The Farmer's WIfe Pony Club Sampler quilt

Sampler quilts have been inspired by a myriad of topics—such as seasons of the year, holidays, and botanical images. I’d like to introduce you to a charming sampler quilt, inspired by children’s essays from the early 1900s—children who wanted to win a Shetland pony with a saddle or carriage.

The quilting enthusiast behind this sampler quilt is Laurie Hird, an avid collector of “The Farmer’s Wife” magazines, a quilter, author, and history sleuth. She appeared as a guest on Sewing With Nancy—as a Nancy’s Corner feature. You can watch the interview online.

Laurie Hird and Nancy Zieman

You’ll learn that the book that Laurie wrote, The Farmer’s Wife Pony Club Sampler Quilt, is filled with thank you letters from children who lived during the early 1900s. These children, ages 5–12, sold subscriptions to The Farmer’s Wife magazine to try to win a prize—a Shetland pony with a saddle or carriage. Laurie compiled the letters in a book and paired each of the 90 thank you stories with a quilt block. Through the stories, the children give us a glimpse of what life was like 100 years ago. What amazes me about the letters is how well they’re written. Plus, the letters are so endearing!

The Farmer's Wife Pony Club Sampler Quilt

Excerpt from The Farmer’s Wife Pony Club Sampler Quilt

I live in Morton Country, North Dakota. One day, when I was looking through the paper for the Young Folks’ Page, I found the advertisement, “Do you want a pony free?” So I wrote to the Pony Editor and asked him what I had to do in order to get the pony. He wrote and told me, and I started out to work and asked every person I met to subscribe. Many told me that they didn’t believe that the Webb Publishing Company gave Shetland ponies away, but I knew better and kept on working as hard as I could until the contest closed.

After the contest closed I could hardly wait to hear from the company. Finally the good news came that I had won “Judge.” I don’t believe there was a happier boy in the United States than I was. I could hardly wait until “Judge” came, and I was so anxious to see him that I couldn’t sleep nights. At last, on May 28th, the saddle and the bridle came and on Declaration Day the buggy came. In the forenoon papa set up the buggy and at two o’clock “Judge” was hitched up and ready to take a drive. I felt as proud as a king and “Judge” walked along with his head held high and everybody looked at my pony and spoke about how pretty he was.

Like all Western boys, I like to play cowboy, and I have a dandy cowboy suit that I wear. I ride “Judge” around and lasso cattle just like real cow punchers do. . . 

The book includes 89 additional letters, photographs of the children with their ponies, pictures of the quilt blocks, and assembly diagrams for each block. The CD includes templates, foundation patterns, rotary instructions, and diagrams for various sizes. To see sample pages of the book and CD, excerpts of the letters, and to view the quilt go to The Farmer’s Wife Pony Club Sampler Quilt.

Here’s the quilt block—the Cowboy’s Star—that Laurie chose to feature with the letter about “Judge.”

The Farmer's Wife Pony Club Sampler Quilt

Laurie’s first book, The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt pairs farm-themed quilt blocks with the collection of 111 letters from farm wives. It’s an equally engaging read!

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt


Why not watch the entire Sewing With Nancy program Fast and Fleecy Accessories and you’ll find the interview at the end of the program? You have many options—watch this episode on your local PBS station, online, or on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone. Have you downloaded the app?

Sewing With Nancy app

Nancy's Giveaway Winner

Thanks for posting fitting challenges to be addressed in a future article! The random winner of the Pattern Fitting With Confidence DVD, is Denise Z. Grady. Her comment was: My shape has morphed from hourglass to apple, seemingly overnight. Learning how to make appropriate adjustments to patterns for a proper fit for my new shape sure would go a long way to making sewing for myself much more fulfilling, not to mention the savings in cost & frustration. Thanks for the opportunity to win the Pattern Fitting DVD.

pattern fitting with confidence DVD by nancy zieman

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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