Dear Jane

When I started my Dear Jane quilt in January 2010 I had no experience in making a sampler quilt. These are just my thoughts on making a Dear Jane, at the moment they are not very ordered so this page will change periodically as things occur to me. I found making the quilt a great learning experience and on comparing my first blocks with the last blocks, I could see that I had improved markedly.

Fabric:

I used 12.5m total of background fabric* (Kennard and Kennard K9059 Cream**), setting aside 3m for sashings and borders which I could cut the length of the fabric. Knowing what I know now I would have purchased a fabric with a higher thread count which is very helpful when doing applique as it doesn't fray as much. Using a plain fabric (as opposed to a print) meant I could use either side of the fabric.

For the coloured fabric in the blocks I started using fabric from my stash and then purchased more as I needed it, a kind blog reader also sent me quite a bit of fabric as well.  I ended up getting quite a few fat eighth bundles from various sources. A fat eighth is ample to make a block or a triangle, even a 10" square will give you enough fabric for a block or triangle, some of the blocks can even be made with a charm square. I found that batik fabrics were my favourites especially for the applique and I also found that with the batik fabric it didn't really matter what side I used.

* Now that I have nearly finished I think 14 - 15m of background fabric would be a more generous amount to have, this would allow for any cutting mishaps.
** I have since found out that this fabric is a linen/cotton mixture, which explains why it frayed so much.  I was under the impression that it was pure cotton.

Construction:

Most of my blocks were made on my sewing machine using paper foundation piecing, this was the first time I had used this technique and it was wonderful.  I used this technique wherever I could :) and I don't think I would have finished making the blocks without this technique.  I hand pieced a few of the blocks and appliqued some as well, I didn't enjoy the applique when I started the quilt but got better as I went along.

Thread:

For the applique I used YLI Silk thread #100 in cream, blue and light grey, it is very fine and just disappears into the fabric.  For the sewing I used Guterman cotton in cream and light blue, I would probably use something different next time.

 Tools:

I started out with the Dear Jane book but after tracing a few of the blocks for paper foundation piecing I soon realised that it would be better to have the software as well.  With the software you can just print out each block or triangle in the size that you require and you can also plan your quilt as well.

The sizes I used  were:
  • Blocks - 4.5" x 4.5" 
  • Corner Kites - 8" x 8" 
  • Triangles - 5" x 8"  
I also purchased the Dear Jane triangle and square, this made it so much easier to square each block and triangle and trim to the correct size once I had completed it.  I made a cardboard template for the corner kites, I used the outline drawing in the book and added 1/4" to it all the way around.

Miscellaneous:

I experimented with special foundation piecing paper and tracing paper but in the end I just used regular paper from my printer. I set my stitch length quite small to make it easier to remove the paper after stitching. Most of the time I gently pulled the paper out, towards the end I found out that if you spray the paper with a fine mist of water and leave it for a couple of minutes the paper will pull away without distorting the stitching, any tiny pieces will flick off once they are dry.  A pair of tweezers was helpful in picking out small pieces of paper.

I pulled apart my Dear Jane book and put each page in a plastic cover in a ring binder, by doing this I just needed to take out the page I was working from .  I know that other quilters have had the Dear Jane book spiral bound.  Once I had made a block I put it with the relevant page in it's plastic cover.

Some Useful Links I have found:

Dear Jane

That Quilt

Minka's Studio