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AND THE WINNERS ARE…

Many thanks to all of you who stopped by and left me cookies and comments for A Holiday to Remember! I truly appreciate your support. The winners for this first blog stop are: Lúthien84, DarcyBennet, and Bludpoison. You will each receive an eBook copy of my holiday story. For those of you who would like another chance to win one of my books, on Friday November 16, I will be a guest of Regina Jeffers at EveryWoman Dreams. I hope to see you there! 

Thanks again, Jennifer Redlarczyk ♫

Introducing A Holiday to Remember!

 

Welcome to my Party!

  Today we are celebrating the release of my latest book, “A Holiday to Remember” with a giveaway and Cookies! Mrs. Bennet and her woman’s circle have been cooking up a storm of cookies for the past month and I would love to know what your favorite holiday or anytime cookie is. Be sure to tell me in the comments section and we’ll not only share our cookies, but you will be entered in my giveaway for three eBooks. (International) 

To begin with, I’d like to tell you a little about my book. In this modern P&P variation, Elizabeth Bennet is a dedicated choral director and teacher at Meryton Academy for the Performing Arts and William Darcy is the aloof CEO of Darcy Enterprises. The two of them met when unfortunate circumstances brought them together during a summer music festival in Chicago where tempers flared and unpleasant words were exchanged. Find out what happens when their paths cross again in December. Will their animosity continue, or will their reunion turn out to be A Holiday to Remember?

 From Chapter One 

Meryton Academy for the Performing Arts 

Monday, 4 December, present day

 

  “Liz Bennet! Please tell me I didn’t hear what I just thought I heard!” Charlotte Lucas burst through the doors of the choir room and marched straight to the keyboard where Elizabeth was working out the final arrangements for A Holiday to Remember—part of the music academy’s final showcase before the winter break.

“Char, I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I’m kind of on a deadline here. Uh … you do remember I have a major rehearsal at six o’clock tonight?” She arched a questioning eyebrow in her friend’s direction before entering the final chords on the master lead sheet in her computer.

“Right, but for your information, Mr. Billy Collins just told everyone in the teacher’s lounge he has a big date with you on New Year’s Eve. He says he’s escorting you to the Pemberley Foundation’s charity gala at Forest Ridge. What gives? Don’t those tickets start at five hundred a pop? Not to mention any woman who would dare to go out with that nutter would have to be a marble short.” 

Elizabeth stopped what she was doing and burst into laughter. “Char, do you honestly think BC would actually shell out that kind of money just to have a date with me? The man is so tight he probably wouldn’t spend five dollars on his own mother. Don’t worry. The Vocalteens were asked to perform at the gala and will be doing the opening act right after dessert. Since Reeves will be out of town, I’m making do with Billy-boy to run sound. You’re welcome to join us if you don’t have a date. I can always use an extra chaperone. Plus, after the kids leave, the adults are invited to stay and enjoy the rest of the party. There’s going to be a live band, dancing, loads of food and some kind of a silent auction. It could be fun, even without dates.”

“Sorry, Liz. As a matter of fact, I do have a date.” Charlotte straightened up and fluttered her eyelashes in jest. “And … as much as I’d like to hobnob with the rich and famous, Brexton Denny is taking me to the Signature Room to celebrate the New Year. Who knows, this might turn out to be my Holiday to Remember, if you don’t mind me borrowing the title from your medley.”

“Go right ahead. The Signature Room is pretty impressive. Is there any chance your Mr. Denny might finally be getting serious?”

“Not to my knowledge. Still, there’s no way I’m going to pass up a date with a buff trainer from the fitness club, fireworks over Lake Michigan, and a kiss at midnight.”

“A kiss at midnight,” Elizabeth sighed, kind of dreamy-eyed. “Aunt Maddy says being kissed at midnight by someone special is magical, and although I’ve yet to meet that perfect someone, I believe her.”

“Girl, you’ve been watching way too many holiday romance movies on your favorite channel, if you ask me. I could never be like you. At any rate, if you need an escort, you can always ask my brother. I know Johnny isn’t ideal, but he’s okay in a pinch. On second thought, what about that cute drummer from the music store? Didn’t you go out with him a couple of times? Maybe you can take him.” 

