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The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: Letters from 1920s Farm Wives and the 111 Blocks They Inspired Paperback – October 9, 2009
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With this book, I am with the laid back group. The book cover clearly states (maybe it didn't in previous additions?) that there is a CD with templates. I have experience with that, so when I got the CD and looked at the files, they were what I was expecting. Others say, "Well, there are no dimensions!" Well, it is explained in the front notes that the blocks are 6" blocks, so from there, I can get any dimension that I need. The instructions for the CD and templates explain how to use the templates and I have a ruler, so.... I guess as a new quilter I don't get what the fuss is about. Maybe I haven't quilted long enough to have higher expectations. I, in fact, appreciate that the templates are one to a page. I will trace off of these and keep the originals in a notebook. It just seems more organizationally sound to me to have one template per page. I have my own printer; most of you do as well, don't you? If Mrs. Hird had chosen to sell templates for these blocks, well, talk about added expense. And some of the dimensions would be so difficult to explain. I get lost in patterns that ask me to cut 15 2.5 by 8.5 inch strips, then cut 42 2.5 inch triangles using a specific angle cut ruler that I don't have. No, I'd rather have the template. There are some ellipsis in these patters that can only be done by pattern and maybe by paper piecing. I love paper piecing, don't you? Also, as one of those bothersome historian-type people, the templates are historically accurate to the time. How many of you remember quilt patterns in the newspaper or in a magazine. You had to cut out the pattern and make your own templates. SOMETIMES, you had to get your graph paper out and ENLARGE it!! I don't remember those, but I've seen them in back issues of newspapers at the library. There are 50 different ways to make one block. Every quilter is different. We all have different styles and ways of doing things. If you are a busy, exacting quilter, this may not be for you. If you are up for a fun adventure, then I think you'll like this. Most reviewers have agreed that it is a gorgeous book and it is a gorgeous book.
But, what I'd really like for you to experience is the letters. They are marvelous!! These women are serious, funny, strong, sensible and erudite. Oh, what dreams they had, not only for their daughters, but for their communities, and this country as a whole. In some ways, I feel like we've let them down, and I'm sorry. These women were the ones who raised the so-called "Greatest Generation" and they were strong and everything that we should be today. If you do decide to buy this book, and I hope you do, don't just rush into the quilting without reading the book. Take the time to read the letters of these remarkable women. Think about who they were and how they lived. I know as I make this quilt that I will be thinking of these women who lived simpler, harder lives than I have to live. I'm going to think about how they lived it with grace and strength and see if I can match their drive and determination while living my more complicated simpler life.