The Modern Jane

May 31, 2010 § 17 Comments

Stack of Dear Jane blocks

My stack of Dear Jane blocks is growing slowly. She was calling to me this weekend and I finished 5 more blocks for a total of 15.  That’s makes me only 5 blocks behind my self-imposed schedule. No matter. I’m not keeping track. This is a journey.

March - April - May 2010 blocks

It’s hard to  imagine how much sewing the women of  by-gone eras had to do to become so proficient in their craft.  I still feel rather clumsy while hand-piecing these blocks. Some of them look pretty good. And some of them are rather wobbly looking.  It got me to thinking about all the modern tools we have to help us sew faster and with more precision.  What would it have been like to sew with so much less than what we have today?

Modern Tools

These are just some of the tools I’ve been using. Carolyn at work teaches machine applique and I use some of her techniques to prepare my pieces.  The Dear Jane templates are on my computer. I print them onto C. Jenkins freezer paper that runs through the printer, cut them out and iron to the back of my fabric. If there is any applique, Mary Ellens’ Best Press starch (it smells like lavender)  is “painted” along the seam allowance so that when it’s pressed under it crisp and smooth.  And Roxanne’s Baste It glue holds the piece in place while I stitch it to to the block.

Then there’s long staple cotton thread, electric auto shut off irons, rotary cutters, acrylic rulers, scissors with serrated blades and sewing machines with computers.  I can’t imagine what I would do with only a newsprint or cardboard template, needle & thread.

I’ve also been thinking about the thread I’ve been using, DMC 50 weight for the applique and Aurofil 50 weight for the piecing. Will it hold up without breaking when the whole quilt is finished?  What do you use for hand piecing or hand applique?  I’ve also been thinking that while I’ve set the goal to hand piece all of the blocks, I think I am going to machine sew all the blocks together with the sashing.  The one aspect of hand piecing that is still throwing me is not stitching through the cross seams when multiple pieces are joined together. I’m dreading the thought of how much work that would be when it comes to joining the blocks and the sashing. Hopefully the quilt police won’t stop me for mixing hand piecing and machine piecing!  Still, that’s a LONG way off to be worrying about it now.

Liberty Flower Power

March 20, 2010 § 12 Comments

Liberty of London for Target print

The latest fabric rage?  Liberty of London for Target!  My local Target is already pretty wiped out. I hope they reorder soon.

We just happened to be shopping at Target last night because my husband had a list of things he needed for his Mountaineering Oriented First Aid class that he is taking today. They will be simulating emergency situations while learning how to respond appropriately.

Would your husband wear these?

So, while I was helping him find some of the things on his list, I also took a detour by the various Liberty displays.  There really wasn’t much left.  But I thought these boxers might look good in my Dear Jane quilt.  Really… would a guy wear flowery print boxers?  I have my doubts. But, they are making quilters all over the country very, very happy!

Dear, Dear Jane

March 2, 2010 § 19 Comments

dear Dear Jane...

The week that the Ladies Downhill Skiing race at the Olympics was having a Crash & Burn day, I realized I had a crash & burn Dear Jane month.  I have a total of 6 blocks done and here it is March already. March! How did that happen, I ask you?  While I really want to make one block a week, I am really going to try and not sweat it. It will take as long as it takes. Okay? Ok!

3 steps foward, 2 steps back

These are my first 3 blocks made in January.  The first one went great! The 2nd one I forgot to include the seam allowances. Rats! And the 3rd was a bit wonky and off center. So I made those last two again while watching the Olympics. I really wanted to make more.  But it is what it is. I also came to the realization that I don’t think I want any plain muslin in the actual blocks. Maybe for the sashing, it would be okay. I haven’t decided. But I like all the mix of reds, patterns & textures in the blocks.


The other major crossroad was deciding how to keep track of the blocks.  Those of you who have already made, or are making, Dear Jane… how are you labeling your blocks?  I thought about sticky notes but was worried that the stickiness would leave a nasty spot over time.  And pins, they tend to rust. Especially in our humid, rainy region.  (side note: Last fall I finally cleaned out a box of really, really old unfinished projects and nearly all of the pins had rusted.  I tossed out the whole lot. It felt good to be rid of that box!)

So I finally came to the conclusion that only fabric should be touching fabric. I cut a few 1-inch squares of muslin and wrote the block number on them with a fabric marker. Then I basted them to the back side of the block. We’ll see how that goes. I  was dreading the thought of sorting through all 200-something blocks in the end. I’m hoping this will help.

January & February so far

And… there are my February blocks in the bottom row. Just three.  Including the infamous D-13 (’cause it’s easy).  I’ve only been doing the easy blocks. But I think I’d better start mixing in some of the hard ones.  Someone suggested using the Dear Jane book as a journal. So I’ve been doing that too.  I’ve made little notes with the date finished and sometimes something about the day while I was working on that particular block.  Dear, Dear Jane. You will definitely be a journey… not a project.

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.

Where Am I?

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