Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Sew a Dresden Plate

There is more than one way to sew a Dresden Plate, just like there is more than one way to eat a Reese's. But after making 5 of these blocks recently, I have a method that works best for me. Maybe you'd like a few tips?


Before we get started, be sure to study up on your quilting history about the Dresden Plate

"The popular name for this quilt, Dresden Plate, reflects the romance of the Victorian Era with its love of elaborate decoration on household items and d├ęcor. Dresden, Germany was a center of 19th century romanticism movement in art, one that included the fine decoration of porcelain. The plates were embellished with elaborate design using flowers, fruits and foliage. The beautiful plates would surely have been admired by women of the early 20th century."

I LOVE learning about quilt blocks-- when, where and how they originated. It makes me appreciate them so much more as I sew. There are many modern patternmakers, but I have a sense that the quiltmakers who lived so long ago really set the foundation. It's a heritage I am so glad to be part of.


You don't need much to get started (beside a sewing machine, iron and scissors)... just some fabric, a small bit of fusible interfacing, a point turner, and a template. You could create your own template, or purchase a ready-made acrylic one. I have this Dresden Plate Template.

(affiliate link)

Now it's time to decide what size you want your Dresden Plate to be. The one that I made in this tutorial is about 9 inches in diameter. It displays nicely in an 11x8.5 frame. To make this size, I cut my blades, or petals, at 3.5 inches tall. I used 18 blades total.


You can see that the final size of a sewn blade with be 1/2" less than the original size that it was cut. To calculate the final diameter of the entire Dresden Plate, you'll need to account for the empty space in the middle of the circle, which will be filled in with a circular pattern piece.

Once all the blades are cut, its time to decide if you'd like them to be pointed or curved. I love the pointed look, so we'll be using that method.

First, take the top edge, which is the longest edge, and fold together RST (right sides together). Sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance. This sounds tedious, but I backstitch at the beginning and end.

Then, carefully snip the corner that is closest to the fold of the fabric. Don't snip through the stitches.

Now, lay it out flat and press the seam open.

Then, use a point turner to flip the seam so right sides of the fabric are facing out. Make the point nice and pointy. :)

Once all the blades ready, then its time to arrange them. I try to put the same colors opposite each other in the circle, especially for the bolder colors. For example, the navy blues are each in a quadrant opposite each other. This will give your Dresden balance and movement.

Now its time to sew. Many quilters will tell you to divide the blades into 4 sections, and sew each quadrant together. Then finish by sewing each quadrant together. I have tried it that way. I've also just sewn each blade together, one at a time in order, all the way around the circle. I have found that it really doesn't make a huge difference- at least with 3 inch blades. As long as you take care to make the bottom of each point line up with the next, it should work just fine. When sewing the blades together, I don't use pins. I just lay them RST, and sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, backstitching at beginning and end.

Then, I take it to the iron and press each seam open. Once that's done, trim all the threads. Give the entire Dresden a good starch and pressing.

Now it's time to create the center circle. First, fuse a piece of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the circle fabric. Measure the diameter of the empty space of your Dresden, then add a 1/2 inch to ensure all the raw edges will get covered. Using a circular object, trace a circle and cut it out. (Obviously, my matroyska dolls are not too happy about being decapitated)! 

If you are sewing the Dresden onto a background piece of fabric, get that cut, pressed, and ready. Pin the Dresden to the background fabric. Then, sew the circle directly onto the Dresden Plate. I have tried many ways- reverse needle applique, machine turned applique, and a simple blanket stitch right over the raw edge. I much prefer using the blanket stitch on my machine. If your machine doesn't have a blanket stitch, you can also use a small zig zag stitch. Take a small backstitch at the beginning and end.

Once the circle is stitched in place, its time to stitch down the entire Dresden. I set my machine in the "needle down" position. I use a guide to get as close the the edge as I can, and start sewing, pivoting at the bottom and top of each point.

Here's a closer look at how the blanket stitch looks when stitching down the circle.

I LOVE making quilt blocks to frame or just as a mini quilt. You could also add these Dresdens as patches on clothing, bags, and pouches. And of course, you could also make a huge quilt of them! This would also be gorgeous with a bit of hand-quilting on the perimeter of the circle.

I gave this to my mother-in-law for Christmas. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! All the fabrics are various prints from several collections designed by Bonnie and Camille for Moda.

4 comments:

  1. My great aunts created beautiful quilts and I have always wanted to make one of my own. This looks like a great place to start my quilting education.

    I would love for you to share this post at my Show Me Saturday linky party this weekend. My readers would love it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great tutorial and a wonderful gift.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is a great idea folding the points before sewing the circle! It's practically finished when sewn together then. Why didn't I think of that? I have to tediously turn it under before I can sew it down now. Great tutorial. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!
♥Rach H