'Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?' - so sang the Beatles. Well, that's all very nice for the Beatles' Prudence. Farmer's Wife Prudence, on the other hand, was not playing, smiling or looking beautiful when I sewed her up. Prudence and I are not now, nor ever will be, friends. In the spirit of keeping things real, I am sharing my sewing struggles with you today, in the hope that you will have a much smoother piecing experience, and that Prudence does indeed come out to play, smile and look beautiful for you.
I foundation paper-pieced Prudence. If you would like a FPP-tutorial, starting right at the beginning with printing out the paper templates, please take a look back at my tutorial for block 1, Addie (I was friends with Addie. She was nice). I won't give particular FPP-how-to's here - but rather a 'things to watch out for with Prudence' guide - consequently, I'd suggest reading through all my post before you start, so you know what to watch out for, and where I digressed from the block's piecing order.
OK, let's get to it, Prudence.
1. First up is to choose your fabrics and colour in your block diagram. So far, so easy.
2. If you are so inclined, use the FPP templates to make plastic templates - they make fussy-cutting and directional-cutting much easier.
3. Work through all your template pieces and glue down the first fabric piece on each template, and then pin the second piece. Digression from the template-order alert - if you are foundation paper-piecing, for E1/E2 and G1/G2, glue your outer-cross (blue) piece down as the first piece, then add the inner-cross (orange) piece. Take care with seam-trimming - with FPP, you always fold the bigger number down onto the smaller number to trim your seams - but, if you follow my suggestion for this step, please be sure to fold the smaller number down onto the bigger number to trim your seam. In the pic below, you would fold G1 down onto G2 to trim, because you went backwards and started with G2 and then added G1.
4. Be aware that trimming the outer seams for some sections is a little annoying - you may need to use scissors to snip into the corners, if you don't trust your rotary-cutting accuracy/ability to stop in time. See what I mean?
5. Digression from the template-order alert - if you are fussy-cutting the centre square A2, glue your A2 piece first (in the pic below, see how I've so-helpfully written '1' in pencil?), then sew A1 and then A3. Be sure to trim your seams, folding A1 down onto A2 and then A3 down onto A2 - again, this is different from the usual seam-trimming process for FPP, where the bigger number is always folded down onto the smaller number. Go carefully, as you don't want to trim off the fabric you just sewed on - that would be upsetting.
6. Y-seams. There are several. Just take a look at the pic below, for starters - what even is that!? I am not skilled at sewing y-seams, so would like to draw your attention at this point to two very excellent Farmer's Wife y-seams tutorials. Melissa from Ms Midge did a great y-seam tutorial for block 13 Belle - please take a read - and Angie from GnomeAngel did an excellent y-seam tutorial - including a video! - for block 61 May. It's definitely worth clicking through, as Melissa + Angie's tips are way better and ultimately more y-seam successful than mine.
As for my own y-seam thoughts - always sew the long seam first, from the outer edge to the inside. When you get to your y-junction, put your needle down, pivot your block and keep going, slowly and as best you can. I tend to only sew a few stitches, then remove the block from under the needle, and come in again towards the y-junction from the other outer edge. It's fiddly and slow, and your fingers can feel like huge cucumbers when you are manipulating such little pieces.
To be completely honest, I had a true shocker joining section I to section E - it's a very gradual y-seam. It was at this point in the Prudence-piecing-process that I realised she has not been designed as a true FPP block. There is no extra instruction given in the book, about the trickiness of joining these sections, other than "join I to E". When pinning your sections together, be aware that the tip of the A4 triangle meets the very slight bend in F1 (see pics below).
When it comes to joining ABEFHI to ACDGJK, take your time. Make a cup of tea. Read Melissa's + Angie's y-seams posts again. Start at the outer edges and sew towards the y-junctions. Pivot. Take your block out from under the needle and sew in again from the other outer edge. By the time you are done, you will have earned a Y-Seam Medal.
And that's Prudence.
I try to be positive and helpful in this space, but I also have to be honest. Prudence was a really unenjoyable block to piece. I have a lot of FPP experience, but I do tend to avoid y-seams when I can. I had to unpick every section-joining seam at least once with Prudence, and still ended up with more wonk than I am happy with. The bottom right square below the centre-rabbit isn't square, there's plenty of triangle-rippliness going on, and there are puckers-aplenty - but after two unpicks and re-sews of most section-joins, I was done. Prudence is looking as good as she's going to - and I AM very happy with my fabric choices for her (I'm taking that as a win).
Another upside - who could even have guessed what a perfect choice that little centre rabbit was when I started - the expression on her face is perfect - she's totally saying "WHAT are you doing, I'm utterly dismayed by your inadequate Prudence-piecing, but I must endure in dignified silence. I will not smile or play".
Please, please do not be deterred by my experience - I shared my thoughts to try and help point out the tricky bits, rather than scare you off. Take Prudence slowly, step by step, and you will end up with a very sweet block indeed and a Y-Seams Medal. She will be worth it.
We have now finished the September Farmer's Wife blocks - there is just Kitty @ Night Quilter to go, on Thursday. And Marti Michell will definitely have lots of tips for a happier Prudence-experience, using her wonderful templates as much as is possible. Be sure to check in again with Angie next Tuesday for the October Farmer's Wife block + blogger line-up.
And last but not least, the book details - The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and the 99 Quilt Blocks that Honour Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.
Happy sewing to you, whatever you are making today. xoxo cat