 

 

“George Wickham?! I think not! And no, we never dated. Char, your memory fails you. I only agreed to sing backups for that smooth talker’s band at Lollapalooza last summer because he was desperate. Believe me; dating was not part of the chord chart. Besides, I’m hardly interested in a fly-by-night drummer or any freelance musician for that matter. And I’m definitely considering adding your brother to my no-go list of men. If Johnny stands me up for one more transmission or any other mechanical failure, the man is toast. As it turns out, I’ll probably hand him his marching orders once he escorts me to Charles Bingley’s holiday party on Friday. Who knows, I may end up following Jane’s lead and using her professional dating service after all. I mean, who could complain about Mr. Bingley?”

“Are you serious?”

“Absolutely! Charles is exceptional. He’s considerate and has a great sense of humor. Plus, he brings Jane flowers, sends her cards, and takes her out to dinner, concerts, company functions, yada, yada…. And to top it all off, it was Charles Bingley who recommended the Vocalteens for the Pemberley gig. As one of the corporate lawyers who work for the foundation, he was happy to submit my PR materials to the marketing director. Mr. Reynolds thinks our Holiday to Remember medley will be perfect for the charity gala.”

“I agree; it’s bound to be a hit. The kids are already looking pretty good, and you still have until next Thursday to pull it all together for the showcase. Speaking of the gala, I hear the CEO of Darcy Enterprises is pretty hot.” Charlotte wiggled her eyebrows as if in the know. “William Darcy has been in all of the tabloids lately. They say he’s some kind of aloof, mystery man—tall, dark, and handsome. I wonder if he’ll be there.”

William Darcy?” Elizabeth frowned. “His sister, Georgiana, was studying piano with Aunt Maddy at the music store until….” Her voice trailed off. “Are you sure he’s connected to the foundation? Mr. Reynolds never mentioned him.”

“Small world! According to Google, the foundation is run by Darcy Enterprises.” Glancing at the wall clock, Charlotte changed the subject. “It looks like the bell is about to ring, so I’d better head over to my advanced ballet class. Do you still need help tonight with choreography for the opening number?”

“I’d really appreciate it, since I’m going to have my hands full with the pit orchestra. If you can take over while we run through my new arrangements, it would mean one less thing for me to juggle at practice.”

“No problem. I’ll be there. Catch you later.”

“Thanks.”

After Charlotte left, Elizabeth minimized her music program and quickly googled William Darcy, CEO of Darcy Enterprises. “I can’t believe it. It is him! So, Mr. Darcy,” she continued to babble while glaring at the computer screen. “Your Mr. Reynolds booked us for the gala. How was he to know you never wanted to see me again?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to make the most of it, won’t we?” 

NOW, on to the good stuff!  Here is a tin of holiday cookies  which Mrs. Bennet,      cookie baker extraordinaire,  so graciously donated to our little celebration party.  Every year the mods on the forum put up a Cookie Exchange in the Ballroom and we trade recipes. I’ll put the link here, and after you tell me about your favorite cookies and how you liked the preview, maybe you can drop by. Also, be sure to check out my Pinterest page where I’ve posted chapter by chapter pictures for A Holiday to Remember. The drawing for the eBook giveaway will take place on Wednesday, Nov 14 and the winners will be announced here and on FaceBook. Good luck everyone and I look forward to sharing your cookies. Jen Red ♫ 


Cookies in the Ballroom

Pinterest Board for A Holiday to Remember

Amazon Link for A Holiday to Remember

The Winners Are…

 

JAFF Friends! Many thanks to those of you who stopped by the forum blog and left comments for Introducing Darcy’s Melody! I was thrilled to read your thoughts and to learn something about your favorite song or style of music. The winners for my two eBooks are: Katzan and Nobuko! Please PM me with the email address you use for Amazon. Congratulations! Thanks again! Jen Red ♫

Introducing Darcy’s Melody!

Let’s Party!

   

I LOVE parties, and today is an exceptional day since August 17 is my sister Melody’s birthday, Georgiana Darcy’s birthday, and the launch of my new book, Darcy’s Melody, in eBook format on Amazon!  My sister, Melody Ann Ferree, holds a very special place in my heart and was my inspiration for writing a loving sisterly relationship between Lizzy and Georgina in this Pride and Prejudice tale. 

