Friday, October 21, 2011

Reviving Jane

I had a few days earlier this week with not so much on my schedule and so I decided to pull out my Dear Jane blocks and look at them on Monday. But that's all I did - that, and glance through the book. By Tuesday I had gotten inspired and made a few more blocks. On Wednesday, even though it took me almost the whole day, I ripped and resewed one of the blocks I had made earlier. It looks so much better now!

The little nine-patches finish at 1 1/2"

It takes me such a long time but there's nothing like finishing a few more blocks and adding them to the pile. I'm going to prepare a few today so I can get a couple more done this weekend.

My blocks are not perfect. Last year when I began my Jane Journey, an "acquaintance" told me that she was very surprised that I was starting a Dear Jane quilt. I don't know if she thought I couldn't make one because of my lack of experience or that she was surprised that I was undertaking such a large project. I could tell that she had doubts I would finish, and maybe I won't, who knows? But let's have a little faith, please. I keep plugging away and at some point I may give up but for now it is very relaxing to work on them when I have the time. And, since I'm not working on a book, there is more of that. Some of you have been asking me what I am working on NOW. Again, I am not working on a book or anything and am just concentrating on getting myself back to a healthy place after my horrendous year. Me time, finally. I've been working and concentrating on raising my kids for forever it seems. Right now, quilting just for myself seems to be exactly what I need for a little while before I get back to starting another huge project to work on.

Working on my Dear Jane blocks relaxes me and like all of you who have made this quilt or are working on one know, the sense of accomplishment after finishing one block that took me ALL DAY feels so good! I am picking up some great skills and finally hope to get better at that applique thing. And let's not forget, Jane's quilt was not perfect so I'm in good company.

I've heard comments from some who have seen Jane's quilt at the Bennington Museum that they were surprised at how imperfect it is. That's one of the things I really love about this quilt - the fact that it is NOT perfect. And yet it is acclaimed and imitated all over the world. Brenda's book which introduced us to the Dear Jane phenomenon in the 1990s has sold over 100,000 copies!

But the most fun I have is just picking through my fabric, particularly all of my OLD fabric scraps I've saved over the years. Special fabrics for a special quilt.

Remember these?? They'll be great in my quilt!

Let's see how far I can get this time. I've only finished 32 blocks so I still have a way to go but you have to grab your inspiration where you can get it and right now I am enjoying catching up. Don't call me a quitter just yet! I'm making progress . . .


  1. I love the honesty in this post. I wrote recently about how reading "The Gifts of Imperfection" and absorbing it helped me understand why I quilt. It can be so tempting to strive for perfection - especially nowadays with the internet blasting our handwork around the world for all to see and critique - and sometimes even too tempting to let that demand for perfection prevent us from enjoying our work or thinking it good enough to share, or even to keep as it is. To read that an AUTHOR of quilt books - someone who basically defines how a quilter should work (instructions/preparation) and what standards the quilt should met (like measurements) - also struggles with this is a little freeing for the rest of this. So I say, just quilt as you enjoy it, and let good enough be good enough ... even if you never finish it!

  2. my sentiments exactly, Kathy! i haven't touched my DJ project at all this year and i don't feel an ounce of guilt LOL! However, after seeing your darling blocks i am inspired [again] to go have a little play. Btw i've got some lovely 'old' CW fabrics too [i also swapped some with other Janiacs] since emabarking on my DJ pilgrimage, almost 4 years ago..has it really been that long lol!!

    I can't remember when or where i heard the phrase 'no hurry, worry' the Dalia Lama perhaps? for me lol!! x

  3. Good for you, Kathy - my book and CD are still on the shelf - just too much other stuff I get myself into LOL. Are you hand piecing these? just wondering. Keep at 'em, you'll get there one day (By the way, I also have the book Dutch Treat (4" finished blocks done in reverse applique - now THAT will be a challenge!!)
    Gerda in Alberta

  4. Thank you Kristen and Marian! Sometimes the striving for perfection can take away the joy for me. And yet a lot of people (not everyone, LOL) still like the quilts I make, even though they're not perfect. Good enough for me!

  5. What a spot-on posting...I am new to your blog but very familiar with your books (my Grammy's name was Adelia...what's not to love about that!! And she made quilts too) I so agree with the other comments - the perfection pressure needs to take a break. Quilting is supposed to be fun and creative and attach itself deep in our soul of contentment.
    I love your little nine patches - 1 1/2" units hold a special place in my heart. Your fabric selections are so lovely too.

  6. First of all... Kudos to all of you out there that are doing this quilt. I am scared to try it but just because I am scared, I will probably start it someday just to prove something to myself. Quilts are not meant to be perfect. Just so you do the very best you have of yourself in it is good enough for me in my opinion. I am doing a Civil War Sampler quilt now that is only 72 blocks that are 6 1/2" square and that has been a challenge by itself. The point is: have fun on your journey. Someday, maybe our great great grandchildren will see one of our quilts hanging in a museum and not notice our imperfections but only the wow of what we have accomplished!

