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A Stunning Bucket-List Quilt

Do you have a bucket list? Tom and I have a bucket list of places to which we would like to travel -- the Czech Republic, Alaska, Maine, San Diego, and central Oregon. We hope to start checking some of those destinations off our list in the next few years. None of you who regularly read this blog will be surprised that I have a bucket list quilt. I have been collecting fabrics for it for the last few years and have even made around 15 of the blocks. With 15 blocks completed you might think that the quilt is almost finished. Well.....far from it. Let me explain.

Several years ago I discovered the Dear Jane quilt. I can't remember for sure how that came about, but I began my fascination with this particular quilt by purchasing a book compiled by Brenda Manges Papadakis entitled Dear Jane: The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt. Yes, it says 225 patterns! Now you know why my 15 completed blocks is only a drop in the bucket of my bucket list quilt.

The original Dear Jane quilt is comprised of 169 square blocks and 52 triangular blocks. The square blocks make up the center of the quilt with 13 rows of 13 blocks. The triangular blocks alternate with solid triangles to form a scalloped border. I have seen finished quilts that used all 225 blocks and others that use just some of the blocks. Smaller versions are generally dubbed Baby Jane quilts.

In our travels to different quilt shops around the mid-west, I discovered a couple of rulers to square the finished blocks so that they would be exactly the right size. One ruler to square the 4 ½” blocks and one to square the triangle blocks. Just what I needed -- two more rulers!! But truthfully….anyone serious about making a Dear Jane quilt should surely have two rulers to help in that endeavor.

The Papadakis book includes outline drawings of each of the 225 blocks as well as a photo of the finished block. There are, however, no directions on construction. After doing some research on the Internet, I came across instructions for each block on and and printed off over 100 pages so that I could learn how to make the blocks in this quilt. Some blocks even included up to three ways to make each one.

While the instructions that I found on the internet proved to be helpful, I was not completely satisfied with the results. I would spend 3-4 hours constructing one block and some would turn out fine while others would not. Given the multitude of other projects on which I have been working the few years -- my own and for customers -- and my frustration with the instructions, I haven't spent much time lately on this particular project. This spring, however, I discovered a computer design program from The Electric Quilt Company -- Quilt Design Software Inspired by The 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt -- that was relatively inexpensive.

The program includes a great deal of historical background on the quilt including information on the quilt’s current home at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont. (Sounds like another stop on our bucket list of destinations!) I am most excited, though, about the easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions on the construction of each block. I would like to be able to set aside a little time each week to work on one block. At that rate I'll have this quilt completed in about 4 1/2 years!

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