Seven years ago, when I was a brand new quilter, I discovered and fell deeply in love with the Dear Jane quilt.
It was created by a woman named Jane A. Blakely Stickle during the Civil War. Not much is known about her or this quilt.
As you can guess, I immediately became obsessed and started to make a Dear Jane quilt of my own. It wasn't long before I started to feel my inexperience. These blocks finish at 4.5" and I was often overwhelmed by the tiny pieces. Some blocks were a huge time investment and I started to hate the fabrics I'd chosen. I worried about putting together such a large quilt top and had no idea if I would be able to quilt it on my tiny machine.
I gave up after a couple dozen blocks and tried not to dwell on the terrible experience. I eventually threw all my blocks away in an effort to free myself from the constant reminder of my failure.
But even after all that, the original quilt still holds a special place in my heart. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. More specifically, I've been thinking about the amazing woman who made this complex and beautiful quilt.
The amount of work that went into making it is almost inconceivable. This quilt wasn't planed with computer software or sewn on a sewing machine. She didn't have plastic rulers or rotary cutters. She didn't send it out to be long-arm quilted. Instead, she sat in her farmhouse (perhaps on the front porch?) and planned 225 different blocks and cut fabric and pieced them all by hand. She sewed the 80"x80" top together by hand. She quilted it by hand. She bound the scalloped edges by hand.
The more I think about it, the more I'm awed by the whole thing. I struggle to piece quilts using all the developments of the modern sewing world yet this woman created this quilt with, what...pencil, paper, scissors, needle and thread? And this quilt is just one of thousands made in the same way throughout history. It is a truly humbling thought.
After much consideration, I've decided to give this quilt another try. I'll talk more about my plans soon but until then, I'd love to chat about this quilt with you. Like, have you seen it before? Do you like it? Have you started to sew your own? Have you actually finished one?! How does this quilt make you feel? (Sorry, that last one is a little ridiculous but I always ask Ian how my quilts make him feel because it makes him all squirmy and it's funny...but that being said, I do honestly want to know how this quilt makes you feel. Just so you know, this quilt makes Ian feel hungry.)