I’ve always wanted to try a Dresden Plate block, and this is my first attempt.  Not too shabby for a first effort, but, uh, room for improvement with that centre circle placement!  Ah well — trying new things and improving is what this quilt is all about.

There are a few different types of Dresden Plate block: the most intriguingly different from this are blocks with no centre (ooo hard, no room for fudging!) and those with round petals rather than blades.  They’re going on the list.

Patches in this block: 18

Patches so far: 977

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(which needs an iron!  That’s the problem with cameras these days — they show you things you miss in real life!)

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I made a block for my sampler quilt.  Seriously — the last one was in April last year.  0_O !!

So then it’s appropriate that this be something special, something I’ve been saving.  Like a tribute to the ‘Sundial Coverlet’, a patchwork and applique extravaganza held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London:

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O14716/patchwork-quilt/

It’s around three metres squared — an enormous quilt worthy of the largest of king size beds, and then some.  I seem to remember reading somewhere that beds used to be a lot larger in the 18th century.  Any historians out there who could back that up with some actual facts?  There are ducks and stars and pinwheels and all manner of geometric motifs, all dancing around a sundial and a date from long ago.  I’m just going to go out on a limb and imagine that 1797 is the date it was finished, but that would be because it’s the date a modern quilter would use, and I may be wrong.

In any case, I’ve been in love with this quilt since I saw it reproduced in Kaffe Fassett’s V&A book oh, around ten years ago, before I had made any quilt more complicated than a puff patch.  Kaffe and his team didn’t reproduce any of the applique, instead choosing to recreate the impression of the patchwork in their version — they were working with time constraints, of course, and the quilter who took this on would never see the light of day again!

I chose two particularly appealing applique blocks to reproduce, one with scissors and thimble, the other with a clamp and heart.  A clamp was a sewing tool back in the day — one might clamp the end of the seam to a table, then stitch towards it.  Makes sense for a straight and even line of stitching.

I took a photo of the quilt from Kaffe’s book with a macro-enabled camera, cut the photo down into the pieces I wanted, blew it up in Photoshop until I got around about the right size, and then used the Trace tool in EQ to create applique shapes.

Could I have drawn it freehand and saved the bother?  Probably,  but this way makes me feel a lot more connected to the mysterious quilter who made all these wonderful, magical blocks.  It must have taken so many years.

Patches in this block: 5

Patches so far: 878

It may be autumn here in Oz but this tulip pattern seemed like a lovely one for Easter.  Plus, I got to practise my applique.

Happy Easter to you all, unless you’re Greek Orthodox (Hi, Aspasia!), in which case I will save my felicitations for next week.

Also, apologies for the magical disappearing photograph in the bushfire quilts post.  I changed the Flickr settings so as not to look like I was showing off (hey! look at my donation!) but didn’t realise making it private in Flickr would make it private everywhere else.

Patches in this block: 18 (yes, I AM counting the background)

Patches so far: 873

Little Red Schoolhouse, in blue.

I thought this would be a nice easy one.  But… inset seams with paper piecing!  aaagh…

It’s an old favourite, and much more square than it seems in this photo, which makes it worthwhile.  And hey, new skill.

Patches in this block: 21

Patches so far: 855

Ok, now we get serious.  I love this block, but at 15x15cm, there was no way I could make it by hand.  I couldn’t even hold the seams — my fingertips are thicker than each of these little triangles.

American paper piecing to the rescue!

For those who are unfamiliar with the idea, you print the block pattern out on a sheet of paper, then trace the pattern to the back on a window or a light box.  Placing a bit of fabric over one drawn ‘patch’, you then cover it with the next, sew a seam, flip the fabric, and keep going.  I won’t go into more detail because there are many many great tutorials out there.

Not all blocks can be done this way, as they need to fan out; this block was created in eight sections then pieced together.  After you’re done, you pull the paper away.  It’s really quite a lot of fun: the only drawback is, it uses a lot more fabric than my old trace-and-cut method.

For more amusement, here’s Harry Potter in APP.

Patches in this block: a whopping 92

Patches so far: 564

Time flies, it seems: I wouldn’t have thought it was June when I last made a sampler block, but sadly it’s true.  This one didn’t go exactly according to plan.

Plan:

Reality goes a little wonky:

Perhaps it’s because the pieces are small, perhaps it’s because I’m rusty with the mini-measurements, but the wheel part came out a lot bigger than the plan and I had to cut back, stretch out, and improvise. I still like the block very much.

Patches in this block:34

Patches so far:417

It’s finished! Hurrah. Still hand piecing, still at 15 x 15cm.

Patches in this block: 64 (!)

Inset seams in this block involving pieces 1/2″ or less: one bajillion, give or take a million

Seams I had to unpick: about ten

Seam intersections involving eight pieces of 1/2″ or less in this block: one too many.

Undemanding television absorbed: “Dodgeball”, “Transformers” (fun!), “Persuasion” (love!), “Death at a Funeral”, “Starsky and Hutch”, and “Withnail and I”. I realised that I know someone who is trying to be Withnail, and that it explains a lot.

Patches so far: 354

Would you like to try this for yourself?  Perhaps on a larger scale 🙂 ?    Here’s the pattern.