How to piece dazzling Dresden effects: strip-piecing tips

Dresden Plate rule strip pieced

Create stunning effects with fabric piecing! We’re delighted to reveal our new cover gift (issue 45) is here to help you piece Dresden Fans or Plates. Our Technical Editor Laura is here to share eye-catching design ideas for how to create different effects with it.

A favourite with quilters since Victorian times, the Dresden Plate is such a versatile pattern. From a single focal point to an entire quilt of colourful Dresden Plates or Fans, the possibilities are endless. Our ultra-handy template lets you add creativity to your designs with ease – simply follow our advice below to get the most from your ruler.

How to use your Dresden template

TQ45 Dresden rulerStep one: Piece together strips of your desired width(s) to make a strip-pieced unit. Markings on the ruler are spaced 1in apart, so to make a strip-pieced unit with single-width stripes, cut 112in strips of fabric. To make a strip-pieced unit with double-width stripes, cut 212in strips of fabric and so on.

Your stripes can all be the same width or you can choose to vary them if you prefer. To create a vertical half-and-half wedge, piece two (2) 238in strips together.

You can create a unit that’s the full length of the ruler (712in tall), or use fewer strips to create a small Dresden Fan or Plate. Stagger your strips by approximately 1in if you are using your ruler on the 45-degree angle to avoid wastage.

Step two: Place your ruler on the strip-pieced unit with its markings aligned with your seams. The ruler can be positioned straight with seams running horizontally or vertically, or on a 45-degree angle in either direction.

Play around to create different effects. Mixing and matching will create some interesting patterns.

Step three: Guide your rotary cutter around the edges of the ruler to cut out your wedge. You will need five (5) wedges for a Dresden Fan and twenty (20) wedges for a Dresden Plate. A full-size Plate will fit onto a 20in square (finished size) background block and a Fan will fit on a 10in block.


Design ideas

 The ends of your Dresden wedges can be finished in several ways. Keep the top straight, and turn under the edge or use fusible web when appliquéing it on to a background. Alternatively, create a pointed end by folding a wedge in half lengthways, right sides together, and stitching across the top with a 1/4in seam. Clip the bulk, turn right-sides out and press to create the point. A third idea is to use a rounded object to mark a curved petal effect at the end. This can be turned under during appliqué or again used with fusible web.

As described above, your ruler can be placed on a strip-pieced unit in a number of ways to create different designs:

Making dresden plates

Two strips of contrasting shades pieced together and cut into a wedge on the vertical, can create a pleated flower effect. Making dresden plates

As strip-set of single strips (cut 112in wide) can be used to create a graded flower, or different striped effects. Making dresden plates

Wedges cut at 45-degrees can result in a spinning sawtooth design, or by alternating direction you can create a radiating star pattern.Making dresden plates

Pieced strips of varied widths can produce myriad compositions – try varying the seams that you line up your markings with.  The possibilities really are endless, so enjoy experimenting to mix and match – a sample quilt of different Dresden Plates would be a delight!Making dresden plates

Dresden Plate Wave table runner

In need of more inspiration? Laura Pritchard shows you how to create this strip-pieced Dresden table runner in issue 45.