Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

and a very Happy New year with lots of quilting for everyone!

My New Year's resolution will be to post more often! Enjoy the holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A learning experience!

I finished piecing my 168th block last night! I have only one inner block left to piece. I still have 20 blocks to quilt and bind before putting them all together but I can now relax and enjoy Christmas because I made my goal of piecing them all by the end of the year.

I have been quilting for a LONG time so when I learn something new I like to share it. I learned 3 very important things while working on these little gems.

1) when pressing the blocks (especially those with lots of tiny pieces) I sprayed the backs with a little water, then turned them over onto a thick cotton wash cloth and pressed them from the top with a pressing cloth (I used plain muslin). This avoids scorching and makes even the tiniest piece lie flat.

2) I learned to love my seam ripper. For years (and years) I voided ripping out seams. I was like a man who never turns around to go back once he has left the driveway. I would rather have thrown out the whole block than to rip out a seam. For some reason I felt compelled to save a block once I had put 30 or 40 pieces into it and I learned that if it didn't fit, I needed to "rip" it out and do it over!!!

3) Most importantly, I learned patience - or at least I learned to be more patient that I normally am.

This is the first quilt I have made in years that I did not design myself. As I pieced these blocks I began to feel a connection with Jane Stickle and also with Brenda Papadakis. If  a block wasn't going together properly, I simply fiddled with it until I was (relatively) happy with it. I thank Jane for making this quilt and I thank Brenda Papadakis and the thousands of others who have even attempted to make this quilt for sharing it with the rest of the world.

I'll keep you all posted on the pesky border pieces - Hope they will work in this pot holder method!

Monday, December 8, 2014

My crazy method

I have had a few questions in my last few posts as to the process of basting and quilting these little guys. First I trim the block to its desired size (in this case 5")

then I cut a piece of wool batting (split it in half for lower loft) and put the three layers together

then I press them (yes with an iron) together and baste them on the machine around the edge about an 1/8" from the edge. The loft of the wool pops back up after it is quilted and bounced around a bit. 

then I take two of them and baste them together along the edge of their backings

then I baste them onto muslin strips using the longest stitch on my machine (I think it about 5 stitches per inch) so it will come out easily after quilting.

and this is the what the back looks like - and then I quilt them in my 14" hoop.

 I will post a few binding tips as soon as I remember to take step by step photos! Hope this helps. Enjoy the day.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Today's progress in Christmas colors

Two more blocks about to pop out of the hoop. I am working furiously now to meet my goal. My husband is flying to Antigua tonight (I know it sounds like fun, but he will be working - really) so I have 5 free nights to concentrate on my little Jane's.

Who needs a white sand beach when you can be quilting - right?

Enjoy the day and hope you too get some quiet quilting time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I just might make it

When I started the absurd challenge to make a "Dear Jane" quilt in the pot holder method, I really didn't want it to take over my life. I started on August 1st and vowed I would finish all the 5" blocks by the end of the year. That way I could have the center done and take my time over the winter working on the triangle border blocks in between other projects. The beauty of a pot holder quilt is you can have a finished looking quilt and still add to it over the year! Anyway, it looks like I might meet my goal as I am on the next to the last row. I may not get all of them quilted and bound before the end of the year, after all we do have Christmas and working full time to contend with, but I should have all the blocks pieced. Here are the two I am working on today.

I am backing each block with the same fabric as the front and as you can see I have basted each 5" block to muslin to save fabric. I baste two together and then add the muslin which I use over and over again. I quilt all my quilts (even king sized) on my 1988 14" hoop.

