Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Way of Working on Jane

Guess I should get back on my blog.  I have gotten side tracked with genealogy.  I have been into that for years.  History and a good mystery all rolled into one.  Actually that is kind of what working on Jane was like since there were no instructions.  You have the history of the quilt and letters from Brenda to Jane and then you have that mystery of figuring out how to do 75% of the blocks.

That is where my process started.  As I said, I started with hand piecing as I knew how to do that.  Not fond of it but I can do it.  I knew there would be several blocks that I would not attempt to machine piece so I thought that was a good place to start.  Then I moved on to other blocks that I knew I could piece, but not easy ones.  I saved the easy ones for times that I didn’t have to think like at retreats or times I was doing things wrong, to get my confidence back.  Or times I just wanted to increase my piece count FAST!

As I did each block I glued a fabric swatch on a copy of page 12 out of the book, like many do.  I also kept a list of block number, number of pieces, date completed, color and How?  That how is a biggie in why this quilt is called ‘In Changing Times.’  This list was my version of a journal.  I have tried to journal at various times, even on my trip to Paducah when my quilt was there and I just don’t stay with it.  My mother and youngest sister journal.  You would think it would come naturally.  But no.

dj swatch sheet

Now how pretty is this?  I even went to the trouble of cutting out triangle shapes for my triangles.  Mine is not as neat as some I have seen, but it is mine and it does have the triangles on it.  Mine is the first one I have seen that have the triangles on it.  One reason I used a swatch sheet is to make sure I didn’t repeat fabrics.  I failed.  While I was hand quilting my quilt I found 2 blocks where I had used the same green print, a Benartex leaf print.  I got to looking further and found that I had put the same print together, both in red and green, right next to each other in my quilt.  I think you can see that I-1 and J-1 are the same print in the swatch photo.  And the other print that is next to same one in the opposite color is the print that I repeated and they are in the positions on M-1 and M-2.  M-1 is repeated in    B-2 I believe.  So since I have those unexpected puzzles in my quilt, I put one more in on purpose.  My husband and I played a game of Tic Tac Toe for I-3 and I quilted in when I did the quilting.  The actual game is stuck in my book.  Actually there is one more thing I need to tell you about my quilt.  I will try to remember to tell you next time; part of it I did intentionally, the other part was pure accident.

One note, as I pulled fabrics that I had put back for this quilt; I picked as I did each block based either on something that would complement the block design, reminded me of something in block design or had to do with the name of the block.

DJ Journal

Back to my process.  Here is my list of blocks and triangles as I did them.  I played bingo with the blocks.  I did all the triangles essentially like they are presented in the book and 98% of them are paper pieced.  I don’t enjoy paper piecing and I personally did not enjoy the doing the triangles.  I know others say they like doing them more than the blocks.  I did not learn anything on the triangles other than it reinforced my dislike of paper piecing.  l learned a lot in doing the blocks.

What did I learn?  Just about everything.  I learned lots of new things to me and I came up with new ways  for me to do things.  Easier, time saving ways for things to be sewn.  I did not come up with the bias square technique, but I used it on several blocks in this quilt.  My students were amazed.  I came up with several methods of what I call strip piecing shortcuts, even for a 9-patch and those corner units on like on D-5 or L-3.  Those are easily paper pieced, but remember I don’t like to do that, so I came up with a method to do that without paper piecing just using an ordinary right angle ruler and it works for me.  Most of my students are not sold on it but it’s because they don’t understand the ruler.  I don’t mind if they paper piece if that’s what they want, it’s their quilt just like this was my quilt.  I learned (figured out is more like it) how to do reverse appliqué.  I  had done some of the easy blocks with reverse appliqué but when you get to blocks like I-5 and M-7, I just couldn’t see it.  I had completed blocks like B-2, B-3 and then C-5 with the background reverse appliquéd on top like Jane did.  In fact, I have 3-4 series of blocks that involve appliqué and reverse appliqué that works its way from easy to difficult.  For some reason, after I completed C-5, I finally figured out how to do those other multilayered blocks like I-5 and M-7- it just clicked.  It probably took close to a year, but it finally happened. 

