I leafed through the Farmer’s Wife book, searching for an appealing block to begin with. It would have been more logical to begin with the easier blocks, ones with few pieces and straight seams, no points, but those are (by and large) less attractive blocks. On page 51 I found the Peaceful Hours block, assembly diagram on page 192.
Peaceful Hours is lovely, but it is very difficult.
Unfortunately, the pattern for this particular block contains errors. To get the correct paper pieces, you must ditch pieces B and F, making instead two copies each of pieces H and C.
Even with the correct paper piecing pattern in hand, this is a very confusing block. I had decided to make the block in three fabrics, a green dotted background, a red floral for the centre and corners, and a contrast green print for the star rays. I printed out my pattern, sorted the units and labelled each section with sewing order and the fabric designation: bg for background, contrast and (stupidly it turns out) corner.
Alas I found the default printed sewing order was not always the same and muffed a couple of intersections before I realized I had to re-label the pattern pieces for each unit to ensure correct sewing order. This really matters in foundation piecing!
I use Judy Mathieson’s method of paper piecing, in which you do not sew through the paper, but fold the paper along the seamline and stitch beside that. It is nicely explained in her own books as well as in The Experts Guide to Foundation Piecing, and in Episode 707 of The Quilt Show. I find Judy’s method is accurate, easier for me to get right (I struggle with cutting the right sized piece of fabric for each area as I can’t easily think upside down and backwards), and I love that you do not have to rip off the paper, which I find hard on my fingers and on the seamlines!
One help to me in piecing intricate blocks is the little design wall I have at my sewing station. I put the completed pieces up on the design wall as I work:
In spite of trying to be careful, I confused my own labels and managed this blooper:
And had to do those units over again. But finally, it was time to put the bits together. In sewing the sub-units together, you must very carefully match seam lines and points, and be very careful that your seamline goes where it needs too. This is one block you may want to baste before you commit to a fine sewing line…it is very hard to get things to match up precisely. I pin with Clover extra fine quilt pins, which are very fine, rather delicate (you bend a lot), but can hold a seam without distorting it very much. Working very carefully, I finally got the block together. It is not perfect, but it is pretty good. Good enough!
This block will have to be blocked and re-starched (I use spray starch on all my fabric, which is washed and dried before starching and pressing) before assembly. There are just so many little pieces it gets wonky very quickly.
I am not entirely happy with my fabric choices, which ended up being a little busy. If I had to do it again I would choose a tone on tone red print for the centre and corners, as I do not like the busy-ness and in particular the way the green areas of the red print leak into the green contrast star points.
In spite of those quibbles, I think this block will look very pretty in the final quilt, in which I will set the blocks on point. It makes them come alive somehow!
On to the next block, something very easy this time!