In 1863, Jane A Stickle created a sampler quilt consisting of 169 blocks, 52 triangles, 4 corner kites; 5602 pieces total. Though it was made during the Civil War, this quilt remains a source of inspiration.
The quilt is such a design marvel that it gained further notoriety in Brenda Papdakis' famous book Dear Jane: The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt. In response to the outpouring of interest and enthusiasm, Electric Quilt developed Dear Jane software, allowing modern-day quilters to create their own versions, or Baby Janes.
Dear Jane is a unique package. It is not just design software, it also allows quilters working on Dear Jane projects to "meet" and inspire each other through a mailing list. Quilters can discover the story of Jane's quilt, as well as the creation of Brenda's book. Additional links to the Bennington museum where the quilt resides are also provided, as is a gallery of Baby Jane quilts. The wealth of resources make it easy to become immersed within the Dear Jane community.
There is a great deal of functionality available for the design and construction of Dear Jane quilts as well. With the full power of EQ5 behind it, this software is a robust tool for quilters. Among the notable features are a project wizard, sample quilt, block libraries, and more. The block library, in particular, is quite impressive. In addition to center, block and corner blocks, it includes 192 center block variations and 125 alternate blocks. The variation blocks provide an easier level of construction. The alternate blocks, although not used in the original Dear Jane, provide a unique touch to customized designs.
There are several means of tracking your project's progress with Dear Jane. Quilters can use the checklist or scan images. This is helpful option as scanned blocks provide a nice view of the quilt's progress without having to lay it out every time. Quilt construction can also be documented by journal There is a great deal of flexibility possible here. Quilters decide what information to include and in what form it appears. Journal pages are printable should a hardcopy be preferable.
This software package is a wonderful extension of Barbara Papadakis' book. Dear Jane fans will appreciate the community and robust functionality it provides.
- Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP
- EQ5 functionality
The completion certificates are a nice touch. Especially with a project this large, it is easy for quilters to get into a rut. By marking milestones, however, Dear Jane software provides incentives for quilters to continue their work.
The layout library features a great deal of flexibility. Both the quilt and block sizes may be altered to yield a variety of project sizes, from Queen to wall hanging. It also includes an expanded border type library. Borders can be cloned and their measurements altered.
It is possible to add fabrics to the library, and group them in palettes for more convenient access. To save time locating fabric, users may delete fabrics not used in a project.
The user's manual is fairly handy for all skill levels. The first section is set up in a lesson format, allowing new quilters to become familiar with basic construction techniques. The second section features 32 color photos of completed Dear Jane projects. Seasoned quilters will appreciate the reference section in the manual's last section.
A minor drawback is that it is not possible to add or change blocks within the library. While blocks may be resized, no further customization is possible. Dear Jane is not compatible with Windows 95 or Windows NT. These operating systems lack files the package needs to run.
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