Dear Diary - It's been awhile since I've worked on my Dear Jane blocks. There have always been times when I couldn't seem to get a handle on making blocks for months or even a year. For the past few years though I've had a simple goal of making at least one block per month. If I get busy, then I don't feel too bad about neglecting it. I'm still making progress (albeit small progress) and it's easier to pick it up again if it's not shoved in a drawer or box somewhere for years at a time. Every now and then, just to get motivated, I take out my blocks, look at how much work I've already put into this project and ask myself - how important is the goal of finishing this quilt? The answer is always: Yes, it's still important and I commit to finishing more blocks by a certain time frame. If I keep the blocks, tools and book accessible I am more likely to work on them.
Bear with me here - I like to write about this again and again not only to keep a record for myself ( no, I am not keeping a Dear Jane journal. This is it.) but because I know that some of you who are reading this and may have started your own quilt but perhaps put it aside or hit a bump in the road and feel discouraged will take heart. It does not happen overnight for most of us. What motivates me is to look at my blocks, take out the book and play around with some fabric. Then, make a plan to just sit down and make another block. Making one of the simpler blocks can really get me going again. If it's a more difficult block it can take me hours. There's often a rush when I complete one of those. But, usually, what happens is that I get interrupted in the middle and because it's never easy to get back to it, it takes me several days to finish, so I do a little at a time. I would love to spend days and weeks sewing the blocks all day long but that's not practical for me and it never happens. At times this journey is not easy. For any of us. Yet, for some reason we still persist. It makes me feel good to know that I have not given up and I pat myself on the back every time I finish one, even if it's not perfectly stitched.
Here's my story - I began my Dear Jane journey in 2010 with one block. An easy one. Then a few more simple ones after that. I was on a roll! I printed out all of the tips from Brenda's Dear Jane website and put them into a binder for reference.
That year, 2010, life happened. It was not a good year for me but somehow I still managed to complete 25 blocks by the end of it. There were times I didn't work on my blocks for months. A few more blocks were finished in 2011 and a few more during the next couple of years as well. It wasn't completely forgotten but there were plenty of other things going on pulling me in different directions for awhile. This happens and you have to "manually" pull yourself back into it eventually.
2014 was a turning point. At the end of 2013, I challenged my Yahoo small quilt group to pick up an unfinished project and complete it. Not sure what I should work on myself, I finally decided to jump back in and tackle the Mother of my unfinished projects and discovered that were others in the group who felt the same about finishing or beginning their own Dear Jane quilts. I started a Dear Jane Yahoo group to motivate myself and others to keep going and - get this - went on to complete 30 blocks (with a little help and motivation from my friends). Great move. Watching Marian, Jeanne and others take off like race horses was exactly the encouragement I needed. That year, I traveled to Vermont to see the original quilt up close. My motivation stayed strong after that.
Progress! By the beginning of 2015 I had made 85 blocks (out of 169). Not a huge amount considering I'd been working on it for five years, but, hey, at least I was still going. I mastered paper piecing and went on to make another 58 blocks during 2015. Only 12 blocks were finished this year but I made quilts for and wrote a new book so that's my excuse. Can't do everything. I still managed to get one in there every now and then.
* * *Well, I'd like to say I'm back and raring to go but who knows what will come between me and my quilt next year? I'm still stuck at 155 blocks - 14 left for the center and then the triangles. My goal was to finish the center blocks this year. That did not happen, LOL. Here's what I wrote about my progress in October. There's a little motivation there if you're thinking about jumping in and beginning your own DJ quilt. I hope it encourages some of you. I need motivation right now and sometimes I get it from my Dear Jane friends online. You know who you are!
Our holiday celebrations are now over, the house is relatively clean (and quiet), the laundry is done, my husband and daughter are going to the movies today and I have a few hours to myself to gather my resources and implement a strategic DJ plan! Wish me luck. Hopefully more progress coming soon.