Friday, May 11, 2012

Meet Dear Jane

About three years ago I saw a Dear Jane quilt displayed in a quilt store. I didn't know what a Dear Jane was or anything about its history, but I loved it. So much so that I bought Brenda Papadakis' book and jumped right in. It is a reproduction of a Civil War era quilt by Jane A. Stickle. It is comprised of 169 4 1/2-inch blocks, 52 triangles and 4 kites. There are no repeating fabrics, and the original had 5,602 pieces.

Jane Stickle's original 1863 quilt

I thought that this would be the kind of heirloom quilt that I could pass on to my children... But I have two children. They would fight over who got it. Or at least their future quilt-appreciating wives would. So I would have to make two. Crazy, I know! My plan was to take it at a doable pace and enjoy the journey. Jokingly, I hoped to have them completed by the time the boys married said quilt-appreciating wives. For the record, they were 3 and 7 when I started this little project.

In the first 18 months I finished two each of 13 blocks. Yikes! They might have to put off marriage until their forties. But this kind of quilt making required more attention than my very busy three-year-old would allow. Then a sick relative came to stay with us and Jane didn't come out for a whole year! I went from slow progress to no progress. Since the first of the year, though, Jane has made her return, and I have steadily been working along. I've now completed double sets of 18 additional blocks. My goal is to complete at least one block a week. Life happens, though, and that's all part of the journey. When I complete each block I make notes in my book about what my kids are doing or what is happening in my life. I have already learned so much from this quilt.

my most recent Jane blocks

Dear Jane is the most challenging project I have taken on so far. I think that is why I love it so much. I have also discovered a whole world of Dear Jane lovers. There is a tremendous following and obsession for this quilt. "Janiacs", as they call themselves, can be found all over the world. There are chat groups, websites, blogs, swaps and retreats that thousands of Dear Jane enthusiasts are involved with. I have found the online Jane community to be a great resource. When I can't figure out a block (there are no instructions) I can check how others did theirs or ask for advice. Those that have completed their Dear Janes are always there to encourage us slow pokes. We cheer each other on, celebrate the completions, and offer sympathies when you trim that 4 1/2-inch block to 4 inches by mistake. (Oops!) I wanted to cry when I worked for hours on a block only to find out when you have 32 pieces and your seam allowance if off by only a thread, it makes a big difference in the end. I got tons of emails from others who had done the same thing. And they all pointed out that if you look closely at the original, Jane put little sashings on many of her blocks to make them fit.

Jane will have to wait another week, though. MQS (Machine Quilters Showcase) is next week, and I will be taking classes as well as volunteering at the show. And the crazy quilt ladies from Texas will be here, too. It should be a fun-filled week!

1 comment:

  1. Very cool blocks, Tina! I see lots of applique though . . . Good luck on this really cool endeavor!