Jane Austen Quilt: A work in progress

Many moons ago...as in nearly three years ago...I came across this article about a quilt that Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra made.  I fell in love with the quilt instantly.  Seamstress...sewist...costumer...what-have-you....but quilter I am not.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law, Margie, is a quilter, and an amazing one at that.  She lives in California, and I live in Kentucky. So, we don't get the opportunity to see each other very often.  I emailed her one day, and attached the said article, asking her if she might possibly make the quilt for me as a birthday or Christmas gift.  I don't ask for much, now do I.  I had no idea at the time just how hard of a task that request was.  Like I said...I'm not a quilter.  Margie was polite enough, and kind enough, to say she would look into it and see if it was something she could manage.  (Bless you, Margie.) 

About two years ago(I think?), my in-laws came to visit, and Margie and I went shopping for fabric together.  Quilter or seamstress/costumer...it doesn't matter...one thing we both have in common is a love of fabric.  But, being a lover of historical fashion/fabric, I immediately wanted to replicate the "exact" fabric, color, etc.  Margie brought me out of my imaginary world and gently reminded me that I would probably have to work with what I could find.  She also gave me a lesson in how to "clash" colors and patterns in fabric.  The O.C.D. perfectionist in me wanted to stick with similar sizes of patterns and choose everything in the same hue.  Apparently, this is bad for quilting.  I'm learning.

(for the backing...)

I did end up ordering some fabric on-line, and managed to find several fabric that had the Regency "feel" to them.  So, even though I was a little bummed that I couldn't have my completely historically correct Jane Austen quilt, all in all, I was happy with our fabric choices.  Margie took the fabric home to California with her, and other than a few emails/phone calls clarifying some details about the quilt, I left her alone to do her quilting magic. 

Last Christmas, upon visiting the in-laws, Margie revealed to me what she had accomplished.  Wow...was I blown away.  I knew she was good, but I didn't expect it to look nearly as close to the original as it did.  It's not finished though....because, you see, Margie charged me with finishing the quilt.  *gulp*  She showed me what needed to be done to finish the border, and how to back the quilt...bought me a few basic quilting tools (ruler, cutters, etc) and set me loose to have at it.  (I imagine she was getting tired of the wretched thing!  I don't blame her.)

(Isn't it amazing!!)

It's been sitting in my sewing room, staring at me ominously since then.  Soooo....I've decided to bring my quilting fears out into the open here, in hopes that you will hold me accountable.  How can something so beautiful (a work of art, really) be hidden away like that.  I absolutely HAVE to finish what she began.  I'm sure it will take me at least another year to finish it.  But now that this secret is out in the open, I have to work on...no excuses.  Will you hold me accountable?


Lady D said…
ooh, how lovely. I like how the plain white breaks up the diamonds.
I like doing quilts...they just take me aaagggess as I do it 90% by hand. Half the fun is 'clashing' the materials. I've done really basic one with squares and a hexagonal one (grannys garden?) Problem is by the time I finished the quilt..I'd redecorated and it didn't match. My aim next time is to make it even more jumble colourwise so it will match any decor changes.
Sarah Jane said…
What a beautiful quilt!

The pattern is so pretty. I also love the color choices and the arrangement of the diamonds. Wonderful!

Do you plan to do this all by hand? How are you planning to quilt it? I can't wait to see it finished in all it's glory! WIll it be come a bedcovering or a wall hanging? It is too pretty to not be displayed, someway, somehow!
Issy said…
It is beautiful, and looks identical in pattern and practically identical in colour to the original. :)
ZipZip said…
Lucky, happy Jenni, this is a treasure to pass down for the years.

You bet I will hold you accountable :}

Very best,

Lisa said…
Oh, heavens - if you can do all that lovely sewing for clothing, you can certainly do quilting! How exciting for you!
Jenni said…

You truly do make me feel more confident about doing this. I'm encouraged. Thank you!

Sarah, in answer to your questions:

No, I'm not going to quilt it all by hand. Since this is my first real quilting experience, I'm going to use a machine for the boarder. put in a layer of cotton batting between the front and the backing, and will hand quilt the two of those together. I think Margie told me that the original was stitched together at the corners of each diamond. I will have to do some more research on this. When (if) it is finished, it will probably find it's home on our guest bed (it's an antique, victorian, Jenny Lind, spool style bed...not exactly the right era, but it will still look beautiful on it.)
Laura said…
That quilt is so beautiful - both the original and the top your MIL started for you. I couldn't really tell how the original was quilted, but I'm sure whatever you do will be lovely. I have a log cabin quilt top I finished piecing in high school 30 years ago that has never been finished, so I'm in no position to hold you accountable, lol. I would love to make a Baltimore album quilt, but I have forbidden myself to start another quilt until my 30yo one is finished. Finish yours so you can start another before you turn 50!
I've been wanting to do this quilt for ages but am also sewing historical garments...or procrastinating :)
I purchased the book about how to replicate it from www.inklingo.com but am still unsure how to make a start.
Nabila Grace said…
Oh it is beautiful! :o) My grandmother and great-grandmother made quilts and so I have been given some of those and really want to learn how. Maybe someday I will. :o) Thank you for showing us this beautiful work of art!

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