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Former quilt shop owner Shelley Stallard of East Jordan embarked on her Dear Jane journey in 2004, She had discovered Dear Jane, Papkakis's definitive book on both Stickle and her quilt, and decided this might be the perfect distraction from watching her only child getting ready to “leave the nest.”
It did help, according to Shelley, and along the way she discovered resources that made her task easier. All of the designs had been charted and included in the Dear Jane book, and before she finished the blocks in 2008, she found a Dear Jane CD that printed templates and piecing foundations. Adding the triangular borders, machine quilting it (herself) and binding took another five years. It was completely and officially finished at the beginning of 2013.
Another helpful discovery—there were other quilters itching for a big project. Together they formed a local chapter of “Janiacs” (pronounced “Jane-ee-ackks”) a national network support group for those pursuing the formidable Dear Jane. “We all helped each other with the blocks.” Shelley recalled. “It was more about the friendships that developed and the support we gave to each other. I still feel a kinship with my 'Jane girls'.”
Persistence and devotion paid off. Shelley finished her Dear Jane in the winter months of this year, naming it her “Empty Nest Jane.” Compared with photos of the original, one can see it's as identical to the 1863 original as 21st-century fabrics can make it.
Jeannette Kling of Charlevoix also participated in that local chapter of “Janiacs,” finishing her Dear Jane in late 2012. Hers is a bit different in that she reversed some of the light vs. dark values, especially in the triangular border. The border's black fabric puts stunning emphasis on the 169 colorful blocks it surrounds.
“After reviewing the [Dear Jane]book I decided to make the alternate Isosceles triangles in black along with the border,” Jeannette explained. “I didn't have an original plan for fabric but just wanted to make it scrappy, like a real civil war-era quilt. I think the black helped to ground all the myriad of fabrics that I used.”
Jeannette went on to say that she took a little license in the overall look of her Dear Jane. “I tried to apply some "law and order" in the arrangement of the blocks. I didn't put them in the same order that Jane Stickle did. I wanted to create an 'Around the World' (another traditional quilt pattern) effect.”
The Dear Janes will highlight “Quilts by the Bay,” a biennial quilt show sponsored by the Little Traverse Bay Quilters Guild in Petoskey. Slated for Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, the show opens at 9am both days and is slated for the new Community Building at the Emmet County Fairgrounds, 1129 Charlevoix Avenue (US-31) on Petoskey's west side. (Guests are asked to use the Eppler Street entrance at the west end of the Fairground.) Admission is $6.
National Quilting Association representatives will be on hand to judge at least 150 quilts made by the Guild's membership over the past two years. There will also be Michigan quilt shop vendors, door prizes and a boutique of quilted items for shoppers. Buses are welcome, all facilities are wheelchair/scooter accessible and lunch will be available.
Also on hand will be a certified American Quilting Society Appraiser. Appointments for evaluation of antique, rare or unusual quilts may be made by calling Judy Ettema at 231-676-0037.