Diabolical Jane: a Tutorial

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Hi Friends!  If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen the little flurry of activity surrounding this quilt… It’s a copy of a nearly 200 year old quilt that I first saw on a museum tour with the DC Modern Quilt Guild.  I was absolutely obsessed with remaking it in today’s glorious fabrics and it turns out some others are interested in doing the same (have you seen Melinda’s fabulous start?)  I’ll tell a little more of the story of my quilt when it’s finished, but for now I want to get the tutorial up so anyone who’s interested can join in the fun!

In the interest of keeping this free and not too lengthy, I’m going to describe the process I used to lay out and construct my quilt, but I won’t provide a diagram of exactly which fabric went where and which fabrics repeat where.  You can study the pic of the original and my photos for a sense of the design, then go ahead and make it your own!

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The original quilt, circa 1830. Photo from the book “Workt by Hand”

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Center of my quilt- borders yet to be added.

Notice that the quilt has a center X made of 5, 4″ x 11″ pieces on each arm, and then four identical large, layered triangles, each with a square at the apex of each layer and 4″ x 11″ strips radiating out from the apex square in two matching strips.  It’s easiest to lay out your pieces from the middle out, then we will construct the quilt from the sides working in.  The center ends up to be 74″ square and the original had 14″ wide borders.

The heart and soul of this quilt lies in the fabric selections!  The pieces are large and the sewing is easy, so take your time and enjoy playing with the placement of your fabrics.

It can be helpful to start with more fabrics than you need, so you will have options as you work.  This is a great place to use larger scale fabrics that you love and don’t want to cut too small.  Or fabrics that you bought but didn’t know what to do with because they are so bold!

I recommend cutting your fabric in a few batches, rather than pre-cutting the whole quilt before you start.  You are likely to shift things around and make new decisions as you build the layers.


 

Fabric Requirements:

Center:

20, 3/8-1/2 yd pieces (there are a few spots in my quilt where I repeated fabrics, so you may need up to 3/4yd of a few fabrics if you intend to copy the placement of mine exactly.)

1, 8″ X 12″ or 4″ x 20″ piece (middle 5 squares)

Border:

(I give requirements for a border all the way around, no cutouts like the original)

3 yds for a 9.5″ border

OR

4 1/4 yds for a 14″ border like the antique quilt has. (strips will be cut crosswise and pieced)


Begin:

From the 8″ x 12″ piece, cut 5, 4″ squares for the center of the quilt.  Lay these out on your design wall (or design floor!) in a checkerboard.

DJ first squares

Select about 10 of your 3/8 yd pieces that you want to use at the center of the quilt.  From each, cut 8, 4″x 11″ rectangles and 4, 4″ squares.

Cutting diagram

Cutting Diagram

 

Beginning in the middle, arrange your strips for the center X.  There are 5 strips radiating from each side of the center square.

DJ center X

Lay out center X

 

Then begin laying out your large triangles.  Choose one of your sets of squares to form the apex.  Add four strips radiating out from each exposed side of each square.  Cut 4 additional squares of the fabric you choose for the edge and place squares.

DJ step 2

By now you might have an idea which fabrics are working and which are not.  Now is a good time to select and cut more fabrics in the same manner:  8, 4″ x 11″ squares and 4, 4″ squares.  Continue to build your triangles towards the edges of the quilt.  Work in the squares you have cut as you continue.  I had fun and reduced the number of decisions I had to make by matching squares and rectangles in the same positions as the original.  As you get to the edges, you may need to cut a few more squares to fill in the spaces at the edges.

DJ step 3

Center before trimming

 

 

Refer to above diagram to see what your layout will look like when it’s done.  Once you are happy with your layout, you can start assembly.

Assembly:

DJ step-outs

We begin in the center of each side of the quilt.  Sew the three squares together as shown.  For the next layer, line up your pieced square unit with one side rectangle as shown and stitch.  Sew the apex square to the other side rectangle, then sew that pieced strip to the other side of the pieced squares.  Continue building your side triangles in the same manner, piecing the strips before attaching them to the central unit.  Always align the pieces next to the apex squares.  The outside edges will be quite uneven.  Piece all 4 side triangles in the same manner.

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Sew the center X together into 4 long strips.  Attach 2 strips to opposite sides of the center square.

