Monday, October 24, 2011

Jane on My Brain

I spent time plugging away on my Dear Jane blocks this past weekend and hope to get a few more finished this week (FIVE, think 5). I'm having a lot of fun. Honest. I'm up to 37 now! Yes, it is going slowly and it gets a little frustrating at times, but it's very rewarding to finish something you really didn't think you could finish, namely one 4 1/2" block with 8 curved pieces, LOL. In one day. And it doesn't look half bad, if I say so myself.

You all know that this is the 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial) of the beginning of the Civil War, right? Around the time that Jane Stickle made her quilt. What better time to begin the journey yourself or drag out your unfinished quilt and make a few more blocks to commemorate the event? Hint, hint. Misery loves company, you know.

Just kidding, no misery here - it's all fun and I'm very excited to get back to it again, at least for a little while, while the inspiration holds and I have the time. Or probably until I hit a difficult block and say "Arrrgh!! #*&! - I really can't do this anymore!" But really, this Jane quilt, it's not that hard, honest. It's a total learning experience.  I've always hated the thought of foundation paper piecing, but I'm learning how to do it, finally. Same with applique - I resisted that for a long time too because my applique was not great and now I'm actually getting better at it. These blocks do not have to be perfect. You see, Jane's quilt was not, and although many of the Dear Jane quilts or blocks we see  posted on the internet definitely look mighty perfect to me, mine will not be, that's for sure. And it will still be just beautiful in it's own way, like a true antique quilt. In the spirit of Jane Stickle.

Not all of my finished blocks are the easy ones - I've tried curved piecing and  reverse applique. I did that Rickshaw one too but  I'm not showing it to anyone LOL. I would not say I've mastered these techniques yet . . . but they're finished and Brenda wrote the book and she says finished is better than perfect! Good enough for me.

My notebook is chock full of tips to help me along.

I'm so not making this quilt as a competition with anyone, unless it's to compete with myself, to challenge myself to advance my skills a little, and practice my patience. I figure, so many quilters have finished this quilt. Why not me too?? Why NOT? I'm feeling optimistic today . . . help me out here.

Seeing Karan's finished quilt at a workshop last year (hand pieced, hand quilted) really inspired me to keep going . . . Of course, HERS is perfect but I won't let that stop me. 

Remember, quilters, this is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War (How could you have possibly missed hearing that??) and quilters all over are celebrating the period and getting inspired to reproduce quilts from the era. Jane was working on her lovely quilt 150 years ago. Who knows how long it actually took her to make it? She may have finished her quilt in 1863, but it's hard to believe she started it that same year. Maybe it took her 10 years or more. Did she take breaks and work on other quilts while she was making it??

The war lasted 4 years. Hmmm, there's a goal for me - 2015, the 150th anniversary of the END of the war. No promises though. Dear Jane, you're sure helping me get my inspiration back . . .

(Photo from [Photograph by Ken Burris,Shelburne, VT, courtesy of the Bennington Museum and the Vermont Quilt Festival.] Dear Jane® is the registered trademark of Brenda Papadakis.)


  1. Kathleen, your blocks are beautiful! I'm sure Jane would be proud! Will look forward to seeing your next ones!

  2. 2015, that sounds like a good timeline to me! I have 16 blocks done, so 4 years seems just about right. Love your blocks so far and look forward to seeing more.

  3. Your blocks are lovely. It would be very interesting to find out how long it did take Jane.

  4. I haven't caught the Dear Jane bug, yet, but I love watching the progress you are making! Your blocks look amazing to me! This is a long term project so just to finish is a great success! Keep going, I for one am anxious to see the next bunch you finish.

  5. your blocks are so beautiful...which one is your favorite block so far.
    I am looking forward to you coming to Waterloo, IA in February. I am a big fan of yours, you really got me turned on to small quilts with your books.Thank you.

  6. Your Jane blocks look perfect to me. So you go girl! I like that you are working on them and not too worried about when you will get done. I think the quilt is one that really is aboiut the journey, so enjoy it.

  7. Great to see the pics - thanks for posting... I'm trying to do some shirtings as backgrounds, too so I especially enjoy seeing what you're doing... Keep up the good work!

  8. Your blocks are lovely and if I may say, just enjoy the process. I think we (me included) are in too much of a rush and we miss the simple joy of making something.

  9. The blocks you are showing look gorgeous! I think what Jane did was just take it one black at a time... and then one day, she had enough to call it a big quilt! lol! Maybe I should read the book... ;-)

  10. Your blocks are beautiful and they will make a beautiful quilt.

    To me the whole of the quilting experience is about learning and challenging yourself to get better. I'm not one for competition with others so I'm not bothered wether my work is completely perfect.

    Because of the aniversary of the Civil War it is a fantastic time to be making Civil War quilts, I'm making Barbara Brackman's weekly one at prestent (although I'm way behind). a Dear Jane is a bit beyond me at present.

  11. OK. Your post makes me want to at least think about doing it. I have thought about it in the past and LOVE it, but had pretty much decided not to make one. I'll think about it some more!

  12. Looking good, Kathleen. I just finished #33. On to #34 - Tinker Toy.

    Don't you love the names. I'm finding I can identify many of them by name when I see them.

  13. That is the spirit.
    Go forward and not back.
    Love your beautifull blocks.
    Greetings from Holland.
    Janny S.

  14. Your words are so true...and your blocks look great!
    Now, I may start mine tomorrow, honestly I don't know what I've been waiting for???
    You are a great inspiration to me. I've been working on making every quilt from your Sewing circle book. Really enjoying that book.
    Keep up the great work!

  15. LOL LOL, stop fussing!! Your blocks are great!! And so will the quilt be, perfect or a tiny bit less hihi, enjoy the trip together with Jane!! Hugs, Daniëlle

  16. Nicely done Kathy!! Your blocks are an inspiration, they are beautiful!!!

  17. Your blocks are lovely and the process is as enjoyable as seeing the finished quilts. I have charts and fabric chips and photos of blocks, etc. that help me stay motivated as well as keep track of my progress. I love to pull my blocks out and just look at them sometimes. It does take time, but it is a great way to improve your stitching. Good luck.

  18. Thanks for the inspiration. I am just embarking on a Dear Jane journey. I need to set goals to challenge myself, so I plan to complete my DJ is in the 150th anniversay year of the Jane A Stickle quilt it self, 2013!

  19. your hoarded fabrics are treasures,your blocks are beautiful. This quilt should be savoured over time. I hear many people take up to 10years to complete it. I have been on the journey for about 18 months and have learned so much in that time. I have about a 130 blocks done, i started the triangles just so i didn't "cop out" when the centre blocks were done, i love doing them.

  20. I love your blocks! To someone like me, who has no piecing skills, they look intimidating, and fabulous. So glad I got to see yours. The pictures of the workshop and the museum quilt are just astounding!

  21. Your blocks are beautiful. Great post. You are getting me inspired.


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