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Farmer’s Wife Quilt

The widely popular Farmer’s Wife sampler quilt was designed and pieced by Laurie Aaron Hird. It consists of 111 blocks that measure 6”. The completed quilt is stunning and viewed as a great accomplishment to quilters. Let’s take a look at the history behind this masterpiece.

farmers wife quilt
Photo via Elizabeth Green

“If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, want her to marry a farmer?” This was the question that the editors of The Farmer’s Wife magazine asked their readers back in 1922. During the 1920s, people assumed that the lives farmer’s wives led wasn’t that great. The common thought shared by those that lived in cities was that farmer’s wives were unhappy, overworked, and desperate to help their daughters escape the farms where they were raised. The editors of the magazine thought this idea was completely wrong, so they decided to discover the truth by creating a contest for their readers, asking them to answer this question. Prizes were offered for the 68 most creative submissions, with the top winner receiving $200. The contest lasted for two months. To the surprise of all, over seven thousand people responded! After all of the articles were read and the opinions were counted, it turned out that the answer to the question was yes! 94% of farm wives would want their daughters to marry a farmer.


The editors of the magazine gathered the 68 winning essays and made a booklet called “Do you Want Your Daughter to Marry a Farmer?” These essays are the inspiration for Laurie Aaron Hird’s book The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt. This book is filled with letters from 1920s farm wives and the 111 quilt blocks that they inspired. The first half of the book features excerpts from these letters. Photos of two pieced blocks are paired with each letter. The second half of the book features each individual block, diagrams for assembly, layout directions, and finishing instructions. The book closes with the actual list of winners from the Farmer’s Wife contest.

Photo via Fussy Cut blog

Since it was published in 2009, the popularity of The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt has grown steadily. The combination of the charming letters and the stunning quilt have caught the attention of many sewists. Today, quilters of all ages enjoy sewing this sampler, both by hand as the author did, or by machine. Members of the online quilting community have joined in the craze as well. There is a large Yahoo group called “farmer’s wife sampler” that has thousands of members sewing together. This is a great resource for quilters, and the board includes tips, template advice, book corrections, and paper piecing patterns for the blocks. There is another popular Farmer’s Wife group over on Flickr. This is a group that my friend Amanda and I started when we decided to make the sampler together. We decided to host our quilt along on Flickr so that the sewing community there could join in. You can find this group here.

Are you ready to start a Farmer’s Wife sampler quilt of your own? Purchase the book here, check out the online groups, and dive right in!

In case you missed it yesterday, explore yo-yo quilts. Come back to the Bluprint blog tomorrow to challenge your quilting skills with the end-all-be-all of advanced quilt patterns—the double wedding ring!


Natascha Rutherford

Yes I am doing the farmers wife quilt I finished my Dear Jane nearly pulling my hair out and crying but I learnt the hard way now with FWS I am breezing through it and enjoying it!


I have the book and the Electric Quilt CD..but I refuse to start it before my Dear Jane is finished. I am a sucker for sampler quilts with little blocks. Nearly Insane is another I would love to make.

Catharine Drevniok

I had to chuckle at the two previous posts, DJ first, I’m working on my DJ and will do FW when I’m finished, 6 inches no biggie after 4 inch blocks, hair pulling and mumbling under my breath lol


Wow, it certainly would be a long term project . And I like the idea of doing it with a friend or group. I love to quilt , but sometimes it ceases to be fun when I doing it all my myself .Sometimes I need a cheering section even if it only one person 🙂 It seems to be one could make this out of orphan blocks, however most of my orphan blocks from other quilts are all different sizes.


I am in the middle of the Farmer’s Wife quilt. It is going much easier with Marti Michell templates. Those paper templates aren’t the best way to do this quilt.

Shelley K

I have the book and it is amazing. However, there is no way I would try to do these blocks on such a small scale!


I’m so happy to learn of all these resources. I’ve been working on my Farmer’s Wife quilt for at least three years if not four. I have experienced my ups and downs with it. I’m about 65 blocks into it. I have several blocks I know I won’t use because of the fabric choices or they are too small. A re- occurring problem especially when I started out. If I’m able to do at least 15 more blocks I’ll be happy.


I am doing the blocks in the Japanese taupes. It has been a start and stop project over the past year, but I plan to make a few more blocks each month. But it is lots of fun and I love making small blocks.


I am working on it now. I have 40+ made and then injured my wrist. I am hoping that I will be able to get back to it soon!

Evelyn Urbom

I have been working on DJ, the FW, English paper piecing and the bird of Paradise quilts at the same time!I must be insane! There is a group of 4 ladies working on the FW and we encourage each other and have completed about 60 blocks , but found the FW has many mistakes in the sizes. Am not too happy but the DJ blocks come out more precise even though they are smaller.


I started FW in January 2011 and finished it that summer. I loved doing the FW. I did some fussy cutting in a few of the blocks (ie: my attic window has ghost in the centre). As soon as I realized that some of the first blocks ended up smaller than necessary, I used graph paper to get the right measurements. Paper piecing works well on blocks with very sharp points. Good luck everyone. My next one is Sylvia’s Wedding Sampler with 140 blocks.


I would love toile this. I don’t have any Marti Mitchell templates, which ones should I buy??


This quilt has been on my mind for a while, but I was just gifted a bag of Hope Valley scraps and now I think I need to jump in–at least to make a mini-quilt!

web hosting

Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!|

Susan Amos

Is there a chart telling the level of difficulty for the blocks of TFWPC quilt. My Dear Jane CD had a diagram you could print. Is there one available for this.
Susan in SC


What is fuse piecing that Marti speaks about in one of her utube videos?

Olga Lauchnor

Help.. Does any one know how I can find the templates for the Farmer’s wife sampler quit. I bought the book many years ago, and with work and family I never found the time to make the quilt. Now I am retired and i would love to make the quilt but my computer is not compatible with the cd that came with the book. This saddens me a lot. Hope someone can help. Thank you.


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