This was originally posted over at Suture for a Living on January 9, 2009.
My winter block of the “four seasons” quilt is a Dresden plate block. The center is a cross-stitch piece I had done with no intended use. The blue is silk that was left over from the “blue nude” quilt I had done.
The Dresden plate quilt pattern was very popular in the 1920’s and 30’s. It is also know by names such as Grandmother’s sunburst, sunflower, and friendship ring. There are usually 12 or more “petals” that are sewn together, radiating from a central circle, and then appliqued onto a block of fabric. The segments may be smooth at the outer edge of the circle or shaped into arcs or points, or a combination.
History of the Dresden Plate Block (for the full history and pictures go to the source article)
But there is indeed a much earlier example that used this configuration in the center of a wool, medallion style quilt. In fact this amazing antique is the earliest surviving American made pieced medallion quilt. It is inscribed, “ANNA TUELS HER BEDQUILT GIVEN TO HER BY HER MOTHER IN THE YEAR AU 23. 1785”. 2 To the right is an illustration of the medallion center of Anna Tules quilt and below is a link a photograph of it. The center Dresden Plate style motif is surrounded by hourglass and heart blocks and a wide beautifully quilted border.
Here is the block quilted. You can still see some of my “blue” washable marks.
Patterns from History written by Judy Ann Breneman
Quilter’s Muse Virtual Museum— The Secret Quilt Code: Underground Railroad Quilt Blocks, The Roots and Impact of a New American Myth