I’ve been surprised to meet so many quilters recently who haven’t tried a dresden yet, including some who’ve been quilting for years! Just never got around to it, or perhaps have been intimidated by the fact that it’s round (round = scary!), or because it’s a reeeeeally, really traditional block.
Well I have news for you! Dresdens are SO EASY and can be SO MODERN. They are my favorite block of all time! Seems like no matter what fabrics I choose, they end up looking crisp and just plain pretty.
So this tut’s for YOU (you know who you are!).
First off, you must get Darlene Zimmerman’s Easy Dresden Tool. It’s just a few bucks, avail at any quilt shop, and is the key to unlocking all things dresden!
Next, pick out your fabric (my favorite step of any quilting project, by far!). If you want each blade to be different, choose 20.
Now you’ll need to decide what you’d like the height of each blade to be. For this tutorial, I did 5″ blades, which I think is a really great standard size that fits well on a 16″ pillow form or a 12.5″ quilt block. This size is also great because it’s perfect for charm squares (you can get 2 blades out of each charm).
Line your tool up so that a clean cut edge is on the 5″ mark (or whatever mark you choose).
Now use your rotary to cut around the edge, as accurately as possible. Helps if you stick some InvisiGrip to the underside of your dresden template to keep it from slipping.
Repeat until you have 20 blades. YUM!
Now, take a blade and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together.
Stitch 1/4″ seam along the top edge (it’s to your right in the above photo), being sure to feed the raw edges first (not the fold).
Now, quick as a bunny, chain stitch all 20 of them without stopping!
Next, clip them all apart and turn them right side out. Use your semi-pointed scissors to push out the points and make them nice and crisp.
Finger press the the folds so that the seam is centered, and then press with an iron. A shot of heavy starch wouldn’t hurt at this point too, since your seams aren’t quite on grain (starch is our friend!!!)
Btw, I say bypass “clear starch alternatives” and go for the real deal- Faultless Heavy. Makes your fabric BEHAVE, and your quilt will soften right back up in the wash.
Ok, enough of my starch rant. On to more fun- lay out! Arranged the blades to your liking next to your machine, for easy access.
SO PRETTY! Valentines Day is here early!
Now pick up 2 blades that are next to each other, place them right sides together, and sew a 1/4″ seam down the right side, making sure the top corners points meet (don’t worry about the bottom edge- it won’t show).
Continue adding blades until you’ve used all 20. Then sew your first blade to your last blade, in the same fashion, to complete the circle.
Begin to press your dresden flat, smoothing the seams to get a nice flat, round shape. If your seam allowances aren’t all exactly perrrrrfect, it’s ok- this step will usually hide any flaws.
Yay! You made a dresden!! Now time to add your center.
Decide how big of a circle you want in the middle, keeping in mind that a larger circle will make the blades appear shorter, like a big ring, and a smaller circle will give longer blades and more of a flower effect.
This bowl seemed about right, so I just traced around 2 layers of my fabric with a pencil.
Now, you could cut this out with scissors, but I say, bah, too much work…my small rotary can do the job so much faster.
Next, pin the 2 circles right sides together, and sew a 1/4″ seam around the entire thing (I did 1/2″ seam on mine since I decided I wanted my circle a bit smaller). Clip the seams.
Now pinch the fabric on one side to separate the 2 layers, and make a 2″ cut in it with your scissors.
Turn your circle right side out and press.
You’re ready to applique! Either pin or temp fabric glue your dresden and center to your base fabric, and sew around each with your preferred stitch (zig-zag, straight, satin, or blanket would all work great). I did my last one using a zig-zag with invisible nylon thread and you can’t even see the seam!
Congrats! You can finally check this off your bucket list!