Fixing the Red Dresden Plate Quilt Top, Part 1

A new old project underway. I’m thinking the quilt top maker had good intentions and at a glance everything seems great. But a closer look reveals problems that the quilting of this top will not remedy.

Overall measurements are 69×93 with individual blocks measuring anywhere between 18 and 19 1/2” square-ish and sashings are 3 1/2” wide.

The Dresden Plate measures 14 1/2” across and the red center is 5 1/2” in diameter.

The Dresden petals are all raw edge and were secured to the background fabric by these 3 strand embroidery floss buttonhole stitches. Sometimes the floss was knotted on the back, sometimes the front.

It took an amazing amount of time to remove the red floss stitches.

The red centers were also stitched in place with the red embroidery floss but unlike the Dresden Petals, the edge is turned under.

Throughout the quilt top, seam allowances were arbitrary as was sewing machine thread color.

Removing the Dresdens proved easiest when the floss was cut from the back of the block.

This picture shows the idiosyncrasies in the block construction as well as showing that the Dresden center circle was not trimmed to be a bit smaller than the diameter of the red center piece.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Dresden fabrics are mostly garment and possibly drapery with a handful of 1960’s or 70’s quilting (?) cottons. The sashing and block background is a poly/cotton blend. I figure I’ve got nothing to lose by redoing/fixing/embellishing this kind of vintage quilt top. This will be an interesting journey.

All the red embroidery floss took about 2 days to remove and for scale, this is a 6 1/2 cup bowl. 💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼

Happy quilting and blessings, Rhonda

13 thoughts on “Fixing the Red Dresden Plate Quilt Top, Part 1

  1. In defense of the original quilt maker, I’d like to say that there was very little information available for a quilter in the 80’s or 90’s. One might go to a class for a few weeks, or find a book with a pattern but unless someone experienced taught you, there was no chance that you’d do it right. I imagine this quilter saw her finished product and put it aside and went on to try her hand at another pattern and did better her second time. Have fun playing with this but please give credit to the quilter who tried to make her quilt out of material that was on hand. I’ve been there, done that.

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    1. Oh I feel bad that you think I was degrading the original quilt top maker. Because I have taken on this as a project, I felt in the opening blog post I needed to state the facts and having re-read the post I believe that’s just what I have done. I see great potential to enhance what this quilter did a long time ago. I do recognize that Quilters run the gamut between the novice and the experienced artist. I see this quiltop as having amazing potential to gather a new look, enjoy being part of a quilt sandwich and eventually when my time allows, to be quilted. I will keep my readers posted on my progress!

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  2. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with these dresdens. I have an dresden quilt top that I paid $5 for at an auction. The dresdens look/feel like vintage fabrics (feed sack maybe), but they were hand sewn to large squares of what feels like poly cotton. The large square aren’t uniform in size and are a beige color that I don’t like. I wondered if I could remove the dresdens and put them onto new backgrounds, but wasn’t confident enough to tackle it. It’s on the back burner while I work on the DWR and a couple of other projects. I’m sure you’ll do something fabulous with yours and will give me some inspiration for how to better showcase my blocks

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    1. I wish you the best in saving your Dresden plate blocks. If you will scroll back in my blog maybe a year or so there is a specific post about saving sunbonnet Sue. I literally removed the girls from the background fabric and appliquéd them onto new fabric in order to address many issues with the Quilt. This might be some thing you would like to do with your Dresden‘s? Keep me posted!

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  3. I’m in the process of removing machine sewed Dresden plates and it’s horrible. I set it aside because it was so awful. The background was some weird blue fabric that just fell apart but the plates are in good condition. It’s quite a job doing what you are doing but it will be beautiful when you’re done.

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    1. Oh, I can’t wait to see what you can do with this one. I have a quilt that is similar. I’ve been too afraid to do anything with it.
      Thank you.

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