Block 2019: Dresden Plate Variations

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Welcome to the Block 2019 Creative Challenge! We’re exploring different classic quilt block each month all year long. Before we get to the Dresden Plate variations, we want to be sure you get to see the Block 2019 Sampler Quilt!

It’s 72″ x 72″ and suitable for quilt-as-you-go. Get fabric requirements for the sampler or look at the kit. It’s another fun way to participate in Block 2019. Okay, back to Goose Tracks variations!

Last week we met Dresden Plate. This week, we’re going to play with variations of Dresden Plate and learn along the way what essential parts from the Goose Tracks block must exist in its variations. Let’s start by looking at the original.

Dresden Plate quilt block

Dresden Plate features wedges set in a circle. According to Barbara Brackman in Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, the traditional Dresden Plate was popularized in the 1930s with block names related to flowers like Aster and Sunflower. However, the block can trace its roots back to Fan blocks popularized in the 1880-90s and common in crazy quilts. In the beginning, the fan blocks featured wedges creating smooth-edged quarter circles. As the trend grew, so did the variations.

Let’s take a look at some block variations and contest quilts from QuiltWeek to learn more about this block.

Fans & Crazy Quilts

dresden plate variations

FLOWER-ROAD by Setsuko Kashiwagi

This quilt is a medallion quilt featuring crazy quilt patchwork and stitching, a central fan wheel, and Dresden Plates with blades (points).

dresden plate variations

MEMORY by Ikuyo Kitada

This quilt uses quarter circles to great effect. Each fan wedge is rounded (petal) creating a soft, playful effect which is echoed with the scalloped borders.

DANCING WITH THE FANS by Laurel Maloney

This quilt leans into the Fan motif with stitches that complete the fan’s spine and bead details. Several different fans and Dresden Plate variations make up different elements of the quilt, even two little baskets.

dresden plate variations

LYRE WITH FLORAL WREATH by Kumiko Funaki

This medallion quilt uses Dresden Plates with scrappy blades and outlines them in yellow. In fact, most elements of the quilts feature a contrasting outline or some finishing detail that bring to mind the accent of crazy quilt embroidery stitches along every seam.

dresden plate variations

HOT DRESDEN NIGHTS by Arlene Abernathy

Dresden Plates with blades are outlined in variegated colors, evoking a hint of the crazy quilt feeling, bolstered by the scrappy blades. The matching center circles in each Plate and the minimalist arrangement push this quilt towards a modern feeling.

Petals

dresden plate variations

DRESDEN CHARMS by Kathryn Botsford

Petals are creates from wedges with rounded edges. The degree of the curve and the method of creating the petals can vary widely. This mini quilt features a really common petal shape with reproduction 30s prints.

dresden plate variations

HAPPINESS IS by Bonnie Stetson

A cool way to add some punch to a Dresden Plate is to combine edge types. The majority of the wedges in this quilt form petals, but the four radiating wedges are blades, coming to points, as if pointing in the cardinal directions.

dresden plate variations

THE BANQUET by Jenny Bacon

The Dresden Plates in the border of this medallion quilt feature a gently curved petal for a subtle effect which compliments the low-volume scrappy fabrics of the wedges. Contrast these petals with the very round petals in BUNDT CAKE later in this post to see how subtle versus exaggerated curves create different feelings in the Dresden Plate blocks.

Blades

dresden plate variations

EMBRACING MY INNER MEDALLION I by Jane Pitt

Here we have four Dresden Plates making up the center of a medallion quilt to great effect. The scrappy blades made with 30s reproduction fabrics create a fun feedsack feeling while the matching red centers unify and focus attention on the center of the quilt.

dresden plate variations

INSPIRED BY ALICE by Marilyn Lidstrom Larson

The Dresden Plates in Inspired by Alice feature 24 blades. The increase in blades creates more space for scrappy fabric choices, but it also creates finer points and a more refined look that suits the applique border. Dresden Plates with fewer wedges can look more rustic or childlike, while more wedges add complexity and interest.

Pieced

dresden plate variations

COMPOSITION IN BLACK AND WHITE #1 by Brian Dykhuizen

It hardly gets more complex and interesting than this simple concept. The blades in this quilt are split in half, with one side black and the other side white. This creates the illusion of dimension and the high contrast starts to play tricks with the eyes. There are 40 blades in this Dresden Plate made up of 80 half-blades. This complexity paired with its increased scale and high contrast optical illusion make this quilt a very modern take on a classic.

TWISTIN’ DRESDEN STYLE by Anne F. Zick

Dresden Plates can also be pieced with various rings like these checkered blocks. Each block invites you to get lost in its color combinations.

Objects

dresden plate variations

MISS DOTTIE DRESDEN by Ann Rindge

Sunflowers are a popular motif for bladed Dresden Plates, and this one features a very fun double Dresden Plate in the center.

RIDING THRU THE GARDEN by Rachel Phipps, Whimsical Bicycle Art Quilt Pattern by Sally Manke, Fiber Artist, © 2016

The more wedges in a Dresden Plate, the more circular it looks, and this quilt uses that to its advantage, making two bicycle wheels from Dresden Plates. Compare the bike wheels to the four chunkier Dresden Plates in the corners for the difference the number of wedges can make.

dresden plate variations

SUMMER BUNDT CAKE WITH MINT AND BLUEBERRIES by Jane Zillmer

Isn’t this quilt scrumptious! A petaled Dresden Plate with only 12 wedges and very round petals creates an ebullient shape, and just happens to look like a bundt cake viewed from above. It’s a clever use of the block and one wonders if the quilt is inspired by a recipe or if the quilt will inspire a recipe itself, because I certainly want a bundt cake with mint and blueberries now.

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH by Audra Rasnake

Look closely. This stained glass window features a Dresden Plate double motif with petals. The central blue Dresden Plate has petals with a gentle curve while the outer curve features a more exaggerated half-circle curve for dramatic effect.

Give it a try!

Love the look of sunflowers? Try out Dresden Sunflower by Kimberly Einmo.

Or maybe you’d like to make a traditional Kansas Sunflower State Block.

Want to try a fan? Dust off your Quarter Circle skills from Drunkard’s Path.

To begin, cut wedges using the Dresden Plate Templates from last week, then sew 4 wedges together. (Leave the tops unsewn.)

Next, download the 6″ Quarter Circle Template and then cut out an A piece from your background fabric. Place the sides of sewn wedges at the edges of the B template and trim the excess to the curve.

Sew A and B together using curved piecing as instructed in the Drunkard’s Path instructions.

Make 4 Quarter Circle units and sew them together. Then sew a center circle from the Dresden Plate Templates over the center to finish the block.

Check back next week, August 23rd, for quilt-as-you-go ideas for quilting your Dresden Plate block.

Looking for the rest of Block 2019? Click Here to return to the main post!

Show us your Dresden Plate blocks and variations in the AQS Project Parade Facebook group, or use the hashtag #Block2019 and tag us @aqsonline because we can’t wait to see what you make!

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