Friday, December 30, 2016

Dear Jane Progress

Dear Diary - It's been awhile since I've worked on my Dear Jane blocks. There have always been times when I couldn't seem to get a handle on making blocks for months or even a year. For the past few years though I've had a simple goal of making at least one block per month. If I get busy, then I don't feel too bad about neglecting it. I'm still making progress (albeit small progress) and it's easier to pick it up again if it's not shoved in a drawer or box somewhere for years at a time. Every now and then, just to get motivated, I take out my blocks, look at how much work I've already put into this project and ask myself  - how important is the goal of finishing this quilt? The answer is always: Yes, it's still important and I commit to finishing more blocks by a certain time frame. If I keep the blocks, tools and book accessible I am more likely to work on them. 


Bear with me here - I like to write about this again and again not only to keep a record for myself ( no, I am not keeping a Dear Jane journal. This is it.) but because I know that some of you who are reading this and may have started your own quilt but perhaps put it aside or hit a bump in the road and feel discouraged will take heart. It does not happen overnight for most of us. What motivates me is to look at my blocks, take out the book and play around with some fabric. Then, make a plan to just sit down and make another block. Making one of the simpler blocks can really get me going again. If it's a more difficult block it can take me hours. There's often a rush when I complete one of those. But, usually, what happens is that I get interrupted in the middle and because it's never easy to get back to it, it takes me several days to finish, so I do a little at a time. I would love to spend days and weeks sewing the blocks all day long but that's not practical for me and it never happens. At times this journey is not easy. For any of us. Yet, for some reason we still persist. It makes me feel good to know that I have not given up and I pat myself on the back every time I finish one, even if it's not perfectly stitched.




Here's my story - I began my Dear Jane journey in 2010 with one block. An easy one. Then a few more simple ones after that. I was on a roll! I printed out all of the tips from Brenda's Dear Jane website and put them into a binder for reference. 


That year, 2010,  life happened. It was not a good year for me but somehow I still managed to complete 25 blocks by the end of it. There were times I didn't work on my blocks for months. A few more blocks were finished in 2011 and a few more during the next couple of years as well. It wasn't completely forgotten but there were plenty of other things going on pulling me in different directions for awhile. This happens and you have to "manually" pull yourself back into it eventually.




2014 was a turning point. At the end of 2013, I challenged my Yahoo small quilt group to pick up an unfinished project and complete it. Not sure what I should work on myself, I finally decided to jump back in and tackle the Mother of my unfinished projects and discovered that were others in the group who felt the same about finishing or beginning their own Dear Jane quilts. I started a Dear Jane Yahoo group to motivate myself and others to keep going and  - get this - went on to complete 30 blocks (with a little help and motivation from my friends). Great move. Watching Marian, Jeanne and others take off like race horses was exactly the encouragement I needed. That year, I traveled to Vermont to see the original quilt up close. My motivation stayed strong after that.



Progress! By the beginning of 2015 I had made 85 blocks (out of 169). Not a huge amount considering I'd been working on it for five years, but, hey, at least I was still going. I mastered paper piecing and went on to make another 58 blocks during 2015. Only 12 blocks were finished this year but I made quilts for and wrote a new book so that's my excuse. Can't do everything. I still managed to get one in there every now and then.



*  *  *
Well, I'd like to say I'm back and raring to go but who knows what will come between me and my quilt next year? I'm still stuck at 155 blocks - 14 left for the center and then the triangles. My goal was to finish the center blocks this year. That did not happen, LOL. Here's what I wrote about my progress in October. There's a little motivation there if you're thinking about jumping in and beginning your own DJ quilt. I hope it encourages some of you. I need motivation right now and sometimes I get it from my Dear Jane friends online. You know who you are!


Our holiday celebrations are now over, the house is relatively clean (and quiet), the laundry is done, my husband and daughter are going to the movies today and I have a few hours to myself to gather my resources and implement a strategic DJ plan! Wish me luck. Hopefully more progress coming soon. 



21 comments:

Susan McQuade said...

Happy New Year Kathy! Yes, I need to add DJ to my 2017 project lineup. Perhaps if I store each project in its own tote bag and leave them on the guest bed, it will be easier for me to grab and get on with it. Now, just to find the tote bags - LOL!

NancyS said...

Kathleen, you can do it! I mastered a Dear Hannah by trying to do one block a week. That soon wore out, and I was down to a couple a month. Eventually, I would get on a streak and do four or five at a time, and then nothing for weeks on end. Before too awfully long, I counted and just needed six more of those little beauties, but they were the hardest ones I had saved for last. Finally, I got all 133 of them finished and put together. That was four years ago, and I still haven't gotten it quilted yet. I really don't know what I'm waiting for, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait. However long it takes you, then that's how long it will take! Just breathe and take it one block at a time.

Ann in PA said...

Kathy, Just looking at all those lovely photos of your Dear Jane blocks is an inspiration to get moving again. My first goal for the new year is to purge & organize my sewing nest...then jump in...again! lol

beckykohn said...

I started my Dear Jane in November of 1999 and it is in my quilt frame with about 1/3 of it quilted. So you are going gangbusters compared to some of us. Your blocks are beautiful. Hope you were able to see the Dear Jane display at Quilt Festival in Houston. So many beautiful quilts that have been made since I started mine!

pens and needles said...

