The long awaited and much promised….
by Sarah Fielke
This tutorial is about how to make a Dresden Plate block using a wedge ruler.
This is a Dresden Plate I made recently for a yet to be revealed project that you can read about here . You can also see a Dresden Plate block in my quilt, Dotty for Dresden, which is in the first Material Obsession book, Modern Quilts with Traditional Roots. Click here to purchase.
Dotty for Dresden from Material Obsession: Modern Quilts with Traditional Roots, photography by John Doughty
Alright class, let’s begin.
You will need a wedge ruler of some description for this project. There are many kinds of wedges on the market. For the purposes of this particular Dresden, I have used an 18 degree wedge ruler by Creative Grids.
The wedges in Dotty for Dresden are made using a 22 degree ruler. You can also use a 60 degree or a 45 degree, whatever kind of ruler you can get your hands on where the degrees will add up to 360 is fine. The number of times that the wedge degree will fit into 360 is how many blades your plate will have. For instance, here with the 18 degree ruler we have 18 into 360 goes 20 times, so 20 wedges to complete a circle.
You will need to decide how large you want your plates to turn out, and how you want your blades to look. This can take a little trial and error. Here I have used a 4” strip on the 2” line of the ruler, which results in a medium sized, not too chunky blade with a largish hole at the centre of the plate. The lower down you cut your blades, the thinner your blades will be and the smaller the hole at the centre of the plate. The higher up the ruler, the fatter the blades and the larger the hole. Have a play and see the different results you can get.
Due to all this playing around, I don’t ever cut my background squares until I have made one plate and decided that I am happy with the result. It’s MUCH easier to fit the squares to the plates than to mess around making plates that will fit squares you already cut!
When you have come to a decision on the strip size, cut a strip and place the ruler on the line.
Trim the left hand side off and then cut your first wedge.
Turn the ruler upside down and cut another wedge, with the top of the strip in the same place as before.
If you are using a different part of the ruler, your cuts will look something like this:
For thinner blades with a smaller hole at the centre
For fatter blades with a larger hole.
The three different finished shapes lined up:
Fatter, medium and thinner.
Next, fold your blades in half lengthwise and sew across the wider, top part of the strip using a quarter inch seam.
You can chain feed the blades through the sewing machine for faster piecing.
Turn the point of the blade right side out and use a stiletto or chopstick to make sure the point is sharp.
Centering the seam to the middle of the blade, press with a hot iron.
Lay the blades out in a colour arrangement that pleases you.
Begin sewing the blades together in a circle. I always make sure I start sewing at the thin end of the blade and sew towards the pointed end, so that I can do a stop stitch or reverse stich where the “V” of the blades meets. This is so that when you are appliquéing them onto the background you don’t have to worry about loose threads.
Continue sewing the blades around in a circle – in this case of 20 blades – until you reach the last blade. Join the first and the last blade together and press.
Most wedge rulers do not come with a template for the circle at the centre of the plate. Now comes the fun part – rummage through your cupboards for a circle template, cup, bowl, plate etc that is the size of the circle you want, which should be at least a quarter inch bigger than the hole in the middle of the plate.
Cut the circle out. Determine the size of your background square by measuring the plate across the centre from tip to tip.
Decide how much space you want around the plate on the background after it is sewn. Cut a background square and baste the plate to the background using either large tacking stitches or appliqué glue (I recommend Roxanne’s Glue Baste It, or Sue Daley’s Applique Glue, which I sell and post if you are interested).
Applique the plate to the background using your favourite form of appliqué. The best thing about these plates is that there is no raw edge at the points of the plates – all the work is done for you and all you have to do is sew.
Applique the circle over the centre of the plate and you are done!!
A wedge is a really versatile shape. I have used wedges for all sorts of things, from borders to blocks. Here I used the wedge ruler for the sashings in my Seasons quilt.
The Seasons, Material Obsession 2: Shared Inspiration
Photography by John Doughty
Every time I pick up a wedge ruler I have another idea. Give them a try!