Dear Jane, what were you thinking?!

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.

My progress to date on my Dear Jane quilt: sixty blocks! Hurrah! The blocks on the left need a bit more work – usually just trimming as I deliberately made them slightly too big to allow fudge room.

My progress to date on my Dear Jane quilt: sixty blocks! Hurrah! The blocks on the left need a bit more work – usually just trimming as I deliberately made them slightly too big to allow fudge room.

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?

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8 thoughts on “Dear Jane, what were you thinking?!

  1. Did you know that Angela Davies (maker of the above dear Jane quilt) is going to talk about it at the next (I think) WAQA Business meeting. Should be interesting…

  2. Pingback: Design boards | Granny Maud's Girl

  3. I found the Dear Jane website by chance early last week and before I could talk myself out of it by light of day, bought the book 🙂 not sure on my colours yet, but I have a feeling I better like them, eh? 😉

    • Yes, definitely! Choose your favourite colour(s) as you will be working with those fabrics for a while. A looong while. 🙂
      I think you have the stamina for it. Your gorgeous hexagon quilt proves you love a challenge.
      Do you ever wonder why some of us are so drawn to complicated projects?

  4. Pingback: The big blue quilt | Granny Maud's Girl

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