I know I should be cleaning and decorating for Christmas, but we will have another Christmas next year and I only plan to make this quilt once. And... I have to keep it up because I am itching to start on the next three pot holder quilts whirling around in my head. Enjoy the day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

I know we all try to think of things we are thankful for at this time of year so I will put in my 2 cents.
I am thankful for my wonderful family and for the fact that they all now live close by.
I am thankful for my fantastic husband who support me in (almost) whatever I do.
I am thankful that I still have my mother and that we enjoy each other's company.
I am thankful for my friends - new and old.
I am thankful I can live in my home state of Maine and enjoy her seasons.
I am thankful I am healthy enough to quilt a little every day.
And yes, even after yesterday's rant about today's technology, I am happy to have the Internet to keep in touch with old friends and find new ones and to be able to find fabulous photos like this one of  my husband and I (hopefully) in 30 years!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Little progress and a Big conclusion

I'm only posting photos of my DJ progress so you won't be bored by my "conclusion" rant. I think I have always known it, but it seems more evident each year that I was born in the wrong century. I just can't wrap my head around all this technology. After enjoying so many wonderful Blogs over the past 4 years, I finally decided to take the plunge and start my own. After deciding it wasn't so hard I thought I would join the millions of "smart" people and sign up for Facebook. ARGH! What was I thinking? At first it seemed fun, I found friends I hadn't seen since I was on the board of AQSG. Then I started getting friend requests. Thousands of them. This in itself wasn't the worst part - I couldn't figure out how to get back to my site!! Am I the only one left in the free world who doesn't own a "smart" phone and can't seem to get a grip on the overwhelming speed of technology? So, if you are one of those wonderful people I have finally found after all these years, please be patient while I try to understand the ways of social media. Thanks for listening. Here are a few shots of recent "Cooking with Jane" blocks.

Sorry for the poor quality. There isn't much light around here at 4:30 in the morning. I try to work a little every morning before I leave for work at 6:30.

I think I will take a walk at lunch time and remind myself how lucky I am to escape the spinning pace! Enjoy your day.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A special note

I truly believe that quilters are the best people on earth. I felt since I had now joined the thousands of others who have undertaken the joyful task of reproducing this quilt, that I should reach out to some of you. I started by going to the DJ Website and tried to order the pin so I could be instantly noticed by other Janiacs when attending shows, etc. Well, long story short... I tried without success to order it online so I e-mailed the website and got a wonderful note this morning from non other than Brenda Papadakis herself! How sweet is that? I can't believe I waited so long to "join up" and I look forward to meeting Brenda and her many, many followers soon. Here are the two I am finishing up today. 

Enjoy your quilting journey! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cooking with Jane

I try to name all my "potholder" quilts with a cooking theme (ie. No Bake Applique, A Baker's Nine, Pan Blackened Applique, etc.). This seems ironic since I hate to cook. So, I am calling this one "Cooking with Jane". I took a few photos of the blocks I have done so far. They look so neat and tidy in the box don't they!

I have hand quilted as many as I can, but some of the ones with tiny pieces I have machine quilted in the ditch before hand quilting the larger, more open parts. This little star is machine quilted in the tiny center and then hand quilted around it.

Jane's original quilt has varied widths of sashing, but it seems that most "Baby Janes" have used a 1/2" to 3/8" sashing. My blocks finish 5" with the 1/4" binding so when they are all whip stitched together it will appear that they have a 1/2" sashing in each row. 

I think my favorite part of making these potholder quilts is playing with all the finished blocks. I will pieced these together in the same order as Jane did, but it is fun to play with different layouts! Sorry this next one is a bit blurry.

Here are a few of the back of the blocks, you can see the binding better.

And here are a few that need still need to be stitched. Since there are a lot of bindings in a potholder quilt, it is imperative that your binding corners come to a nice sharp point, otherwise when you join them together you will have a gap at the intersections. Of course one way to deal with bad corners is to stick a yo-yo or button at each intersection, and yes, I have done that before! 

It's like eating peanuts, one just leads to another! Hope I have inspired you to give it a try!

Monday, November 17, 2014

O.K., I'm in!