  In celebration, I thought we should have some cake and a giveaway! After all what’s a party without a little of the good stuff? Right? Melody’s favorite cake was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Yummy! Every year on Melody’s birthday, her girls all make carrot cake in her honor. Melody’s recipe is at the end of this post. These are my nieces: Molly, Deanna, Jessica, and Keila.For my birthday party on May 20, I asked you to tell me what was one of your favorite cakes. My virtual tasting was beyond belief with so many delicious offerings. Some of you even left recipes! Since Darcy’s Melody has an underlying music theme, this time I would like to know what is your favorite song or even what style of music makes you feel good. 

Although there is a prominent music theme in my story, there is also a subplot which has to do with Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Crown’s Secret Guard. I hope you like this first scene from chapter one where Darcy and Lizzy first meet in a rather unusual way. Enjoy! Jen Red ♫

DARCY’S MELODY

Chapter One ~ Under the Cover of Books

London

Tuesday, 21 May 1811, early afternoon

Ballard’s was an eclectic treasure trove of rare first editions and unusual books located on the thoroughfare of Piccadilly. Although it appeared somewhat dingy and dimly lit from the outside, inside the ageing building the atmosphere was inviting, and a vast array of literature beckoned lovers of the written word.

Promptly at one o’clock, Fitzwilliam Darcy entered the bookshop and walked directly towards his favoured section. While paging through a military war journal, he instinctively glanced toward the back of the shop. Even with several patrons milling about the establishment today, Darcy’s eyes were drawn to a young lady who appeared to be examining a small book in the poetry section.

Closing the journal, Darcy ambled over to where the woman stood and began perusing the titles on a nearby shelf. After taking a book in hand, he purposely turned his head towards the young lady. Captivated by her large, dark emerald-green eyes sparkling with mischief, he felt his lips curve into a half smile when she spoke.

“Pray, sir, may I trouble you to hand me the book of Cowper poetry on the upper shelf?”

 Darcy nodded. “With pleasure. Cowper is an excellent choice.” 

As he reached for the book, she continued, “One poem in particular reminds me of Oakham Mount in Hertfordshire. I find I am rather desirous of its solace today if only through the eyes of the poet.”

Handing her the book, he answered in kind. “I understand your sentiments for I, too, am from the country and have longed to return to Derbyshire.”

Arching an eyebrow in his direction, she inclined her head and said, “I thank you, sir.”   

“You are most welcome.”    

As she turned the pages of her selection in search of the poem, Darcy heard the young lady gasp when both of her books slid out of her hands and onto the floor. “Oh dear,” she sighed, stooping down to retrieve them.    

“Allow me,” he immediately offered. Both reaching for the books, Darcy felt her small, warm hand carefully slip a folded piece of paper into the palm of his own. The young lady had not replaced her glove after perusing her own book, and her skin was soft to the touch. Leaning closer, the faint scent of lavender seemed to strengthen, causing his chest to tighten and his heart to quicken in response.

Feigning innocence, she looked up at him and said, “Again, sir, I am in your debt. Perhaps I should make my purchases before I have another mishap.”

“Permit me to carry these to the desk for you.”

Acknowledging his offer with a slight curtsey, the young lady whispered, “Sir, I think we are being observed.” Then speaking louder, she added, “Thank you again. You are most kind.”

“Your servant.” He bowed. With his senses heightened from being forewarned of impending danger, Darcy spoke softly in return, “How did you come? I would not have you leave here unescorted.”

“There is a carriage waiting, sir. A manservant is nearby and a maid is within.”

“Then leave now and be careful.”    

After he placed the books on the counter, the young lady thanked Darcy, made her purchase, and quickly exited the shop. From where he stood, Darcy watched the footman assist her into the carriage. Assured of her safety, he abruptly turned and faced the observing patron who had folded his newspaper and was preparing to leave the shop.

“Excuse me, have we met?”    

The man was obviously confused and stammered, “I … I think so.  You are Mr. um.… ”

“Fitzwilliam Darcy. And you are?”

“My name is … is Gerard Mooreland, and if I remember correctly, my son, Jonathan, was a classmate of yours at university some years back.”    

Darcy furrowed his brow for a moment in thought. “I do not seem to recall the name. Do you care to refresh my memory?”

