Saturday, April 27, 2024

Dear Jane Fridays

Each Friday in my Facebook group, some members work on starting or finishing their Dear Jane quilts. It's not a teaching group, just a checking-on-your-progress group to help keep you accountable and move forward. Sometimes inspiration happens when like-minded quilters get together. Seeing the progress that others are making on their blocks/quilt can be very motivating.

Jane Stickle used many different fabrics in her quilt, and for a long time it seemed that each printed fabric appeared in only one block on the quilt. Now it has been determined that there are 3 blocks that repeat fabrics. See if you can find them! (I tried but couldn't.)

(Photos of the quilt courtesy of the Bennington Museum)

One of the things I was thinking about this week was that making this quilt was all about the journey and the learning. I wonder if it is the same for you? The Dear Jane journey starts with one block. Try an easy one if you’re intimidated. Then try another and another. I learned so much making this quilt. I pushed myself to do curved piecing, reverse applique and paper piecing. With each block completed it got a little more thrilling to see them pile up. All the while I was becoming a better quilter.

if you 're intent on making this quilt, the key to success might be to keep it uppermost in your mind. While I was working on mine, I bought a special box to keep my blocks in and kept it near my desk.

Eventually I bought one of those Ikea rolling carts and stored all of the things I needed to make the quilt - my block box, the book, my notebook, tools, foundation paper and supplies and special fabrics I knew I wanted to use for the remainder of the blocks. Everything in one place where I could see it. The cart stayed in a corner of my sewing room but I could easily roll it out near my sewing table when I became motivated to work on some blocks. I printed out a list of all the numbered blocks and checked them off to keep track of my progress.

There were times I had to take long breaks from working on it. When I picked it up again, I would challenge myself to make 10 or 20 blocks within a certain time frame. It helped to set small deadlines for myself. Soon I was able to finish 35, then 50 blocks. Checking them off the list one by one. I remember hitting 100 blocks. That was a milestone - almost halfway there. i kept at it. And now I'm done.

If you're intent on finishing your quilt, then push yourself just a little bit every now and then and I know you’ll be pleased at the progress you’ll make. Join us in the group on Fridays if you need a nudge.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Blog Trouble

Just wanted to let all of you who have subscribed to email updates know that when I write a new blog post you probably will not be getting any email notifications. The Mail Chimp service which is supposed to send out the emails to you is not working out. Time after time they do not send out the emails to let you know there is a new blog post from me. This has been happening for awhile and is disappointing to say the least. I have a few thousand followers and I use the blog more for quilting information than advertising. Most of these services are set up for marketing or advertising products. I refuse to pay $200 or more per month for them or another service to do this for me. Not exactly cost effective for me.

Clearly, I cannot send out thousands of emails myself every time I write a post. So, sorry to say - you are on your own. All of you will have to find or bookmark my blog and check every now and then if you want to read all of the IMPORTANT and INCREDIBLE things I have to say, haha. Then, eventually, it will probably fade away because everyone will forget. I enjoy blogging when I have time and something to say or just want to let you know about any quilting info. It's definitely an end to an era. Nobody really blogs anymore anyway. Glad I have been able to connect with some of you for so long. Thanks for the support! 

I'll still be quilting, possibly blogging about it. You can always find me on Instagram or my FB group if you get desperate. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Dear Jane Color Scheme

We've been working on making blocks for the Dear Jane quilt in my Facebook group. I've been trying to post a little bit about the background of the quilt each Friday. Last week we focused on color schemes and I mentioned that Jane Stickle did not use colors at random when she made her quilt. When you see the quilt in person you're immediately struck by the  fact that it is so well preserved and the fabrics are so vibrant. It's actually pretty colorful considering it's over 160 years old!


