A whimsical Dresden quilt – the making


a little history about dresdens

 So the Dresden Plate quilt block is named after the city Dresden in Germany.  A place known for it’s romantic embellishments during the Victorian era.

Porcelain plates were created there with lovely floral designs.  Here is some of them.

The Dresden Plate was a popular quilt during the 20s and 30s and still remains popular today.  It’s obvious why too.  They make up some amazing quilts.

Look at this one.  And oh my goodness this one!  And another favorite of mine, this one.

We are not only still making them after all these years, they’ve even gotten BETTER!

the Dresden quilt I’m working on

For the past few days I have been working on a dresden quilt for a quilt order I have.  This will be my fourth dresden quilt that I have completed.  Here is the last one I did.  And here is the very first one I made that I was madly in love with.

I learned much with both of those quilts.

The biggest thing I learned is that I am a fan of making dresdens, but I am not a fan of quilting dresdens.

It’s irritating to quilt them down after you baste.  The quilt is heavy.  It needs turning this way and that to properly sew them down.  It’s a thousand times easier to just sew them down onto a square.  And that sounds nice doesnt it?  However, then you still have to quilt them and you are again left with having to maneuver your machine and quilt to these frustrating positions.

Last time I made this quilt I knew this, so I prepared and decided to quilt as you go.  But I chose a tutorial that didn’t live up to my expectations that consisted of quilting all three layers by blocks one at a time.  Sounded easy enough, until I had to piece the blocks together and made it incredibly hard to get a quilt that I was pleased with.

This time I will again use the quilt as you go method, but I’m using this one.  Here is why:

with this method I will sew/quilt each dresden down onto the top fabric and the batting, getting the top of the fabric quilted and the middle of the flower quilted in a cute design, like swirlies.  Each block will still be small enough for me to maneuver my home machine.

Then I’ll add the backing and I plan on doing a meander quilting design at that point all around the dresdens, but not on them.  This should give me enough quilting on the quilt to be happy and on all three layers and not lose my mind while doing it.

I feel like it’s a good plan.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

On to the fabrics:

My buyer chose the fabric collection Anu by Hawthorn Threads.  It’s lovely isn’t it?  I’m pretty smitten.  The colors are great, and it’s got all these scenes of nature.

These are fabrics that Hawthorne Threads prints themselves, so they are a little stiff to work with, but they wash up nicely.

My quilt buyer gave me some creative freedom with this one, something I’m always grateful for.

So this is the color palette that needs to be used, but I can add in fabrics to give it more depth.

I ordered the full collection and it came with these lovely panels.  I was going to keep them for myself and use them for pillows, but kept thinking how lovely they would look in the quilt surrounded by the dresdens.  I’m hoping my vision is correct.

The four smaller blocks are the same size as the dresdens, 12.5″ unfinished.  The larger panel will be in place of four blocks and measures 24.5″.

And this is what cutting 1,460 dresden blades did to my space.  yes!  YOu read that number correct.

I’m making a king size quilt that should measure about 108″ square.  I’ll have 77 dresden plate blocks, the four small panels and the one large panel.

Doesn’t look too many when piled up here though.

a few of my favorites.

So I sewed them all, then punched them right side out, then pressed them and now I’m sorting them and grouping them into groups of ten.

Most of my dresdens will be using only two fabrics, but there will be others that are mixed and scrappy looking.  This will be something different from the other dresden quilts I made.

That’s it so far.  I’m still piecing the dresdens.  After this step, I’ll move onto sewing them down onto the top fabric and batting.

More info on sizes of my pattern later.

Help Links

dresden ruler (exact same one I use)

a great dresden tutorial (its how I learned to make them)

xo, Melanie


A wandering quilt – mine, the honey bee quilt

This month I start a journey with a new traveling quilt group called Wandering Quilt.

I have done a traveling quilt group before in 2015 and received an incredible quilt that I never posted about.  Maybe I should post that soon.  Here is a pic of that quilt in case you are interested.

That project really tested my skills.  Our group had some incredibly talented women and I doubt I measured up, but I was honored to be a part of their group.

Just in case you are not familiar with traveling quilts here is the idea:  Each member of your group creates a starter block and usually writes a journal with details, theme and style they would like their quilt to end up.  You send your starter block to another member in your group (usually there is a list, and you send it to the next lady on the list), they have a month to add on to your starter block and get your quilt going.  Then, they send it to the next woman on the list and so on and so on until your quilt arrives back to you.  In the meantime, as your quilt is traveling to each member of your group, their quilts are as well, so you will be adding to their quilts.

