Dear Jane

Art on Sunday #22

Original Civil War Quilt by Jane Stickle

Original Civil War Quilt by Jane Stickle

Jane Stickle’s 1863 sampler quilt – sampler quilts are comprised of different block patterns that are generally non-repeating – is an inspiration for quilters all over the world.  Located at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, the quilt is displayed for only a limited time each year due the fragility of the fabric. Each of the 169 five-inch blocks is in a different pattern as are the outward pointing triangle pieces in the border and the corner pieces, for a total of 225 patterns and a total of 5,602 pieces of fabric.

Karen's first "Dear Jane" quilt "Insanity"

Karen’s first “Dear Jane” quilt “Insanity”

Jane Blakely Stickle was born in Shaftsbury, Vermont in 1817 and by 1850 had married Walter Stickle.  With no children of their own, they took responsibility for at least three other area children.  In the 1860 census, Jane is listed as a farmer living alone, but eventually reunited with Walter. During the early 1860s, Jane created what is now known as the Jane Stickle Quilt, embroidering into it “In War Time. 1863. Pieces. 5602. Jane A. Stickle.”

Karen's second "Dear Jane" quilt, "Insanity Revisited"

Karen’s second “Dear Jane” quilt, “Insanity Revisited”

If she had not signed her name, Jane and her quilt might both have been lost to history.  The quilt was passed down through descendants of relatives – since Jane and Walter had no children – and was “rediscovered” during the depression years by a relative in St. Louis, Missouri.  Knowing that Jane was from Vermont, it was sent to the Bennington Museum.

In the early 1990s, Brenda Papadakis saw the quilt in Richard L. Cleveland & Donna Bister’s book Plain and Fancy: Vermont’s People and their Quilts as a Reflection of America, published in 1991.

The geometry of the block designs quickly captured Brenda’s attention. She spent the next five years researching Jane Stickle’s life and times. She drafted the patterns of the 169 four and a half inch blocks, the 52 triangle border blocks, and the 4 kite-shaped corner blocks and then published those in the book Dear Jane, The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt. Later she made the Dear Jane®; CD Rom available making it possible to customize one’s own version of the quilt from a computer.1

Thanks to remarkable serendipity, the book by Brenda Papadakis, and the internet, Jane Stickle’s quilt and it’s patterns are known by a multitude of quilters worldwide – and many have subsequently created their own interpretation of the quilt using Papadakis’s book and its patterns.

Recently, we took a trip to Texas to see go to the Houston International Quilt Festival where we discovered that they had a special exhibit, “Twenty years of Dear Jane ®.” Below is a few different interpretations of the Jane Sickle 1863 quilt, popularized as Dear Jane ®.


  1. The Dear Jane® History – Blue Cat Creations
american history, art on sunday, photography, quilting, serendipity
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