step One:
Place a center square and  a light strip right sides together and join with a 1/4” seam, using the machine’s presser foot as a guide.  Now line up your ruler against the straight edge of Print #1, and using your rotary cutter trim away the excess of Print #2 (refer to the block legend on Page 1 for reference).  Open squares and press seam allowance away from the center square.

NOTE:  Remember that the last strip you added is always on top under the needle.  Sew with the wrong side of the finished work facing you, the new strip will always be underneath so that you can see the seam allowances and guide them away from the center of the block as you stitch.
Step Two:
Lay this unit on top of another light strip – right sides together.  Stitch this seam as shown in the photo.  Ensure that you push the seam allowance up as you sew over it.  Trim off piece #3 evenly with piece #1.  Press seam allowance away from the center square.

Step Three:
Turn the unit so that piece #3 is at the top and lay this section over a dark strip (#4).  Align the raw edges and stitch, ensuring that the previous seam allowance is pushed upwards.  Trim unit evenly with piece #1 and #2.  Press seam allowance away from the center square.

Step Four:
Now lay this partial block on top of another dark strip (#5).  Stitch and trim strip #5 even with the edge of unit #2 and #3.  Open up and press.

Continue adding and trimming strips in this manner, always turning the block counter-clockwise as you add strips, until you have a block 7 1/2” x 7 1/2” square that looks like the block above.  Assembly line piecing works very well with this type of block if a planned colour placement is used.  As in the samples shown here, the prints are randomly placed which makes it a bit more difficult to use the assembly line method – a modified version does work, but not quite as efficiently.

Give all of your blocks a final pressing and get them stacked and ready to lay out into a quilt.  Refer to the photo at the beginning of the blog post or play around with different layouts to find one that appeals to you.

Cutting Strips for Paper Piecing
There are many methods for paper piecing – please feel free to use whatever method works best for you and that you are comfortable with.

Leftovers from the Log Cabin Blocks (1 1/2”) can be used for:  House Roof; House Door; Chimney; Barn Windows; Fence Posts; and Tree Trunk.

Cut wider strips from remaining 10”x10“ fabrics:
House Window: 2” strip
Barn Door: 2 1/2” strip
Barn Roof: 2” strip
Barn: 1 1/2” and 2” strips
Lean-to: 3” strip
Lean-to Roof: 1”
Elevator – Light Color: 3 3/4” strip
Elevator – Dark Color: 2” strip

Background Strips (all 42“ long) – Cut a variety and then use as needed.  I cut a 5”, 2” and 1” strip – the 5” works best for the backgrounds on the Lean-to, the Fence block and for the angled pieces in the Tree block.  The 1” strips work best for the Fence block and the sides of the House.  If you want a different size for a certain area, just cut it from the 5” strip as needed.

The tree has a lot of different angles going on and sometimes those can be quite a challenge. The trick is to always use a wide enough strip to allow for coverage of the area that you are wanting to cover.  The other important thing to remember is to always do a bit of a mock-sewing, by either using a couple of pins or by holding the piece of fabric in place along the seam line and flipping it over to make sure that the shape you are wanting to cover is covered.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter how carefully you plan, something still doesn’t work out in the end.  Always keep your seam ripper handy and take comfort in knowing that you’re not the first who has needed to re-work an angle!

The tree block is the “adjusting block” that I talked about at the beginning.  Once the tree is paper pieced you can add the top background strip (1 1/2”).  Then add 2 1/2” strips of background fabric to each side.  These 2 1/2” strips are wider than you need and will allow you to custom fit your entire barn scene to fit your finished log cabin bottom unit.  Measure your log cabin unit, including seam allowance – mark that number down.  Sew as many of your farm scene blocks together as you can . . . remember they don’t need to be in the order that I have sewn them in – create your own barn scene.  Measure your pieced blocks including only the one set of seam allowances.  Calculate the measurement you need to fill the available space and add 1/2” inch to that measurement.  Trim your tree block to that measurement and sew it into the sequence you have chosen.  Now you can sew the farm scene unit to the log cabin unit to complete your quilt center.
 Adding the First Border
1.  Measure through the middle row of blocks on the quilt top.
2.  Cut 2 – 1 1/2” x 42“ strips of this measurement from your first border print.
3.  Find the center of the quilt top and the center of the top border strip by folding them in half. Mark the halfway point with a pin or fabric marker. With right sides together, pin the center of the border to the center of the top. Pin the ends of the border strip to the ends of the quilt top and then pin every two or three inches, easing in any fullness.
4.  Using ¼ inch seam, stitch the top borders in place, being careful to ease in any fullness. As you are sewing your borders into place, be careful to keep the seams on your blocks laying in the direction they were pressed in.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the bottom border.
5.  Press the seams.
6.  Measure the quilt top from top to bottom across the center, including the borders just sewn on.  Repeat steps 3 to 5.
Note:  For longer borders:
If your measurement is longer than one length of the 42” strip, the borders will need to be pieced – just straight seam border strips together to make a longer length and then cut to the length needed.

Adding the Second Border:
Repeat steps 1 to 6 for the 2 1/2” second border.

Preparing and Applying the Flap (Flange) Border – (Optional)
1.  Using 5  1¼” inner border strips, straight seam them together end-to-end to create one long strip.
2. Press the entire strip in half, wrong sides together.
3.  Measure the quilt top from top to bottom and side to side across the center, including the borders just sewn on and cut four lengths of the flap border strip to those measurements.
4.  Using a 1/8” seam allowance, and with the right side of the quilt facing you, start stitching the strip to the first border, matching centers and ends as per step 3 above.
5.  Repeat for the other side and top and bottom of the quilt.

Adding the Third Border:
Repeat steps 1 to 6 for adding the first border using the 3 1/2“ third border print strips.

Embroider the name of your hometown on the front of the elevator and any other special touches that you want to make to your quilt.  The quilt top is now complete and ready for one final pressing before being layered and basted for quilting.  This quilt was quilted by Terry Whitman in Estevan, Saskatchewan and she made swirly wind stitching around the buildings and diagonal quilting across the body of the quilt.  The border has been quilted with a diamond/zig zag pattern.  Terry added sunflowers and other flowers on top of the barn and cabin, as well as a wheat sheaf on the elevator.

Binding:  Measure the top, bottom and sides of your quilt and divide this number by 42” (width of fabric) and using the number you get, round up to the nearest whole number.  This is the number of 2 1/4” strips you need to cut for binding strips.  Using a diagonal seam, stitch these strips into a long continuous unit.  Press strip in half with wrong sides together.  Stitch to the right side of the quilt aligning raw edges as you go and mitering corners as you come to them.  Turn edge over to the back side of the quilt and hand stitch in place.  Make a log cabin label and attach with pride!

I hope you enjoyed your time “Down on the Farm” with me.

Finished Quilt: 40″ x 48″

Marlene Biles

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