If I’m not mistaken, Dresden Plate quilt blocks are making a comeback. Maybe they never left! They were really popular back in the 20’s and 30’s, and I’m glad to see them being made with more variations
Today, I’ll share a tutorial to make a Chunky Dresden Plate that was used in my Enchanted Baby Quilt. It’s really easy and fun to make!
Most Dresden plates are made with an 18 degree wedge ruler that requires 20 blades to form a full circle. The math goes like this: 18 x 20 = 360 degrees.
My Dresden plate is made with a 30 degree template and it requires 12 blades. I like the chunkier look and less blades to sew! The math for mine is: 30 x 12 = 360 degrees.
I made my own template for this block and you can, too, by printing it out here: Dresden Blade Template OR if you have a 30 degree triangle ruler, you can use that instead (had I known that a month ago, I would have gone that route.)
Note: You can make Dresden plates any size you want by varying the height of the template and the width of the fabric strip. This tutorial is using a 6″ wide strip to make a Dresden Plate that is 13 3/4″ wide from point to point. I set mine on a 16 1/2″ square of background fabric.
I also find these to be precut friendly. If you have a layer cake, charm pack (for the smaller version) or fat quarter bundle, you’ll get a really scrappy (yet coordinating) block!
Chunky Dresden Plate Tutorial
Supplies for one 16 1/2″ block:
- Dresden Blade Template OR use a 30 degree ruler like this Simpli-EZ 30-Degree Triangle Ruler OR Creative Grids Non-slip 30 Degree Triangle Ruler.
- Fabric strips, 6″ wide by 10″ or more in length
- 1 fat quarter for background fabric, cut into a 17″ square.
- Tape (double sided or masking)
- Print out the Dresden Blade Template at actual size. Cut out the template on the drawn lines. There are 3″, 4″ and 5″ markings in case you want to make a smaller Dresden plate. See end of post for more information.
- Place tape (double sided or rolled) on one side of the template.
- Stack 2-4 strips of fabric. Place the template on the fabric strip so that the top and bottom edges of the template are even with the raw edges of the fabric strip.
- Position the ruler so that it is even with the right side of the template. Make your first cut.
- Position the ruler on the left side of the template and cut. You might need to reposition the fabric first to safely cut the second side.
- Place the template on the fabric strip so that it’s upside down and one side is lined up with the previous cut edge. Position the ruler on the opposite side and cut the second blade.
- Continue cutting until you have 12 blades (for 1 Dresden plate)
30 degree ruler instructions:
The same as above, BUT you will be using a ruler instead of a template. Make sure to line up the ruler so that you have part of the small wedge hanging over the edge of the fabric. This will just give you a bigger hole (but not too big) in the center (and less stitching to do). The sample below is using a 3″ wide strip and makes a cute little Dresden.
Dresden blade assembly:
- Fold each Dresden blade in half, right sides together. Stitch the wide end with a 1/4″ seam. TIP: set your stitch length to 1.5 – 2.0 to keep your seam secure.
- Chain piece the blades through your sewing machine.
- Trim the point of the blade at an angle near the fold to reduce bulk at the point. Make sure not to get too close to the stitching – keep it 1/8″ away.
- Press the blade lightly in half to form a centering crease.
- Turn right side out and push out the point with a semi sharp object.
- Press seam open and align the seam with the center crease and press.
- Arrange your blades into a circle so that you’re happy with the color arrangements.
- Sew the blades into pairs, starting at the wide end. Make sure they match up well at the top and backstitch at the beginning to secure.
- Sew the pairs together to form a Dresden Plate.
- Don’t worry too much about the bottom (narrow) edges lining up. This will be covered up by the center circle.
- Press the seams to the side (or open if your prefer).
Center circle instructions:
There are several ways to make the center circle. Basically, you’re appliqueing the circle onto the center of the Dresden plate. You can choose your favorite applique technique for this. I like the edge of the circle to be turned under rather than a raw edge that is fused. So, I’ll show you a “freezer paper and starch method” and a hand gathered method.
The Dresden blade pattern page has two circles that you can use as the circle template. You’ll need the larger circle for the large Dresden.
Freezer paper & starch method:
- Trace the large circle from the pattern page onto the dull side of the freezer paper. Place another piece of freezer paper (both shiny sides down, not facing each other) over this and press them together. Cut out the circle.
- Press the freezer paper circle onto the fabric and cut out the circle, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Using a cotton swab or a paint brush, “paint” the edge of the fabric with starch. Press the fabric over the edge of the circle with an iron. I use a stiletto to guide the fabric over the circle. Ease in the fullness, so that you have a smooth circle.
- Remove the freezer paper; it can be used again.
- Use a water soluble glue like Roxanne’s Glue Baste It and glue the circle in place. Press.
- Stitch the circle by hand or by machine.
Hand gathered method:
- Make a circle template out of cardstock or a file folder. I traced a circle using a spool that was just the right size, or you could use the pattern template.
- Trace around the circle onto the fabric. Leave a generous 1/4″ seam allowance when you cut out the circle.
- Thread a needle and take small basting stitches in the seam allowance. Leave a tail on both ends.
- Place the template on the fabric circle and pull up on the thread tails to gather the seam allowance.
- Press the seam allowance in place. Pull out the circle template and knot the thread tails.
- Glue the circle into place as in the previous method.
- Fold the background fabric in half and lightly press to form a crease. Repeat in the other direction.
- Center the Dresden plate so that the point OR the valley lines up with the crease.
- Glue baste or pin paste the Dresden in position.
- Stitch down the edges by machine or by hand. I stitched mine by machine using monofilament thread and a narrow zig zag stitch. You could also topstitch close to the edge with matching thread and a straight stitch.
- Trim the block to 16 1/2″ square.
You can make any size Dresden plates by varying the width of the fabric strip used to make the blades. I used a 4″ wide strip which produced a 8 3/4″ Dresden plate, and a 3″ wide strip which produced a 6 3/4″ Dresden plate. Using just two fabrics for the blades gives you a very different look as in the small Dresden plate below.
There are lots of online resources for Dresden Plate quilt blocks and some great books, too. Here are a few:
Thanks for joining me today. I hope you give the Chunky Dresden plate block a try and let me know how yours turns out!