By Tricia Patterson, Quiltmaker Associate Editor
America’s birthday is just around the corner. I’ve been thinking about the significance of our Fourth of July a lot this year. The weekend brings back memories of home and traveling to one of my sibling’s houses for a family celebration. Much like today, back in the day it was significant for being together, eating traditional picnic foods and having a leisure day to sit on the patio chatting about recent events and local issues, kids playing in the yard, hearing firecrackers in the background, waiting for dark to see the fireworks —and me with a quilting project nearby or stitching in my hands. (The Fourth is also a very special day because it’s my mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!)
I had all these memories in mind when I had the idea for the project feature in today’s Quilting That Travels blog about Appliqué Quilts.
I wonder which came first, the Crazy quilt pattern that I talked about in my last blog, or Appliqué quilts. An Appliqué quilt, like the Crazy quilt, has been adopted as one of the traditional quilt patterns for story telling through fabric. Both are typically more decorative by design. Appliqué quilts first appeared in America in the southern states during the 1800s. There is evidence that appliqué appeared much earlier in the work of the master crafters in the Middle and Far East. Early appliqué designs were taken from nature, (flowers in particular; much as they are today), and drawn on whole cloth.
I chose the Dresden Plate pattern to share because it is also a time-traveled design, a very popular pattern for hand appliqué quilts. The Dresden Plate was one of the most well liked quilt patterns during the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s. The design’s namesake — Dresden, Germany — produced decorative porcelain plates during the art movement of the 19th century. I searched through many issues of our magazines and blogs for Dresden Plate patterns to discover it’s still a very popular pattern — and Quiltmaker and McCall’s Quilting have served it well. (I’ve listed a mere sampling of the many blog links and article references at the end of this blog.)
Materials and Preparation Before You Go:
You don’t need anything out of the ordinary to make a Dresden Plate, other than a pattern. One of the women I work with suggested I try using the Easy Dresden quilting tool to cut out the plates for my blog sample. I can’t recommend it enough. It was so easy to cut out the 18 plus plates for this blog! I’ll tell you more about using the tool in the directions below. The tool arrives with easy-to-follow directions too. Cut out the plates before you GO with this project.
(To make my sample project, cut a 12-1/2″ square of fabric for the background and 8 strips, 2-1/2″ wide, from 3 different fat quarter prints. (I joined 2 of these strips for the last strip on the sample.) I cut the plate wedges from 6 different fat quarter prints.)
Making the Sample Appliqué Dresden Plate
Step 1. Plan the layout of the Dresden Plate ahead if you use assorted fabrics. Cut 18 wedges using the 5″ mark on the Easy Dresden tool. Cut the wedges from a 5″ wide strip of fabric. Lay the tool on the fabric as shown in the first photo below. Using a rotary cutter and the tool as a guide to cut out the first wedge. As shown in the second photo, move the tool to the other side of the fabric strip and line it up with the edge created by the last wedge to cut the next one. Repeat until all the wedges needed for the plate are cut. (I found it helpful to lay out pieces in a circle as I cut them.)
Step 2. Refer to the photo to make and assemble the plates.
1) Fold a wedge in half, right sides of fabric together. Stitch the top edge with a 1/4″ seam using a short running stitch; trim the corner of the folded edge at an angle. (2) Finger press the seam open. (3) Turn the wedge right side out. Use sharp scissors or a point turner to push the point out, carefully so you don’t push through the seam. Center the seam and press the wedge flat. (4) Placing right sides of two wedges together and lining the point ends, use a short running stitch and 1/4″ seam allowance to sew the wedges together along one side. Continue to join the wedges until you add all of them to form the plate circle. From the wrong side of the wedge plate, press all seam edges to one side to flatten the Dresden Plate.
Step 3. Use the whipping stitch to appliqué the outer edges of the Dresden Plate to the background fabric, stitching no more than 1/4″ apart. I sprayed the back of the plate with a temporary fabric adhesive, 505 Spray & Fix by JT Trading Corporation, to help hold the Dresden Plate in place while I stitched around the plate.
Step 4. There are several ways to add the finishing touch to the Dresden Plate, covering the open circle in the center. A circle patch is most commonly used. Cut the circle of fabric at least 1/2″ larger than the open area. Using the needle-turn appliqué technique, sew the circle to cover the center of the plate. A large button would also make an interesting center for the Dresden Plate. I used another traditional quilting pattern, a Quilting That Travels pattern, for the center in my sample. Can you tell what it is? Stay tuned.
Check out the following for more how-to’s and some really great ideas and patterns for Dresden Plate quilt designs.
Brought to you by Quiltmaker:
Dresden Plates how-to video
Charm Square Dresdens
You Are My Sunshine quilt pattern
A Little Pensive, a pincushion design
Brought to you by McCall’s Quilting:
Block Builders Workshop Use the Easy Dresden Ruler for the Dresden Plate Quilt Block
Miss Kyra: Bright Floral Dresden Plate Wall Quilt Pattern