May 4, 2010

Week 2: How to make a Dresden Plate Block Part 1

So let's get started! Let me know if you have any questions.

I have cut my wedges by using the entire template up to the 7 inch mark. This makes a 15 inch plate. You may choose differently. You may make this measurement smaller or larger depending on the look you want. Cut the bottom at the two inch mark and you have larger center circle. I like smaller one.

Cut the Dresden Plate wedge to the 7 inch mark.

First cut

Slide the ruler down to the corresponding marking and cut the top. Slide the ruler back up to cut the last side.

Sliding ruler to make second cut

If you are cutting multiple plates from the same fabric, it is better to cut a strip that is 7 inches wide and rotate the ruler 180 degrees to make each wedge.

Finger press the end of each wedge on the widest edge and make sure you accurately fold this in half with right sides together.

Finger pressed edge

Set your sewing machine to a smaller than usual stitch. My machine's default is set to 2.4, so I set it to 2.0. (I think this is 2mm per stitch.) Sew a 1/4" seam from the unfinished edges to the folded edge. Back stitch a 1/4" seam from the folded edge. Trust me, you'll have less worries later and a great point on each petal/wedge. You can chain stitch these to save thread.

Chain piecing

Cut off each corner of your wedge, without cutting your stitches, about a 45 degree angle.

Cutting sewn wedge

Finger press the seam open. I use a flat head screw driver from my sewing machine to make my wedge fold at a perfect right angle. The doubled stitches help me not worry about the seam popping open. Then I mess with the inside seam to finger press the seam open.

Turning point

The fold in the center should still be there, and I line the seam up with the center line.

Centering wedge

I lay my template, adjust to center it, keep the template on the block and slide the template gently down, following with the iron. I press it with steam, but I hold the iron. (Don't slide the iron back and forth as this can totally distort and stretch your fabric. ) When in doubt, don't steam press.

Slide template as you iron

Arrange each spoke next to each other and since I always have a distraction and mess the order up, I take a picture of it. Make it your cellphone wallpaper for the day! You do like this fabric?!

Choosing layout

If you're really organized, pick up a wedge and place it on the wedge next to it, lift up those two and place on the wedge next to that and so on, until you have a neat pile of all your wedges. You'll chain stitch these in the correct order. I have yet to do this correctly. Take a picture on the digi!

With your organized pressed wedges,  sew a 1/4" seam from the pointed edge to the smaller flat edge. I only use this one pin to avoid slipping of fabric. I use the same back-stitch method as I did with the wedge's point end. You won't have any trouble with bulk if you sew very close to your original stitches. (Whoops, in this batch, I experimented without back-stitching. Hmm... I'll change this, if there is no difference.)

Pinning pairs

First, sew your wedges in groups of twos,

Groups of two

then in groups of fours.

Groups of four

Finally, sew these last groups together in pairs.

Finished piecing

After each grouping, press your shared seam between wedges. This can be open or it can be to one side. I can't figure out if there is an advantage in one or the other. I pressed to one side and it was much more accurate and flat. I think I may hand-quilt this in the ditch. Figure out what works for you and stay consistent.

Don't worry if you have a semi-wonky circle in the center. You are going to smack a circle on to it. The larger it is, the less wonkiness you will see.

Try making a paper template and tracing this, to try out different sizes.

Here are some more great resources that were suggested. Let me know of any others.

Resources for you to use, (yes it has been done before):

A short video lesson from the  Missouri QuiltCo Dresden Plate Tutorial
Moda has a tutorial by bitty bits and pieces that is wonderful.
Oh, Fransson! has just finished a monthly sew along block tutorial.
Bloom has an idea that works great with charm squares. 

Part 2 is next week. Applique choices can vary. You can do your hand applique accurately without pins.  I'll share this in a second post. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

Inside Out Applique or Balloon Applique Technique using dryer sheets
Freezer Paper Applique Techniques (using the Reynolds freezer paper brand)
Machine Blanket stitch: Blanket stitch Barbara Polston, American Quilter  

Link up and show your progress this week! I can't wait to see what you are all doing!


  1. Thanks for the great tutorial! I'm excited to get started. I have my pretty stack of fabrics but need to find the time to cut and sew them!

  2. That's a great tutorial, Kristen! If I were making more than a couple of these blocks, I'd definitely invest in that wedge ruler. Looks very handy.

  3. Fantastic tutorial! I'm getting "the itch" to give it a try. That may be because of the gorgeous fabrics you used! lol


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