Old quilt blocks and orphan blocks left over from other projects hold a great appeal for me. And I'm a big fan of the traditional Dresden Plate block. This collection of stray blocks was just waiting to be used together in a quilt. I'd get them out from time to time, ponder what to do with them, and then put them away. That is, until I pulled out the lively pieced background that was all done and waiting to be used in a project. The background and the blocks all landed on the sewing room floor at the same time, and we began to play! "Dancing Dresdens" is the result. It's pretty wild, but somehow all the elements work together in a happy, happy quilt.
A friend who was moving, gave me a selection of these old Dresden blocks made by a family member. They contain everything from the usual quilting cottons, to corduroy, to shiny chintz and home dec fabrics. I made a quilt from most of her blocks and gifted it back to her and her family. But this lone block was left.
When reproduction fabrics first became popular, I bought some small pieces and made several blocks with them. Other blocks in the quilt were ones I pieced to try out a new method for making Dresdens, or were on the quilt guild's "freebie" table. So there's quite an assortment, including some batik pieces. But somehow they all work.
I sent the piece to longarm quilter Debra Johnston who was up for the challenge. She wanted to be careful in stitching the older blocks due to their fragility. I really love what she did to this background fabric- it resembles a basketweave. All in all, I'm happy with Dancing Dresdens and its cheerful nod to the past.
As you can see, old quilt blocks either find me, or I find them. The wonderful hexagon blocks were on the freebie table just waiting to come home with me. The others were in a bundle of old blocks sold together for less than $15. Look! There's another Dresden in there. What will they become.... I wonder.
Coincidentally, our guild had a speaker on the subject of vintage quilts this week. Quilt historian Kathy Metalica Cray brought many vintage quilts and pieces to share with us. And she told interesting stories about the quiltmakers, when information was known. She encouraged us to document quilts because we all enjoy the stories, and need to pass along information about our quilts. I think this star quilt fragment would have quite a story if we could know the quilter. I'm sure I'd like her!
Kathy's interest is in collecting and preserving old quilts, but she also loves to combine blocks from her extensive collection to make lovely pieces like this one. Only the setting triangles are cut from current fabrics (her own reproduction designs for Windham Fabrics) and they unify the vintage blocks beautifully.
Take care of your old quilts, and document as much as you are able. I intend to be better about doing so. Some of my quilts are still waiting for labels with the barest of info on them. I need to step up the game!