Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dear Jane,

Dear Jane,

I'm not really sure when I first saw your quilt. Possibly it was last year, in one of my quilting classes? It wasn't the focus of anything and kind of snuck itself into the conversation. I didn't understand at the time why so many people were so intrigued by your sampler. I think it was your signature, more than anything, that stuck with me: "In Wartime." Whatever the case, your quilt has stuck with me somehow and refuses to leave, and I find myself feeling a little obsessed about it.

So for my birthday (which is the same as yours!) I bought Brenda's book, just to get "a closer look" at your quilt. Oh my. It sure is lovely, and very intriguing. How did you decide on all of those patterns? How long did it take you to make it? It must've been ages. Then again, your signature suggests that you were looking for a distraction, something to fill the time while the country was at war and you were at home.

It looks so challenging, all those little pieces. And every block is different! And you even used different fabrics for each block! And you did it all by hand! What can that possibly feel like? And what does it feel like to finish something like that?!? I must know.

So I've decided to make my own version of your quilt. And I'm going to try to piece it by hand. I've never pieced anything by hand, so this will be an experience. And I've never done hand-appliqué, so that will be an experience as well. I've already purchase two six-yard cuts of white Kona cotton from here for the background. I decided that I'm going to use 1930s replica fabrics for my focus prints because, no offense, the Civil War replicas are just a little too drab for my taste. I'm making this in the "manner of Jane," not *exactly* like yours. So I've purchase one 35 pack of 10" squares and one 50 pack of 5" charm squares in 1930s replica prints from here. That's enough to get me started, I figure. I've also decided to free myself to use each focus fabric more than once, though I don't plan on using more than one focus fabric in each square--or triangle.

On Sunday I spent a couple of hours cutting out the first 12 squares I plan on doing. In which order did you do yours? I started by looking at the first row, row A in Brenda's book, and just writing down the numbers of the squares I felt confident enough to start with. I cannot follow your colors exactly because 1) it's hard to judge precise colors in a lot of the photographs, and 2) 1930s fabrics do not directly correspond with colors in Civil War reproductions, but I am trying to keep the pink squares pink and the yellow squares yellow. I don't want to lose that wonderful diamond pattern in the center of the quilt!

Last night I pieced my first block! A6. I did it all by hand, too! It wasn't as hard as I'd thought it would be. Actually, I think the block turned out really well. Look all these tiny stitches I took!

Pretty good for a beginner, eh? All of my points match up perfectly! How pleasing. I was very happy with this block until I pressed and measured it. It's a full 1/4" too small! Bummer. I am not going to redo it, though. It took me three hours to get that far! I'll just chalk it up to a learning experience and will be more careful to account for that "smidgeon" on future blocks.

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