Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

How to make a Dresden Plate Block. So let's get started! 

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

I have cut my wedges by using the entire template up to the 7 inch mark. This makes a 15 inch plate. You may choose differently. You may make this measurement smaller or larger depending on the look you want. Cut the bottom at the two inch mark and you have larger center circle. I like smaller one.

Cut the Dresden Plate wedge to the 7 inch mark.

Slide the ruler down to the corresponding marking and cut the top. Slide the ruler back up to cut the last side.

If you are cutting multiple plates from the same fabric, it is better to cut a strip that is 7 inches wide and rotate the ruler 180 degrees to make each wedge.

Finger press the end of each wedge on the widest edge and make sure you accurately fold this in half with right sides together.

Set your sewing machine to a smaller than usual stitch. My machine's default is set to 2.4, so I set it to 2.0. (I think this is 2mm per stitch.) Sew a 1/4" seam from the unfinished edges to the folded edge. Back stitch a 1/4" seam from the folded edge. Trust me, you'll have less worries later and a great point on each petal/wedge. You can chain stitch these to save thread.

Cut off each corner of your wedge, without cutting your stitches, about a 45 degree angle.

Finger press the seam open. I use a flat head screw driver from my sewing machine to make my wedge fold at a perfect right angle. The doubled stitches help me not worry about the seam popping open. Then I mess with the inside seam to finger press the seam open.

The fold in the center should still be there, and I line the seam up with the center line.

I lay my template, adjust to center it, keep the template on the block and slide the template gently down, following with the iron. I press it with steam, but I hold the iron. (Don't slide the iron back and forth as this can totally distort and stretch your fabric. ) When in doubt, don't steam press.

Arrange each spoke next to each other and since I always have a distraction and mess the order up, I take a picture of it. Make it your cellphone wallpaper for the day! You do like this fabric?!

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

If you're really organized, pick up a wedge and place it on the wedge next to it, lift up those two and place on the wedge next to that and so on, until you have a neat pile of all your wedges. You'll chain stitch these in the correct order. I have yet to do this correctly. Take a picture on the digi!

With your organized pressed wedges,  sew a 1/4" seam from the pointed edge to the smaller flat edge. I only use this one pin to avoid slipping of fabric. I use the same back-stitch method as I did with the wedge's point end. You won't have any trouble with bulk if you sew very close to your original stitches. (Whoops, in this batch, I experimented without back-stitching. Hmm... I'll change this, if there is no difference.)

First, sew your wedges in groups of twos,

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

then in groups of fours.

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

Finally, sew these last groups together in pairs.

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

After each grouping, press your shared seam between wedges. This can be open or it can be to one side. I can't figure out if there is an advantage in one or the other. I pressed to one side and it was much more accurate and flat. I think I may hand-quilt this in the ditch. Figure out what works for you and stay consistent.

Don't worry if you have a semi-wonky circle in the center. You are going to smack a circle on to it. The larger it is, the less wonkiness you will see.

Try making a paper template and tracing this, to try out different sizes.

 Centering and basting your wedges:

I cut a fabric square out of Kona white 20 1/2 inches wide. My finished wedges were 15" wide. I'll trim the finished block later, since applique can sometimes distort and shrink the block. Fold the background fabric in fourths.

Use these folds to center the Dresden plate wedges. Pin in place. Use the largest stitch setting or free motion basting stitches, around the the edges. Use a thin needle and remove all of these stitches when you are done hand appliqueing.

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

Applique methods for the center:

Machine Applique Method:

Trace the shape on the wrong side of the fabric or non-shiny side of the fusible interfacing.

Fusible interfacing comes in different thickness, and with one or two sides covered in fusible adhesives. I always try to find the thinnest for this. Make sure the side with the adhesive is facing the right side of the fabric. (The adhesive side can sometime look shiny or have dots on it.) When the piece is turned inside out, the adhesive will be on the outside.

You will sew on the traced outline.

Cut out your shape 3/16"ish  from the sewn line. Cut a slit in the interfacing and turn it inside out. This why it is sometimes called balloon applique or inside out applique.

Finger press to make your shape smooth. I feel as though there is always too much bulk, so I trim the interfacing on the outside of the traced figure and some behind the shape. (Not necessary.)

Use a piece of scrap fabric to cover the work, and steam the piece to fuse it to the background fabric. You can sew it down with a machine or by hand. 

I do not use this handy method, but it will work with machine applique methods very easily.

I have seen this done with used dryer sheets. (There is no adhesive, but you can make smooth curves.) I think this will work great for those everyday craft projects like a pillow or a bag.

I feel slightly embarrassed showing this next part, but practice on drawn lines and adjust your stitching width/length/tension when using your machine's blanket or buttonhole stitch, or edge-stitch around it with the regular straight-stitch.  I don't use my machine for this! This was the first time I actually used this stitch. Can you tell?!  Practice! (My tension needs to be adjusted for these stitches to lay flat.)

Getting Ready To Hand Applique:

Trace a cup from your kitchen cupboard with the desired size onto cardboard. (Plastic templates will melt or shrink!) Cut a template from a cereal box and cut a piece of fabric 1/4" larger. Sew a running stitch around the template as a guide and pull the thread taut. Press this circle with steam, front and back. You can use starch. Remove template.

Use this template to trace a circle on Reynolds freezer paper. (This is found next to your Ziploc bags in the supermarket.) Cut out and place, shiny side down, on top of your new fabric circle. Press, without steam, on the fabric. It will stick.

Use this as a guide when hand appliqueing. Push the fabric under the paper with the needle and hold down the paper and fabric with your right thumb. (Righties usually applique counter-clockwise and lefties applique clockwise.) I found when I just used the circle, it lost its shape while being handled.

Center this and hand baste it down on the fabric. Use the folds that were left by folding the fabric in fourths.

No pins is my favorite part! I especially like avoiding pins while there are babies and kids around.

Hand Applique:

When I hand applique, I do it a bit differently. After I start the thread, 

I push the needle down at a slight angle and against the fabric to be appliqued. This is not at the usual 90 degree angle.

I pull a little bit of the thread down and start back up through the fabric fold. At an angle, I come out the side of the fabric fold.

Then, I pull all the thread.  Otherwise, I have had too much tangling of thread on the bottom of applique pieces. Many times I turned to find the tangled mess many stitches later which resulted in me pulling stitches in frustration.

I always stitch twice at all corners or pivot points. This is what the red stitches look like from the starting point above to this corner. Don't pull too tightly or the stitches will pucker.

This is the back.

When done appliqueing, cut and pull all your basting stitches. I even pull the one used to make the center circle, as I hand applique it.

I use Mettler 50 wt thread that matches the color of the piece to be appliqued. If you want to buy extra 60 wt embroidery thread, it is easier to hide your hand stitching. I use the 50wt to piece and embroider.  It seems to work and saves me money. If you can't find a perfect match, go lighter in color.

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

Dresden Plate Quilt Block Tutorial

Share this :


  1. Thanks for the great tutorial! I'm excited to get started. I have my pretty stack of fabrics but need to find the time to cut and sew them!

  2. Fantastic tutorial! I'm getting "the itch" to give it a try. That may be because of the gorgeous fabrics you used! lol