Another Update!

I have a habit of writing up blog posts and scheduling them to post later, sometimes weeks later! So by the time my last FWQAL and LBS update posted, I had more to share! Here is what I have done now:
12 New Blocks
 The whole group! 30 so far!
The group is at week 22, so that's 44 blocks. I'm behind by 14, yikes! Unfortunately I think this project may just continue to lag behind, because it's going to take a back seat to my holiday sewing. Hopefully I can get a few done along the way. We'll see how that goes!

I'm all caught up with this group! 2 blocks to go, I'm hoping to finish the quilt up before Christmas!

Farmer's Wife Blocks

I know I haven't blogged about these recently, but I'm still sewing away! I have 14 blocks finished right now, so I think I'm pretty close to caught up with the group. I've decided to work on them at my own pace, rather than feel pressured to keep up. I also decided to work through the solids and fq set that I have, without stressing over how I will have enough fabric for all of the blocks. I may end up with a table topper, a lap quilt, or a bed quilt. Only time will tell. ;)
So, about those blocks! Here's what I've got finished at this point:
Blocks, left to right:
Row 1: Attic Windows, Autumn Tints, Basket, Basket Weave (I used an alternate layout from what's in the book)
Row 2: Bat Wing, Big Dipper, Birds in the Air
Row 3: Broken Sugar Bowl, Bow Tie, Box, Butterfly at the Crossing
Row 4: Buckwheat, Bouquet, Broken Dishes

Details:
Fabric is Holiday Happy by Monica Solorio-Snow (Happy Zombie!)
Solids are from the lqs, various manufacturers
Flickr group for Farmer's Wife Quilt Along

I'm really happy with how these blocks look when they are all together!

FWQAL - My first few blocks!

If you're just hoping over, check out this post for an explanation of how I prepare my paper templates and use them to cut my fabric.

I wanted to get started on a few blocks, but I don't yet have the solids that I plan to use. My plan is to work through the blocks in numberical order beginning with #1, but I chose #1 and #3 as my first two blocks because I wasn't using solids in either of them.
Left: #1, Attic Windows
Right: #3, Basket Weave (I arranged my fabrics in a different order than in the book)
It was really fun to make these little guys (6.5" unfinished), and I love, love, love this fabric line. I'm hoping to stretch the 25 fat quarters along with solids to make the queen size quilt for our bed. The idea of a Christmas bed quilt just makes me so happy!

Fabric is Holiday Happy by Monica Solorio-Snow (Happy Zombie) for Lecien.

Farmer's Wife QAL - Using templates!

I seriously considered ditching the templates and working out the math for each block as I go along. I love math, and I know that my work is more accurate when I rotary cut my pieces. But I wanted to keep in the spirit of this project, so I'm using the templates from the book. I hand pieced and quilted my first quilt using templates, so this process isn't new to me.
This time around, I am using my rotary cutter to cut around the templates and I'm machine piecing my blocks. I thought I'd share the process that I use, first I will go through how I prep my templates:

Supplies:
Thin Cardboard (i.e. cereal boxes)
Spray Adhesive
Templates*
Rotary Cutter - it's best to use a separate blade for paper
Ruler

*A member of the FWQAL flickr group graciously combined all of the book templates onto 15 pages. I used these templates printed at 100% and they are measuring up great! If you need help finding the template document in flickr, let me know. This is not meant to be a substitute for purchasing the book, however. :)
 Start by spraying one side of the cardboard with the spray adhesive (I think the templates stick best to the unprinted side of the cardboard). I did this outside. Some people spray the templates and stick them down. I hate getting the adhesive on my fingers, b/c it is tough to get off. So I spray the cardboard!
Take the cardboard inside and lay your templates out. I don't like to lay any of my templates over the folds in the cardboard. As you lay each piece down, smooth it over with your finger. If there are bumps or wrinkles, you can pull the piece back up and try again. I find it pretty easy to smooth out the bumps without pulling the pieces back up, though.
Wait a few minutes before cutting the templates with your rotary cutter, that will minimize the adhesive that sticks to your ruler. (Adversely, it's best to stick your templates down immediately. Typically spray adhesive is permanent only right after it's sprayed.)
When I cut my templates, I line up the solid SEWING line on each template with the 1/4" line on my ruler. That ensures that I have an accurate seam allowance, regardless of the dashed/cutting lines. (See the red arrows below pointing to the solid SEWING lines.)
 In the pic below, you can see where my ruler is with respect to the dashed/cutting line. Trim all sides of the template the same way. To trim the funky corners like you see on the triangles, I just eyeballed it. You can use a ruler, though.
 This is how the edges of my templates looked after trimming.
 Continue until you have a stack of pretty templates! (I cut all of the templates for my first 8 blocks to get me caught up with the group, and in the future I'm planning on cutting my templates as I need them each week.)

Now that the templates are ready, I will go through how I cut my pieces using the templates and a rotary cutter and ruler.
Supplies:
Templates
Masking Tape
Rotary Cutter and Mat - switch out your "paper" blade at this point
Ruler
Fabric
For reference, I chose the Big Dipper block for this tutorial. It only requires one template!
To start, make a loop with masking tape and stick the loop to the back of the template.
Now stick the template onto the fabric. I cut 4 layers at a time here.
Line your ruler up along one edge of the template. I line up the solid SEWING line on the template with the 1/4" mark on my ruler.
And trim!
Repeat on all remaining sides (don't trim those funky corners yet!).
Now to trim the corners, I don't use a ruler. I just set my rotary cutter on the edge of the corner and press down. I try not to roll my cutter around a lot, because I want a small, clean cut.
Here's my triangle with 1 part of the corner trimmed.
Repeat with the little bit that is remaining. Line up the rotary cutter, and press down.
Ta-Da!
Repeat until all of your pieces are cut, and piece as desired! You may need to use a fresh piece of masking tape after a few templates. If the template isn't staying put on the fabric, use fresh tape. You don't want the templates moving around!

I've seen a few blog posts now where people are questioning the funky corners on the pieces. Fussy Cut explains it really well in this post, scroll down for the picture and explanation. They really do improve accuracy in piecing!

Up next, my first few blocks!

I caved...

Have you seen all of the excitement in blogland over the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along? The hosts are mrsmcporkchop and fussy cut, and here's the flickr group.
I'm using my stash of Holiday Happy by Monica Solorio-Snow for Lecien (along with some solids to stretch this pretty stack for 111 blocks!). This line came out 2 Christmases ago, and I fell in love with it instantly. I was lucky enough to win the fq bundle from Monica's blog, Happy Zombie. I'm so excited to finally find just the right project for these pretties!
Some of my favorites:
I'll post my blocks as I go along, and I'll try to include tips that I find helpful. If you're planning on quilting along but have a fear of templates, come back tomorrow because I going to take you through the process that I use for creating templates, prepping them, and cutting the fabric.
Now what do ya say, are you gonna quilt along too? :)