The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt

My parents have always said that I was born in the wrong century. My fascination with all things from the 1800’s and early 1900’s has been a lifelong love affair. In my high school years, I dabbled (because I had time then) in hide tanning, cheese making, soap making, crocheting, sewing, quilting, cross-stitching, smoking meats, canning, and the list goes on. If it had been done during the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was there. πŸ™‚

For my birthday this year, I got The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt book. Having always loved quilts, the name of this one caught my eye. The book has letters from farmer’s wives to the editor of the Farmer’s Wife Magazine from the early 1920’s answering the question, “Would you want your daughter to marry a farmer?”

At that time being a farmer’s wife was as negative a thing as being a slave in early years. They were pretty much one and the same, at least according to all the “city girls”.

Each letter, there are over 60 of them, corresponds with 2 quilt squares. The back of the book has the patterns for the squares.

Yes, you guessed it. I’ve decided to make this quilt. Of course, this will be a very long in progress project. There are 111 6-inch blocks. TinyΒ  little things if you ask me.

I’ve forced myself to not read ahead, so I’ve only read the letters that correspond with the blocks that I have made or am in the process of making. A fun little treasure chest and when I’m done hunting and playing, a queen size quilt will emerge! (in about 2 or 3 years probably, after all I am a true farmer’s wife and the spring season is upon us!)

Before things have gotten really busy I was able to make 12 squares. If any of you ladies would like to join me, you can find more information about the book here. I will warn you, the book is not the best as far as quilting instructions go. If you’ve never made a quilt before, I don’t recommend it. It takes into assumption that you “know” certain things like how to put the blocks together, seam allowances, etc. And there are no measurements or roto-cutting instructions. It’s templates that you copy and trace on your fabrics.

I still love the patterns and can’t wait to see it completed. I’m using scraps and new fabrics for mine.

Here’s a picture of all the blocks that I have completed so far. (don’t look too closely, nothing has been squared off yet)

How about you? Do you have a certain time in history that sings to your soul?



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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.

29 Responses to The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt

  1. Charles says:


    These are the types of blogs I like see. Something that’s near and dear to the writer’s heart. I fear that quilting is a dying art form. I remember when my Grandma would make every new born baby in the family their first quilt. I still have mine. She’s been gone almost 30 years now. But I still think of her every time I see a quilt.


    • Families getting together and doing some canning after vegetable gardening harvests or fruit orchard picking is another dying art Charles.

      • Mom told me Grandpa used to drive to Calhoun county every summer to fill the truck two layers deep with bushels of peaches. Then the whole extended family would scald, peel halve and can the peaches. What a mess.

        I imagine I could get a portion of my family together to put up a few jars…but not hundreds of jars. No way. Besides, Hilda Solis would flip out about all that unpaid farm labor including the abuse of our poor children handling raw materials.

  2. Sheryl lebman says:

    Those are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sarah Van Leeuwen says:

    Very beautiful, Sheri!! I’m a quilter as well (and love that era, too – though I’m not sure I could live without all of my kitchen gadgets – I came close when I lived in China for a couple of years, but came back & just accumulated more gadgets….. I rationalize that it helps me cook more according to the Nourishing Traditions way). Please keep us posted as you make more of your quilt – I’d love to see it when it’s completed especially!

  4. Nicole says:

    I would love to be a farmer’s wife or at least living on a homestead where we grow our own food even if we don’t sell it. I just don’t know where to meet young, single farmers or those interested in such things. I know as spring approaches I’ll be spending more time in my garden and I would expect he would be equally busy with farm or garden related chores.

    As for quilting, it looks lovely and I look forward to checking out the book. I enjoy pieces of history especially when they give glimpses into the real lives of people of the time.

    • Catherine W. says:

      There is a show in Australia called “Farmer Wants a Wife”. Perhaps you should look it up! Lord knows there are plenty of farmers down here looking for wives!

  5. Ruth says:

    Wow – I can’t believe those are only 6″ blocks! Some of those triangles must be tiny! Sounds like a really fun project, though. Wish I had time to try it. Can’t wait to see pictures when you’re done!

  6. Megan says:

    You are inspiring! I’ve always loved quilts and yet I’ve never learned to make one. That’s going to change. I’m not a very good sewer but hey, ill never get better if I don’t work at it! What would you suggest for those new to quilting?

  7. Erin Phelan says:

    So fun, can’t wait to get started on mine!

  8. Anne says:

    I love quilting, and I am going to get this book. I think the reason there aren’t any instructions for rotary cutting is because templates were what was used and it was assumed you knew how to sew a quilt and the publishers may want to be as historically accurate as possible. Eleanor Burns has a book called “Egg Money Quilts” that is similar in content. Thanks for sharing with us all, can’t wait to see the finished product!!

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Very good point. πŸ™‚ I still really like it and don’t mind using templates at all. In fact for a sampler quilt, I think it’s easier to have templates and not bother with rotary cutting.
      I’ll have to check out Egg Money Quilts. That sounds like fun.
      Can’t wait to see what your squares look like!! It’s so much fun to see how differently samplers turn out due to different colors and tastes. πŸ™‚
      Keep me updated on how yours is going πŸ™‚

  9. tracy says:

    Lovely Sheri. I am really enjoying this space on the Internet that I have just discovered.

  10. Jill says:

    I absolutely love the colonial time period of our country–I so admire the character and strength of those early pioneers! Although I don’t know that I would have what it takes to make it then…I rather like my running water and kitchen gadgets, too:) I may have to get that book and join you. I need a project that’s completely unrelated to homeschool, cows, chickens, and dirt!

  11. Mel says:

    You hooked me with the your first paragraph, since I could’ve written exactly the same thing. And I am fortunate to have acquired over the past few decades a really beautiful collection of quilts made by my and my husband’s maternal ancestors: my favorite having been made by my great-great grandmother in 1930. There is so much love, so many stories, such enduring comfort in a quilt. I have a notebook of future quilt plans, always themed on our farm activities, important events in our lives, or commemorating family history.

    Your are right that they are long-term projects, but that makes them all the more fulfilling in the end. Beautiful writing, beautiful project!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Wow, that is awesome! I would love to have quilts made by my ancestors. What a great things to be able to pass down to the next generations.

  12. From one Farmer’s Wife to another, I’m proud of you! I sew and quilt also…along with ALL THE OTHER things a farmer’s wife is called on to do. We have 8 boys that are all farmers also…only one married. πŸ™‚ They’e all dreamed of interning on Polyface Farm.See us at
    The Farmer’s Wife

  13. Donna Smith says:

    This is my new project for 2013 πŸ™‚ wish me luck:-)

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Hurray, Donna! Do you have a block where you will be posting pictures as you go? Would love to see them. πŸ™‚

      • Donna Smith says:

        Hi from Australia,
        No, I don,t have a blog to put puctures on as I go. I might think about thay though.
        Would love to share my progress.
        Thank you so much for replying to me.
        Happy stitching

  14. Hai! I am another Aussie reader. My dad just introduced me to the world of polyface farm. WOW. I have been homeschooling for a year (widowed 3 years ago) and am loving it. I am an artist by trade and dabble in everything from sewing to high art and am a professional make up artist. I am planning on moving to the country to start a hobby farm and so dad pointed me to you guys. I am so impressed with every aspect of your lives. I can’t wait to immerse myself deeper within. My daughter loves animals and I think this will be a great lifestyle for her, and me and my Mum who will also be moving with us. (though she will live in her own lil house). Thanks for all the inspiration. Tani