Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mini Quilts for Christmas....Dresden Plate Tutorial

The how-to on my new favorite quilt.  It's fast and easy...everything I want in a quilt and everything a 20 year old boy wants in a girlfriend....

Let's get to it.  Click this link to see all the mini quilts I have completed as of now... and if you are making a Dresden, Check out my post on Trouble Shooting Dresden Plate's  If you want, refer to my rules on you don't lose a finger. It's important, okay?

Figure out your color scheme.  I typically have an idea what colors I am going for so then I begin the try-out process.  Knowing the fabric you want the Dresden to sit on, is not immediately important as you sew the Dresden together first.

Typically the Dresden plate uses a template to cut out each of the pieces of fabric.  This means you have to do a lot of tracing and I find tracing boring.  So you are going to get my slightly less accurate but much more fun version.

I have made the above diagram so you know exactly where you need to cut.  So, when I refer to point 1 to point b you will know exactly what I am talking about.  You are going to use your cutting mat as a guide.

Cut 20 pieces of fabric into a 3" by 6" strip and then match the strip up with the squares on your cutting mat.  You want your strip of fabric to cover exactly 3" across and 6" down on your mat as this is your cutting guide.

Place your ruler diagonally as seen in the above picture: From Point 1 across to Point b.  You want to line it up as perfectly as you can corner to corner.  Cut.  The goal is to cut your strips into a block that's 3" on one side, tapered down to 1" on the other side.  Then repeat with the other side: Place your ruler from Point 2 across to point c.  Cut.

3. Repeat with the 19 other pieces of fabric.

Now fold your strip in half, right sides together (across the 3" side).  Sew, using 1/4" seam along the edge.  Make sure to back stitch to ensure your stitching stays put.

Keep on going until all your blocks are sewn in half.

Snip the corner.  Make sure you don't cut into your stitches, that is bad.  The reason you are doing this is so you can get a nice tight point.

Flip your pieces right-side out.  Using something with a point (I am using a screw driver), you are going to push out your fabric right where you stitched and make it nice and pointy.  You want the triangle portion to be as straight across as possible.  This ensures that all your points are nice and even.

Press it flat.

Do you see the genius of this move?  I always thought you had to applique Dresdens, but by doing this sweet move, you have a finished edge and don't have to applique.  I love it!

Arrange your Dresden how you want it to look.

Time to sew.  Place two blocks, right sides together.  The most important thing is that the corner points line up.  If they don't, the concave portions will be uneven and unsightly.  The convex parts aren't touching, so you don't notice if they're slightly longer or shorter than the others.  Sorry to get all...concave and convex on you there, but I didn't know how else to explain it.  Stitch using 1/4" seam allowance.  Make sure to back stitch up there at the top.  You don't have to back stitch at the bottom.

Continue until everything is sewn together in a complete circle.

Press your seams.

Start auditioning for middle circle fabric and fabric that the Dresden sits on.

Make your quilt sandwich.  Cut the layers about 20" x 20". Back fabric, backside up.  Bat.  Top fabric, right-side up.

Place Dresden squarely in the middle.  I like to measure this, but you can eyeball it.

Pin in place.  Be careful not to shift your layers because you don't want creases.  I pinned all over the Dresden itself and along the edge of the quilt.

Using ruler and marking pen, draw your sew lines.  They will more or less line up diagonally with another block.

The great thing about this, is you are going to sew your Dresden in place and quilt the whole dang thing at the same time!!

I am using the back because it's easier to see my stitches.

Stitch on either side of all Dresden blocks.  The reason for drawing your lines in the middle is you can just sew straight through and over to the other side.  Thus, not having to start and stop so much.

Now using a scant stitch, stitch around the outer edge of the Dresdens.  All along the concave and convex parts.  Make sure when you are turning the quilt, to keep your needle down, lift up the presser foot and shift the quilt.  This makes it so you only have one line of stitching and not a bunch of starts and stops.

I then stitched a 1/4" outline around the edge of the Dresden.  Makes it pretty.

Time for the center!

Choose something circular that's big enough to cover the hole in the middle.

Trace using a marking pen on the right side of the fabric.  Cut the circle out 1/4" bigger than your pattern. You are going to machine applique this in place.  You could also use iron on transfer and avoid appliqueing all together.

Fold circle in half and then in half again so you can get the exact middle.

Pin in place.  

Very carefully start folding under your excess fabric and using a scant stitch, stitch in place.  I like to use a pin to help me push under the fabric and get it nice and round.  Nothing worse than a wonky circle.

Finally, use your favorite binding technique and you have a finished quilt.  You can add a sleeve on the back before binding so the recipient can use it as a flag or hang it up using a quilt rod...or you can do like I often do and just pin it up.  

Personalize these to fit the tastes and personalities of the recipients.  You will have as much fun making them and customizing them as they will receiving them.  And seriously, 4 hours to completion!  Amazing!

Thanks for reading!!



  1. Bahaha oh heather! I love this though! MUST FINISH HEXI must not try anything new!

  2. Love the fabric choices! I still haven't managed to find time to try quilting yet but always love seeing what you do and hope to give it a go someday soon. This is darling!

  3. Yay! The tutorial! Now I have to see if I'm bright enough to follow it... :P


  4. Love your quilt, Heather! Love the fabric! Pinned :)


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