More importantly, dear Jane, what was I thinking when I decided to follow in your footsteps and make a quilt out of hundreds of tiny, complex blocks?
Last year at the local quilt show I was inspired by a Dear Jane on display. I particularly loved the way the quilt-maker had placed her blocks, gradually transitioning across the rainbow of Liberty fabric colours from corner to corner. (The photo does not do it justice.) In a self-indulgent and impulsive mood, at the show I bought the Dear Jane book and a fat-eighths bundle of French General’s Rouenneries fabric range.
Although I chose traditional fabrics, some of my favourite Dear Janes are beautifully modern and bright. (Click here for a gorgeous example that uses Kaffe Fassett fabrics.) I do not remember why I chose traditional – perhaps because I like red and because among the bundles on sale that day the one I bought had a lot of red. I have since added another French General bundle, this time Maison de Garance, which introduced brown, even though I am not a fan of brown.
Progress has been slow, as I focused on other projects such as Christmas gifts, but I have not given up. It is one of those projects that I have to be prepared to take my time over, after all. So, here is my progress to date.
Very excitingly, I am able to display the blocks on my new design wall! I bought a curtain rod ages ago, meaning to hang it in one of the spare bedrooms. (When guests come, I will take the work-in-progress down and hang a completed quilt on the rail instead.) This week, I bought a big piece of wadding on sale, and my husband kindly helped me hang the rail.
A Dear Jane quilt is not for the fainthearted, but I am learning all sorts of new things. Each block is a puzzle to be solved. I had done heaps of hand embroidery, appliqué and English paper piecing, but I had always somehow figured out a way to sew quilt blocks together on my machine. I had never pieced a quilt block by hand before this week; now I have made two. I never would have managed it without helpful posts from other bloggers (especially Hand Piecing with Crispy) and online videos (like Craft Lovers’s More Helpful Hand-Piecing Tips). I am also frequently referring to the block-by-block tips on the Dear Jane website.
I started with a simple nine-patch block and have been building up confidence to tackle the more complex blocks. I have found that, as I sew more and more, blocks that were previously frightening become less so. I start to see how I might eventually sew the more complicated ones.
I am not doing a lot of planning. I am just choosing a block and a fabric and putting them together as the whim takes me.
As I am using French General fabrics, perhaps this is Dear Jeanne?