Sunday, November 30, 2008

My unconventional approach to making Dear Jane blocks.

I have a feeling that I am going to end up making a Baby Jane with the fewest number of pieces in history! Through trial and error I have discovered that my favorite method of constructing these tiny blocks is reverse needle turn applique.

I have two ways of doing it depending on how much white there is in the block. If there is lots of white I trace the pattern directly onto my 5 inch square of white on white fabric using a blue water soluble pen. I then pin the WOW on top of a five inch charm in my chosen colour. I put lots of tiny applique pins through the parts of the block that are going to remain white. Using sharp pointed applique scissors I cut away the white from the coloured sections leaving a scant quarter inch to turn under and applique in place. When the block is finished I simply spray the block with a little bit of water to erase the pen marks.

For blocks that are mainly not background fabric I trace my pattern onto the dull side of freezer paper. Using my sharp pointed scissors I carefully cut away the paper over the white parts of the block. After the freezer paper pattern has been pressed onto the coloured charm I pin the two fabrics together through the parts that will not remain white. I cut the coloured fabric out of the holes left in the paper leaving my scant quarter inch to turn under.

The variety in stitching techniques is really pleasurable. Sometimes I have the hard paper to push my needle against. But then I have the feeling of crumpling paper in my hands as I work the block.

I imagine that these blocks have a crisper finished look that goes with the crispness of the paper. And sometimes I have just the softness of the fabric in my hands. The patterns on these blocks have fuzzier edges. Evidence of the give of the fabric without the freezer paper holding it in place.

I feel some guilt that my finished quilt will not have been pieced in the manner of Jane Stickle. I won't have cut and pieced thousands of tiny pieces into my blocks. But I will have spent the hundreds of hours, sitting quietly with my needle and thread as I stitch block after block.

1 comment:

RobinE said...

You should feel no guilt about whatever way you choose to do the blocks! It's your quilt, after all. :) When I started, I didn't even really know how to do reverse applique, but now I'm a huge fan-- so I can definitely understand the beauty of your approach. I recently saw a quilt (not a Dear Jane, but similar in style, with lots of 4" blocks) in which all of the blocks were completed by reverse applique. It was gorgeous. I can't wait to start seeing your blocks! :)