Dear Jane quilt: the quilting techniques you hate, or why practice is paramount

Some finished Dear Jane blocks together

Another week, another Dear Jane post! The Dear Jane is a big sampler quilt I am sewing by hand to practice my quilting technique. A sampler is good for that, because it has many different blocks, using many different techniques. You can read the introduction of this quilt here: The Dear Jane quilt: a hand quilting sampler.

This particular post is about some blocks made with a technique I have not (yet) much love for. Often I find myself disliking the techniques I am less comfortable with, so I assumed I just needed to get over myself and start practising. Prior to this quilt, I had very little experience with the technique. So I decided to use the Dear Jane to ‘force’ myself to practice several aplliqué techniques, to see if exposure would breed love.

Dear Jane block D-8: Dee Dee’s delight

One of my first applique blocks and all in all, not a bad start considering placement of the pieces. However, I went for needle turn applique, but instead of hiding the stitches under the appliqued pieces, I sewed on top of them (alcohol might have been involved while I made this block).  Also, I started at the corners, and that makes it trickier to get the pieces straight. I still like this block though. The colours work well together in a strange way and the combination of round and square shapes looks pleasing as well. Also one has to appreciate the effort made is one’s youth (alright a few months ago).

Dear Jane quilt block D-8: Dee Dee's delight
Dear Jane quilt block D-8: Dee Dee’s delight

Dear Jane quilt E-2: merry May

In this block, you can see I used the same stitch as the previous block. However, I am also going to forgive myself for this one because the thread colour used is similar enough to the fabric. One should always forgive one’s own mistakes during a learning process.

This block also shows how wonky a block looks when you haven’t ironed it yet. And don’t worry, I always know which of my felt tip pens wash out and which one don’t. The one you see in the picture definitely does. Sometimes an erasable pen is the easiest solution to work on light fabrics.

Dear Jane quilt block E-2: Merry May
Dear Jane quilt block E-2: merry May

Dear Jane block A-3: hunter’s moon

In this block, I tried the applique technique where you do big backstitches on the outline of the shape before you sew down the edges. In this way, you don’t have to draw on the fabric and it should help with accuracy. However, as you can see, that did not work out for me. Maybe I’ll try the technique later at some point to see if it’s really not for me, but for now no.

Dear Jane quilt block A-3: hunter's moon
Dear Jane quilt block A-3: hunter’s moon

What I do like about this block is that it reminds me of a planet or spaceship. That does fit with the name of this block, hunter’s moon. The moon is kinda, almost, not really a planet, right? At least a round object in the sky. Close enough for me.

Dear Jane block B-12: starflower

This was my 50th Dear Jane block and also the applique block I felt the first spark of enjoyment for the technique!  Not all the previous blocks were applique though, I think I did about 5 of them before this one. Also, I did some applique for a memory quilt I’m making for a friend: The big quilt: different applique techniques.  For this block, I used reverse applique, and that’s my favourite method so far. In reverse applique, you sew the pattern pieces behind the background fabric instead of on top of it.  It feels so much easier to me because you are handling way bigger pieces of fabric. This makes it easier to fiddle the fabric into the right place. You can trim the excess fabric of afterwards.

Dear Jane quilt block B-12: starflower
Dear Jane quilt block B-12: starflower

Dear Jane block H-8: Eaton’s crossroads

And another awesome thing I discovered about reverse applique is that it is really suitable to combine with other techniques! In the block below the middle part is applique and the rest is patchwork. I first made the patchwork and appliqued the middle last. I didn’t feel like sewing any round shapes when this block was made, so decided to mix techniques. The great thing about the complex patterns in the Dear Jane is that it pushes you to experiment. There are so many different ways to complete each block that it would be really interesting to compare techniques with other people. For example, I know people who completely make the quilt with English paper piecing, where you wrap fabric around cardboard pattern pieces! I hadn’t thought of that myself, but it makes sense looking at the strange angles and shapes of some of the pieces. The middle is not straight, but there my patchwork skills are to blame.

Dear Jane quilt block H-8: Eaton's crossroads
Dear Jane quilt block H-8: Eaton’s crossroads

Concluding applique talk

So concluding I can say that I don’t dislike applique as much as I did before the Dear Jane quilt. I would even go as far as to say I enjoy reverse applique! Especially because it gives you a sneaky way out of tricky sewing, such as curved shapes. The other techniques I am not so sure about yet. So, therefore, I’ll end with the following questions:

  • Which applique techniques have you tried?
  • Which do you like or recommend and why?

Some numbers

  • 75 blocks of the middle square blocks are done
  • that means I need to make 11 more to reach the halfway point!

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blogpost every Sunday or Monday.


  1. Awesome article! I too hate appliqué, but have been forced to use it while working on my own Dear Jane quilt. 🙂
    I agree that reverse appliqué is the least detestable variety of appliqué … I had not tried it before this project, but I do find it easier than the other options. If nothing else, it saves you from having to stuff a ton of seam allowance underneath a tiny diamond point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You make a very good point that reverse applique is easier because it gives you more space for the seams. Hadn’t realised that, but that helps a lot I think.

      Lucky for me I start to enjoy reverse applique, it is such a great way to make blocks look super complicated in a sneaky way by just appliqueing complex shapes behind whatever block you already made. I did that with H-8 (last block of this post) and I am not sure it would have worked as good without that! 😛


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