Michelle Banton, LittlePupDesigns.com, was the guest speaker at our October meeting. Michelle is an authorized teacher for the Dresden Neighborhood pattern designed by Kim Lapacek, and has been teaching the design since it was first released in 2015. Michelle also instructed a class for interested Guild members on the Dresden Neighborhood the following day. Unfortunately, since this writer was in the class . . . I forgot to take pictures. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a reveal at one of our future meetings and I can capture everyone’s projects at that time.
Michelle started off her presentation with some of the history of the Dresden plate pattern. The name Dresden originates from the city that lies in the northeast area of Germany. Nearby Meissen was know for it’s porcelain and it is thought that the beautiful painted porcelain plates that were created there became the inspiration for the quilt pattern we know today.
A pattern can be considered a Dresden if the designed is created in a circle, half circle, or even a quarter circle. They can have rounded ends, pointed ends, or pretty much anything in between, as in the Dresden Neighborhood designs.
She explained that the Dresden has also been referred to as Grandmother’s Sunburst, Friendship Ring, Aster, Dahlia and Sunflower but Dresden is the most recognizable and used name. The pattern really started to become popular at the end of WWI and gained speed around the time of the Great Depression in late 1929. Since money was very tight, industrious farming wives began to make clothing and quilts utilizing the fabric sacks, which feed, flour, and sugar came in. Michelle relayed a story that her grandmother passed down to her. She would send her grandfather to the store with directions on what pattern/color sacks to buy, since one sack wouldn’t be enough to make a dress or quilt. In the 1930s Sears and Montgomery Ward companies began selling “cheater panels” printed with Dresdens.
Into the 1930s, younger women considered the Dresden a “fad pattern” and began creating them in bright colors. Women began home machine quilting businesses to supplement income. By 1934, over 400 newspapers were including quilt patterns into their publications but unfortunately, the patterns were created by writers and not quilters so very often they didn’t work.
As part of the Century of Progress theme for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, Sears, Roebuck. & Co. decided to sponsor a national quilt contest and put up $7,500 in prize money. That’s nearly $140,000 today. Margaret Caden was announced the winner but it wasn’t without controversy. Read what happened HERE.
Below are some of the samples Michelle brought along. You can see how varied the Dresden Neighborhood can be; from color wheels to themes of all types, even sizes of the spokes. The pattern calls for using an 18 degree template, which makes 20 spokes. However, by changing the degree of the template you can increase or decrease the number of spokes while also changing their width. The only limit is your imagination.
We want to thank Michelle for her time and patience and would welcome her back to our neighborhood any day!