Ever After

I recently received an email from another Dear Janer asking about how I decided on which background to use–shirtings vs. muslin. Because my response to her might be helpful to others, and because the thoughts shared help chronicle my Dear Jane journey, I thought that I’d post my ramblings here.

This is probably more than you ever wanted to know, but here’s my brain dump on the whole background fabric issue . . .

My mom, sister and I are all doing Dear Jane at the same time. Mom and I are using shirtings, and Heidi is using Kona Snow–a neutral, high-quality, muslin-type background. It also comes in Kona Natural which I considered using. I also considered one of the Moda Vanilla Marble, which would give it a more vintage/aged look. My mom is in two Dear Jane clubs, and there is a wide variety of fabric being used for the backgrounds.

I don’t think that there is a “right or wrong” to which background to use. It depends on the fabric you have available and personal preference. I suffered from analysis paralysis for many weeks trying to decide. The tough thing about using shirtings is deciding what sashing/borders you’re going to use. If you use a muslin-type background for your blocks, you can use whatever sashing you want—a shirting, the same background you used in your, black, etc. If you use a sashing, I think that you really have to be careful about your sashings/borders. I think that using a solid muslin color between the blocks would make the sashing stand out too much because it would be so much lighter that all the blocks. My mom is using a black/very dark brown fabric w/ a subtle tone-on-tone print for her sashings. I found a black/very dark brown reproduction fabric w/ a cute little tan print that I am going to use. I’ve attached a scan. I hope that it’s not going to result in my quilt being too busy, but I honestly think that I’m really going to like the look of the darker sashings. In the samples that I’ve seen, the darker color really makes the blocks stand out. But of course, this is totally personal preference. (I’ve attached a PDF created from the Dear Jane software that shows how I hope my quilt looks at the end).

As I’ve sewn my blocks, I’ve never been unhappy about my choice to use shirtings. I LOVE the look. But it does take a little more time to pick out the fabric for each block. I think that they key to using shirtings is to have a wide assortment to choose from. I don’t think that I would like the look nearly as well if I used a single shirting for the backgrounds. One cold, winter day I piled my two kids in the car, and we headed to a quilt store 1 ½ hours away. They specialize in reproduction fabrics. It’s a fabulous store, and they were extremely helpful. This is really where I got a lot of my shirtings. I think that they also have a good website that you could shop from. http://www.commonthreadsquilting.com/. Or you could call them and just tell them you want X # of fat quarters from civil war era shirtings. They could just pull them for you. My mom also works at a quilt store in Springville, UT, and this is where I got the rest of my shirtings from. They could do the same thing for you—pull an assortment of fabrics and mail them to you. (If you buy 10 or more fat quarters, they are $2.25 a piece. Otherwise, they are $2.50).

I had thought about buying some fabric packs from other sites on-line, but as I really looked at the fabrics included, I noticed that some of them where 1930’s reproductions, and I definitely didn’t want to stray that far from Jane’s era—so be careful if you do order online from other places. Just make sure that they know and stick to the era you are working with.

If you are interested in using a Moda Marble (vanilla), I found a site that had a good price– http://www.suzzettsfabric.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=HH&Category_Code=MODA_MARBLED

So, there you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about Dear Jane.

Good luck with your choice . . . and your quilt. It’s an amazing experience!