Dresden Plate Directions
By: Kathy Somers
Ever need to make just one Dresden Plate block? Suppose you are making a sampler or doing a friendship block and you need just one block. Or perhaps you want to draft a template for a bunch of them the super easy way. What do you do? Do you search for hours for a pattern or spend just as much time drafting it? I vote neither. Here is a much easier way.
Tear off or cut a square of freezer paper at least as big as your finished block size (add a little bit extra for safety). Fold the square of freezer paper like you were going to cut out a snowflake. Crease it really, really well with your fingernails and be very accurate about folding. First, fold in half and then in half again (four sections). Then, fold diagonally to make eighths and then fold the point in half again to make sixteenths. You will get sixteen pie-shaped wedges around a center point.
Then, measure from the point and mark a shallow arc about 1 inch in from the point for a 3 inch center and a rounder arc at 5-1/2 inches from the point for a 12 inch block. The outer measurement can vary according to how big you want your center and how big you want your plate. Generally, make the outer measurement about 1/4 to 1/2 inch smaller than half your finished block size. The inner measurement should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch smaller than half your desired center (finished). Use a compass or a glass or whatever will give you a nice arc. Cut on these marks, making sure to hold it firmly as you cut or it will shift (I usually pin it). Draft and cut out a circle of freezer paper the appropriate size for your center, as well.
Then open out the "plate" and number the sixteen wedges. Cut them apart very carefully on the creases (you can also use one of these as a basis for making a template for multiple blocks). Iron them to the back of your fabrics, making sure you keep the numbers straight if you aren't using sixteen different fabrics.
Then, baste the seam allowances to the back and whip-stitch like in English Paper Piecing, making sure you keep the numbers in the right order. The edges will be automatically turned for appliquéing.
You can hand or machine sew along the edges of the paper, starting and ending at the edges of the paper (use a backstitch), and THEN baste the allowances to the back for appliquéing.
Press your background in diagonal quarters to mark and place the plate on it, matching the creases to the seam lines. Pin or glue down and appliqué. Pin and appliqué the center. Then, cut out the background from behind, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance, and remove the basting and paper.
Using this method, you have the stability of the freezer paper as you are appliquéing (like in freezer paper appliqué). If you use the English Paper piecing method, your seams will end up being pressed open and not to one side as in the other method above.
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