I am sure there are other things I learned; I know there is- like prepared appliquéd.  My whole quilt was done with prepared appliquéd with Mylar and starch.  I have tried back basting on some blocks since, but still prefer starch and glue on these small blocks.

I have gone on long enough this time.  Next time I will write about where all this has taken me.

Sew Having Fun,


Monday, February 7, 2011

My ‘Background’ Plan

So back to my story…I think I had made 5 or 6 blocks with my 1 background I had bought before I read on The List that the 5 yards listed was really not enough.  Panic!  We go to Oklahoma quite often as that is where my in-laws live.  Probably the first weekend  in February, we probably went to the McAlester, Oklahoma area and I shopped.  There were lots of little shops around the area 10 years ago.  Most are closed now.

Anyway, I bought 1  3/4 to 2 yards of 3 more background pieces.  One piece I bought all they had which was the 1 3/4 yard piece.  So now with a total of 4 background fabrics, 6 yards I started with and adding 5 3/4 more, I now had 11  3/4 yards to work with for my quilt.  I just needed to come up with that plan.  (That weekend I also spent plenty of money on red and green fat quarters.  If they looked old, I bought them.  I am sure they were not all reproductions.)

So I sat down one morning and I came up with my plan.  The logical thing to me was, since I was making a 2 color  quilt, was to assign 2 backgrounds to red blocks, which I numbered 1 and 2 and 2 backgrounds to green blocks, which I assigned letters A and B.  I did that and glued them on an index card and also wrote the designation on a swatch and put them on my design wall/bulletin board as I knew my swatch card would soon get lost.


Since I had 2 fabrics that actually went red to me, I put one for each block color to divide them up.  The original 6 yard piece I bought to me went green so I put with the red blocks also.  The remaining piece was actually like grass on a white ground so I assigned it to the green blocks.

My plan was simply this – I copied the Diagram of Blocks out of the DJ book on page 12 and I started in the center with one set of fabrics, say the green, and alternated rows of my background-A, B, A, B, A, B, A, B etc., going like Jane did in her Trip Around the World setting or a Log Cabin Barn Raising design.  Then I did the same thing with the red backgrounds and alternated them also, except I started with A-1 and went in a Straight Furrows pattern, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, etc.  These could be turned around around as my plan is covered up by my fabric swatches and my quilt is not here to check out which I used.  Note I only did this for the blocks, the fabric I had 6 yards of was used for all my background for my pieced triangles.  And all pieced triangles are red with plain triangles green.  My sashing is a different fabric too, so it is not included this total.

I was very lucky with the blocks I had already made.  Only 1 block was made with the wrong background after my new plan was made.  That was J-2, Picture Perfect.  The only background used in the block was the window sashing and I was not going to redo that block for those few 1/4” wide pieces.  It just was not worth it.  No one knows it but me and now you all.  Most people just think I used one background, including one appraiser, actually writing it on the appraisal form, cream Roclon muslin.

J-2 was my 3rd block.  After hand piecing my first two blocks, I wanted to see if I could tackle those narrow 1/4” bands, since I had noticed this quilt seems to have a lot of narrow bands.  You all know how you presser foot can ride on a seam and get your seam allowance off.  My J-2 is not perfect, but I think I mastered those narrow bands or sashing, however you want to think of them.  And I did that by pressing toward the band and trimming.

Next time I will write about how I chose the blocks I did and why.  And get a little deeper into my process -if I have one.  I really wonder about that one.

Sew Having Fun,


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Getting My Feet Wet

Where to begin with Jane?  First I need to give you a little background.  We had moved to Greenville in October of 1998.  In November I went to a 3 night retreat over my birthday.  It had rained during the retreat.  The soil here is clay and is slick when wet.  To make a long story short-I broke my ankle chasing my dog Bear who decided to go walk-about.  He went into a not-so friendly neighbor’s yard (even to this day) and I slipped in a wet spot.  This was the day after my birthday.  I heard it break.  Luckily Stan was out with us and he went and brought the truck and I hopped in on one foot and went to ER on a Sunday afternoon.  It was dislocated and I broke the 3 wings off the bone.  I had surgery and had 5 screws put in my ankle.  I also spent the night in the hospital.  Normally it would be outpatient surgery, but I had to do it on a Sunday.

