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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dresden Tutorial

Hi Everyone,

I thought I would share the process of make the dresdens in case not everyone is familiar with the process.  I have heard from some people who tried making them in the past but didn't have good results.  I think I tried my first one way back in the 90s and it was rounded on the ends like this photo.
(It was an unmitigated disaster, too, by the way)

The problem with doing a rounded one is that you have to turn the curves under for applique--not fun.
That's what makes using the ruler, or the templates, for your blades so great--it self-turns making the applique a breeze.  Just watch.

Once you cut all your "blades" they look like this:  a thimble shape. 

First thing, press it in half the long way, right sides together.

You really will want the crease you just made later in the process

Next sew along the wider, top edge.  I like to start with the fold, but it doesn't matter which end you put through the needle first.

Here is my chain back at the ironing board.  Clip them apart.

Next you will clip the folded corner to eliminate bulk.

Like this
I do quite a few at a time.

Then turn it right side out and gently poke out the corner with a point turner. 

You will have a pile of these after they are turned right-side out.

Next you are going to press the tops flat.  You want to center your seam along the crease.  If you didn't have a crease to help you find the center, you can end up with some wonky blades.

Then you press it flat.

A finished blade!

Next you sew the required amount together.  These are the small ones for my pattern, so I used 14. You can see that it doesn't want to lay flat. 

Turn it over so the seams are facing you and then press them around in a circle, either clockwise or counterclockwise.

As you work with it, it will lay flat!  (Even if you doubt it will!)  The seams may pleat a bit at the center, but remember, it will be covered with the center circle.
The important thing to notice is that there are no raw edges on the outside of the plate!  Sewing that top seam has turned the edges for you!
When I did the largest plates, I appliqued the ring onto the background first, and then went back and covered it with the center circle.  Now that I have to deal with a larger, heavier background (the blocks with the large dresdens are now sewn together,) I decided it would make things easier to applique the centers onto the plates first, so that I have to handle the heavy top less.
I'll be back tomorrow to show you how I do the centers.
Have a great day!



  1. Not being a quilter but having basic sewing skills, I actually understood this! Thanks JoAnne for sharing the mystery to how these wonderful quilt items are worked together. Looking forward to the next step!

  2. Very good tutorial-------------that reminds me I have twelve completed Dresdans in a box just waiting to be hand stitched to the backing. I wondered if I should sew the circles down first, thank you for clearing that up for me. Guess I better get busy.

  3. I've always wanted to make a Dresdan block - I have the template and the fabric, but lack the motivation. This post has helped me: thanks.

  4. I have never done the blades before, but I can see from your great tutorial that its a great technique to deal with the raw edges.

  5. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this tutorial! I have one of these templates and now I'm not afraid to use it! lol! :-)

  6. JoAnne, that is an awesome tutorial! It gives me confidence that someday I just might try this!

  7. Thank you for post on how to make the "petals". Looks easier now.

  8. Your Dresdens are so cute! I love that ruler--my first plate was a disaster too. I think the pointy ones are much cuter than the rounded ones and they are a lot easier to applique! I can't wait to see the completed quilt.