“My … my son was a master with the blade and was an active participant in the fencing club,” Mooreland boasted through a somewhat crooked smile. 

With no recollection of either man, Darcy made further inquiries after which he gave Mooreland his card and requested his son pay him a visit when he was next in Town. Concluding their conversation, Darcy made his purchase and left the bookshop being rather unsettled.

The giveaway for TWO of my eBooks will take place on Friday, Aug 24 and the winners will be posted here, on FaceBook and Twitter. Meanwhile, be sure to check out some of these links. To comment and be entered in my giveaway, just click on the title at the beginning or this post or the comment tab just below the title. There should also be a place after this post: leave a reply. Don’t forget to let me know what your favorite song is or what style of music makes you feel good. AND if you feel like sharing a little more cake, I won’t complain.  Jen ♫

I have recorded all of Lizzy’s songs and made a book trailer for Darcy’s Melody. You can find all of them here on YouTube. 

In addition, here is a chapter by chapter story in pictures of Darcy’s Melody on Pinterest.  

Here is the Amazon eBook Link.  

Note: As of Aug 17, the eBook of Darcy’s Melody is live on Amazon.com. I am still waiting for a proof copy of the print version and will make another announcement whenever my book is available.

Melody’s Carrot Cake
·      2 1/2 Cups flour
·      2 tsp baking soda
·      1/4 tsp salt
·      2 tsp cinnamon
·      1 cup light brown sugar packed
·      1 cup granulated sugar
·      3 sticks (1 ½ c.) salted butter, softened
·      3 large eggs
·      2 teaspoons vanilla
·      3 cups grated carrots (3-4 medium carrots)
·      ½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
·      1 cup (6 oz) raisins
·      1 cup (4 oz) chopped walnuts
Icing
·      16 oz cream cheese, softened
·      1 stick (1/2 c.) salted butter, softened
·      2 teaspoons vanilla
·      3 cups powdered sugar

*optional: you can add 1 Tbls. Lemon juice to frosting

* Feel free to add extra pineapple, carrots, vanilla, nuts, or raisins for a denser cake.

Directions:
1.     Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans or oblong pan
2.     In a large bowl, stir flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugars.  Add butter, one egg, and vanilla: blend with electric mixer on low. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes
3.     Scrape down sides of bowl and remaining eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each.  Add carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts.  Blend on low until thoroughly combined.
4.     Bake for 60-70 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then invert cakes on rack and cool to room temp. (If you use cake pans, be sure to cool them enough otherwise they will crumble.)

5.     Icing: beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add vanilla (and lemon juice if wanted) beat until combined.  Add sugar gradually, mixing on low.
6.     Ice and refrigerate for 1 hour to set icing.

 

 

 

 

Writers Contest

WRITERS CONTEST
As a reward  for the lovely writers who take time to post their stories on the forum, we are starting a new contest. 
Beginning July 1, 2018 and going thru December 31, 2018, all writers who post a story on DarcyandLizzy.com for at least four consecutive weeks (of course of a reasonable length a chapter . . .  no fudging) will be entered in a drawing for three Amazon gift cards to be awarded within two weeks of the contest end. Grand prize will be for $100 gift card and the next two prizes are $25 cards.

In the following six-month period (Jan. 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019) a writer can be eligible for one of the lesser prizes again, but not the $100 card until they have ‘sat out’ a six-month period in between.

Here is how you can increase the odds of winning: After you post for four consecutive weeks, your name is put in the pot. For every four-week period you post after that, your name gets put in the pot again. As you can see, for the benefit of this contest it would be more beneficial to post once a week for four weeks, rather than four times in one week.

I have added this because of questions asked: How long your story is will be up to you. To be fair, however, chapters should be at or close to 3000 words. Of course, the longer the story, the more times you name could be added to the pot.

We hope you will keep this in mind when you post next.

Welcome to my Birthday Party!

Welcome to my Birthday Party! I love birthdays and I’m so happy you dropped by to have some cake.  Please tell me which cake is your favorite and if you have a special birthday memory you would like to share, feel free to leave it in the comment thread. I have two eBooks and one print book of A Very Merry Mix-up to give away, so let me know if you would like one. (The print book is available only to readers who live in the USA or Canada.) The winners will be announced on May 21, the day after my birthday.