When we left Nacogdoches, my friend Paula said we needed to get a computer so we could keep in touch easier.  So we did.  She said I needed to join the Dear Jane mailing list as she said it was the friendliest place on the Internet.  What else could I do?  I was sitting here with a broken ankle, nothing really unpacked for my sewing room before I did this nasty deed to myself.  So I joined the DJ list.

I agree with her, the list is a very friendly place.  You can learn a lot-if you ask, even if you lurk.  I have been lurking for over 12 years.  Even back then they had a BOW-Block of the Week.  Paula was going to start her quilt with the BOW for the start of January 1999 which was G-1, Indianapolis.  She said she was on the 10 year plan.  She is now on the 20 year plan. 

Well, I decided I was not going to do the BOW; I couldn’t figure out how to do it.  Even reading the hints on the list.  So I kept looking through the book trying to figure out a strategy, and really, I came up with nothing but to jump right in with what I knew I could do and that was hand piecing.  I knew I could hand piece all these blocks but I also knew there was no way that way going to happen either.  I prefer to machine piece.  But I also think that every quilter or those who just piece should know how to hand piece as I think it helps you when it comes to machine piecing; a lot of things are the same in machine piecing as they are in hand piecing.  And I have found those that have not hand pieced cannot do the like procedures in machine piecing.  My first 2 quilts were hand pieced except for the sashing.

I took the 6 yards background I had purchased, picked out a red fabric and proceeded to hand piece J-5.  Then I proceeded to hand piece and hand appliqué D-11, Snow Crystal, also red. I actually completed 2 blocks on January 24, 1999.  My ankle boot I am pretty sure was off and I was walking without it, but I know it hurt me for a long time after that.  I remember sitting here on the couch sitting with my legs propped up, piecing my blocks.

It was soon after that I read on ‘The List’ that the amount of background fabric needed listed in the book was was wrong.  So I knew it was time I came up with a plan-a background plan.

So in 12 weeks time, things changed…we moved, a broken ankle, foreign world of computers, an Internet mailing list, and I finally took the plunge that I said I wouldn’t-I started the sampler quilt with no instructions.

Next time-the plan…

Sew Having Fun!


Friday, February 4, 2011

‘In Changing Times’

I realized something yesterday- an anniversary had passed about ten days ago.  Most people would not even think it much of an event to remember.  But to me the event was, in a way, life-changing.  On January 24, 1999, I made the first block of my prize-winning Dear Jane® quilt ‘In Changing Times.’  I had no idea when I left Nacogdoches and my Secret Pal gave me the book as my last gift, that it would change my life-literally.

This is how my story starts…my husband decides to transfer within his job in summer 1998.  We find a house and make arrangements to move to Greenville.  My friends in Nacogdoches give me a going away party and my Secret Pal at guild gives me the book, Dear Jane: The 225 Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt by Brenda Manges Papadakis.  I think it’s a pretty quilt and I love reproduction quilts, but I am really not into samplers, nor did I think I would make the quilt as there were no instructions in the book.  I did enjoy reading the letters that Brenda wrote to Jane.  I love history.  I even loved looking at the blocks and wondering what in the world was Jane thinking and then, how in the world did she come up with them and how did she execute all these difficult blocks?  Little did I know I would soon be up to my neck in this quilt.000_0014You might ask why my quilt is red and green?  Well, my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Stickle.  That was the way I had always seen it spelled as a kid.  I found out about 4-5 years ago that my ancestor’s name is spelled STICKEL from a descendant of his ‘other’ family so I guess we are not related to Jane, but I like to think there was a possibility that we could have been when I started my quilt.  My grandmother was born in December and she died in December at the age of 93 and so I made it as a tribute  to her.  Little did I know when I made my first block, J-5, John Jacob’s Windmill, that I was in for one of the best trips of my life-with a few bumps along the way.  Tune in again soon for the next installment of my Journey with Jane.

Sew Having Fun,