Friday, October 8, 2010

Crazy about Jane, Nearly Insane, and Just Plain Nuts

We're still crazy about two formidable sampler quilts: the 1863 quilt by Jane A. Blakely Stickle, and the 1870's quilt by Salinda W. Rupp. We admire the modern-day quilters who have tackled these epic works, while managing to retain (or regain) their sanity !

The Jane A. Stickle quilt was, of course, made famous by Brenda Papadakis, who coined the term Dear Jane® and chronicled each of its 225 blocks. In a previous article called Crazy About Jane we featured some gorgeous name-appropriate quilts, including "Dear Jane's a Pain", "No Pain - No Jane", and "My Insanity".

The Salinda W. Rupp quilt was brought to light by Liz Lois, who named it Nearly Insane. The Salinda quilt has 'only' 93 six-inch blocks, but the finished quilt has over 5,500 pieces, making it every bit as onerous as Jane Stickle's quilt.

Hold on to your hat while we move from "Crazy About Jane" to "Nearly Insane", to "Just Plain Nuts".

Facets: Rubies, Emeralds, and Sapphires, by Marcie Thompson, at The Blue Cat Creations

We've been admiring "Facets" for a long time.  Marcie Thompson finished piecing the quilt in just under a year; that's more than one block every two days. You can read her story on the Facets page at the Blue Cat Creations. Marcie's quilts are show-stoppers; while you are visiting her site, check out her Conway Album and Calico Garden quilt pages.

Jeepers... It's Jane, by Beth Schillig, at Beth

"Jeepers.....It's Jane!" won the Viewer's Choice award at the National Quilting Association 2009 show, and a full page article was done on it in the Quilting Quarterly magazine. The quilt also won an award for "Best Interpretation of a Theme" at the 2009 Pacific International Quilt Festival.  Jeepers, along with Beth Schillig's "Sunset Serenade", have been accepted in the Houston International Quilt Show next month ... if you are going to the show, you can see the quilts in person !   For more inspiration, visit Beth's online gallery.

Jane, Past and Present, by Lesley Thomas, at Quilts in Ireland

Lesley Thomas made her gorgeous "Jane, Past and Present" with batiks, set in Kona natural cotton as a background, with a trip-around-the-world design. The quilt was made in 6 months, 22 days.  It is also hand quilted !  Lesley writes: "These little blocks (4-1/2 inch finished) really took me over, and I couldn't stop making them, so I ran ahead of the schedule and just kept going." You can read a compete description of the quilt at the Quilting Board; and visit Lesley's website at Quilts in Ireland.

In The Pink (formerly known as Dear Jane at Sea), by Bonnie Hunter, at Quiltville

Many quilters have admired "In The Pink", and we couldn't resist showing it here.  Who would have thought that storm-at-sea sashing would so beautifully complement the blocks?  Read about the quilt on Bonnie Hunter's In The Pink page, and check out the photo of her hand quilting at her September 20, 2010 post; also see Bonnie's completed baby Jane, done in the traditional style.

A Baby Jane Quilt, 2009, by the Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild

Over seventy-five members of the Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild created their own baby Jane for their 2009 opportunity quilt. In this dazzler, 104 medium and large DJ blocks are combined in alternating square sets of 4 and 9 blocks. The center of the quilt surrounded by a continuous border of 68 small blocks, for a grand total of 172.

The City Quilter and Empire Quilters, Inc.: New York City is the center of Janiac-tivity in North America. Over the years, Judy Doenias and Diane Rode Schneck have taught hundreds of students at The City Quilter's Dear Jane classroom.  We showed Judy and Diane's Technicolor Jane, along with the Empire Quilters' Broadway Jane raffle quilt, in Crazy About Jane. Also check out Kitschen Jane by Amy Ronis, and Purple Jane by Debra Levin, which were in the City Quilters' 2009 special exhibition, and Dear Jane Goes to Japan, by Leila Lieberman, at the Urban Inspirations 2007 show. At the Empire Quilters site you can see two completed 225-block DJ's by twin sisters, Barbara Feinstein and Emily Klainberg. Here are two more innovative quilts by guild members:

Janeway, 51 x 66, by Pamela Leonard Wexler, at the Empire Quilters 2009 show

This is Pamela Leonard Wexler's second Dear Jane-inspired quilt.  The center of the quilt was adapted from Mabeth Oxenrider*. Also see Pamela's delightful Jane Plays with Dolls and Jane and Hannah on the Savannah.  You can read about Pamela Leonard Wexler on the November 2004 Quilter-of-the-Month page.