Have a nice day!  Jen Red ♫

 I LOVE fruit and this very berry pie cake is one of my favorites. Perfect with a cup of tea or your favorite cup of coffee. Shall we? (This one is store bought so I don’t have a recipe – sorry.)

Or how about this delicious Old Fashioned Super Moist Mayo Cake! It’s so yummy. Mmm…. (Recipe LINK)

    Then Carmalee thought it would be fun if she sent me her éclair cake! It’s an easy no-bake recipe, but oh so delicious! (Here is a video link on how to make this yummy treat. (LINK) Last but not least, we have my mom’s favorite Carrot Cake.  (Recipe LINK)

Thank you so much for stopping by to celebrate my birthday. You will find the comment link at the top of this post. Don’t forget to check back on May 21 to see if you are a winner. JAFF folks are the best! Jen Red ♫

A Very Merry Mix-up

Mar. 15, 2018

A Very Merry Mix-up

It all began when Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam stopped at the posting station in Bromley  on their way to Rosings Park for their annual visit. Looking for some diversion, the good colonel happened upon a local Romani woman  who was selling her people’s treasured  Moon Wine.  Find out what happens to some of our favourite Jane Austen characters when her advice is ignored in A Very Merry Mix-up by Jennifer Redlarczyk.   

Now available on Amazon.com in both eBook and Print versions.  

               

 

 

 

 

Teaser

1 April 1811, All Fool’s Day

Quickly rising, Darcy felt a little unsteady and found it necessary to hold on to the bed post while searching for his robe. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he staggered closer to the glass and groaned in disbelief.

“Merciful Heaven!” he thundered, turning back to the woman. “It is me, Fitzwilliam Darcy, in the body of that idiot rector! If you are Miss Elizabeth Bennet, as you claim, I fear we have both become the victims of some cruel joke. Will you not come and look for yourself?”

Picking up Charlotte’s dressing gown and quickly wrapping it around herself, Elizabeth guardedly went to the mirror as he requested. “Mr. Darcy?” She paled, realizing what he said was true. 

 

Please click here to see my Pinterest board for A Very Merry Mix-up ♫

Mr. and Mrs. and More!

The following post is from DAILY WRITING TIPS website and details the permutations of abbreviations for courtesy titles. I thought it very interesting and hope you will too.

Mister developed as a variant of master. (Interestingly, the newer title came to pertain to married men, while master, once a title of respect for a social superior, was reserved for unmarried men and boys.) Originally, both master and mister were abbreviated Mr. before a person’s name as a courtesy title, but as master fell out of use, Mr. came to be applied solely as an abbreviation for mister.

Mrs. was originally a generic abbreviation of mistress before a name, but it developed into a courtesy title specifically for a married or widowed woman, while Miss, with no abbreviation, was adopted as an honorific for unmarried women. Ms. began as a variant abbreviation of mistress as a courtesy title in the 1600s but fell out of favor. (At the turn of the twentieth century, it was proposed as a substitute form of address for a woman whose marital status is unknown, but the idea did not gain traction, nor did the abbreviation catch on fifty years later when a couple of business publications brought the issue up again. However, after feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem adopted the abbreviation as the title of a new magazine for women in 1972, its use quickly spread.)

Because no native plural form of Mr. or Mrs. developed in English, the French abbreviations Messrs. (Messieurs) and Mmes. (Mesdames) were borrowed; Mses. developed in imitation, and the plural form of Miss, Misses, like the singular form, did not acquire an abbreviation. Because of the decline in use of such honorifics, the plural forms are rarely seen anymore.

As a reference to a man who embodies a certain quality, Mr. appears in such references as “Mr. Right” (the ideal man for a woman to marry) or “Mr. Big” (a man of significant authority and/or status). Missus, a derivative of mistress based on a casual pronunciation of the latter word, and Miz, a spelling based on the pronunciation of Mrs. or Miss in the southern United States, should generally be used only in dialogue in historically or geographically appropriate fiction. However, “the Mrs.” or “the missus,” spelled as shown as humorous references to one’s wife, are appropriate in informal writing.

I hope you learned something new, for I did!