I first saw Jane Stickle’s incredible quilt in 1988 while visiting Vermont. I was amazed (as is most everyone who has ever seen it) at its beauty and charm. Although I knew nothing about Jane Stickle at the time, I felt an instant connection with her as I studied the patterns and layout of this special quilt. So, as with most of my quiltmaking promises, I put off starting the monumental task of trying to draft this beauty. Then when Brenda Papadakis’ wonderful book “Dear Jane”, came out, I thought, wow, here’s my chance. But of course once again, I hesitated and the world exploded with Baby Jane’s everywhere. Not being one to jump on any bandwagon, I once again let my thoughts of making this quilt drift away.

Then, while visiting the infamous Pam Weeks (AKA potholder Pam) and Laura Lane (Collections Manager at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA) at Maine Quilts 2014 in July, she challenged us to make a Baby Jane in the potholder method. Both Pam and Laura were working on potholder blocks at the time and something came over me and I said yes!

I decided to make the blocks in the order in Brenda’s book for fear if I varied from the order, I would never finish them. I started on August 1st and I hope to have most of the 5” blocks (mine will measure 5” finished with binding) done by the end of the year and then I will work on the cone border pieces over the winter. I think the cone shape will be a bit of a challenge when whipping them together, but I’ll keep you posted.

 Here are the two I am currently working on. I am trying to match the fabrics Jane used as close as I can. Each block has the same backing fabric as the front, so the back of this quilt will be interesting as well (as most potholder quilts are!).

As you can see by the photo, when I am hand quilting the blocks I baste the blocks to muslin to fit into my 14” hoop so that I don’t waste any of the backing fabric. And I re-use the muslin over and over.

I love the format of Brenda’s book and her sweet letters to Jane. I feel another strong connection to Brenda because of her wonderful letters to this special woman. Brenda did a fantastic job of drafting these blocks (from a photograph, I might add) but I have re-drafted many of the blocks to suit my way of quiltmaking. Mostly because I am lazy and would rather applique any day over piecing so, I have adapted many of the “pieced” blocks to accommodate my preference to applique.

I will try to update my progress here as often as I can. I don’t like to take too much time away from quilting!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Potholder Post part 2

Hmm.. Potholder post sounds like something you should be eating for breakfast, but at any rate here are a few photos of Ann Morin's c1940 potholder quilt as promised.

and the back

and a close up

I love seeing early 20th century potholder quilts. It gives me hope that we will be able to carry on this traditional and (did I mention) "fun" method of quiltmaking!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Potholder quilts revisited

A few weeks ago my friend Cyndi and I went to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Mass. for a quilt study meeting and wonderful viewing of the Rhode Island quilts in the main gallery. Here are two of the quilts that were brought to the study meeting. The first is a quilt put together by Pam (AKA Pothloder Pam) Weeks, curator at the museum. I believe she began collecting blocks for the quilt in 2008 and has now completed it. Isn't it great?!!! I don't know exactly how many people made blocks but I know Pam would be happy to take any and all questions about any potholder quilt. She is an expert on this method and is constantly on the search for quilts made in the potholder method.

this is my block - love those Lancaster colors!

This is my friend Cyndi's block - LOVE that fabric and that pattern!

This is Anita Loscalzo's block and I LOVE these fabrics too. O.K. I love them all!

I'll post Ann Morin's 1940's potholder next time. Hope I can encourage you to try this method!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival

I'm going to try to link up with the Blogger's Quilt Festival because it sounds like fun! I chose this quilt as it is one of my favorites. I made it in 2005 - yikes that is nearly 10 years ago! I wanted to make a quilt that celebrated my Maine heritage as well as the English side of my family. My mother's family moved to Nova Scotia from England in the 19th century. My father's Maine roots are extremely deep. So I designed the center of the quilt to look like an early 19th century English quilt and made the shape of the quilt to mimic early quilts Maine with the cutout corners to fit a four poster bed. This was a very popular shape in Maine that continues through the 20th century, especially in the island communities. It is difficult to see the cutouts in this photo, as it was taken in our boatshop which is always full of junk!

