A New Beginning

January 12, 2010 § 24 Comments

the Dear Jane journey

For a long, long time I have thought about attempting to make the Dear Jane quilt. It intrigues me and I can’t explain why.  Maybe because it is part of the Civil War era. Maybe just because of it’s uniqueness. Every block is different.  All 225 of them.

I may be a little crazy, but I also want to learn how to hand piece and hand quilt.  Not only for the reason that I think  it would be a nice skill to learn. (I’ve always sewn with the sewing machine) But also to learn to appreciate it.  It baffles my mind that people can make whole quilts by hand.  It’s a skill that the Japanese are experts at.  Maybe that’s why their quilts are so beautiful and fascinating.

Ironically, Jennifer at Moving Hands has been blogging about hand-piecing.  And the Tokyo Quilt Festival is just around the corner.

and a hand-piecing journey

It also scares me that I will never finish it. That it will become a permanent UFO.  But I’m trying to look at it as a journey, not a destination.  Most of the quilts I make are a destination.

§ 24 Responses to A New Beginning

  • DebbyMcC says:

    I made mine completely by hand…it took me more years than I care to say but I looked at it as a journey. (I am still hand quilting it, though it has been on a sort of vacation as I have explored learning to knit) That quilt saw me through so much of life…I journaled right onto the pages of the book as I sewed each block, noting the day it was finished, how many pieces it was, what was happening that day. It was the smartest thing I ever did! Now I have a record of that time in my life that otherwise would have been a blur of years. One thing I did not do that I realllllly wish I had was to sew the sashing on as I went! It would have saved me a TON of time at the other end. Good luck, happy piecing and bon voyage…you have taken the first step of many: Yay!

  • Anita says:

    I, too, have thought about this. I know how to hand-make a quilt and have done some, but nothing like this.
    I think if I were to start this, I would add some modern helps to the mix. Like gluing the seam with school glue and ironing it before I start stitching. I know that isn’t the most authentic way to do it. The pioneers never had this, but to make mine more perfect. I also might add some 1/4″ tape to the edge and stitch beside it to make sure every.single.block is perfect.
    Is that cheating?

  • britt says:

    I was hanging out with someone who finished one of these, i believe she hand pieced it as well. I love the thought of it, but haven’t taken the plunge. Good luck, I hope you give periodic updates of your progress.

  • janet clare says:

    they say ‘the journey is the reward’

  • Rachel says:

    Wow – such a huge undertaking! I love your choice of red and white for this quilt. I’ll be watching for progress on this project; it’s lovely so far.

  • Jackie says:

    Like you, I have also been working on a hand pieced quilt. Looking at it as a journey is definitely the right attitude. You will get it done, patience is the key.

  • susan says:

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a few months now and am currently hand-piecing a Material Obsession BOM, I really enjoy it but I have also had Dear Jane on my mind for a while – City Quilter did it in bali’s. Maybe I’ll join you on the quest. I love the first commenter who said she kept a record of when each block was done etc.

  • Alexis says:

    Wow, that is an impressive & inspirational undertaking! I’ve been thinking about doing more handwork so I have something to take with me while I’m waiting int he car, for appointments, etc. Love your color choices- your Dear Jane is sure to be a memorable journey!

  • Una says:

    Your blocks are beautiful! I’m amazed at the roundness of your circles. The stitces in the PIC-block also look wonderful. I do a lot by hand. Mainly because I started out sewing that way (sewing on the machine was in my mind sort of only my mom’s thing) Now I do both, love both, but find hand sewing most soothing. Coincidentally I started (machine) sewing on the Shirt Stripe Boxes a little while ago, inspired by you. Now you also are spurring me on to take up the tiny DJs again! (To keep on travelling…) Thank you. Una in Norway:)

  • Ranette says:

    The Dear Jane quilt is the best journey I’ve ever taken as a quilter….loved it so much I’m on my second journey ;o)

  • Ranette says:

    oops, I pushed the button too fast.

    Enjoy your journey and the amazing places it will take you!

  • Meredith says:

    Have fun with it. I did not make a big quilt. I made some blocks and put them all together for a wall hanging. As for hand quilting for me there is nothing like it.

  • Tamara says:

    I too have a fascination with the Dear Jane quilt. It is something that I’ve envied around blogland for a few years and something that I would like to do. It just hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know what’s stopping me. Maybe the purchase of the book at a time when I’m trying to be more frugal. Maybe it’s a fear of being yet another project that never gets finished. On the flip side, I enjoy the romance of taking my time over a few years to make this. I love the idea of when I need something out of the ordinary I could turn to this quilt and make a block. I enjoy the idea of grabbing fabric as it speaks to me and the idea of using up some of what I have around here. Best of luck Anita. I’ll be eagerly watching the progress of your Dear Jane.

  • amy says:

    Very exciting, Anita! I learned how to hand-piece just before I learned to machine piece and have always been pleased that I learned. I love having Jinny Beyer’s hand piecing book for reference when I get to puzzling intersections. Enjoy the peaceful process — can’t wait to hear more about your blocks!

  • Emily says:

    That is an Epic quilt! CounterPain Epic. But absolutely amazing and completely worth it. I am excited to see it grow and read about the process.

  • Brandie says:

    I started a few years ago. Then decided that I didn’t like the background fabric I was using. Now, I think I have 3 squares done! It’s so fun to work on though. I love the history, and try to pick up civil war fabric when I can for when I pick it up again in the future!

  • pratima says:

    I’m sure you’ll have a very pleasant and peaceful journey… I’m excited to follow your progress and read more about it.

  • Renee says:

    It’s going to be spectacular! Enjoy the process. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    I have been tempted many times to attempt this gorgeous quilt! Perhaps you will entice me again. All by hand? Quite the feat!!!! Go for it!

  • Allie says:

    Congratulations! You and your blog have just been awarded the Lemonade Stand Award. Please see my blog for details 🙂

  • whatktmadenext says:

    Oooh, good luck with this! Especially hand piecing it – that’s a serious level of work! Your reds look fab. I think there’s an all red Baby Jane on flickr and it’s really lovely.

    I’m contemplating starting a Baby Jane, although, like you, I’m a bit worried that I’ll never finish it! I love the variety of the blocks and there’s so many different techniques to get to grips with. I guess even if it never gets finished, at least I’ll have learned lots of new things and I can always make a mini quilt instead! Like you say – it’s about the journey not the destination.

    Oh and have you come across the “That Quilt” blog? It’s dedicated to making a Baby Jane and has lots of really good instructions for the different blocks…

  • Sara says:

    Congratulations on beginning your Dear (Baby) Jane journey. I just started mine last Thursday. However, I am doing as much by machine as possible. I just did the same 2 blocks that you have picuterd in your post. I do need to learn the hand applique but am not sure I have the patience for it.
    We’re off and stitching!!!

  • Debbie says:

    Oh, all by hand. I wish you a lot of luck and I’ll be cheering you on. I’m going to attempt this quilt too, but I think I’ll be doing a mix of hand and machine quilting. Seems like I’ll be cheating in a sense, but I know me, and if it’s all by hand, I’ll procrastinate doing it.

  • chris says:

    Hi there congratulations on your Dear Jane journey I have been going for 2 years so far with a tiny group of four. We meet monthly though we have missed quite a few due to vacations etc. I have made 25 blocks so far in reproduction fabrics mainly on the pastel side. I find it quite difficult but must see it as a long time effort. Hope you enjoy ! p.s I recently bought the cd to print off patterns as I found the book gruelling.

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