Becky’s Dresdens

I just finished quilting an antique Dresden Plates quilt top for a lady named Becky. Becky is Grandma Jane’s daughter.

Becky left the quilt top with her mother, and asked me to quilt it. She apologized for the condition of the top in advance, and said I could do whatever I wanted to it.

Secretly, I love it when someone tells me that, although sometimes I’m not sure exactly how much they’d like to spend, which puts me in a quandary!

Naturally, the more custom and heavier the quilting, the more it’s going to cost, but just how much money do you want to put into an antique quilt top that’s far from perfect to begin with?

I decided to treat it as if it were my own, which is pretty much what I try to do with every quilt I quilt anyway.

And here’s how it ended up:

I will tell you it was not easy, and it’s far from perfect in a lot of places.

Not one single one of the plates had a perfectly round center “hole”, nor were any of the holes the exact same size. Therefore, I couldn’t put any particular motif in the center, because it would have looked lopsided or been too big or too small on any given plate.

Most of the plates were stretched and/or bubbly because of the way they were appliqued down onto the background fabric. The background fabric appears to have been a sheet (or sheets), cut up to make the base blocks. But they were all the same color, at least.

Not every blade was the same shape, some of them were pleated and wrinkled, and some had the rounded tops pointed and not so smooth.

But I love it! It’s a very charming quilt, and the fabrics are amazing. There’s a little bit of everything. Some of the blades are linen, some polished cotton, some feedsacks, some blends. I really enjoyed looking over all the old fabrics.

So what I decided to do was to make each plate look like a great big flower. I first quilted about 1/4″  inside each blade, then did a smaller petal inside the bigger one, then did a squiggle up through the middle of each one. I outlined the entire outer edge of the plate, then outlined again 1/4″ outside that.

You can see on this particular plate where one of the blades is puckered. There was no way for me to get it to lie flat, so I (gasp!) quilted in a wrinkle, which it really pained me to do. Grandma Jane says: “Oh, honey, that just adds to its charm! No one wants a perfect quilt!”

In the center, to downplay the fact that they were off-kilter, I did a wavy-lined cross hatching to act as the center of the flower.

To make the quilt lay flat, I figured a dense background fill would take care of that problem, so I purchased this Clover pattern from Judi Madsen at Green Fairy Quilts to put in the open spaces between the blocks, then filled in around everything with tiny pebbling.

As I got going good, I was a bit concerned about how it would look on the back, because Becky had chosen a blue backing with a tiny white dot in it. At first, I didn’t like how it looked, but once I got done, I decided it wasn’t so bad.

The one thing I don’t like on the back, is how the backtracking around the center of each flower stands out so much. I think it only draws attention (on the back side) to how un-round each of them is. But overall, I think the back is quite pretty now that I’m done.

The quilt measures 70″ x 85″, and has no outer border. I don’t know what Becky will choose to bind it with. It took me around 15 hours to quilt it.

And now that the ibuprofen has taken effect, I can stand back and say I’m glad I did it!

Published in: on May 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm  Comments (38)  

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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. EGADS!I am floored…speechless…in love with
    that quilt and what you did with it! You just hit the quilting stratosphere and Grandma Jane is a wise woman! Good gravy, your quilting is just stunning!

  2. Gorgeous quilting with your extra effort so obviously worth it!

  3. Beautiful work, Shelly, and I love reading about your thought process as you solve all the problems as you quilt.

  4. That. Is. Amazing.

  5. What a lovely piece of work you have done. I think it looks great.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful work! Love that you made each plate look like a flower. You are amazing!

  7. I love it Shelly! I think you did a fine job of quilting and the design you came up with for this one. Very striking!

  8. That is spectacular! Aren’t we always more concerned with our work than anyone else? This gal will fall in love all over again!!! BTW what would be the charge for quilting? It’s just too beautiful?

  9. Absolutely wonderful. I really like the back!

  10. Wow!! It’s amazing! Gorgeous work!

  11. Wowee! I’d say you did a WONDERFUL job. I like all the ways you tackled the little “challenges.” 🙂

  12. Shelly – What a gorgeous quilt and the quilting you created made it even more fabulous!!! Wonderful job!!! 🙂

  13. Wow the quilting is so beautiful!! You did an amazing job.

  14. Wow that is a fabulous quilting job on a very challenging project. I love what you did by making the flower motifs. I really like the back. If the owner decides to wash it and let it pucker up a bit, it will really look like an antique.

  15. I, too, love the old fabrics. I also love the imperfections, since quilts, and people, don’t have to be “perfect” for me to love them. Who knows what hardships were overcome by the lady who struggled and made those plates. You so very much added to it’s beauty. Fantastic job!!

  16. Wow, Shelly, just WOW!!!!!!! You are amazing! The quilting is just stunning! I love hearing the story behind the quilt and the challenges you faced when coming up with a quilting plan. You nailed it! Thanks for sharing all the pictures.

  17. Job well done, Shelly! I’d be pleased as punch to be picking that one up from you. Been thinking of you and your cowboy today.

  18. Shelly, it is just gorgeous! Both the front and the back look stellar! You have much to be proud of! I can’t wait for you to quilt mine!!!!!

  19. Absolutely beautiful quilt, Shelly! The results were so worth all the hard work you put into it. Great job! I love the back…it looks just as awesome as the front.

  20. speechless … gorgeous quilting!

  21. Will you visit my blog and let me know if the quilt I am showcasing there is a Dresden Plate, or is it called Grandmother’s Flower Garden?

  22. MAN OH MAN!!! What an outstanding work of art!!!

  23. Your quilting is beautiful.

  24. Oh, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful quilt. If it was not in the best shape before, you as a quilter turned this into a masterpiece, in my opinion. I love Dresdens, and you have inspired me to try one. Thank you so much again gifted quilting for sharing.

  25. What a lovely story on how this quilt came to be finished. It is a true testament to your talent that the quilt looks so amazing. What an heirloom to hold!!

  26. It is breath taking beautiful.

  27. It’s beautifu, you did a wonderful job on it!!

  28. It’s beautiful, Shelly! I want to quilt like you when I grow up. 🙂

  29. That is Unbelievably Stunning…. I love it!!!

  30. I have a Dresden plate quilt that needs quilting. Wondering if you would be interested ? You do beautiful work.

  31. Is the stitching pattern available?

  32. Realy lovely work with exquisite attention to detail. What machine(s) do you use? I remember my grandmother, aunts, and mother meeting on weekends to work on a quilt, carefully trimming bits of cloth to stitch by hand into the fabric stretched within the quilting frame. Those and the feather filled blankets kept us warm in the basement where my cousins and I slept without any wintertime heat.

  33. This is gorgeous!! I’ve been looking for a quilter like you for 30 years to quilt a top my grandmother and I sewed by hand together when I was 11!! Interested?

  34. Your quilting is amazing!!!! I love that.
    I’m curious where you’re located and what you charge?

  35. Is all this quilting done by hand or sewing machine. All those little round pebbles, is that by hand? Want to learn , don’t know where to start.

  36. Beautifully done! I love the flower design.

  37. This quilt is gorgeous and the anomalies makes it even more precious. My two daughters and I are in love with it. So soft and pretty. Your quilting is phenomenal.

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