In 1922, The Farmer's Wife magazine asked readers, "If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?" Inspired by the contest, author Laurie Aaron Hird created a 111 block queen-sized sampler quilt and then wrote/edited a book.
The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: Letters from 1920s farm wives and the 111 blocks they inspired contains excerpts from over 50 of the 68 winning entries in the 1922 contest. Traditional quilt blocks are matched with each winning letter to illustrate the themes.
The 2nd half of the book has simple diagrams for the blocks and assembly instructions for your own Farmer's Wife Quilt in a Lap, Twin, Queen or King size. The included CD contains 106 Adobe PDF files; one file for each of the 106 piecing templates.
I found the letters from the farmers' wives charming. Each excerpt is brief, but the collection as a whole gives insight into life in rural America in 1922. Recurring themes are:
- Farm wives help their husband run the farm. They spend more time together than city couples with the husband gone to work all day.
- Farm wives have their own money from selling eggs, butter and garden produce, so they don't have to ask their husbands for money
- Farm life is wholesome without evil temptations that city dwellers have
- The country has more and more modern conveniences: running water, autos, telephones, electricity
- And yes, they wanted their daughters to marry a farmer.
As much as I wanted to read each and every letter in the book (and I did read every one), I found myself reading a few at a time over a two week period. Looking through the quilt block diagrams went much quicker.
The 111 quilt blocks finish at 6" square, though many would be easy to draw in a larger size. There are no detailed cutting and piecing directions. The block diagrams are clear enough that someone with a little quilting experience should be able to make most or all of the blocks.
Templates are provided on the included CD for all of the pieces. There are no rotary cutting instructions, but you could calculate piece sizes from the block diagrams or measure the templates to determine dimensions for rotary cutting.
Get this book for a glimpse of 1920s farm life and a selection of quilt blocks to create your own sampler quilt.