There's almost no room in my tiny house to lay out all of my Dear Jane blocks but last weekend I put up a makeshift design wall of batting so I could finally see all of them together. It's amazing to see how much work has really gone into this quilt. Most of the rows have only a few blocks left to go. Yay! It's fun to see my progress. Almost looks like a quilt.
I know that there are some of you want to begin this quilt or get back to it if it's been put away for awhile. I so encourage you to do this. At the very least, if you began one and know for sure you will never finish - take the blocks you have completed and make them into a smaller quilt or table runner. Be proud of what you have accomplished. There is no shame in not finishing. It's not for everyone.
Once you commit to making this quilt then you have to accept the fact that it will take you awhile; try not to become discouraged. Very few of us have the luxury of only working on this one quilt all day long, every day, until we finish. We also have work and lives and families and other projects we want to make. That doesn't mean you have to stop completely if you can't finish it immediately. I don't mind the long time frame as long as I can keep going, slow as it may go, one block at a time. I keep my book out near my sewing table where I can see it to have the constant reminder in case I become inspired. You just can't lose momentum or you will get stalled. Ask me how I know.
I let mine sit way too long too many times. But then two years ago in my Small Quilt Talk group (SQT for those not in the loop) we had a month where our small quilt challenge was to finish a UFO, any UFO. I decided to revive my DJ blocks that month and some people there joined me. That's why I started an online DJ support group - so we could keep ourselves accountable, move forward and get support and encouragement to finish by talking about our progress. Some have made fantastic progress.
Three things have helped me progress - The DJ Electric Quilt software, my Yahoo DJ group (see blog sidebar for info if you're interested in joining us) and finally making the decision to tackle paper piecing, which I have always hated and put off learning. See my post on this. You can certainly make the quilt without paper piecing and I sure tried to avoid it for as long as I could but it's much easier using this technique to make some of the blocks. And when you've made a few difficult blocks that don't look half bad, well, then you become motivated to go on and make more.
To those of you who started but struggle with this quilt, all I can say is - Keep going! You have to find what works for you. Some do it methodically row by row but I chose to skip around so I could do more of the easier blocks first and not get stuck. By the time I made enough blocks I knew I could tackle some of the more difficult ones without quitting. Then I figured out that committing to making at least one block a month gets me motivated enough that I want to go on to make a few more. If it's been awhile since I worked on my blocks, then I choose an easy one to ease myself back into it. I am not an expert quilter when it comes to these small blocks. Many are difficult, but I seem to be able to focus better on the difficult ones when I am motivated. What works/worked for you?
It seems longer but it's only been five years since I started my Dear Jane journey and I had to take some time off in between then and now. In the back of my mind I never really knew if I would finish. But, several years ago, during a long illness, I made a decision that if I do nothing else, then I will try to finish this quilt. So it got bumped up on the list of Important Things I Needed to Do. Working on this Jane quilt takes you into a place that calms you and if there ever was a time I needed calming that was it. Jane Stickle was supposedly an invalid and bedridden while she was stitching her quilt, did you know that?
Kudos to all of you who have finished the quilt. You should be proud. It's an awesome accomplishment. I like to think I'm right behind ya!
Jane's quilt on display in Bennington, Vermont. I was thrilled to make the pilgrimage last year.