Blue Sky and Sunshine, 62 x 69, by Anna Krassy, at Empire Quilters 2009 show

This striking quilt won a 2nd Prize ribbon at the 2009 Urban Inspirations Show. Anna writes that she took the "Awash With Color" and "Dear Jane" classes at The City Quilter, and combined the two into one quilt.  See more quilts by Anna Krassy on the April 2006 Quilter-of-the-Month page

Nearly Insane, by Liz Lois, at Nearly

Some years ago, Liz Lois purchased an out-of-print book at a garage sale. The book had a picture of an 1870's sampler quilt made by Salinda W. Rupp from Pennsylvania.  Working only with the picture from the book, she reconstructed the blocks and pieced them into a faithful reproduction of the quilt. As Liz says: "Not only is this the title of the book, but it also describes how I felt after my three year journey to recreate the quilt, and "Nearly Insane" is what I called my quilt, too, when it was finally finished."  We love the warm color scheme, the dazzling blocks, and the little on-point squares that connect the blocks. Read all about Liz' masterpiece, and the book, at the Nearly Insane website (or is that the website for the nearly insane?)

Nearly Insane, by Hanne Schneider, at Hanne's Quilt Corner

Hanne Schneider inspires us with her creations from Norway, and her rendition of "Nearly Insane" is one of our favorites. The pretty red-and-white colorway gives the whole quilt a crisp look; the blocks really stand out from the snowy white background as a result of the value contrast.  Many of the blocks are incredibly detailed, as you can see from the NI block photos shown below. 

The block on the right is the one with 229 pieces; just look at the perfect piecing of the teensy triangles. At Hanne's Quilt Corner, you can also see her delightful Dear Jane Christmas Quilt .

Nearly Insane, block 75, by Pipers Girls

This complicated NI block has 181 pieces. We love Pipers Girls' dynamic fabric selections, and they always inspire us with their quilts. To read about this quilt and view more impressive blocks, see this Pipers Girls blog post and Flickr links within. Also check out Pipers Quilts and their great Etsy shop.

Just Plain Nuts, 68 x 68, by Liz Lois

For her second book, Just Plain Nuts, Liz designed 49 colorful blocks in the style of Salinda Rupp, and set them together in a new way. This quilt has about half as many blocks as the Salinda quilt, making it only half as insane ! The Just Plain Nuts book can be obtained from many of the sources listed on Nearly Insane, and online from Piecing the Past and Quilted Treasures.

More Nearly Insane quilters:  Nanayane at Nearly Insane in the Brain  has fondly named each of the NI blocks; we are partial to "catatonia" (block 21) and "delirium" (block 18). Also see the Nearly Insane Fans and Nearly Insane Quilts blogs, and a dozen finished NI quilts by the "Salinda Girls" at the Kilmore Quilters' Gallery (Australia).  Don't miss the incredible photos by Reiko at Reiko Quilt (Japan). And last but not least:  a Nearly Insane quilt, named Bewitched, Bothered and Bewindered, won First Place in the "Pieced, Amateur" category at the 19th annual IHQS show.  This raises two questions: if you complete a Nearly Insane quilt, can you still qualify as an amateur? And, what is the meaning of "bewindered" ?

Quilts we have been closely following, in the spirit of insanity :  Here are some magnificent baby Jane quilts in various stages of completion:
Image credits: Quilt images are shown with the generous permission of the artists and the Empire Quilters Guild. Dear Jane® is the registered trademark of Brenda Papadakis and is used with permission.
Footnote:  *See "Trail Mix" by Mabeth Oxenreider at American Patchwork and Quilting.


  1. I haven't touched my 2nd Dear Jane in several months but I promise I will get back to it soon - only the border is left to piece. You have given me more links to go look at!
    (I have both of Liz Lois's books and they are on my to do list one day :) )

  2. Glenna, thanks for visiting and for your kind comment !

  3. Karen, we've been enjoying looking at all your completed rows... it is turning out so beautifully. Thanks for continuing to inspire us.

  4. More inspiration for me, there are some truly beautiful Dear Jane quilts there, it will keep me busy for a while checking them all out. I don't think that I will be trying a Nearly Insane quilt, there seems to be a lot of work in it. Thanks for linking me.

  5. Pip, your blue Dear Jane is going to be absolutely gorgeous. We are really enjoying following your blog !

  6. Beth Shillig's quilt is very similar to my Dear Jane, which won first place in Paducah in 2000.


  7. Linda, thank you so much for visiting and for providing us with the link to the award-winning quilt. The diamond block design and setting are fantastic ! Readers who are considering a Jane-inspired quilt should take a look at "Quilted Diamonds: Jane Austen, Jane Stickle and Friends" ( )

  8. Jeepers....It's Jane is stunning! No wonder it won.

  9. What intimidates me is deciding on a color scheme and getting enough fabric at the beginning to build one of these insane things. I 'ran across' the original Dear Jane quilt in Bennington one year and only then did I discover the insanity of the community. Whoot Whoot.


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