Friday, March 28, 2014

The Key to Making a Beautiful Dresden Plate

Has it really been three weeks since my last post?!  I have been a little bit caught up in quilt making and pattern designing (more on that later) and have neglected my post (pun intended)!  Okay, it was funny in my head :)

One of the quilt projects I have been focusing on this month is for the very special Zeller family.  I heard about their story from a friend on Instagram (Stephanie @modernsewciety) who was looking for volunteers to help make quilts for this deserving family after they had to literally throw out their Grandmother's quilts due to mold infestation.  You can read all about their story on their blog Charlie's Song.  What I have really appreciated in reading Misty's blog is that through her deepest trajedies, she has been able to share the beautiful faith and trust in a loving Heavenly Father that she has through it all.  How could I NOT help such a lovely person that needs some good in her life?  I was able to see some of the quilts that Misty liked and noticed she liked Dresden Plates, so I decided on this "Field Day" pattern by Camille Roskelley.

Cute, huh?  The pattern is available through her craftsy class, Playful Piecing.  Click on the link to check it out.  It's pretty amazing!
So, Stephanie sent me a gorgeous box of fabric to play with this is what I came up with:

Of course, I am getting ahead of myself.  This is a picture AFTER I had all the blades made, but I would love to show you how to make a dresden of your very own.  The first thing you need, is a template to make all the little "blades" that make up the plate.  You can either purchase a dresden ruler like this . . .

 . . . or you can make your own with heavy cardstock or a plastic template sheet.  I am going to invest in this ruler so I can make various sizes of blades in the future, but I will show you how to make a template for the size I used in this quilt.
You will first want to get your cardstock/template sheet and mark a 5 inch line down the length or width or it (it really doesn't matter which).

Rotate the paper/plastic sheet 90 degrees and draw a line on the 2 1/2" mark until it meets up with the line you previously drew.

Now, draw a line in the middle, at 1 1/4".

Make a mark 1/2" to the right and left from the 1 1/4" line where it touches the 5" line.

Draw a line from the mark on the right to the end of the 2 1/2" line.

Draw another line from the mark on the left to the corner edge of the paper/plastic sheet.

Cut out the template by cutting along the diagonal lines you just drew and the 1" between the marks on the 5" line.

You will use this template by laying it on your fabric and cutting around all the edges.  You can use jelly roll strips, charm pack or layer cake squares, or scraps.  Whatever you use, I would suggest cutting your fabric into 5" strips first.  You will need 20 blades for one dresden plate.
Once you have your fabric cut out, you will take each blade one at a time and fold it in half lengthwise with the right sides together.

You will then line up the bigger side (2 1/2" side, not 1" side) under your presser foot and sew a 1/4" seem.

You don't have to do this next step, but I highly recomment it to make a beautiful point on your blade!  Clip your corner where your fabric folds making sure not to cut over the stitches!

Flip the blade inside out.

Use your scissors or something similar to GENTLY push out that seem to make a nice corner.

Line up the seem in the middle on the blade.  HINT: Just line it up with the fold mark you made when you folded your blade in half. 

Press the top of the blade so that it will lay flat.

And you have a perfect dresden blade.  Now only 19 to go!

Now that you have all your blades made, lay them out and decide the order you want them in.  Start with the "center" blade and the one to the right.  Lay the one of the right on top of the center blade and line them up along the long side so that the edge's points match up perfectly.

Don't worry about the top points, just this side point and edge.
Lift your needle up and place your blades so that the needle will start sewing about 1/8" from the top of the fabric.  Sew a couple of stitches and STOP!

Backstitch until you stitch off the fabric . . .

 . . . then proceed as usual to sew a 1/4" seem.

If you lined up your points just right, this is what it will look like.
Wish I could say this happened everytime to me, but I had to fix some of mine that didn't come out so perfect.  Keep at it; you will get into a little rhythm!

Keep sewing the blades together by placing the one you want to the right on top of the one that will be on it's left with right sides together and sewing as indicated above.  Once you have pieced on the last blade, sew together the first and last blade and you will has a completed circle of blades!

Now it's time to applique on a circle in the middle to cover the ends of the blades.  You can make your circle as big or as small as you like.  I actually used a pot that was around the same size I wanted to cut out my circle!  In this tutorial, I use a bowl.
First, grab your fusible web and set it, paper up/web down, on a hard surface.  Then place your bowl on it and trace around the circle.

Cut out the circle leaving about 1/4" around the line that you drew. 

Fold the circle in half so that the lines you drew match up.  Cut at least 1/4" inside the line, making a little "rainbow".

Open the circle up and lay it on the BACK SIDE of your fabric you want for the circles.  Make sure that the fusible web and the back of the fabric are together.

Follow the instructions on your fusible web packaging to attach the web to your fabric.

Now cut out the circle, on the line!

Remove the paper off the back of the web and you're ready to rock!

Fold the circle in half and then half again and press the middle.  Be really careful not to touch the fusible web!  This will help you center the circle in your dresden blades.

You can either measure or just eyeball where the center is.  Make sure the fabric is right side up!

Iron the circle onto your blades per the instructions on the fusible web packaging.

Now you will need to stitch around the circle to make sure it is secured in place.  I decided to use a blanket stitch because I haven't used mine yet on my sewing machine and wanted to use the opportunity to try something new!  You can really use any stitch you would like, but it's fun to do something decorative!  You want to stitch right up to the edge of the fabric.

 When you come back to where you have started stitching, pull the threads through to the back of the fabric and tie a square knot.

And, voila! You have a completed dresden plate!  You can leave it as is and hang it on the wall, sew it onto a block of fabric, be creative!  
Here is my stack of dresdens for the Zeller's quilt, a whopping 13! 

For this quilt, I sewed mine onto a square of white fabric.  Here's how:
I first folded my white block in half and half again and pressed it so I could see the middle easily.

Then I centered the dresden plate and pinned it in place.

And then, I topstitched around the blades using a straight stitch.  Just make sure that your plates are laying flat on the block so that you won't have any puckers or wrinkles in the fabric.

After making 13 of these, I SO want to make one for my sewing nook wall. 
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!  It is kind of time consuming, but the result is awesome!  If you end up making a dresden plate, comment and post a picture.  I would love to see what you create!