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What do you think makes Dear Jane such a fascinating quilt? What in particular attracts us to it?

I have my own theory about why it's so attractive, but of course it’s probably cultural. It is often said Spaniards are a people proud of their poverty, extremely dignified no matter how harsh their lives can be. I somehow find it a very "poor" quilt, in the sense that it shows very well that it was made in times of harshness or poverty ... the war. All the scraps, the tiny little blocks, ... and yet it reflects the love for something done with care and it somehow reaches over the hardship and looks colorful. It somehow conveys hope for better times to come. To me, it very well represents a woman trying to overcome difficult times, and that draws my deepest respect for her. I am also a perfectionist, and the trouble Jane goes over sometimes just to add a little square in a corner is stunning. Behind this work is a lady who appreciates the value of detail and who knows a touch of color here and there might seem insignificant by itself, but in the end will add up to a magnificent result. Just like life, the small details are what make the turnover of our days, our months, our years, valuable.

There might also be a remembrance of a universal myth in it all. These ancient stories that seem to appeal to all humanity. When I look at it, the story of Penelope and Ulysses comes to my mind, ... him abroad at war and she doing needle work during the day and undoing all she had sewn during the night because she knows she has to keep herself busy with something or otherwise she will go crazy out of the craving for her husband. Maybe Jane felt that way too and had to work on something extremely slow while she hoped the war would end soon.

It is misterious, because one could admire it and yet not feel the urge to copy it ... and here we are, all of us, going nuts trying to piece one for ourselves. It’s not scraps that we’re piecing here, its hope and love.

What do you think it is that makes it so attractive? I would love to hear your stories ... while we all wait for our fabrics to arrive!

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Replies to This Discussion

I wish I could figure it out. I have worked on mine, put it away, pull it out, work some more, put it away, etc. etc. And every time I start working on it again, I am totally amazed at the blocks, the color, the age of the quilt, just everything about it. I've even considered making another one, when my first on is finished. Why on earth would I want to do that? I usually never make a quilt twice. Boring! But, there is nothing boring about this quilt. I often wonder where Jane got her fabric. Did she work as a seamstress and have little bits and pieces left over from sewing ladies garments? Was her friend, cousin, aunt, a seamstress? How lucky she was to have fabric. Since I am from the South, I know that the Southerners had very little resources for fabric. The trade routes from the North had been cut off, and they had no way of getting fabric. They began to weave their own fabric (the homespuns) but the quality was poor. Wonder, wonder, wonder,I guess we'll never know.

What a beautifully written piece Carmen.

Why am I fascinated by Dear Jane?  Well, certainly because of the challenge it represents and the challenging times it brings to mind when you see the original.  It is unique, something so unusual in this era of mass production.  When I first saw it, I thought to myself, "if that woman, alone on a farm during the Civil War, with limited resources of money, fabrics, electricity, and no modern cutting instruments, can make something this beautiful, then I'd better try!"  

I very much appreciate your contribution, Anne. Thank you.

Your thoughts comparing Jane's conditions and our own have embarrased me quite a bit LOL. So ... maybe 3 years later, I should get back to it. It is just a quilt I dont want to rush through or make without sense.

Thanks for the encouragement your words have brought to me.

I love what you have written, Carmen.   I think Jane must have had an active, inquisitive mind, going on to each next block, wondering how she could make it different and special.    I also think she must have needed each one to be different in order to sustain her interest in the project.   I am making this quilt because I love how each little block looks - and want to then do the next one to see how that will look.  I wonder if there are any other quilts attributed to Jane?  I have not received the book yet, so perhaps some of the questions I have will be answered, once I read more about her.   Perhaps, as you have suggested, she did one block each day to help the days/nights pass while she waited for a loved one to return?   

I think you're right, she must have been a very creative person. There are many traditional blocks she didn't include in her quilt. To me it looks as though she was investigating and experimenting new desings and techniques. As if she was following Beethoven's advice: "Don't only practice your art, but force yourself into its secrets".


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