Ever wonder how a dresden plate block is sewn together? A couple years ago I had the pleasure of making a few dresdens for an online bee. Now I am working on my own dresden quilt, so I took some pics to show one way to make a dresden block.
- Easy Dresden Ruler by Darlene Zimmerman
- fat quarters or fat eighths of fabric
- fusible interfacing with glue dots on one side
Press and starch (optional) your fabric. Cut strips the width of how tall you want your unfinished dresden wedges. In this case I opted for 5 1/2” tall wedges, so I cut my strip 5 1/2” wide. But you can make your wedges as big or small as you want. The directions are still the same.
You will need 20 wedges total for each dresden block. I needed 80 for 4 blocks, so I cut and counted, then counted again, and sure enough, when I was ready to sew my blocks together I had just 61 wedges! Maybe counting three times would have been the charm?
Now for the transformation! Press your wedges in half longwise with the right side on the inside.
Sew a 1/4” seam along the wider side of the folded wedge.
You can quickly chain piece all the wedges. They look so pretty, maybe you’ll stop here and use them as a decoration across your fireplace.
Or if it’s cold out (obviously it wasn’t even though it was the middle of November) you can give your daughter a fancy new scarf!
Then, take your kids to the pool since they have the day off from school.
In between handing out snacks, switching out goggles & toys nonstop , and taking one-kid-at-a-time to the
disgusting lovely bathroom facilities every ten minutes, cut apart your wedges from your long chain and turn them right side out. A chopstick or stylus comes in handy for poking out the pointy part, gently of course.
Now you will need to press your dresdens really flat. I used the longwise fold line to make sure everything was lined up and pressed from the reverse first.
Then I flipped the wedge over and gave it another press. You should double check that you have 20 wedges for each dresden block.
You can lay out your wedges now. I arranged the top half first (10 wedges).
You’ll sew the wedges together as pairs. I pinned mine to keep them lined up perfectly. You want to align the top corners together and the bottom edges together as accurately as possible. Sew them right sides together. I thought it was beneficial to start your seam at the top of the wedge so that if your fabric shifts at all, the unevenness will not be noticeable in the center of the dresden where it will eventually be covered by a circle.
Press your seams open. Keep sewing them together until you have the top half of your wedge. Then sew the bottom half the same way. Seriously, that’s all there is to it. Now sew the top half and bottom half together and you’ll end up with a beautiful dresden wreath. At this point I pressed my dresden really flat and used starch, which is totally optional.
My wedges were 5 1/2” tall, so I cut my background fabric 15” square (14 1/2” finished size). I used a ruler to center my dresden by measuring the distance from the edge of the background fabric to the top, bottom, left, and right dresden points until all the measurements were the same. When I was happy with its position, I poked one pin through every single wedge to hold the wreath securely to the background fabric.
Now you simply sew as close to the edge of the wreath as possible. I used a really short straight stitch, 2.2 on my Janome. Make sure you are right up near the edge of the wreath, but don’t sew over onto the background fabric because your wreath won’t be attached there. Take your time and sew this part slowly. You can use any color thread you want. I used white for mine.
You’ll need to make the circles to applique in the center of the dresdens. I read quite a few tutorials on how to do this, but I don’t have any rulers to cut circles and I don’t have the interest in measuring and drawing circles with a string and pencil. So, I did what I thought was easiest: I kept getting things from my kitchen to eyeball the right size circle. First I started with a few glasses, but none were the right size. I tried a candle. A mason jar. And then I saw the cashews next to my sewing machine. Bingo! The bottom of the can was just the right size for the center of my dresdens.
Trace the circles onto the non-glue dot size of the interfacing. Roughly cut out (not on the line, but about 1/2” on the outside of the line you traced) the circles.
Sew down the interfacing, glue dots facing the right side of the fabric.
Trim about 1/8” on the outside of the stitching line.
Cut a slit through the interfacing only. Now you can turn the circle right side out. Use your chopstick or stylus to gently smooth out the edges. I have no idea what this technique is called, but I once saw a woman demonstrate how to make leaves for applique using this method. The nice thing is there are no raw edges anywhere on your dresden if you do it this way. And it’s pretty fast, too.
Center the circles in the middle of your dresden wreath, glue dots down. I didn’t measure this time, but just eye-balled the placement.
Press the circle in place. The glue dots will hold the circle down pretty firmly, but I went ahead and used 4 pins just to make sure it stayed in place while stitching. Stitch about 1/8” from the edge to secure your circle in place.
It was very fast and easy to make 4 of these blocks for my challenge quilt for Stitched in Color. A special thanks to Lark Cottons for providing all the dotty fabrics! Here’s a little sneak peak of the dresden quilted. (Fyi, I had no problem quilting through the dresden or interfacing.)
If you have any questions about the process or tutorial, please email me email@example.com and I’ll get back to you right away.
I always wondered where the name “dresden” came from (that’s when I realized I needed to add “plate” to the tutorial name). Apparently the block is named after a kind of porcelain from Dresden, Germany that was popular during the 1800’s. So that’s why it’s always capitalized…
Have a wonderful day!