We have 10 women in our group.  That means that 9 ladies besides me will be working on my quilt and I will be working on 9 different quilts.  All themed.

The Theme:

I’ve been working on my theme and starter block for quite a bit.  And have decided that I would like to have a ‘bee’ themed quilt.

My dad has about 5-6 bee hives and every summer I am out there helping him with the honey.  Being allergic to bees I stay away from their hives.  My chore is usually running a knife over the honeycombs and removing the wax caps so the honey can flow.  I think it’s called skiving (not positive about that).

I usually eat quite a bit of honey as I do. 🙂

Some pics of inspiration:

what goes better with bees than flowers?  I’d like a fair amount of flowers on my quilt as well.  Early last year, I finished a mod corsage quilt, and I LOVE cutting flowers from fabrics and then appliqueing them onto other fabrics.  I’d really like to see that on my quilt.

Naturally, I’d like a fair amount of bees on my quilt.  I found several blocks from Bee in my Bonnet that I liked.

I’m also envisioning lots of hexagons.

This year is going to be THE year for me and hexies, but more on that later.

Besides bees, hexagons, and flowers, I thought it would be cute to have phrases that have been altered to include the word ‘bee’.

Style of Quilt

At first, while planning, I had thought my bee quilt would probably end up similar to my daydream quilt from the 2015 traveling quilt group, random and whimsical, but after some serious thought, I’ve decided that I want a medallion quilt.

But not just any medallion quilt.  I want a modern medallion.  I want a medallion where it’s not just rounds and rounds around a center square, but the rounds aren’t always symmetrical.  I found some examples of this below.

The quilt below was what pushed me over the edge for a medallion quilt.  I love the quirks.  The diamonds in only a few places, the color differences between one side and the other.

the only thing about medallion quilts is that they always end up square.  And since I received a square quilt last time, I prefer to get a rectangle one this go round.

I found some examples below.

Color Palette

For colors which is my favorite part this time, I want GREEN.  I want dark moody hunter green and bright happy emerald green.

I also want a fair amount of black and white used in my quilt, particularly black and white stripe.  I like metallic gold as well.

The green in the above and below image is the PERFECT shade of green I’m looking for.  I’m also looking at pastels with the green, gold and black.

I’m very excited about this quilt.  All of the images used in the above part of this post were taken from pinterest.  They are all pinned on a board here with links to their original places.

The Starter Block

For the center of my medallion, I wanted a little lady bee with lots of flowers.

I made her first, embroidery and applique and I had my lady bee.

Then I cut lots of flowers from fabrics and interfaced them, planning on applique them like I mentioned earlier.

This week i cut all of my hexagons from pastel fabrics.  I used my hex n more ruler and cut 4.5″ half hexies.

I bordered it with black and white dots.

My lady bee has been sewn down to my starter block, but I have yet to sew the flowers.  I’ve been playing with the arrangement.  I also didn’t end up using all that I had cut and planned to use.  And I ended up with a different arrangement than the one I had in my head.

But I like it.  Quite a bit actually.

I didn’t use much of my color palette.  I had the idea that if I used all light colors my center my glow in the middle of all the rounds the quilt might end up with.  Maybe.

My daughter took one look at this and laughed.  I’m not sure what that was about.  She probably thinks I’m always silly.  Maybe I am.

I’ll think I’ll just leave lady bee hanging here until I have to ship her off to another quilter in February.

I cannot wait to see her grow and I also am excited about working on other themed quilts for the women of Wandering Quilts.

xo, Melanie

Scrap buster quilts #1 & #2

So…. amidst all the running around and present buying and menu planning that is this month I am making two quilts for two lovely nieces.

Last month I went on a camping trip with some family.  Two nieces of my husband that we don’t see very often and honestly don’t see much of besides family get togethers.

On this trip, we discovered what darling children they are.

One of them who is a particularly thoughtful child, asked me how much my quilts cost.  When I asked her why, she replied that she wanted to save up her money to buy one from me.

So of course that meant I would be gifting her a quilt for Christmas.  I adore people who adore quilts.  So this is a big surprise and one I am hoping she will love.

I cut up all my fabric and began piecing of the blocks in November.

I stopped working on the project to get Christmas orders out, and now that I have done all that I can on that front, I am working on her quilt.

I’m using the block above.  I’ve used only scraps.

