After a week of pondering the topic of my very first post here, it was suggested by a very wise friend that I should just write it already. Don’t make it a momentous occassion, don’t try to find something deep to say. She was right – I decided to just jump in and show you what I’m making right now.
But wait one second – let me stop here real quick, before I get into any details, and take The Process Pledge. Like the hundreds of other blog writers that have linked back to that post by Rossie, I agree that it would nice – and beneficial – to share more about why we make the crafting decisions we make. Yes, that pledge originally referred only to quilting, and this will not be a strictly quilting blog. But I take this pledge and apply it to all topics covered here. Over the past several years, I have learned so much just from reading about why someone chose the materials they did, or why they used a certain technique, or simply how they came to pick the colors they did. Where possible, I want to contribute, and I pledge now to do my best.
It’s only been in the last few months that I started learning about quilting – mostly by reading trusted bloggers – and trying things out for myself. Somewhere along the way, I saw a Dresden Plate and was smitten but afraid of trying one for myself. It looked like you really needed years of skillz before you could try that. And then I saw Oh, Fransson’s tutorial at Sew, Mama, Sew! – she made it look so easy. Dude, I could totally do that!
I knew immediately that I wanted to use my 1930s reproduction fabrics. Because I love ’em. Not much of a reason, but it’s true, and fitting since the Dresden Plate was a popular pattern in the 30s. My initial plan was to pick out pinks and blues in order to have my little mini-quilt match a painting that hangs in my bedroom, but in the end I just picked all my favorites. Because I love ’em. If it looks nice next to the painting, that’s where it will hang. If it doesn’t, there’s plenty of places it will – I’d rather make something I love than something that just matches. I reduced the template pieces a bit to make use of jelly roll strips, cut all those little wedges, and sewed up all those tiny points. By hand.
Oh, did I not mention? I’m currently in a location with no sewing machine access. I’ll be reunited with my trusty machines soon, but for now, it’s all by hand, all the time. For me, this is not a problem – I actually find sewing by hand to be relaxing. I feel like I’m always trying to get a million things done, and always trying to get them done faster. Machine sewing lends itself to getting things stitched up as quickly as possible but, by hand, I can only go as fast as I can go. There’s no point rushing, it’s a slow activity and that’s just how it is. It’s nice to take your time sometimes. So I patiently stitched all the wee wedges together into a lovely circle. It turns out it wasn’t so intimidating after all.
My plate spent some time pinned to the uncut backing fabric, taped to the wall with masking tape. Classy. I just couldn’t figure out what to next. A lot of pinning and taking down ensued, mostly just resulting me getting really frustrated and not wanting to look at it at all. Finally I turned to the amazing Quilt Explorer and took inspriration from a few original 1930s quilts. I noticed several with borders of very thin strips pieced together. I cut a million tiny rectangles and the plate suffered a few very unfortunate mock-ups that I sadly don’t have photos of, until we finally worked something out.
I love those tiny strip borders, so meticulously pieced together, but it was just too wide and distracting for a mini-quilt like this (the plate itself is 11″ across). Fed up, I rotated all those little rectangles as a last-ditch effort and, viola!, it worked. You might notice the right and bottom border strips are sewn, though not yet ironed. When the other two sides are done, I’ll tape it to the wall again and start the process over to decide what’s next.