 

Jane Austen – The Melody of an Author

jane-austen-1Today, being Jane Austen’s birthday, 16 December, I would like to pay tribute to a very special woman in the world of literature. I first discovered Jane Austen when I was but a teenager. My mother was a lover of old movies and introduced me and my sister to the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice movie starring Greer Garson and Lawrence Oliver. What could be better than this old black and white with lively music and lighthearted banter between our beloved characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy?

darcyandlizzy-old

Little did I know that this old film was just a sneak preview into the world of Jane Austen and the literary works that I would soon come to love and cherish. Following this introduction, I quickly sought out our local used book store to see if I might purchase the original. To my delight, I found a fat anthology containing not only Pride and Prejudice, but all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels.

Our dear Jane was born on 16 December 1775. She was one of eight children (six boys and two girls) born to George and Cassandra Austen during the course of their marriage. Like Elizabeth and Jane from Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen was very close to her elder sister Cassandra.

Coming from a family of modest means, Jane did not have the privileges that would have been given to her in a more affluent household such as that of Georgiana Darcy or even Caroline Bingley. Her father was a simple clergyman who not only performed his duties in the ministry, but farmed and often boarded several boys that he tutored for extra income. While Jane and Cassandra did have some schooling outside of the home, from what I can tell, the majority of Jane’s education came from the independent reading she did, guided by her father and brothers, James and Henry.

z-ppJane had long been interested in the written word, and some of her earliest writings can be traced back as far as age eleven. She often wrote stories, poems, and short plays for her family’s amusement, and engaged in family theatricals on a regular basis. We can easily imagine how some of these experiences in Jane’s early life must have stimulated her imagination as well as forming the foundation for much of her writing that we enjoy today.

In this current day and age it is fascinating to be a part of the Jane Austen Fan Fiction culture that hungers for sequels, prequels and adaptations of almost every type based on Jane’s works. While writing my current Work In Progress, Darcy’s Melody, I have taken Austen’s main characters and written them into a new tale which takes place in London, during 1811. Although I could never hope to emulate Jane Austen’s masterful writing, I have thoroughly enjoyed trying to capture the essence of her characters within a genre that is so familiar to me, music. If you have not already done so, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you over to the storyboard to read along as I bring my tale to a close. Enjoy! Jennifer Redlarczyk ♫

PS I would love to know what first drew you to Jane Austen. What is your favorite Austen Book and what is is about JAFF that keeps you hungering for more?

dm

Melody of a Quilt

Melody of a Quilt

What is it about a beautiful handmaid quilt that makes your heart want to sing when you look at it or run your fingers over the seemingly endless stitches that were so lovingly placed throughout? For me it is an appreciation of an art that gives me a connection to the past. My mom, Jean Gibson Kreuser, came from a long line of Kentucky quilters who quilted out of necessity.

Growing up on a small 100 acer farm during the depression, my mom and her sisters used every scrap of fabric they could find in order to make coverings that would keep them warm at night. I remember her telling us stories how they would cut squares out of old shirts, dresses and sometimes even feed sacks to create their quilt tops. When looking in her old trunk, which I viewed more like a treasure chest, she still had several hand pieced blocks that she made when she was a young girl. pillow

As a child, I remember my mom was a woman who loved to keep her hands busy. I can still see her sitting in the old rocking chair crocheting or embroidering as we watched television or listened to music on the radio or phonograph. When I was very young, Mom sewed on an old Singer treadle sewing machine, as did my grandmother. I could sit at her feet for hours watching the wheel spin and the fabric run past the sewing feed as she made curtains for our windows or created the cutest clothes for me and my little sister, Melody. treadle-sewing-maching

At the young age of seven I desperately wanted to learn how to sew on that old machine and pestered my mom until she finally agreed to teach me. I was thrilled when Mom told us that our first project would be a nine-patch quilt top. The nine-patch was an old favorite of Mom’s, since it reminded her of her own childhood and all of the hours she spent sewing with her sisters. nine-patch

In making the nine-patch, the first thing we had to do was to cut an accurate two and a half inch square for the template. Once we got the cardboard template made, the next step was to tediously trace and cut the squares on varied scraps of cloth, being careful not to waste any fabric. We then sorted out the solids and prints, making what I thought were a very pleasing arrangement of blocks on the table. At last we were ready to sew.