I really, really, REALLY like making scrappy quilts.  I like including a crazy number of different fabrics in a single quilt.

This quilt is for Emma and for her I tried to be thoughtful of the fabrics I used.  On our camping trip together I learned that she does NOT like the color pink and that she loves unicorns.

There are lots of unicorns on this quilt.

I’ve also included a fabric with teepees on it to represent our camping trip since we slept in tents.  I used an owl print because one of the nights we kept hearing an owl hoot and it woke us up.  One morning she was up earlier than anyone else and we went for a walk and saw deer, so there are deer prints in her quilt.

I’ve used greens, blues, teals, grays and corals.

Emma has an older sister who is incredibly sweet and motherly and silly.  She’s just on the verge of becoming a teenager.  I wanted to make her a quilt too.

Instead of focusing on the fabric prints for her quilt, I focused on the colors.

Pinks, fuchsias, maroon, golds, and yellows.

I used LOTS of older Amy Butler fabrics that I’ve had for years, but also included any scrap I could find that was in the color palette.

I’ve finished both the quilt tops now.  Finally.  All that is left is quilt, bind, and wash.


Blocks measure 6.5″ unfinished.

There are 10 blocks across and 12 blocks down

Finished quilt measures 60×72″ (my favorite throw size).


I cut (120) 6.5″ blocks mostly from a basket of 7″ square scrap fabrics that I always seem to have.

If you are cutting from yardage, you would need to cut (20) 6.5″ strips of fabrics.  Then subcut each strip into (6) 6.5″ squares.

For the corners I cut (240) 2″ squares.  All of those came from my low volume scrap basket.

I assembled the block the same way as this block (bottom of post).  The only difference is the size of the squares I used and that I only did two corners of the squares instead of all four like in the snow ball block.

It always feels great using scrap fabrics.  It’s like they are no longer sitting there sighing at me, waiting to be used.

xo, Melanie

Sky quilt

I’m still working on this sky quilt.  A single block every day, or here lately, when I’m out of town or something comes up I take my daily sky picture, log the details about the weather and then make a few blocks a few days later.

It’s been harder than I imagined to keep up doing just a single block a day.  Keeping up the cobalt blue (mostly) stash has also been a bit of chore.

I’ve had several friends swap scraps with me so that I can have more cobalts, but nothing seems to be enough.  This quilt is constantly needing more.

I’ve used almost all scraps to do these blocks.  Thankful to have something to use them for.  They constantly pile up and then I have to find a whole quilt to use them in. It’s a never ending circle.  Though, it does feel nice to use them when I do.

and here they all are together…

I’ve actually got a many more done than this picture shows (I took this a week or so ago).

And if you remember from previous posts, I take a picture of the sky and make my block based on what it looks like for that day.  There have not been too many gray or white days.  It’s almost constantly blue around these parts.

My sewing machine faces all the blocks on the wall so that I am constantly staring at them (which is great for not getting sidetracked on other quilt projects, keeps up the inspiration), and I am always trying to decide my favorite block.  And that is impossible, because the blocks are all so great in their own way.

My plan is to lay the blocks out 10 rows by 10 with 2.5″ sashing and then a border around the whole thing.  Pretty standard stuff.  But it will showcase all the blocks nicely.

It should end up being a square queen size quilt.

I’m excited to be finished.

A trippy quilt beginnings

Do you know that feeling when inspiration hits you? And your excited and cannot get your ideas started fast enough?

Not everything I make starts with this feeling. Some projects have a bit of it. And some projects I just want to finish. And then some projects I am jumping up and down, rubbing my hands together and giggling. 

That’s the feeling I have with this quilt. 

I was inspired by violet of stitchery sewist shop. She is currently making a trip around the world quilt that could stop traffic. (See her Instagram page here

I have been wanting to make a trippy quilt since I first started noticing quilts. So forever. 

My colors are shades of purple, gray and yellow. 

I’m using this pattern. And it’s SO easy! And it busts scraps like nobody’s business!  Which are all good things in my book. 

I’ve been just making a block at a time. Here and there. They are fairly quick though. 

I’ve also got scraps all over the place. I’m digging looking for strips that are long enough. And trying to dig through my scrap baskets before or ping my drawers and pulling out the half yard. I’ll be saving those for last resort. When I’ve completely run out of scraps to use. It may take awhile. 

I also put up another design wall (aka batting pinned to the wall) in my daughters room. She’s off to college so it should be fine. 

