Dear Jane, did you use a pattern?

Or, dear Jane, did you make up all your tiny blocks on your own?

I know nineteenth-century sewers used to find sampler block patterns in magazines and the like. I wonder how many of Jane’s blocks came from such sources and how many she just made up based on the size and shape of scrap fabrics in her sewing basket.

Another member of my sewing group has also recently started a Dear Jane quilt. (You can follow her progress as she makes all her blocks by hand in gorgeous Liberty fabrics on her blog.) She is quite clear with her direction: any blocks she does not like, she will not make, and she will add to her collection from other sources or make up her own. So far, I have not really thought that through. I have just been making blocks without a plan! Will I include every block that Jane did? I do not want to avoid a block from fear (not knowing how to put it together), but do I really need to make blocks I do not like? When I again looked at Jane’s quilt with this in mind, I realised that the only blocks I am not keen on are some of the triangles around the edges. Perhaps they will be my chance to get creative and add my own flavour to the quilt.

So far, what I have done is tweak some of Brenda’s block patterns. A few patterns in the Dear Jane book contain small errors and can be adjusted simply by ignoring a line or drawing a missing line straight into the book. (Yes, I am drawing on a book!)

However, I have felt the need to completely redraw a few blocks. I am making my revised versions available here in case any other Janiacs find them helpful as they work through Brenda’s book.

Click on the block name to open a pdf.

C2 Streak of Lightning

I redrew this block as I wanted all of the diamonds the same size and shape, even the appliquéd ones.

I pieced this block by hand, but after I made H2 I realised that I could easily have used the same method for both.

Dear Jane C2 Streak of Lightning

Dear Jane C2 Streak of Lightning

H2 Jacob Anthony

I redrew this block so that all the triangles were equilateral, the same size and the same shape. By straightening the lines, I made it easier to foundation paper piece the centre in three parts. I then machine sewed on the borders, which is not difficult if you are not frightened by Y seams.

Dear Jane H2 Jacob Anthony

Dear Jane H2 Jacob Anthony

H9 Snowflake Melt

This block was unnecessarily small. Brenda mentions in her book that Jane often padded small blocks by adding borders to bring them up to the required size. Instead, I enlarged the block to fill the available space.

I used my sewing machine to make four half-square triangles to form the base of the block. Then, I used the snowball method (sewing a diagonal line across a square before trimming) to add the triangles to each corner. Finally, I appliquéd the diamonds by hand.

Dear Jane H9 Snowflake Melt

Dear Jane H9 Snowflake Melt

M1 Dogwood Days

Something is just a bit wrong with the illustration in Brenda’s book. This redraw solved the problem for me.

 Dear Jane M1 Dogwood Days

Dear Jane M1 Dogwood Days

M13 Lynette’s Diamond

I used the attached template to hand appliqué a circle to a square. Then, I used the snowball method to machine sew the corners. When I cut the result into quarters, rearranged the pieces and sewed them back together again, I had M13.

Dear Jane M13 Lynette's Diamond, with pieced centre

Dear Jane M13 Lynette’s Diamond, with pieced centre

Then, I looked at the block and thought this fabric would look better with a fussy-cut square appliquéd onto the centre, so I unpicked the middle and appliquéd a square in place of the four small triangles.

Dear Jane M13 Lynette's Diamond, with appliquéd centre

Dear Jane M13 Lynette’s Diamond, with appliquéd centre

If I were to make this block again, I probably would just appliqué four semi-circles and a square onto a plain background.

I hope my redrawn patterns help someone out. I do not know where Jane found her patterns, but I do know that Jane would not have had Adobe Illustrator to allow her to precisely draw her block patterns. Oh, how I love modern technology!

Now I am getting to the difficult ones, ones I keep postponing, I am finding a few tips from fellow Janiacs particularly helpful. Two really helpful blogs, both with block-by-block tutorials, are 13 Months of Jane with Aunt Reen and That Quilt. Sometimes it is just reassuring to see how another quilter tackled the same block before starting the preparations.

I confess that some time during the past week I lost count of how many blocks I have made. I think I have passed the 110 mark!

These tiny blocks are addictive. The other day I caught myself thinking that I might make my next Dear Jane in modern brights or monochrome. Then I paused. My next Dear Jane? What was I thinking? My knitting is sitting neglected, and no progress is being made on anything else in my sewing UFO pile. Perhaps I will have to put Jane aside in July.

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7 thoughts on “Dear Jane, did you use a pattern?

  1. M13 is today’s challenge – again, your blog is here before me and I am taking inspiration from you. Thank you for doing all the hard work!

      • That is exactly what I am doing just now! I did see various other suggestions of sewing it as a circle, inverting it, etc etc. But your second version looks so neat and tidy, especially with the lovely little fussy cut square in the middle. It’s coming along very nicely and is nowhere near as hard as it looks. Thanks again for the inspiration!

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