Hand piecing Dear Jane blocks

My method of hand piecing Dear Jane blocks

When I decided I was going to make myself a Dear Jane quilt I decided it was going to be a hand piecing and hand quilting project.  

I ordered all the Dear Jane supplies from the Dear Jane website

I find the website to be a valuable source of information and well worth visiting from time to time.

I ordered a bag - because we all need bags.
-The Dear Jane book
-The Dear Jane CD
-Two packages freezer paper sheets for the printer - and I have since ordered more from the website.
-Both the Dear Jane rulers -- but I really don't use the rulers.

The other equipment I  use is -
-A small Omnigrid ruler for drawing 1/4 inch lines on the fabric and for cutting with the rotary cutter
-A mechanic pencil for the lines
-A small mat to hold the fabric while drawing lines and cutting mat and rotary cutter.
-Small portable iron for the seams
-All my needles and threads that I use - I have developed preferences over the years.

I use the CD with the printer to print off the Dear Jane block patterns  - I just print them off as a block with the outline drawings only - not the foundation pieced patterns or the blocks with colours or fabric.

With some blocks there are slight difference between the blocks that are in the book and the blocks that are in the CD.  There are options for alternate construction methods and "Brenda's patterns" are at times an updated or different version than the blocks in the book.  So you can chose which block  you prefer to print.  I use a quilt that is already in the Project Wizard -- start with a pre-designed Jane and then load the Classic Jane.

I also set the printer page settings so that the top margin is 0.25 and the bottom margin is 6.25.  That way you can turn the paper the other way around and print two blocks on one piece of paper.  I also print the blocks with the block name -- there is enough paper to do that and it saves me from writing it out - just cut it out and add it to the baggie.

When choosing to print the block - click on "size from quilt"  the centre blocks will always print out at 4.50 all the other triangles and kite blocks will also print out at 4.50 unless "size from quilt" is highlighted.

Once I have printed out the block I will use the book to mark information regarding piece placements and colour placement.  As you can compare the two blocks - the top from the CD and the bottom from the book there is a slight difference in the design of the two blocks. The book's author had redesigned some of the blocks to be more accurate to the quilt after the book was published so these new blocks are on the CD. In this block I chose to print the one that was more accurate to the block in the quilt.

I have discovered with some blocks there are definite ways in which pieces need to be put together - some triangles or reverse pieces - or top and bottom pieces may be just slightly different in sizes and  if you discover this too late - later block construction a problem - better to label pieces first.

As well I label the pieces that will have the muslin fabric with a "W" and for pieces that are the coloured fabric I mark with a "C".

After marking the blocks with the information I feel I need I cut the block in to pieces along the lines.  The small pieces are all finished size pieces and 1/4 inch seams will need to be added later. 

Using the book I chose the fabric I am going to use and put each block - fabric and pieces and the name of the block are put in a baggie.  VERY IMPORTANT - put the name of the block in the baggie because once these blocks are cut up you will never know what block they are unless you have the name. 

I find that it works really well to work with the book in conjunction with the CD.  At this point I make up a bunch of little baggies and I can use the book later to help with the assembly of a little baggie of pieces.  If I didn't have the book I would have to go back into the CD to see what the block should look like when together.   And it could be months later when I get around to sewing the block together.

The next step is ironing the freezer paper pattern pieces on the fabric.  Remember to place the pieces on the wrong side of the fabric - except for needle turn applique pieces which are put on the right side of the fabric.  And give yourself enough room for 1/4 inch seams around each piece.  The pieces that are cut from the printed blocks are finished size pieces.  And triangles always have big long sides for the points - so it take a bit more fabric than  you may think. 

After the freezer paper pattern pieces are ironed on to the fabric I draw a pencil line around each piece - that pencil line becomes my sewing line.

I will also draw a cutting line around each piece using my small ruler I will draw a 1/4 inch seam line to cut the pieces.  Sometimes I will just just a small ruler and rotary cutter and cut the quarter inch seam without drawing the lines.  Depends on how curvy and complicated the pieces are.

So each block goes back into its own baggie with the name and id number from the book.  At this point they are ready to be hand stitch together.  This could occurs weeks - months - years down the road!  So it is very important to have the block name in the baggie and use the book to assemble to blocks for stitching when ready to put the block together. 

I have a little folder that I made a number of years ago.  It has a piece of flannel on the inside to hold the pieces in place and it is like a book with a front and back cover.  So once it is closed the pieces stay in place.  It has a little flap with a button to hold it shut and a little handle for carrying. 

It holds the blocks and pieces in place really well.  I find it's good to be able to lay the block out and keep it in place for a number of days - weeks - months - as I am slow! 

I lay the block on the flannel with the seam sides up and stitch the blocks together in an order I see that will work the best for each block.  The blocks have so many seams the the unfinshed block can be 4 times the size of the finished block.

Once the block is finished and nicely ironed I will scan the block and put the letter and number of the block on a back seam in permanent ink.

That's my method.


Anonymous said...

Thank you!!! Getting to see your approach is such an encouragement to me. Thank you for taking the time to share this. TJ

Susie Hollams said...

Hi Pam I haven't started my Dear Jane yet but I wanted to make it by hand. Excuse my ignorance but do you use freezer paper to stabilise it or for for some other reason. Is it like American piecing not using papers?
Cheers from
Perth, Australia

Pam said...

Hi Susan. You are set to "no reply blogger" so I can email you an answer. You can put your email address in your profile so you can get email replies to blogs. That makes it easier for a bit of back and forth communication.

I use the freezer paper primarily for the pattern piece. I take the freezer paper off to sew the pieces together. You need some way to copy the pattern shape from the book to the fabric. You could make little plastic or cardboard templates. But you would have a million of those to make. So I find it easiest to use freezer paper and I print the blocks from the cd on to the freezer paper.

Pam said...

Hmmm. That should be I Can Not email you an answer.

Lois Ryan said...

Hello Pam, I have recently begun my DJ journey and I am finding hand piecing much more relaxing than using the sewing machine. I am looking at A-12 and I'm wondering how you went about doing this block by hand. I don't want to do foundation paper piecing on the machine as the seams end up very bulky.
My email is lois.ryan@me.com if you require it.
Lois from Australia

shannon miller said...

I'm so glad I found your blog! I have wanted to make a dear jane quilt for about 10-12 years now, but as a mother of triplets plus one more, I could not find the time. They're all a little older now, so I am finally beginning my dj. I am hand piecing, as I like the convenience of being able to work on it anywhere and anytime. Is there a particular thread you have found that you prefer? If you need my email, it is littledixiegirl01@gmail.com....I don't think I'm set to 'no reply blogger'.....thanks for sharing your knowledge!!