Friday, March 5, 2010

A Quilting Journey

Most of you who are quilters know that quilting takes you on a journey, sometimes with unexpected twists and turns. A project that was planned one way may very well end up differently than you thought it would. Quilts have a life of their own or so it sometimes seems.

Over 10 months ago I had some great ideas for the projects I wanted to include in the new book and I created  designs based on those ideas and then played around with blocks and color schemes. I just completed all of the quilts (can't show them yet) and I have to tell you--once I began working on them, something happened. Quite a few didn't turn out anything like the way they were planned. This has happened with every set of quilts I make for a book.

Does this happen to you too? It truly does seem like they turn out the way they want to, not always the way I plan them. What looks good on paper doesn't always work when I begin to sew the pieces together. This is the part I really love about quilting: if you trust your instincts and let your creativity speak, it will turn into a pleasant surprise.

I never know how it will turn out when I begin and I've been known to start over from scratch if I take the wrong road and ignore my instincts (much easier to do if you're making small quilts!)

Writing Remembering Adelia was definitely another journey for me.

Researching her family history for the book and delving into life in small town Illinois in the 1800s reminded me that I knew little about my own family's history and led me to want to explore it a bit more--another journey that will be worth taking someday and one that will continue for awhile I'm guessing.

I need to find out who this couple is and how they figure into MY family photos--

Right now I am on another journey of my own--making a Dear Jane quilt. Unless you've been living under a rock you probably already know about the Jane Stickle quilt from 1863 and the frenzy it has created for the past 14 or so years. Read about Dear Jane

I decided to make the leap and begin this challenging quilt. Not sure exactly when I'll finish or even IF I will but I'm giving it a shot so wish me luck. Now that I've finished the quilts for the next book, I have a little more time to make projects for myself. So far, I've made 15 Dear Jane blocks.

Many of them are easy ones, true, but a couple were hand pieced, one with curved seams, which I've never done before. I'm keeping a notebook with notes and tips on how to make the blocks using some different techniques and think that by the time I finish more blocks I'll have learned some decent skills.

I'm working on this quilt for myself, no pressure. What, a Dear Jane quilt, no pressure?? All those tiny, quirky pieces?? I have to admit, it took me awhile to jump in but I'm really having fun now that I did and making something slowly, without having to make it for a book or worry about deadlines, is very relaxing, to say the least. True, I just started, but I've got 15 blocks done so far and Oh! what I've learned already. Didn't know I could do reverse applique did you? Neither did I. It's not perfect, but it was also my first try, and applique isn't really my thing anyway.

For me, it's all about the journey and the learning. Don't look too closely at the blocks--none of them is perfect, but then neither were Jane's blocks and that's what I love--that a quilt like that can be so loved and admired, even though it's not perfect.

I have a basket filled with scraps left over from the book projects that I haven't sorted through yet and plan on using some of those for the DJ blocks. Oh, this is so much fun--to finally use some of the scraps I've been saving for just such a special quilt. Didn't know what I was saving them for, until now.

This will be for ME and it will be different from Jane's original quilt but still sort of the same, which is weird. Each quilter makes hers differently, but using the same patterns so you can tell that it's a Dear Jane but you can also tell that each one is a journey by itself, belonging to the individual and that's what I love. Some struggle with some of the pieces and techniques and difficult blocks (that's ME) and some find it easier. So we'll see. I can see my husband's and daughter's eyes glaze over--they're thinking "She'll never finish this one . . ." but I don't care, that's not going to stop me from trying.

I love traditional patterns and small blocks and seeing the multitude of designs in the Dear Jane quilt made me weak in the knees. Where oh where to begin? I started one block, then another and another and with each one I complete it gets a little more thrilling. Don't exactly know why that is. Some are easy, some are more difficult. With some, I have to learn new skills.

All in all it's a journey. My very own personal quilting journey.


Sharon said...

Enjoy the journey! When people ask me what is my favorite part of quilting....I just love the process. Thanks for sharing all of the lovely little DJ blocks.

Beth said...

Your blocks look great. That is a big project you have started on. Good luck, have fun , and enjoy your journey.

ann hermes said...

I know what you mean. My quilts almost always take me in a different direction than I had planned once I start putting the blocks together. It usually works out for the best and I get a nice surprise in the end.

Joanne said...

I too love the journey of quilting.
Good for you taking on DJ. I keep thinking this is something I would like to try, maybe one day I will try a block or two and see where the journey goes. Even a couple of blocks would look good some where!?

SewCalGal said...

The journey of quilting is endless. You certainly seem to be heading on a fun path. I look forward to hearing your insights as you proceed on this branch. Enjoy!


Karen said...

I love reading your posts. You have so much information to offer. I just saw your little block quilt at my LQS store a couple of weeks ago. Your blocks are coming along so nicely. The fabric choices are beautiful. I look forward to hearing more about this journey you are taking. The DJ quilt is fabulous. Have fun and enjoy the process.

Lori said...

DJ is like a great can't make just one! It is so addicting, relaxing, and fun! Enjoy the journey..I know I did!

Daniƫlle said...

Enjoy the journey with all your heart!! Love your DJ blocks, beautiful fabrics! Sorry to have to inform you that you have been bitten by the DJ bug hihi! Have a nice weekend! Take care, hugs, Daniƫlle

Kathleen Tracy said...

Thank you, everyone. I love that I can put Dear Jane aside and then pick it up whenever I want. Each block is like a little quilt for me and you know how I love little quilts . . .

Meredith said...

Have fun I got as far as a wall quilt with my blocks. I may try again. My initial frustration was trying to use the same background fabric for the entire quilt. Your blocks look great so far! I am glad you are doing it for yourself. Love the scrap basket and all the photos.

Kathleen Tracy said...

I don't know if most DJ quilters use the same background for all the blocks, but I really wanted to do mine with assorted shirtings or light prints instead--don't know if it will all fit together eventually, but it'll sure be more scrappy-looking!

Heidi said...

The journey is what quilting is all about. I am making The Centennial Sampler (Judie Rothermel) as I found hers more individual and just loving it too. I even found a couple of my quilting friends who decided to take the journey with me. I too find a quilt comes to life as I work on it and love letting it happen. Your latest challenge has me on a journey with my own little Pollyanna. I am already quilting the challenge quilt and loving how it is coming along. Thanks!

Hugs from Holland ~

marian said...

Hi Kathy, i have also embarked on my very own DJ journey and loving the challenge of these quirky little blocks. have you noticed that the complicated looking ones are surprisingly easy to never ceases to amaze me! i'm really enjoying handpiecing each block, it's slow but rewarding. i'm also keeping a Dear Jane diary in which i record my feelings & journey of each block. btw i've noticed that you & i have some similar fabrics in our blocks, how interesting. happy DJ stitching :) cheers, Marian x

Mary Ann said...

Karan's quilt is just lovely! Found your blog through the Dear Jane's wonderful! I have two of your books...civil war repros and miniature quilts are a couple of my favorite things!! Good luck with your "Jane Journey"!
All the best from Denmark!


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