Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jane Stickle Quilt

Well, it's Saturday, but I'm not able to take you on the type of museum tour I had hoped to do.  Finding permissions has proven to be much harder than I had anticipated.  I will continue to pursue that, and as I have the time, I will create facsimiles of original quilts in EQ7 and share them with you.  Maybe it will be a once-a-month treat!

In the spirit of the same, though, I want to share a story with you.

During the Civil War, a woman named Jane Stickle created an amazing quilt.  Many of you know of it because of Brenda Papadakis' work, "Dear Jane," and there are many webistes and blogs that have information about it.  My favorite is this one, by Kathleen Tracy:

All  Roads Lead to Bennington

When I say "amazing," it's as if the word is wholly inadequate to describe this work of art.

At first glance, it looks like a very full sampler quilt.  At second glance, it shows a complex border of pieced triangle blocks.  At third glance, it becomes a long, long look, and the realization dawns that this woman had a marvelous sense of color and balance and that she must have come up with many of her own designs and made patterns for each of the little blocks.  Then the questions start rolling......What did she use for those patterns? Newspapers, holding accounts of the War raging to the south of her? A pencil she sharpened with her paring knife?  Where did all the fabrics come from? Was she well-off and therefore had many beautiful fabric scraps at her disposal?  Or was a close and generous friend a dressmaker?  How was her sense of color and placement developed?  Was she gifted with that sense?  Was she educated by the women around her?  Did she have an artist mother or father?  What were her circumstances during War Time?  Did she have loved ones on the battlefield?  What responsibilities did she have in her daily life?  How many hours did this take her???

We get  a little peek into who she was from the inscription on one of the corner blocks:

"In War Time.
Pieces. 5602.  Jane A. Stickle."

It was War Time.  She finished it in 1863, which would have been about halfway through the War. She counted the pieces.  Her name was Jane.

Oh, to meet this woman.  I would love to have these questions answered, as would many others of us!

From the book, Dear Jane
Photograph by Ken Burris, Shelburne, Vermont

So, this past week, we received a message from a woman named Barbara looking for fabrics to create her own "Dear Jane" quilt.  She wants to use colors and patterns as close to the original as she can, and was on the hunt for what might be found.  She asked if we had such things, or perhaps a kit.

That really got the wheels turning for us!  We went through our inventory and discovered that we had more than 60 fabrics that would work for her.  We also realized that we had new stock coming in this week that would most likely fill out a collection.

So we wrote back and forth, sent pictures of what we had, and settled on a 70-piece fat eighth bundle that is true to the feel of the original quilt.  We sent that off to her on Thursday.

In response to this collection, she has posted in her online Dear Jane group about the bundle, and we received another order yesterday for the same.  We are delighted, of course!

So, I spent yesterday cutting more bundles, getting ready for the introduction of our "Dear Jane-Friendly Fat Eighth Bundle" in this week's newsletter.

In the process, I have become more and more interested in this quilt.  If I ever go to the east coast, I will hope to time my trip to coincide with the time when the original quilt is on display each year at the Bennington Museum.  It would be truly amazing to be able to sit and look at it in person.

What a national treasure.

Here are pictures of the collection we put together.  We are grateful to Barbara for the initial question about fabrics for a Jane Stickle quilt that gave birth to this idea.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Happy Quilting!


  1. You're right...amazing is totally inadequate!! WOW! She must have been wanting to keep busy during the war, maybe to keep her mind off of what was going on. I just can't imagine. It's absolutely beautiful. The fabric bundle is gorgeous.

    1. I have thought the same thing about keeping busy. It makes me wonder for whom she might have been waiting. I would probably be doing something similar if I were in the same situation. ♥