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!