Sew 2 side triangles together with one center x strip.  Repeat with the other 2 side triangles and center strip.  Then assemble all 3 large pieces, aligning seam allowances around the center square.

Trimming:

DJ measureDJ step 3

Be sure your top is well pressed.  Measure and mark a dot at each corner, 8.75″ out from the seam and 2″ in from each raw side edge of the rectangle.  These dots should line up with the corners of the center square on each side.  Draw a line connecting these points, using anything you might have to get a straight edge.  I lined up several quilting rulers, which allowed me to also use the 45 degree lines to check that my edge was straight.  But even a broomstick would work.  Trim along this line.  Don’t panic if you have to trim a little further to get it all square. The original has missing points and it really doesn’t matter in this design.

Mathematically, the trimmed top should measure 74.5″.  Measure yours across several points to figure out how large to cut your border!

Add Border:

For a 9.5″ border, simply cut your 3 yard piece into 4,  10″ strips parallel to the selvage.  Trim two strips to the same length as your center width measurement (74.5″)  Attach borders to two opposite sides.  Cut the remaining strips to your measurement + 19″ (93.5″).  Attach borders to the two remaining sides.

For a 14″ border, cut 10, 14.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.  Sew these together in two sets of two and two sets of three.  Cut the shorter strips to your top measurement (74.5″)  Cut the longer strips to your measurement + 28″ (102.5″).  Sew the shorter strips onto two opposite sides first, and then sew on the longer strips.

Note this quilt is susceptible to wavy borders because of the bias trimmed edges.  For more help getting your border on correctly, see this fabulous tutorial from Anjeanette.

I hope some of you will decide to join in the fun and make a Diabolical Jane!  Here’s a downloadable line drawing of the quilt for adult-coloring fun:

Diabolical Jane Line Drawing

xo,

Jessie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Count #12

I’ve got half of my quilt all pieced into big sections.  I’m leaving it like that as I work on the other half in case I want to make any changes.  ‘Cause right now, there is a lot that’s irking me about this quilt, and I have to make some decisions about how much I want to go back and excise and how much I just want to press forward.

Luckily I have lots of time to stitch! Every day that Baby declines to make her debut is another day spent relaxing and sewing.  I’m starting to think she is waiting until her quilt is done to come out.  I do love these little “cogs” with the vintage mushroom fabric in the center!  I got the mushrooms at Goodwill a couple of years ago as a little home-made valance.  I was so excited when I realized how well they fit into this project!  I might replace the one that has dark blue petals with apple green or chartreuse, if the right fabric presents itself.  Or maybe not.

I really want a quilt that is all white and pale like these random bits, with just a few tiny colorful stars mixed in.  Trying to resist temptation to start something new before seeing this one to completion!  WHY IS THAT SO HARD?!!!

Thanks Jessica for the continuing motivation over at Life Under Quilts!  It’s definitely helping me to keep my mind from wandering…

 

Star Count #10

This week I’ve been basting neutral, almost white shapes to fill in between my stars.  Mostly 1″ hexagons, but also half-hex and 60 degree diamonds, just to fill in all the little spaces.  I love having a big pile of neutrals ready to go.  It feels like having money in the bank, like I’m ready for anything.  Yup, anything those wild and crazy hexagons manage to throw my way, I’m ready. :)

Linking up again with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Monday Morning Star Count– and how I’m enjoying watching everyone’s projects evolve over the weeks!

 

Museum Demo Day / Star Count #8

Oh, what fun I had last Sunday at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  The museum had invited the DC Modern Quilt Guild to come and demonstrate hand work in the gallery, amongst their exhibit of gorgeous antique quilts.  We sewed a little, we demonstrated a lot, we chatted with visitors almost constantly for the whole 5 hours.  I even did a little repair on an antique quilt someone brought in.  I couldn’t believe how fast the time went.  If I could make a career of that I surely would!

I brought along my English-paper-pieced baby quilt and made a little progress on the orange star.  Other members brought along hand quilting, binding, more EPP, and embroidery.  The table where we sat was such a joyful conglomeration of projects.

