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Quilting guild pieces the past together

October 12, 2019
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This Oct. 1, 2019 photo shows one of the blocks in a quilt made by members of a local quilting guild using vintage fabric that they found pre-cut. (John Davis/Aberdeen American News via AP)
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This Oct. 1, 2019 photo shows one of the blocks in a quilt made by members of a local quilting guild using vintage fabric that they found pre-cut. (John Davis/Aberdeen American News via AP)

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — It’s not unusual for quilters guilds to get donations of fabric.

People find stashes when they’re cleaning out a deceased relative’s home or just finally admit they’re never going to get to that project they bought all that fabric for.

But the Aberdeen Area Quilt Guild, which meets monthly during fall, winter and spring, got a unique donation years ago.

The donation, which showed up at the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center, included hundreds upon hundreds of hand cut-petals for a Dresden plate pattern, member Betty Dobberpuhl said.

“So years later, I just put one together. ... I took it to quilt guild and I said would you guys like — because this one lady wanted to do stitch and sew,” Dobberpuhl said, interrupting herself.

The Dresden plate quilt the guild put together almost looks like daisies — each petal is sewn around a yellow circle piece, and then laid on a block. The blocks are then stitched together.

The petals are small, roughly 2 to 3 inches wide and 6 inches long and are in a variety of patterns. Guild member Jean Gerber said they were likely cut from scraps of fabric from bigger projects.

The pieces look like they’re from the 1930s to maybe the 1960s, based on the patterns.

“You didn’t throw out and waste back then,” member Cindy Haglund told the American News.

“It looks like she’d been tracing and cutting out these things for years,” Gerber said of the anonymous quilter of bygone years. “There’s so many of them.”

“They’re all cut by hand, they’re not the roto-cutter,” Dobberpuhl said.

All of the plates have the same fabric in the middle, a yellow floral pattern. And they have the same background, white with tiny multi-colored fireworks exploding. It complements all the crazy colors in petal pieces.

“We tried to select something that was something (that would) go with what we had and not too modern looking,” Gerber said.

All of the plates were hand sewn by members — some at home, some before meetings.

“When you’re picking your pieces of fabric to sew into your Dresden plate, it’s like, ‘Oh, these are all so different, and they don’t look good together,’” Gerber said. “But by the time you put all the different plates together, it looks just fine. It’s one of those, go figure. The more the better kind of.”

Four or five members pieced the squares and sashing all together, Gerber said. They covered it with a colorful green and pink back and had it long-arm quilted, Haglund said.

The guild has dozens of members, but about 20 worked on the Dresden plate quilt. Members come from about a 100-mile radius, although not every member attends every meeting.

The guild’s been going for more than three decades, with the Candlelight guild started later as a way to accommodate quilters that couldn’t meet during the day.

If anyone’s interested in starting quilting, Gerber recommends starting simple — patchwork block quilts or similar patterns.

“If they wanted to ... they could do up a pretty simple quilt without too much trouble,” she said.

The Dresden plate quilt was entered in the open class home arts competition at the Brown County Fair this year, and won people’s choice. Part of the prize was having the quilt displayed at The Fabric Bin on South Main Street for the month of September. The quilt will stay there for a few more weeks.

Even though it was pieced together with scraps, the guild members didn’t think the pieces were cut out for a utilitarian quilt, based on the complexity of a Dresden plate pattern.

“You know, you’re kind of proud of it when you think of how long it took us,” Dobberpuhl said.

It took guild members about a year from start to finish.

It’s about the size that would fit well on a full-sized bed, Gerber said.

But what happens next with it, the guild doesn’t yet know.

“We would like some suggestions on that,” Haglund said.

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com