If you look at the photo of the original quilt, you might notice that the blocks are laid out in colored rows in what is called a Trip Around the World (TATW) motif. It’s a way of arranging your blocks made from specific colors so that they radiate outward from the center almost in a diamond pattern. Can you see it? I'm not a quilt historian so I don't know how popular this was when Jane was making her quilt. I do know they were especially popular later in the nineteenth century. But it seems Jane was always ahead of her time.

 At the center of Jane's quilt is a green block, surrounded by a row of 4 yellow blocks, then purple, red, pink blocks. The next row looks purple, although it’s likely that some of the fabrics may have faded to brown over the years. Last is a row of red with a few oranges. The rest of the blocks surrounding them are mostly browns, mixed with a few blue blocks. The four corner blocks are green. The top right block is more of a bluish green. The four corner triangles (kites) are pink (one is rather faded).

My rough coloring so you can see the TATW/Trip Around the World motif. There's a chart to download in the group files so you can cross off the blocks you've finished to keep track of your progress.

I used a blue block for my center instead of green because I love blue more than green and wasn’t even thinking about using the same colors as Jane did. When I did learn about the rows of colors it sounded cool but I had already made more than a few blocks. I wish I had followed her colors a little more closely. I got as far as the yellow blocks and quit after arranging the pink blocks for my TATW. I did do the green corners and the pink corner kites (triangles). One of my corner blocks (A-13, far right, top) was made in pink before I decided to attempt the four green corners so I switched it up with the block next to it in Row A which I had already made in green. I decided to live with the mistake instead of remaking both blocks. I knew someone with an eagle eye would notice someday that the top row was out of order so I am 'fessing up now!  Improvise, improvise. 


My quilt top last year before I added the triangle borders. I need to find some space to hang it before I take a better picture.  The pink and yellow blocks stand out a bit and you can see a little of the TATW scheme that Jane used. 

If you're sewing along in my group, remember that this is your quilt and you can make it any way you like. I’m only giving this information for those who might want to reproduce Jane's quilt closely. It's fun to think about how organized she was, playing around with her fabrics. 

The Bennington Museum website has some nice photos of the Jane Stickle quilt.

Whatever colors or style of fabric you choose, here’s a tip: Make sure you LOVE the fabrics you pick. For me, this was a good opportunity to dig deep into my stash and find prints or favorite scraps of prints I loved and was saving for "something special." THIS quilt is the Something Special so go ahead and cut into some of those fabrics you’re hoarding. You won’t be sorry.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Dear Jane

Well, I finally finished putting my Dear Jane top together.  Not perfect by any means, but it is DONE. 

It still needs a good pressing, some thread picking and a few other little things fixed before I add the border for the scallops and then attempt to baste it for hand quilting.

This will take me awhile. I learned so much throughout the process of making this quilt. For instance, reverse applique. curved piecing and paper piecing, along with better basic sewing skills for making small blocks. Not to mention PATIENCE. So now I have to learn how to make a scalloped border - Ugh. Not looking forward to that. Hopefully, it won't take me another 14 years . . . . 

In looking at photos of finished DJ quilts, I noticed that someone in my group used a pretty light print fabric for her  scallop border instead of a solid and so now I'm rethinking the muslin/ecology cloth I was going to use for mine. Decisions, decisions . . . 

One of the many perks of having the Electric Quilt Dear Jane software is that it allows you to print out these assorted pages with pretty borders for keeping a Dear Jane journal or to just use for notes on your sewing journey. I’ve kept my own notes in a binder since I started in 2010 but I’m patiently waiting until I finish the entire quilt to copy them down onto my pretty pages.

After I finished I took a little break and just played around with some extra blocks from the recent basket sew along and made this little mug mat. They always look so cute displayed around the house. Easy stitching . . .  

There's some Dear Jane motivation in my Facebook group on Fridays as some of us move forward and make progress. If you're interested in starting or just really want to get back to working on your blocks, join the conversation as we motivate each other to work together on this wonderful quilt. Trust me, if I can finish it, you can too. Kathleen Tracy Quilts FB group. I'll keep you up to date.