Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dresden Plate Sew Along - Week 1

I planted some parrot tulips several years ago. Over time, the squirrels dug out most of the bulbs. I don't remember having any tulips last year.

One popped up this spring, though. What a nice surprise!

I have joined the
Dresden Plate Party Sew Along sponsored by Kristen at So Happy.

Dresden Plate Party

Great idea, Kristen! I've always wanted to try this block. I think we're checking in with fabric choice this week, which I'll get to in a minute.

First, I want to tell you about the Dresden Plate quilt I had as a child. My mom made one for my sister Nita and then one for me a couple years later. Nita and I shared a bedroom and had those quilts on our twin beds from early on. Mom called it a sunflower quilt. She made ours from scrap fabrics in the petals or blades, red centers, and a white background. Her background was pieced, not appliqued. I spent hours and hours gazing at that quilt I slept under. I loved looking at the various fabrics and thinking about what dress, blouse, or other sewing project the scraps had come from. There was every color and print imaginable in the petals. My favorites were the paisleys. It was the 1960s, after all.

My sister's quilt went with her to California. She eventually moved back to the Midwest, but her quilt didn't. Mine was still at home when I got married and moved away. Then my parents moved to another state. Nobody seems to know what happened to my sunflower quilt. It's gone missing or just plain gone.

But something else turned up.

Last year, after Mom passed away, I was looking through her things and found a letter she had written, but never sent, to a family friend whom she called Aunt Lillie, though she wasn't related. Aunt Lillie had helped deliver my mom when she was born, in January 1937 (they had sent for the doctor, but he was delayed due to an ice storm). Aunt Lillie was also a quilter, and Mom's letter to her enclosed the pattern to the sunflower quilt she had just made for my sister. The letter reads:

October 24, 1961

Dear Aunt Lillie,

Since the weather has started to turn cold, I have had out my quilting. I am finishing my sunflower quilt and I remembered that I told you I'd send you the pattern and a picture showing how to set it together.

I'm finished with mine just about and it's real pretty. I used red in the centers and to strip it together with. I used white to fill in the corners and points. This one I'm making for a twin bed for [Nita]. I did almost all of it on the machine. I'm sending the pattern and picture I've drawn and hope it helps you get yours together.

I've got just all kinds of quilt patterns if you want some new ones. I'm going to order a quilt pattern book today so I will have all I ever want. Ha. I'll try to get some of the prettiest ones traced off for you.

My family are all fine. The girls are both growing and getting into everything. The baby [me] talks already and tries to say everything. She's almost as big as [Nita] except [Nita] is taller by 3 inches. I use the same size dress pattern for both of them...

She went on to talk about other things in the letter. She included her template pieces traced and cut from construction paper and a drawing of how she set her quilt. I don't know why she never mailed the letter, but I'm glad she didn't. Thanks, Mom.

I will probably use a modified version of Mom's pattern for the sew-along, and I'll applique it. I'm not up for piecing all those curves right away, but I will try her original pattern later.

So, here are the fabrics I pulled from my stash for the first block. Some new, some vintage.

Not sure how many different fabrics I need, and I haven't decided on the color of the center circle or background just yet. But I like surprises. We'll see what pops up.

Want to join the fun? Head over to Sew Happy and find out all the details!


  1. Wow! What an amazing piece of family history that you came across! Glad I'm not the only one who has never made one of these before!

  2. I agree! This is an incredible story! These fabrics are beautiful too! This amount is plenty. I always duplicate my favorites.

  3. Such an awesome history. I'm sure your mom would heartily approve of you making a replacement for the quilt she made for you.

    Love the colors you've selected! Can't wait to see these develop.

  4. I love the letter you found! I had a scrap quilt made for me by a family member when I was in my teens and sadly I have no idea where it is. I remember her trying to get me interested in the quilting process, but I had my busy important teenage things to do, you know! With age brings wisdom. :)

  5. I still have the scrap quilt my great-grandmother made for me when I was born - it's almost totally worn out now, but I also remember laying under it and wondering about where the different pieces came from. Such lovely memories! I never met her, but she was so real to me because of that quilt!!

  6. Love your fabrics P.

    Family history and artifacts are just fascinating. How wonderful to have those memories.


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