Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dresden Centers

Hi Everyone!

I have now packed approximately 46 potential projects to take to my 4 day retreat.  Alright, I suppose I'm exaggerating a bit, but it doesn't feel like it.  The thing is that I'm obsessing so much with having everything I need for each project that I'm sure I'll do something dumb like forget my machine's foot pedal.  Or my pillow. 

I also worked on my challenge quilt.  I wanted to get it off my table and out of the way.  The plan was to do an applique quilt, but with fusible.  I got the background prepped, stems basted on and traced all the patterns, ironed the fusible to the fabric, cut out all the shapes, carefully arranged them, removed the paper, and fused them in place.  And something didn't look quite right.  I kept looking at the photo of the quilt and then at mine and it seemed like mine was too big or something.  The pattern shapes were, like most magazine patterns, on an insert.  They were all on one part of the folded insert next to a fold.  I opened out the insert and discovered the instructions on the other side that said to "enlarge the pattern pieces by 200%!"  I've never seen any templates in magazines that needed to be enlarged!  Did I mention that I'd already fused everything in place?!  Ugh!  I was able to peel them all off, but the project is being set aside for now.  I'm not sure if it is going to get finished now, either.  I'm not just frustrated by the fact that I made a mistake.  I'm also a bit unhappy about how easy it was to peel off the fused shapes.  This was a new product for me that is supposed to be "the best" and I followed all instructions, I prewashed the fabric and used no softener, and the pieces still came right off. 

Anyway, I want to share with you today how I did the centers of my Dresden plate blocks.  The pattern instructions in the magazine say to use raw edges and an applique glue--so in effect, you trace a circle, cut it out and glue it on.  I want to machine applique instead, so I needed to come up with a way to get a nice, smooth circle.  Have you ever tried to applique circles?  It isn't easy to get a nice circle.  I love the Perfect Circle templates, but I don't have the larger set, so I had to think of another way.

In my other life, I am a scrapbooker.  Okay, to be fair, I think I now have to say that I WAS a scrapbooker since I haven't touched it in nearly 2 years, that I packed away many of my supplies to make room for more quilting stuff, and most importantly--I haven't bought any new supplies in nearly 2 years.  However, I still have (and use) many of the tools.  One of the tools that I really like is my Cricut paper cutter.  It cuts many shapes in different sizes easily.  I used it to cut three different sizes of circles from cardstock for my centers.  I cut at least one for every circle I needed because I wasn't sure I would be able to reuse them.

Here is one of the perfectly cut cardstock circles, these are the finished size of the centers.
I then cut circles from my fabric that were an inch or more larger than the cardstock circles.  I look around for something round that is handy and close to the right size.  When I was fussy cutting the medallion fabric for my large centers, I used a blank CD.  The middle of the CD is clear and there is a hole so I could see that the motif was perfectly centered in my circle.  It worked like a charm!
I then took my cardstock and fabric circles downstairs by the TV.  Whenever I was watching something, I worked on the centers. 

I did a running stitch all the way around the circle near the edge, but not too close.    Then I place the cardstock piece in the center of the fabric (against the wrong side of the fabric) and pulled up the thread, as tight as I could, and knotted it off.

Like so.
Next I took them to the ironing board and pressed them with a hot iron both from the back side and the front side.
I sprayed them with starch and pressed again on both sides.  Carefully!  You don't want to burn the paper.  Once they are dry again and cool, I clipped some of the stitches and carefully removed the cardstock.

 You can see that the seam allowance has pulled slightly open, so I carefully pressed it down again.  Can you see how the cardstock is wrinkly because the starch got it wet?  That was why I cut one for each center, I wasn't sure how well they would work a second time, but I misplaced one, so I reused an old one, and it worked fine.

The results--perfectly turned, smooth circles!
If I didn't have the Cricut, I would have carefully cut circle templates from no-melt template plastic and used them.

I finished appliqueing the 9 small dresdens to the center so now I'm ready to add the borders.  They require 16 medium plates and 16 more small plates.
I will also share how I'm doing the machine applique.

Have a great day!


  1. Good gracious! I love your perfect circles for your Dresden plates. Could you use the no melt plastic with the circuit to cut your templates? Have you tried to use fabric with it? I keep thinking I might like a cutter but don't know if I really want to put the money into it. I guess as long as I can cut with my rotary cutter I'll stick with that. Heaven knows I don't need any more STUFF in the studio.

  2. OMG! This is such an easy way to get the circle's edge nicely finished and totally not how I had imagined it was done all these years! If I ever get around to making an applique like this I will be able to have this as a reference. Thanks JoAnne!

  3. Nice tutorial on the perfect circles. Thanks!

  4. Great tutorial !! Perfect circles !

    You are making great progress on this quilt & it is gorgeous

  5. I love your CD tip - you are a genius. The retreat sounds blissful, and I hope you get all your 46 projects done!

  6. FABULOUS instructions ... thanks for sharing. Enjoy your retreat ... will look forward to your postings afterwards with pictures of all 46 COMPLETED projects .... LOL! Sounds like we pack similarly for retreats ... by the time I unpack the car it's almost time to head back home! LOL Travel safe and enjoy!

  7. Clever! I always take way to many things on retreat and never get to most of them--too much eating and talking! I hope you have a lot of fun and get some things finished up!

  8. 46 projects! A gal after my own heart! Hope you have a blast. I will be anxiously awaiting all the scoop on your retreat fun. Great tutorial too by the way. Have you ever done circles where you sew a used bounce sheet to the fabric circle and the clip the bounce sheet. Flip it right side out. Press and your done!