Dear Jane, no quilt block can scare me now!

Yesterday, I finished the last stitch on the last triangular block of my Dear Jane quilt. Hurrah! All the blocks are made! I managed to sew 225 fiddly little blocks, and if I skipped a block it was because I did not like it and not because I could not make it.

Now, all I have to do is assemble the blocks into a quilt top, which will only take a little while, and then baste and quilt it … Oh dear. That second part is the stinger. If I quilt it by hand, as I plan to do, I still see a year or two’s work ahead of me!

As this batch was my last ten blocks, I chose any fabric that caught my eye from my French General collection, so there is a disproportionate amount of red.

Dear Jane border triangle blocks

My last batch of Dear Jane blocks. What will I do with my time now?

Clockwise, starting from the top, I have:

    1. my version of bottom row 2
    2. left side 9, which I modified very little from the book, just adjusting the bottom piece and moving the others closer together
    3. a block inspired by right side 2
    4. my version of top row 10
    5. a block that started life inspired by top row 7
    6. my version of bottom row 3 (I planned to add a moon to the square, but then fussy cut a flower instead)
    7. my version of bottom row 9
    8. a simplified version of right side 5
    9. a block that is loosely based on a block I saw in Linda Franz’s Quilted Diamonds
    10. my invention, a block that uses English paper piecing.


Dear Jane quilts blocks on design wall

I have not arranged the blocks. I just slapped them all up on my design wall to check that I had not miscounted. Yes! All are present and correct!

I have not yet decided how I will lay out the blocks. I am hosting one of my sewing groups in two weeks, so I think I will enlist everyone’s help and we can all shuffle the blocks about until we have the light and dark blocks about evenly balanced. I will encourage their cooperation by offering sherry and mince pies. We are getting frighteningly close to Christmas, after all!

I was a little worried that I would not have enough background fabric left to make the sashing, but I have figured out that I will have enough. Just. I think I will only have about 3 inches of fabric left over. Let’s hope I do not slip with that rotary cutter!

I will post a proper photo of the finished top when it is all assembled and before it gets basted and the quilting begins.


64 thoughts on “Dear Jane, no quilt block can scare me now!

  1. I am lost in awe and admiration… even the slammed together version on the design wall is incredible. I simply don’t have the courage to start something like this. I’d rather go at something scary headlong, which simply wouldn’t work here. It just goes to show, we each have our strengths. I do urge you to have a go with the hand quilting. It needn’t be horrendously complicated; it’s just to hold the layers together, and with a top like that, quilting fireworks are not necessary.

    • The final version will not be that different, as I do not plan any fancy colourwash, etc., just a random sampler look. But I will shuffle things about to avoid things like all the bold red blocks clumping in a group, as a few are now.
      I will hand quilt it. I promise. My husband gave me a new hoop for my birthday, and I have some fancy between needles and a piece of wool batting on order. When the wool arrives, I will choose between it and the really fine cotton I already have. As you say, the blocks will be the focus, not the quilting.

  2. It looks beautiful. I went back and read some of your past blogs sharing this quilt journey. I admire anyone who makes a quilt like this. And yours is great, I know you are proud.

  3. Wow! I think “congratulations!” Is fitting here…what an accomplishment! I’ve been wanting to make a Dear Jane quilt but since I’m a beginner I thought I should tackle other projects first. Your blocks are beautiful! I’m sure the finished product will be wonderful.

    • I think more than number of years quilting, the important thing with this quilt is to be the personality type that is comfortable with precision and detail. With such small pieces, it might not suit some experienced quilters who have more ‘€˜organic’€™ styles of sewing. It has been a fun challenge, and I recommend you keep it on your to-do list for the day you feel confident.

      • Thanks for the advice! I think I would enjoy the details if I don’t rush myself to finish it too quickly – kind of take my time, learn as I go, and enjoy the process.

    • I think I might agree that I will have earned something like a crown when I have really finished it -€“ including the hand quilting. Maybe I should start window shopping in jewellery stores! I do like antique rings. 🙂

  4. what a talent! just made my first quilt and although it’s not perfect I have enjoyed the process. Thanks for all your inspiration!

  5. Well done Carla. What an achievement to have reached this stage. At least you can now see how the finished quilt will look and that will stir you on to add the sashing and get the top done. The actual quilting can wait a few months yet. You wouldn’t want to start in summer anyway. I really wish I could visit and see this quilt in real life. Maybe I could drop in for sherry and mince pies too! (if only you didn’t live so far away.)

