I have spent many enjoyable hours in my life making lovely items from scraps of material. I hope I can inspire some of you.
Dresden Plate blocks are so easy and quick to make that it is possible to run up enough for a full quilt in double-quick time. Of course, you don't have to make a full quilt. The technique can be used for smaller items such as cushions, bags, table mats, etc., but if you have a few hours of free time on your hands, getting stuck in and immersing yourself in this wonderful, creative and absorbing activity is not only immensely fulfilling, it can produce fabulous results very quickly.
It is the preparation of materials and the cutting out of the fabric that takes the most time, but if you get everything that you need together before you start and ensure that your work area is well organised, you can speed up the process considerably.
A typical block
A typical Dresden plate block consists of a series of radiating petal shapes stitched together to make a round. The petals can be round or pointed, as shown below, and there are many variations where different shaped and different sized petals are combined to produce some fantastic results. A fabric circle placed in the middle produces a simple flower shape. The block is then finished off by use of the appliqué technique.
- Definition of Appliqué by Merriam-Webster
Define appliqué: a decoration that is sewn onto a larger piece of cloth.
As already said, there are many ways that Dresden Plate blocks can be varied, but the instructions below describe how to make a simple block with rounded petals.
You need to have at hand the following items.
- Fabric marker.*
- Sharp scissors.
- Dresden Plate template(s) which can be readily obtained from craft shops or online... or you can make your own! (See link below.)
- A selection of fabric scraps.†
- Sewing machine and thread.
*There are specialist fabric markers on the market but a pencil will do.
†When choosing your fabric, cotton is best. It is possible to mix and match fabrics, but if you do this, make sure that all your material scraps are roughly the same weight.
Step 1, marking up and cutting out
- Select the fabric scraps that you wish to use. On the wrong side of the fabric, draw round the template and cut out 16 petals making sure you allow a margin of roughly 5 mm for the seam.
- Arrange the petals in the order that you want them, as shown below.
Step 2, stitching up
With wrong sides together, machine stitch the flat sides of each petal together. There is no need to tack the petals together, but try and keep your seam sizes even. Allow about 5 mm for each seam. If your seam size is inconsistent, your finished flower will not lie flat.
Step 3, tack outer edge and press
To neaten off the outer edge of the flower, allowing about 5 mm, turn the edge over to the wrong side, as shown below, and tack all the way round. Press gently.*
*When pressing, use plenty of steam, but be careful not to have the iron too hot as it can distort the fabric.
Step 4, make the centre of the flower
- Cut out a circle of cardboard large enough to overlap the hole in the centre of your stitched round of petals.*
- Cut a piece of fabric big enough for it to be folded over the cardboard circle. Be reasonably generous here and allow at least 1 cm. You don't want your finished product to fray.
- By hand, using running stitch, stitch around the edge of your fabric circle about 5 mm in from the edge.
- Place your cardboard in the middle of the circle on the wrong side, and draw up your thread to gather in the material around the cardboard.
- Press gently and remove the cardboard.
*Any old piece of scrap cardboard can be used, as shown in the photograph below, although it shouldn't be too flimsy. The cardboard I used was from a packaging box.
Step 5, finish off your block
- For the backing, cut a square piece of fabric big enough to accommodate the size of your finished flower.*
- Place the pressed petal round in the middle of the square, and then place the pressed circle in the centre.
- Pin in place and appliqué the flower onto the backing square.
*Your backing square can be any size, but when marking out, use a set square and be as accurate as you can. Your cut-out square should be as perfect as possible to ensure that all finished blocks lie flat when stitched together.
You can, of course, make as many of these blocks as you like to make a large quilt for a bed covering or small lap quilt. You can also mix the Dresden Plate blocks with other styles of block. There are no hard and fast rules. I generally start out with some vague plan in mind but the end result is rarely what was envisaged at the outset. That's just me though. You may be more disciplined in your approach in that you make your plan at the outset and stick to it. Either way, you will be able to produce something wonderful with this basic block.
One of my quilts
The quilt shown above is a mixture of String Block and Balkan Puzzle blocks with some Log Cabin elements.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this post and that I have managed to inspire you to have a go. I'd love to know how you get on!
© 2017 Annabelle Johnson