Sewing the perfect Dresden Plate quilt block

Now that we’ve cut our background blocks for the top and bottom quilted bands our  waffle weave cotton Day at the Lake “quiltowel” we’re going to make Dresden plates to decorate the blocks on the top band.

Dresden plates remind me of how a child draws the sun. That’s why I chose to showcase them on the top band.

I love that you can use all kinds of scraps to create a Dresden plate. And, when you
create the middle piece of this iconic block, you can fussy cut a design element to take center stage.

Pretty points on the Dresden Plate

This is easy to do with Sew Easy’s Circle Templates which are both see-through and marked with guidelines to help determine the center point of the circle.

Let’s get started on the Dresden Plates. Download this Dresden plate fan template. Trace it onto template plastic using a permanent marker.

Download the Dresden Plate template pattern and trace it onto template plastic, using a permanent marker.

Cut out the traced plastic templates using utility scissors.

For one Dresden plate, trace 12 fans and cut out the plastic using utility scissors — not your fabric scissors. See photo.

In the following photos, we’ll see how to piece a Dresden Plate together. The key thing to remember is that careful cutting and piecing will ensure you get a Dresden Plate that will lie flat once all the blades are sewn together. Even one wonky seam will throw this block for a loop. It’s an easy block, but it requires careful attention to detail. Also, change your needle. A new sharp needle goes a long way to ensure perfect machine piecing. You’ll see and feel a difference with a new needle, I promise.

I readily admit that precision piecing isn’t my strong suit, I can be a careless observer of the rules. That’s why I invested a couple of bucks in a ¼ʺ wide quilting seam guide at my local quilt store. This gauge creates a perfect ¼ʺ seam when traced. Sew along the traced line and you can’t go wrong.

Believe me, there’s nothing so humbling as having to rip out the seams of 11 blades because there’s no room for the 12th one. It’s made me a believer in the ¼ʺ seam gauge.

Press. Press. Press some more. Crisp edges are a huge bonus in piecing this block. If you use fragrant Flatter pressing spray, you’ll get both a crisp press and aromatherapy.

Dresden Plate Piecing: precision and pressing needed

Trace the fan blades 12 times for each block, and cut out carefully. This can be done with a rotary cutter, but I prefer to use scissors.

Fold the Dresden Plate blades right sides together, and sew the top seam. Feed one blade under the needle plate, one after another carefully to preserve the ¼ʺ seam allowance. Chain piece all the blades together.

Separate the blades from the chain, and clip each corner to reduce bulk.

Turn blades right side out and finger press the center seam open. Match the open seam to the center crease. Press with a hot iron.

Use a ¼ʺ seam gauge to trace a sewing line when sewing the blades together. Pin the tops together, matching the center seams and pin about a third toward the bottom of the blade.

Press the seams open as you sew.

Give the completed Dresden Plate a good press.

Gather the interfaced circle using a scant hem and a basting stitch in contrasting thread.

You’ll find that the ends (where the center circle starts to form) will probably be slightly uneven. Don’t panic! The center circle will cover it.

The center circle is magic. Here’s where you can have fun — your Dresden Plate centers can be solids, fussy cuts or even solids you’ve embroidered.

Trace the circles on the fabric and cut out. Trace the interfacing circle onto fusible interfacing.
Fuse the interfacing to the fabric circle. Turn under a scant hem and secure with a running stitch around the circle. Do not knot the thread. Press with Flatter.
Trace a circle of batting using the interfacing template, and cut it out inside the traced line. This will create a slightly dimensional circle.

I’ll leave you to create your Dresden Plates for today.

When we meet up tomorrow, we’re going to applique the plates to the background blocks.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2:  Chambray fabric is perfect for the quilted towel

Go to part 4:  How to applique Dresden Plates on quilt block

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Cecilia August 8, 2018 - 8:47 am
Thanks for the great tips! My main problem is keeping my circle a circle.
M. Martens May 12, 2016 - 12:36 am
Thanks for doing this dresden plate tutorial. I have been wanting to do one so I guess this must be the time.
Carla A. Canonico May 12, 2016 - 9:27 am
Ah... a sign!
Nancy Devine May 12, 2016 - 10:22 am
You are welcome! Thank you for visiting QUILTsocial, and I am glad you are ready to tackle Dresdens. They are challenging, but fun! Enjoy!
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