Tutorial: How to make an improv Dresden block, in any size (PART 2)
Now you have your template (from part 1), let’s get ready to use it! Of course you can just use it to cut out unpieced fabric, and sew them together, turn under the top edge 1/4″ and applique to a background, but I’m going to show you how I made a few different blades too.
Some of them I made with points, here’s how I did those.
1) Fold the top of the right side of the blade so that the top corners meet.
2) Sew a 1/4″ seam from the fold (using tiny stitches at the fold part and then increasing to normal size.
3) Turn right side out, so where the fold was is now a point. Align the seam centrally and ease the seam open with your fingers, then press the point.
Then the improv piecing… I cut the fabric into smaller pieces, and sewed together whatever pieces were to hand and looked good until I had a piece a little bigger than the template. With the plastic being clear, I could see what I would get where, when I was happy with the layout, I then cut around the template.
Some of the improv “recipes” I used-
1 – Small squares/rectangles – not measured, sewn together both horizontally and vertically until the size is right
2 – The above, but slashing and inserting another strip at an angle.
3 – Using left overs from the slashing technique and piecing them with fabrics as per recipe 1.
4 – Two larger pieces of fabric seamed diagonally – Then cutting out a few plates with the line intersecting at different heights.
I also had some plain ones in there. There’s lots more you could try too, like tiny crumbs of fabric sewn in a grid where seams don’t have to match.
When it came to sewing them together, I arranged them to look pleasing, and sewed together mostly as I went, I didn’t wait until I had all 20 blades done and I worked my way around the circle. It’s probably a good idea to make two halves though, because a small discrepancy can create a bigger problem at the end (which is why I have a sharp triangular piece, the tops were smooth but the seams went a bit weird in the central part, making it baggy there).
Points shorten the sides on the adjoining blades, so where they joined a flat one, I added a bit of glue pen to hold the seam allowance down on the back.
If you want to make a circle to be appliqued in the centre (I didn’t in case the guild wanted to turn under the centre hole and applique it like a window when it came to assembly), measure how wide you need to make the circle, divide that measurement in half and add 1/2″. Then set a pair of compasses to that width and draw a circle template on cardboard. Roughly cut out fabric about 1/2″ bigger and also cut a piece of aluminum foil a little bigger still. Layer foil, fabric (right side to foil) and cardboard, and wrap the seam allowance to the back of the cardboard smoothly with the foil, press with an iron, unwrap and glue baste the circle of fabric to the centre of the dresden.
In preparation for applique-ing to the quilt it is part of, you could also turn the top edge over 1/4″ and secure with glue stick if you wanted to.
And that was it! Have fun making big (or small) Dresden plates!
Oh one more thing, my piecing curves tutorial video went live today so if you could give it some love that would be great! Remember, if you subscribe to my YouTube channel and you’re in the first 200 people (today’s count stands at 69) you will be entered into the draw to win your choice of precut from my stash – there’s a layer cake, a jelly roll and 3 charm packs up for grabs!