Judy Anne Breneman of Patterns From History tells us that the Dresden Plate block was named after the ornately decorated tableware of Dresden, Germany; and these quilts brightened many a household during the Great Depression of the 1930's. The pattern is still popular today, since all types of fabric can be combined together to produce a cheerful, pleasing quilt which brightens even the simplest of rooms. Judy is offering a free Dresden Plate pattern, with several variations, to help you easily get started on a fun project.
Dresden Plate Pillow by Allison Harris
Allison Harris, creator of the popular website CluckCluckSew, displays a pretty Dresden Plate Pillow that provides a great example of the construction of this popular block. She uses fabrics in very small, colorful calico type prints, reminiscent of the fabrics of the 1930's and 1940's. In this case, Allison used a sturdy plastic template from EZ Quilt to cut out 20 small segments, then she seamed them and joined them in a circle. After appliquing them to the pillow fabric, she added the red center and carefully machine stitched around the edge.
Allison chose Dresden Plate segments that are pointed on the ends, but as you will see in quilts displayed below, it's possible to create segments which are rounded, flat, or alternating sizes at the tips.
"Lollipops" Quilt Pattern, 40 x 40 by Edyta Sitar
Edyta Sitar, author of the fascinating Friendship Triangles and Hop To It books, shows us a contemporary Dresden Plate quilt, using rich, deep batik colors. This is an updated look, as solid colors or tonals are used in place of small calico prints. Because the blocks are set against an intricately patterned neutral taupe background, they really seem to "pop" from the surface of the quilt. Edyta's carefully written, thoughtful instructions will help you produce this gorgeous quilt. For more "yummy" items, including Edyta's fabric collection for Moda, kits, patterns, and embroidery software, see her Laundry Basket Quilts website.
Dresden Plates by Jenny Reynold
Are you ready for a trip " down under"? Well, let's go !
From Brisbane, Australia comes this lively quilt from Jenny Reynold, who belongs to the Queensland quilt guild, otherwise known as QLD Quilters. Jenny has done a marvelous job of sewing vibrantly colored large Dresden Plates with beautiful smaller "baby plates" as a means of evenly spacing her quilt blocks. This is a clever way of accurately setting the large blocks without creating too much negative space with the off-white background. Notice that Jenny has carried out the feeling of rounded movement by creating a scalloped edge, whose curves match the round blocks. For more wonderful quilt photos, as well as the announcement of their upcoming quilt show from Oct. 20 to Oct. 24, 2010, please visit the QLD Quilters website in Australia.
Sunflower Baby, 42 x 46, by Darcy Ashton
In this adorable baby quilt, the Dresden Plates are treated as sunflowers, with green print stems and leaves. Darcy has appliqued and embroidered faces for the center of each flower. The centers are gently stuffed with fiberfill to help them stand out from the rest of the quilt. Note that Darcy carried out the Dresden Plate theme to the corners of the quilt, where partial plates tie in the corners with the center design. For this and other inspiring books and patterns, take a look at Darcy's wonderful Ashton Publications website.
Vintage Dresden Plate pattern, 81 x102, by Marti Michell
This sunny quilt pattern has a charming basket medallion in the center, which is actually a Dresden Plate bouquet of flowers in a basket. Instead of the standard square block setting for Dresden Plates, the blocks are set "en pointe", creating a pretty diagonal effect. As a bonus, this pattern also comes with a really cute Dresden Plate Homecoming Wall Hanging pattern. You can purchase the pattern at From Marti Michell: Home of the Perfect Patchword Templates.
Dresden Plates, 52 x 65, by Marsha Bray and Candy Grisham
A well-known quilt teacher and designer, Marsha writes that she had many pieces of monochromatic blue scraps left over from a previous project, so she started handpiecing Dresden Plate blocks to see how many she could complete. She also chose a diagonal, non-traditional setting these blocks, which look beautifully balanced and very symmetrical, next to their sawtooth border. The sophisticated navy and white contrasting colors add to the dignified and elegant effect of this quilt. For more stunning quilts and creative ideas, visit Marsha Bray's website.
Round Robin Raffle Quilt by West Virginia Quilters, Inc.
For their Quilt Festival from June 24-26 2010, quilt guilds throughout West Virginia lovingly pieced this fabulous 93" square raffle quilt, with a very original variation. The Dresden Plate blocks are constructed in one half and three quarters round sizes to form part of the quilt's inner border. This variation creates a flowery complement to the appliqued vine as it dances around the center patchwork. If you're near Summersville, WV from June 24-26, be sure to visit the festival and enter the raffle. Raffle tickets are a bargain: $1.00 each or 6 for $ 5.00.
Dresden Plate With Bows, by Kingston Heirloom Quilters
Here's a Dresden Plate quilt whose fanciful and lively swag border matches the blocks and carries out the circular motif. Located in Ontario, Canada, the Kingston Heirloom Quilters are known for their elaborate borders, and this quilt is no exception. The deep blue print from the center of the plates is used for the bows of the border. The gold fabric of the bows between the plates is also used in the scallops of the border. 27 members contributed over 400 hours of work to complete this quilt, which was later raffled. For more of their beautiful work, please see the KHQ website.
Additional resources: For more excellent information and inspiration, take a look at these books:
Thoroughly Modern Dresden by Anelie Belden at Anelie's Quiltworks;
Dresden Plate Quilts: A Simplified Method by Wendy Gilbert and Merritt Voigtlander;
Dresden Plate: New Quilts From An Old Favorite by Shelley Hawkins; and
Dresden Plates of Distinction by Sharon Stroud; her website is here.