Classic or Cheeky? A Playful Take on the Dresden Plate

Plates & Wheels quilt

Dresden Plate quilt pattern is a classic 1930s quilt design. The pattern started appearing on the scene in the 1920s (sometimes under different names like Sunflower or Grandmother’s Sunburst), and really hitting its stride in the 1930s with those wonderful prints of the era.

Dresden, Germany was famed for its tableware in this era, lovely decorative plates embellished with flowers and fruits, bright colors in delicate settings, hence the connection.

Traditionally, Dresden Plate blocks are made from wedges pieced together to create a circle of petals, with an appliqué button or circle applied to the center, often helpful in concealing not-quite-perfect center joins. The plate is then appliquéed to a block, and sewn into a larger quilt.

The geometry of Dresden Plate patchwork is unique, making it one of the distinctive patterns, like a Log Cabin or Cathedral Windows quilt, where the patchwork shape and piecing techniques are synonymous with the design. It’s a fun technique and design to try. Quiltmaker produced a great quick video that showcases the technique. If you want to see the technique even more in-depth, quilt designer Dodi Poulsen appeared as a guest on episode 2812 of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting series to teach Shattered Dresden.

Plates and Wheels flat

Christina McCourt’s version, Plates & Wheels (featured in Love of Quilting May/June 2018), doesn’t feature a center button to cover the points, but be brave! This quilt will release the bold, adventurous quilting spirit within you!

The extra-fun part of Christina’s quilt is the fabric choices. Dresden Plate quilts are ideal for scraps. In the 1930s, they often used scraps from those coveted flour and sugar feedsack fabrics.

Plates and Wheels is certainly scrappy, but instead of the traditional pastel 1930s prints, Christina chose to work with 1940s-inspired prints.

Still floral, by the 1940s, fabric prints became brighter and bolder, the scattered flowers larger, with more detail, and often in full bloom. You see more reds and vibrant blues, Kelly greens and dashing oranges. And stripes! The 1940s seem big on stripes, and we’re astonished by how well they work on the Dresden blades.

The scrappiness of the plates is planned, with each plate consisting of alternating fabrics that play together in different ways. Each plate has a distinct personality because of these choices. So much so, I think each one deserves a name! (Betty, Shirley, Madge…)

But the border? Wow! This quilt is a staff favorite because of the bold, mismatched, playful border. Each side consists of a completely different color, both on the inner and outer border. It’s not a choice that would have occurred to most of us, but you better believe we’re excited to try it out!

Then those stripes come back into play. There’s something cheeky about that striped green-and-white binding—a playful touch we’re glad Christina added!

Oh, no! We printed the finished wedge, instead of the template shape! Please use this pattern in making wedges for your Plates and Wheels pattern.

Comments (3)

  • Norma G

    Do I order the magazine from you or purchase it at a fabric store? I would like the Dresden Plate pattern……….plus, several others look interesting. Thank you.
    Norma J. Gahm

    April 10, 2018 at 12:13 am
  • Lynne H

    Absolutely love this. Great pattern and color selection. Can you offer some advice for managing the seams……especially the center where all 12 converge.

    April 11, 2018 at 10:59 pm

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