I wanted to make the Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt but knew I'd never get it done on my own -- so I started a group. We meet twice a month and work on our own in between our group sewing days. I have always said to them that there is no pressure in the group, just make a little progress as we go along. But most of them have taken to this project like flies to honey, so now we're motivated to finish our quilts in 2017. If a member of the group wants to make 50 blocks and turn it into a wallhanging, that's a FWSQ. If someone else makes all the blocks, that's a FWSQ -- and anything and everything in between is a FWSQ. The fun is in doing it together. I love seeing your DJ blocks. Ours finish at 6", so your DJ blocks are even smaller. What a treasure you'll have when you're done! Keep showing us your progress -- you never know how much it encourages the rest of us to see that you and other fabulous quilters don't make a monster project in just a few short months. Keep on keepin' on and have fun with each block. That seems important to me!

carol jo said...

I have only worked on my Dear Jane in January (two different Januaries) That time after the holidays, but before we start calving. I seem to create such a mess when I am working on mine. Last January and actually most of the winter, I was busy finishing an unfinished basement to be my quilt studio so I did not touch it at all, and neither could I even see my sewing machine, let alone get to it. I only have about 80 blocks done, I would be much farther if I had worked on it last year. I guess I had better start getting myself in gear to get mine out. I teach two classes in January, so I guess I will have to keep the mess to a minimum. I have since decided I wish I had chosen solid red and solid white fabrics instead of small prints of red with white and white with red. Your blocks are so cute and perfect, I wish I was as happy with mine.

Carol Jo
Along The Yellowstone River, Livingston, MT.

ruthie said...

I actually took a class from Brenda years ago and I'm not sure if I even finished the first DJ block! I was so intimidated at the time. I since have made all of the blocks for the Farmers Wife quilt and the 1930s FW so my confidence and skill have improved. Congrats to those of you who continue to persevere with Jane. It is a challenging gorgeous quilt.

quiltgrannie said...

Kathy, I just love reading about your DJ journey. Because of you, I have started a journey of my own. I haven't worked on mine for quite some time. I plan on it after getting some other things checked off my to-do list. Hopefully, this will be a productive DJ year for me.....

BobbiG said...

Congrats on your progress! Think if you had never started! You're an inspiration to me. Good luck this year.

jane nj/wi said...

Heheheh. Yup I knew you finally were won over when I read

"Bear with me here - I like to write about this again and again not only to keep a "

The Bears are now taking credit for your DJ....they feel you needed to express your graditude.....I am sure the Maine Bears are as excluded as my Wisc and FL Bears are....Huzzah!!!!

Now if I would break down and make my "Namesake Quilt". Wouldn't that be newsworthy. I had a few blocks done then decided I would like to do 30's a stead if scrappy.....but repros. And the few blocks are in the viscious storage box mess....

Happy New Years. You know your bloody PP really looks stellar....another reason to procrastinate...

Jane

Tammy said...

Your blocks are so beautiful! I am encouraged when I read that not every quilt needs to be a fast finish. It makes me happy to enjoy the process and not just look for the end.

Bed, breakfast en quilts said...

Such a lovely blocks! The 2017 Challenge for me is to finish the quilting on my Jane.... one whole year to go! Happy 2017!

Yvonne said...

Your blocks are so pretty! Glad you keep working on them because it will be so rewarding once the top is finished! I am still working on my Dear Jane. I have 50 blocks quilted now and with every block the quilt comes more alive! I hope to finish it in 2018!

Maureen said...

Dear Kathy. Love reading about your dear Jane journey. I know if i were to do this on my own it would never get done. I joined a group at a lqs in 2013. We meet once a month and are given homework four blocks and a border triangle. We are within four months of completion. I was always one to do my homework, so am right on target without class would never have been. Looking forward to completion soi can do other things... mom.quilter

Tina said...

Wow! Your blocks are just beautiful! I loved reading this.

Kurt Schindler said...


You are doing great - your blocks are beautiful. I saw the Jane Stickle quilt this past fall and was so amazed. Photos just do not do it justice. My husband (surprise!) and I stood in awe of it. We were the only ones in the room for a half hour or more. What a treat.

I have not started a Dear Jane quilt but I do have the book. I am tempted to try some simple blocks - maybe a wallhanging!? I have not finished making my 2017 goal list - maybe I will put that on my list.
I have your challenge quilts (starting in January) on there.

Happy New Year.
Charlotte

Kathleen Tracy said...

Thanks for the kind comments! See? I knew my online friends would all be very encouraging!

Ann said...

I love that you are working on a DJ quilt. I have all my inner blocks completed (hand pieced to take with me) but have reached a plateau with the border triangles.

It is on my 2017 list! This quilt is my husband's favorite one so I do need to complete it. Plus, I just love the history behind it.

Let us encourage each other!
Ann

annie said...

You know I love those little blocks of yours, but they seem beyond me on intriquency.
Stil trailing along though, there's always hope!
Happy New Year!

Carole~Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus said...

Happy New Year Kathy and thanks for this inspirational post, it is so lovely to see your gorgeous blocks. I will be getting back to mine sometime this Aussie summer.

Anonymous said...

Kathy all of your blocks look so beautiful to me<3 I plan to get more done on my Dear Jane too in 2017. Thanks for always inspiring!

Jennifer M

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