A Busy Year

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost a year since my last post. Although I have been inactive here I have been busy in my studio.

For more than two years I have been working on a replica of Jane Stickle’s 1863 sampler quilt, aptly named Dear Jane by Brenda Papadakis, who painstakingly drafted all the patterns for the many blocks that make up this amazing quilt. I found the software package that Brenda and The Electric Quilt Company co-produced so I thought I would take up the challenge. And what a challenge is was. I made my first block on the 5th of October 2014 and completed the last one on 1st of December 2016.

I started the task with gusto but after a while the size of the project became a little overwhelming and my enthusiasm waned. Other projects presented themselves and my Dear Jane block making slowed to a stop.

Then I was introduced to Emma Rogan’s 100 Days Project – doing something creative every day for 100 days. Www.100daysproject.co.nz choose 2016 then search using ‘Dear Jane’ to view my project. This was just what I needed to get my Dear Jane back on track. I had completed 69 of the centre blocks and there were 100 to go (purely coincidental). It was a no brainer, I had to do it.

There were days when it was easy to complete a block and post it online, then others when it was more difficult. Trips away needed to be well planned with materials and tools packed to complete my blocks in motel rooms or waiting while travelling. It became exciting and fun to complete the challenge within the challenge!

The centre blocks took anywhere from half an hour to 3 hours to make. Some are pieced by hand others by machine. All the appliqué was done by hand. The centre blocks are 4 1/2″ square finished.

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Joining, sashing, positioning border triangles and kites, scalloped border, then sandwiching, quilting and binding took a further 5 months.

I learnt so much while completing this quilt. I realised early on that I needed to learn tradition skills rather than relying on my self taught techniques if I wanted to create a quilt that I could be proud of. I registered for Katrina Hadjimichael’s ‘Ashbourne Mill’ workshop at 2015 Symposium in Palmerston North to learn how to foundation piece. These skills proved invaluable for Dear Jane. The final scalloped border and the binding cut on the bias were also new skills to master.

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My plan was to exhibit my Dear Jane in the 2017 Christchurch Quilt Symposium. Imagine my dismay when I read the conditions of entry:

The entry must be the maker’s own work including the design, piecing, quilting & binding.

I emailed the committee and the reply was “have you changed the block placement or made it your own in any way?” – that’s not what a replica is about. I wanted my quilt to be as near as it could be (using fabrics from my stash), to Jane’s original wonderful design. Their suggestion was to submit it anyway and let the judges decide.

I chose to keep my non refundable entry fee. Why would I exhibit my replica alongside original designs? I understand that the committee has the right to decide on the criteria for their exhibition categories, so with a pang of disappointment I chalked it up to experience. I will exhibit it in another show.

Please leave me a comment if you have had a similar experience or if you too have created your own Jane Stickle Quilt.

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