Vintage “Dresden Plate” Quilts

30 08 2014

As you know, I’ve been working recently on some vintage quilt pieces sent to me by friend and customer, John.

Dresdens pile

The third vintage project in the box John sent me was a stack of Dresden Plate rings. There were nineteen. Nineteen? Everyone knows you need twenty blocks to make a quilt in a 4 x 5 grid! Furthermore, the rings did not lie flat due to narrow seam allowances.


I decided to remove one wedge from each ring to make the 20th block.

Dresdens number 20

I purchased yards and yards of Kona cotton “Snow” for background fabric. After cutting 20″ background squares, I centered the rings, pinning well.

Dresden well pinned

Fortunately, Grandma Davidson had turned under and basted the raw edges of the Dresden Plates. Loading my sewing machine with thin ecru thread, I hem-stitched around the center circle and scalloped outer edge of each plate. Perhaps you can see the stitch on the dark blue wedge in the photo below.

Dresden stitching detail

I was planning to sash the blocks in sold medium blue until John saw a photo online of a “Dresden Plate” quilt sashed with various prints. Interesting idea! At Loving Stitches quilt shop I found the perfect mix of 1930s reproduction prints for the sashing.


And then we “did the math.” Using all 20 blocks would make a gargantuine king sized quilt. I asked John if he would like two queen size quilts rather than one king sized quilt. I was relieved that he said “yes.” The king would have been rather unwieldy to work on.

I cut the sashing 3″ wide, the “Snow” inner border 4″ wide, and the blue outer border 5 1/2″ wide. The quilt is about 90″ square.

Now to decide on quilting designs. Keeping in mind the vintage nature of the quilt, and my customer’s budget, and my desire to finish the project, I thought an all over design would be quick and simple. But the quilt screamed at me. It said, “Feathers with white thread in the outer blue border, curls in the inner border, feathered circles in the interior of the rings, and I don’t care what you do on the background and on the plates themselves.” Such a demanding quilt! What do you do when a quilt screams at you? You listen!



By working on John’s grandmother’s unfinished projects, I’ve developed a theory. If Grandma had finished all her projects, the quilts would be worn out by now. Since she left some UFOs, they have now been transformed into fresh, new quilts for her grandchildren to enjoy. Maybe it’s a good idea to leave some UFOs behind for the next generation to complete!

What UFO would you leave behind? Me? There’s that Baltimore Album quilt I started 15 years ago . . .




10 responses

30 08 2014
Mary Ed Williams

Gorgeous, Aby! And the quilting is perfect! Remember the quilt in the show by Karen Pervier that had the 25 year-old blocks? It was the “wedding quilt” and was gorgeous. I think sometimes that “older is better”!

30 08 2014
Jen Johnston

Even more gorgeous in person!

30 08 2014
Jen Johnston

What is UFO??? UnFinished…..what?

30 08 2014
Pam Bonstead

This one makes my heart sing and eyes tear up!

30 08 2014

You are a patient person, Aby! What beautiful results!

30 08 2014
Linda Law

I have just finished doing Dresden plates, and was’nt sure what to do with the blocks so this may have solved my problem, thank you

1 09 2014
Nan Lee

A question for Aby. I have come across 8 beautiful Dresden Plate blocks. They are not appliqued to anything yet. What can I do with 8 blocks. They are also 30’s fabrics. They are about 14 inches across. Hand sewn with less than 1/8th inch seams.

10 06 2016

Put them on point!

11 06 2016

If you set 8 blocks on point, you would have 3 blocks in the top row, 2 blocks in the center row, and 3 blocks in the bottom row. Good thinking, Kathleen!

15 03 2017

Good point about grandma’s UFOs! ❤

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