I use wool batting most of the time, but this one is with a cotton batting because I wanted a "flatter" look. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vintage fun

I like to use vintage images and vintage linens in my quilts from time to time. This first one is one that I made for the New England Quilt Museum's 25th (Silver) anniversary. Not being one for standard "bling", when I hear the word silver, I think of my childhood pal Silver and his buddy, the Lone Ranger. I printed a 1987 quarter (not easy to find!) for the year the museum opened, and used them in the center of each star. Then I took vintage cowboy feedsack prints and hand appliqued the stars. It was really fun to make.

This one is one I made for my niece's new baby using a vintage linen that was soiled on one end so I felt o.k. cutting it up. I don't like to cut into any vintage piece that doesn't have some area of damage, as I like to keep them as what they were intended to be used for. I used reproduction fabrics for the little squares in this one.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pot Holder Charm

I was so inspired by Kathie's (Inspired by Antique Quilts) recent posts of her fabulous charm quilt that I wanted to share a few of mine with you. I made the first two last Fall while recovering from surgery. Hence, I called this first one "My Charming Recovery". It has 3,072 different reproduction prints (1 1/2" finished squares) in it. The blocks are 12", quilted and bound and then whipped together.

The back is fun too with hand appliqued circles in the centers.

Her's a close up of the back

And this one has 2,940 different fabrics and is made up of 1" finished squares in 10" blocks.

the back has different conversational reproductions

People ask me where I get my fabrics. I buy 99.99 percent of my fabrics from the Busy Thimble in Litchfield, Maine. I am so fortunate to have such a fabulous shop only 35 minutes from my house, but I am even more fortunate to have Cyndi for a friend. She is such an inspiration!!! If you ever come close to Litchfield, I highly recommend a visit. In 1999 I started cutting a 5" strip from each fabric I brought home. I now have over 3,700 different fabrics in boxes waiting for more charm quilts. (We won't discuss how many I have which date earlier than that). I also have over 1500 different vintage feedsack prints from which this quilt was made.

It is fun to get into the charm quilt spirit. I hope Kathie has inspired you to start cutting up your collection too! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Honorable Mention at AQS Des Moines

I couldn't believe it! I got a call last night saying my "No Bake Applique" had won honorable mention at AQS show in Des Moines. I have won other awards at AQS shows but no one seems to understand the pot holder concept so I am hopeful that we may start a new trend here. This isn't a great photo but thought you might like to see the back of this as it is made up of 77 different chintz fabrics. As with some of my other pot holder quilts, I like the back almost as much as the front.

and another close up

Hope I can inspire you to try this intriguing method!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cowboy Quilter?

I was going to name my blog Cowboy Quilter after my passion for horses, westerns and colorful cowboy fabrics. But since they are just a small part of what I make I thought Constant Quilter fit me better. I have an extensive collection of vintage cowboy fabrics and feedsacks. This is my favorite quilt made from some of my collection. It is a tribute to my childhood friend Trigger and his pal Roy.

This one has nothing to do with cowboys, but you can't think of Texas without thinking of them. I made this for my cousin's wedding last week. She works for Texas A&M and has lots of red in her kitchen.

Cyndi and I are off to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell tomorrow to see the RI quilts. Hope to post some great photos.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Sorry, Pam's paper was published in the 2010 (not 2011) Uncoverings. My how time flies! But I recommend all Uncoverings to anyone interested in quilt history. 

Here is a photo of my latest pot holder quilt, "Pan Blackened Applique". This one will be at A Quilter' Gathering IN Manchester, NH the first weekend in November. Love that show!

I like to make the backs interesting too.

Here's a close up. The corners on the scallops were tricky but I love the outcome.

I try to make some sort of cooking reference in their titles. Ironic that I like the pot holder method so much since I hate to cook! I am on my 12 pot holder now. Some nut who shall remain nameless (Pam Weeks) challenged me to make a Dear Jane in the pot holder method and my dear friend Cyndi enabled me by finding me the perfect background fabric so... I have 52 blocks done so far. Photos to follow.