On modern sewing machines, it is quite easy to make an accurate seam. On the old treadle it was more difficult so you had to mark the sewing lines for the seams to insure accuracy or use the presser foot as a gauge. With her loving hands guiding me each step of the way we worked diligently and actually completed the quilt top during the course of the summer between my second and third grade. Today, that old quilt resides at my sister’s house, and as tattered and worn as it is—the quilt has been an old favorite for many years.

Being a lover of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I have always had a soft spot for dear Georgiana, the younger sister who remembers so little of the mother who died when she was but a little girl. In my story Lady Anne’s Quilt, I have decided to give Georgiana a loving bond to her past through a very special heirloom, her mother’s quilt. Georgiana and her new sister, Elizabeth, happen to come upon the quilt while exploring the contents of an old trunk which was left by Lady Anne for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday. From there, a story of discovery allows Georgiana to connect with her mother in a way that is very endearing. This story may be found on the completed stories board on the forum. Lady Anne’s Quilt

In researching quilts made during Jane Austen’s time, I discovered that most quilts were often made from whole cloth and were not necessarily pieced or appliquéd as many are today. Even so, I learned by reading a wonderful UK article printed in The Jane Austen Community which tells us that Jane, her sister Cassandra, and her mother hand pieced the beautiful patchwork quilt that is now on display at Chawton Cottage in Hampton, UK. Here is a quote from the article.

In May 1811, Jane asked her sister Cassandra, “have you remembered to collect pieces for the Patchwork?—we are now at a standstill.”

 http://www.janeausten.co.uk/jane-austens-quilt/ ja-quilt-3

In corresponding with Sue Dell, Collections Volunteer at Jane Austen’s House Museum whose specialty is the Austen quilt, Sue told me that the central medallion is a chintz fabric that was taken from a piece that was sold as a panel for quilting, making chair covers or fireplace screens. The central medallion was cut out of this panel in the shape of a diamond and is equivalent in size to 121 of the small edging diamonds. Because it is printed, there is no piecing involved in this section of the quilt. Sue say that the full panel can be seen in a quilt in the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle in Yorkshire.

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In addition to the center medallion, there are at least 64 fabrics including a mixture of dress fabrics and furnishing fabric that are used in the construction of the quilt. The central area is made up of block printed fabrics that were probably fussy cut. This technique centers the flower before cutting out the shape. The small diamonds around the edge are largely made from roller printed fabrics.

There is no embroidery on the quilt. In fact, Sue says that though it is called a quilt, it is considered a coverlet since there is a layer of wadding between the patchwork and the backing, but the layers have not been connected by a quilting stitch. While there were quilts made at this time with the quilting stitch going through all of the layers, Sue believes that the Austen women made theirs for decoration rather than warmth. Interestingly, Sue also says that the quilt is completely symmetrical in terms of the positioning of the patches—even the tiny diamonds around the edge.

When taking in all of the planning that must have gone into the quilt by the Austen women, and viewing the end result, one can only image that the hand sewing of this treasure would have taken months to complete. For those of us who value the art of quilting, I feel that we are fortunate to have this particular connection to Jane Austen’s past. My heartfelt thanks of appreciation go out to all lovers of Austen and to those historians who have worked so hard to preserve another part of her legacy.

NOTE: I would like to make mention of an incredibly beautiful book called Jane Austen Patchwork Mystery by Linda Franz. In it you will find wonderful color pictures and additional information about Jane Austen’s quilt. Included are step-by-step instructions of how you might make your own patchwork treasure.

ALSO: I would like to acknowledge Sue Dell, who so graciously answered many of my quilt questions by email. Sue will be speaking at the Jane Austen North American (JASNA) convention on Friday, October 21, 2016 from 7:00-8:00 pm. The Annual General Meeting takes place from October 21-23 in Washington DC Metropolitan USA. Here is the blurb from her lecture:

Jane Austen was an adept needlewoman who did plain sewing and participated in the decorative crafts of the wealthier classes.  Jane, her mother, and her sister together stitched a unique and beautifully designed quilt, now displayed at Jane Austen’s House Museum.  Slides showing the quilt in previously unseen detail will accompany a discussion of its design, construction, and historical context. ja-quilt-5

I would love to know if you have ever been to Chawton House and seen the Jane Austen Quilt. Or if you have a special quilt story of your own, please feel free to share it in the comments thread. Thanks so much for reading my blog today. Jen Red ♫

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