  7. I love your finished blocks and your fabric choices. Just enjoy your sewing and get yourself healed and recharged. Love reading your blog.


  8. You're one step ahead of me, I have just one test block to my name in my DJ journey!!!!
    I have only a few more FQ's to collect before I have all the fabric I need for the quilt, but seeing yours has given me a little kick in the right place to get cracking LOL! I really don't know what I'm waiting for....
    I agree about the perfection thing, we load ourselves with this terrible burden, maybe it's just that, I want to do a perfect job, I'm my own worst enemy!! Loved seeng your blocks Kathy, and just do what you moves you, happy sewing!!!!!

  9. There is nothing wrong with taking a long time to finish a project. It'll get done, when you are ready. Till then, you have your doll quilts that finish faster. I'm making a quilt using 1.5" 9 patches. I'm not in a rush, I figure it'll take me a few years at least.

  10. I agree with all the comments. I quilt for the enjoyment and the relaxation. It is suppose to be fun! If it had to be perfect it would be stressful...not fun! I haven't gotten in to a DJ quilt but I am on the verge of starting a Farmer's Wife Quilt.

  11. Love your DJ blocks! Mine have languished in a cupboard for a year untouched, but I know where they are and that I'll get back to them someday too. Perfection is over-rated! I love antique quilts and most of them are NOT perfect, but ALL of them are beautiful in their own way. Someday a descendant or antique quilt collector will love our quilts too even with the imperfections!

  12. Loved this post, Kathy and I think it's great that you are taking your time over this quilt and really letting yourself enjoy the process. Who cares how long it takes, getting any of it done is an achievement and like you say, you are learning so much along the way. LOVED seeing those beautiful fabrics! Might you please show us your "stash" one day (apologies if you already have).

  13. Hello Kathleen, I also relax of making these little blocks, I'm making the Silvia's Bridal Sampler. Now I made 86 of the 140 blocks and I still love it. I'm actually very perfect of making the blocks and in choosing the fabrics. But that's oke by me! Have a nice weekend! Love, Margreet

  14. I so enjoy your blog. I love the dear Jane blocks and would love to begin collecting my own.However, so many times I never start a quilting project because I get stuck on the fabric, what kind and specially where to buy it. I wish that more places would put together packages for period quilting, or is there someone already doing that and I have just missed it? Thanks for sharing your work.

  15. I'm very new to quilting and this is the first I've heard of the Dear Jane quilt... after clicking on the link and quickly glancing at a pic of Dear Jane... I think the person was surprised you took on such a big project! lol! Especially the triangle shaped blocks in the border! :-) It's a beauty though... and the fabrics and blocks you have shown of yours are so pretty! I have faith you'll finish your version of Dear Jane... and, it will be breathtakingly gorgeous! :-)

  16. Your DJ blocks are wonderful. I, too, have a stack of DJ in the closet. I enjoy the pieced blocks, but not the applique. I got hung up on one that I think looks awful and haven't been able to get back to them. I need to decide that it's good enough and keep moving on it!

  17. Good choice to fill your empty nest...quilting for your own pleasure! I hope it will help in the healing process as well. And what a great quilt you will have when you are done! Those blue and pink scraps make my mouth water.

  18. I know that this is one quilt that I will never make but I do love watching others progress on it. Your blocks are delightful.

  19. Oh, good, a post on Dear Jane.

    Kathy, I too have completed 32 blocks (since April 2010); partway through #33 (Twin Sister). Your fabrics look delicious.

    I love this project so much (mine is called Jane's Addiction) because it isn't one huge project. It's 169 individual projects (excluding the triangles) which can be finished in a few hours or a week or however long it takes me.

    I can make as many or as few as I like, and take as long as I like, working in between other projects. At some point I'll have done enough, and will put them together. And it might not even be 13X13. It might just as easily by 6X6.

    I keep a Dear Jane project box, with the book and a small cutting board and ruler, plus the required tools, a bit of template plastic and an ever-changing assortment of fabrics. Plus my Dear Jane log book. It goes with me anywhere where a large project would be unwieldy.

    No pressure. I love it.

  20. Sorry.... I meant Kathleen.

  21. Kathleen, I am so impressed! You amaze me with your skills and tenacity and "stick-to-it-ness"...I know you'll finish, and I think your blocks are gorgeous and fabrics are so well fact, maybe some day I will also try this quilt because of your inspiration...after all, we quilters like challenges, don't we!

  22. You're way ahead of me Kathleen. I started Dear Jane about 10 years ago and have 6 blocks made - lots of other things have been made in the interim and Jane keeps calling!! Just need to set aside the time. Well done with your blocks, they look great!!

  23. : )

    I too have re-booted my Dear Jane

    the blocks (27) were completed in 2008/2009

    I was attending a class, and my choice of background was questioned

    I've now picked it up, and completed nearly 3 blocks in a couple of weeks

    ...even though I'm a quilter of 20+ years, my blocks are far from perfect

    it's all part of the journey!!


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