I like to watch my blocks coming together this way. It keeps me going and excited. 

But back to the trippy quilt…

There are two tips that I wanted to mention that I’ve noticed while making these blocks:

-after you have cut your ‘loops’ and you have seam ripped the first one. And now you seam rip the second and so on, seam rip at the block that is on top of the last column you have done. This will keep things in the correct order.  

-and lastly. Before seam ripping. Look at your loops and decide which fabric is your boldest and use that for the one single diagonal row in the block(middle diagonal). That fabric needs to be on the bottom of your first column. 

Happy sewing!

💜, Melanie 

Week 1 of the sky quilt

Are you joining in on this whole #100days100blocks?  If not, you are missing out on how much fun we are having.

The blocks so far have been incredibly easy.  We are not talking about the kind of quilt blocks that take an hour to make.  We are talking 15 minute blocks, some even shorter.

They are easy blocks.  They are all from the book The City Sampler by Tula Pink.  They all measure 6.5″.  No paper piecing, no templates.  Just simple rotary cutting with fabrics from my scrap bin.

SOME of the pieces are as small as 1.5″ so what I’m doing to make sure I don’t make any mistakes with cutting, or sewing or even pressing, is that before I even cut my scrap of fabric, I give it a good starching.  It makes all the difference when working with smaller pieces.

I’ve mentioned already that I am basing each of my blocks on the color of that particular day.  So far there has been quite some variations.  The blue days are usually pretty similar, but the gray days vary quite a bit.  I’m waiting on a rainbow day, or a storm day.

I’ve been tempted to take my sky picture at sunset some days, but then I don’t.  It somehow doesn’t feel quite right.  So I’ve been taking my sky picture each day between mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

If I’m keeping a record of the sky, it might as well be a fair record, an accurate one.

This sky idea came from Lea Redmond and her sky scarf.

And the whole point for me is to put a little more meaning into the quilts I make.  It feels kinda like looking at a piece of art that I love just because it’s pretty, and then finding out this whole secret/story about it that you had no clue of.

When the quilt is finished, someone might say how pretty it is, and I’ll say, It’s not just pretty.  It’s a record of how the sky looked for 100 consecutive days in the year 2016.  That’s cool to me.

Each day when I make the block, I log the details of the day.  The temperature, the cloud coverage, even a few highlights of my day.  Nothing that takes up too much time that will make me quit (sometimes I do that when I get overwhelmed).  I’m keeping it simple.

This is just another part of my pledge to make more thoughtful and meaningful quilts.

And every quilt has meaning.  We spend hours at it.  Days.  We put such hard work, patience into each and every quilt.  So why am I just randomly choosing fabrics because I think they are pretty?  That’s the part I want to  change up a little for me.

One time I made this quilt for a customer.  It was a great quilt.  Pretty.  While I was working on it, and I was cutting the yellow solid fabric for the back and had sewn two pieces of the yellow together to make it big enough, I realized that at some time I had cut a huge chunky square out of one of the ends.

I felt like we always feel at one of those times.  Angry at myself for not looking the fabric over more carefully.  Frustrated.  I took a deep breath, pulled a print fabric out, cut it into a square that would fit and then Y-seamed it into the backing.

My customer loved the quilt.  And she even contacted me to say that she loved the unique way I did the backing.  Which made me laugh and so I told her the story and then she told me that she loved it even more because of that.

The unusual solid backing with a print at one square corner of it had meaning.

Of course it was a symbol of my mistake, a happy mistake, or overcoming a problem.

Regardless, it got me to thinking.

Thank you for reading along!






Kitty quilt almost done

I have been working like a mad woman. I don’t like rushing, it stresses me and I end up making mistakes. 

But my daughter leaves for school this Saturday and I wanted her to have it before she leaves. 

I made a few more of the little kittens and I found this cute selvedge I wanted to somehow include. 

And I stumbled upon this whiskers block below and just had to make it. It’s a whopping 15″. 

We also made the dreamcatcher for the dorm room. 

And one more silhouette block. 

I was trying to decide between the fabrics below for the border. 

We ended up going with the black. 

I had put uneven borders on it trying to get it to measure the size I was trying to get to and I didn’t like the look so I sewed up some Dresdens to add to the borders. 

I ended up changing the places that I have them in on the above pictures. 

We are really thrilled with it. Even though there were many moments when I hated it. 

Now to quilt and bind and wash. 

💜, Melanie