    • I think I will be spending the summer camped under air-conditioning as my two big projects are the knitted blanket and this quilt, and I have to keep making progress on both!

      Yes, if only we were not so far away!

  6. Carla!!! This – this is just amazing! You deserve a ginormous round of applause (and drinks!) for persevering through this. 😀 It’s going to be GORGEOUS!!!!!!!

    • Sarah, I cannot tell you how tempted I was to pour myself a glass of wine to celebrate on Sunday evening after I finished! I only did not as my husband is travelling on business, and I have short no-alcohol spells whenever he is away, just to prove to myself that I am not a drunken sot. 🙂

  7. Sherry and mince pies?? I’m in! …. I bet you feel amazing right now, they all looks so fabulous slapped up on the wall, imagine what they will look like when they are all carefully sewn together in just the right balance of dark and light – eep! I can’t wait!!

  8. Amazing!! Even if it is just the slapped together version, it still looks great! Almost makes me want to make a huge sampler like it!

    I hope the sherry and mince pies are kept away from the top, since you don’t plan on a colour wash!

    • I do not want to add it up! In the beginning I could make up to seven blocks in a solid, no-distractions sewing day, but they were the easy blocks like nine-patch blocks. At the end, two a day was an achievement. Most were made in gradual stages in the evenings.

    • Thanks, Vera. Weirdly, I didn’t put much thought into the colours when I started. I just bought a fat eighth bundle that contained red from the selection available that day. I have added to it since, but the impulse decision has worked well so far.

  9. AMAZING!!! Carla, I can’t believe how beautiful this looks. Or that you can get all those blocks up onto one design wall! My husband was sitting next to me while I was reading this and glanced over and said “Holy crap, that’s a LOT of blocks!” Translation = “Damn, that looks great!”

    • Please explain to your husband that each is only 5 inches across (4.5 inches when sewn in). You can fit a lot of blocks on a design wall when they are tiny. You may further freak him out by explaining that I know one block had more than 40 pieces. After that block, I stopped counting. It was too scary. 🙂

  10. I have just discovered your blog through Kathy Tracy’s Dear Jane SQT Yahoo Group, I’m so glad that she posted your link!! I just love your work, the way you have modified some of the designs, your amazing sewing skills and your choice of French General fabrics. I started DJ this year and wished I’d discovered you sooner! All the best for 2015.

    • Thanks, Carole. I really should be finishing the assembly of my Dear Jane sashing and borders this week, but I have been distracted by other sewing. Maybe your encouragement will get me back on track soon. I hope you are having as much fun with yours as I have had making mine. (So far, so good!)

  11. Gorgeous! What an inspiration you are. I’m preparing to begin my first Dear Jane and am hoping I can finish it while keeping my sanity. Like they say, it’s like eating an elephant – – one bite at a time. I also am happy to receive any advice to help the process go smoothly. Your blocks are so perfect that I suspect you did a lot of paper piecing; correct? Thank you for sharing your beautiful creation.

    • Oh, yes. It is very much like eating an elephant!
      I did a lot of foundation-paper piecing, a lot of applique and only a little ‘American’ piecing. Unlike a friend (The Guilty Quilter) who decided to piece hers entirely by hand, I chose whatever method I thought would work best for each block.
      My main bits of advice are to buy lots – at least 8 metres – of background fabric (if you are not planning a scrappy look) and to sew whichever block takes your fancy that day. I started easy and worked my way up. Feel free to ask about any block that has you worried.
      I found the process generally relaxing as I was realistic about how long it was going to take me.

  12. Pingback: 2015 Stash Report: May | Riddle and Whimsy

  13. Hi Carla, thank you for sharing your ideas and inspiring others. I came across your site while searching (and contemplating) Dear Jane which is funny as I am in Perth. I am currently working on Farmers Wife 1930 but will need another foundation pieced project when that is finished. I am having trouble clarifying whether Dear Jane can be done using mostly FP. I have the book but was wondering if you purchase the FP patterns for the ones you did this way? Kind regards, Vanessa

    • A lot of the blocks can be foundation pieced, but not all. It was a mixed bag. I would say that foundation piecing made up the greater number, followed by machine piecing, applique and finally hand piecing. Well, that’s how I did them. I chose whatever method I thought would give me the best result. At a guess, and it really is a guess, I would say I foundation pieced about half of them. A friend hand pieced all of hers! My favourite blocks were foundation pieced or applique.
      I only used the book. I had a 2B pencil and a bank paper notebook (lightweight paper) from the newsagent to make my foundation papers. Easy and cheap! The only other gadget I bought was the triangle template for the border bits.

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