2013 is being celebrated as Jane Austen’s bicentennial – two hundred years since her book Pride and Prejudice was published. Everyone knows that she was a remarkable author, but not everyone knows that she was also a quilter. A quilt made by her with her mother and sister is on display at the Jane Austen House in Hampshire, UK. I have made a simplified version of her quilt – using squares on point where she had diamonds – using a Moda charm pack. The quilt is about 55″ square and I have used 1.1/4 yards of white fabric.
fifty six 5″ squares – most of these came from a charm pack, but I added some of my own fabrics to make up the numbers
white fabric: two 6.7/8″ squares for two of the corners, eight 6.3/8″ squares for the infill triangles, two 6.1/2″ squares for the other two corners, about nine or ten 1.1/2″ strips cut across the width of fabric (sorry, I lost count of how many I cut!)
one 10.1/2″ square for the middle of the quilt
4.1/2″ strips of fabric for the border: two at 47″ approximately and two at 55″ approximately
Making the Jane Austen quilt
The quilt is made by laying out the rows of squares side by side but then sewing those rows together in the diagonal direction so that they appear diamond shaped. for the central square I used furnishing fabric – something that I would never do normally, but it was just the right fabric. I cut a 10.1/2″ square centred on the design in the fabric (called fussy cutting). The easiest way to do this is to put a pin in the middle of the design so that you can measure the same distance to either side to be sure that the motif you want is in the middle of the square you cut.
The sashing is made with 1.1/2″ strips of white fabric. Cut 1.1/2″ strips across the width of fabric and then cut at 5″ intervals. Sew one of these to the side of each charm square.
Cut two 6.7/8″ white squares along the diagonal. Sew two of these triangles together along one of the short edges to make a corner for the quilt. You’ll need two of these. This is the first row of the Jane Austen quilt. the second row is made with two charm squares and three sashing strips – one each side and one between the two squares. Sew these together and then sew a 1.1/2″ by 12.1/2″ white strip to the bottom of the row. Cut the 6.3/8″ squares along the diagonal for the infill squares. Sew one of these at each end of the squares – you can see this in the photo below.
The third row of the Jane Austen quilt is made with four charm squares, five 5″ sashing strips between them and at each end. Sew these together and then sew a 1.1/2″ by 23.1/2″ white strip to the bottom of the squares. Sew an infill triangle at each end.
The fourth and fifth rows are made with six and eight squares respectively – row four with a 34.1/2″ white strip below it and row five with a 45.1/2″ white strip beneath it. Both have infill triangles at each end.
Rows six and seven of the Jane Austen quilt need to be sewn together on each side of the large blue square before they can be sewn together across the rows. For each row sew together four squares and five white sashing strips. Sew these together with a 23.1/2″ white strip. Make a corner unit using two triangles cut from a 6.1/2″ square. Sew the corner to the two joined rows of four squares and then sew this strip to the large blue square. Repeat these steps on the right hand side of the blue square. These are the middle rows of the Jane Austen quilt and now the rows reduce in size following the pattern of the first five rows but in reverse. For these rows the long white sashing is sewn to the top of the strip of squares rather than the bottom.
Row eight is made with eight charm squares, nine sashing strips and two infill triangles. A white 45.1/2″ strip is sewn above this row to join it to the row above with the large blue square in it.
Row nine is made with six charm squares, seven sashing strips, two infill triangles and a 34.1/2″ white strip sewn above it.
Row ten is made with four charm squares, five sashing strips, two infill triangles and a 23.1/2″ white strip above it.
Row eleven is made with two charm squares, three sashing strips, two infill triangles and a 12.1/2″ white strip sewn above it.
The twelfth and final row is the corner made with two triangles formed by cutting a 6.7/8″ square across the diagonal.
Border for the Jane Austen quilt
That completes the main part of the Jane Austen quilt top but a word of warning – the triangles all round the edges of the quilt mean that the fabric could stretch more easily than if there were squares around the edge. It is worth adding a quilt border as soon as possible to stabilise the edges of the quilt top. I used 4.1/2″ wide strips of the same fabric that I had used for the central square. Two strips about 47″ long for the top and bottom and two strips about 55″ long for the sides. Those measurements are very approximate – do measure the sides of your own quilt before cutting the border strips. Full details of how to layer, quilt and bind the quilt can be found in the how to make patchwork quilts section.
Here’s the video: