sewing: Dresden plate

Just slightly more than a year ago, someone very important to me gave me a template for a Dresden Plate — a traditional appliqué or quilting pattern of a wheel or sun. This one is about 40” across.

A Dresden plate, originally at least, was usually done in bright blue/white pattern fabrics, often with alternating solid blue and white pieces. In this, it resembled a piece of Chinese export porcelain, famous for their blue glazes. Dresden wasn’t the first site of porcelain factories in Europe, but it was one of the places that became famous for white-and-blue production ware in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

For my (first) Dresden Plate design, I decided to go with a set of 8 patterned fabrics and two solid fabrics. Every single one of these fabrics is leftovers from haori, or men’s Japanese style open-front shirts, that I’ve made. So I look at this wheel, and think about who’s currently wearing those shirts. It’s kind of a memory wheel, if you will, of some of my first customers — which is kind of cool!

There are some complications involved in producing such a wheel. I had to hunt through a variety of (stored) scraps in order to find all of the pieces for this wheel. And I’m not sure I have enough pieces to make a second wheel of, say, yellow points on a blue background (or a green wheel on a red background, or a red wheel on a green background, or a black wheel on a white background, or a white/pattern wheel on a black background).


You might pick up, though, on the fact that I have a plan for this wheel, along with other wheels, for a rather large sewn… thing. Wall Hanging? Maybe? Quilt? Maybe. It remains to be seen. First there’s some other wheels to assemble, and meanwhile, Scott Gosnell’s translations of Giordano Bruno are giving me ideas…

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  1. Is this the “secret origin” of the modern mens’ necktie?
    Each quarter marks out a 5-day workweek, in a way.

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