Adding to the excitement of the day, my friend Mary Koval had lent me some examples of antique English paper piecing which were unfinished, and still had the papers inside.  With templates cut by hand from old letters and receipts, the backs of these pieces were so fun to stare at.   And the old fabrics… I could pore over these quilts all day and never tire of them.  All that work, all the time spent by some unknown maker, it stays with the quilt long after the maker has passed.  So lovely to behold.

Sunday at the gallery, and later that night, I added a round of shapes to two of my stars- so I’m still at 3, but they are growing!

Star Count #6

Finished star # 3 this week!  I didn’t intend it to be all orange, but sometimes it seems like I have no control over these things.  I got a lot of other things basted and little bits here and there sewn together, but I didn’t get any pics of that.  Next week!

This week it was really the motivation of the linkup and the weekly progress report that kept me stitching, so, thanks Jessica for your Monday Morning Star Count!

Star Count #4

I spent most of my crafty time last week finishing up the quilting on this quilt so I could enter it into the DCMQG’s quilt show.  But there was a little time to baste this little stack of neutral-y diamonds.  The creamsicle orange + neutral color combination is killing me with its awesomeness.  I kind of want to throw out all the other pieces I basted the past 3 weeks and start again with just these.  But that’s just my crafty ADD talking; next week I’ll have a new love either way.  This week I’ll start laying out my shapes; can’t wait!

Star Count

Is it really Monday again?  I did not complete any new stars this week.  But, I did get a pile of pieces basted and ready, and that’s totally progress when you’re talking about English paper piecing.

I am trying to be more disciplined than usual with this quilt.  Normally I would choose a few fabrics at a time, baste a few pieces, make one star, then repeat.  But this time I want to get most if not all of my fabrics selected first, and mostly cut out and basted, so there’s no unhappy surprises at the end.  It’s a small quilt, so there’s less room to hide something that doesn’t work out as envisioned.  And less room for all the pretty stuff I want to fit in.  So I’m making sure it’s right before I sew it all together.  One thing I love about English paper piecing is that it’s so easy to play around with the basted shapes and see exactly what the finished piece will look like before you commit!  I’m bringing in some tan fabrics to give the pretty colors space to breathe, and the deep marine blue to ground all that sweet bright color.

Linking up again to Monday Morning Star Count over at Life Under Quilts!

Star Count

Last night I started a new English paper pieced project!

I have been completely smitten with this teeny floral since I found it at a quilt show last fall.  Like crazy in love, and I’ve been dying for a project where I could really enjoy using it.  Back then I was sure that the family-member-in-utero was a boy (and I wasn’t actually planning on finding out the gender at all until the big day, so a more neutral quilt would have been in order.) I thought this would make its way into a big quilt for me (it still might.)

But things changed and now that we know we are getting another little lady, I’m free to dream up sweet confectionery quilts in sherbert-y hues, and this fabric is the inspiration.

I started a preliminary fabric pull celebrating the pink-peach-orange-raspberry-lemon colors but I still need to pull some neutrals and something deep to ground all this sweetness.  How I love picking fabrics.

I’m linking up again with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Monday Morning Star Count and my count this week is: 1!

For the boy..

I have a new stack of fabric that I am so in love with…

All shot cottons from Kaffe Fassett.  This fabric, plus Dream Wool batting, makes the most squishy, silky soft and cuddly quilt you could ever dream of.  And if a quilt doesn’t make you want to curl up with it, then in my book it’s not a successful quilt.  So.  These are for my darling 10 year old, my only son, who for the most part gets passed by when it comes to handmade things.  Dolly carriers and tiny baby knits are what pop into my head when I want to make something for my kids, and I have to work a little harder to think of just the right something for an older boy.  But he is such a sweetie, so loving, and for god’s sake he puts up with a lot, being here with two much littler sisters day after day.  He really deserves to have something handmade by Mommy.  So with much love I have been planning this project, and waiting and thinking while some other things were finished up, and now I’m ready to begin.

I have a couple of different sketches I’m deciding between, but it’s definitely going to be something improvised and free, just something fun for me to play with for a few weeks.  I’m planning on some medium-dense hand quilting to really play up the lovely feel of the wool batting and make it something he will love to curl up with.

I’m popping these in the wash now as I type, and tomorrow they’ll be ready to cut into.  Maybe I’ll have a quilt top by Christmas?