Exploring the Basics Series

Exploring the Basics: The Dresden Plate Block

ETB Dresden Plate Quilt Block Badge

The Quilt Block Remix is a monthly challenge between quilt pattern designers.  Each month we challenge each other to reimagine (or remix) a traditional quilt block.  January's challenge block was the classic Dresden Plate block.

Dresden Plate

There are many different versions of Dresden Plate.  The biggest differences are:

  • the number of "plates" or wedges
  • the edge finishing of each wedge
    • pointed plate (above)
    • curved plate
    • straight plate
  • centers
    • size of center
    • center or no center     

Let's look at some simple examples of different styles to help make things clear!

Dresden Curve Small
Curved Plate with Small Center


The plates, petals, blades - however you want to think about the wedge units - can be curved or pointed.  Here's an example of a 12 plate curved dresden plate block.  Note the center - it is a small circle.  To me, the curved plates look like flower petals.  And this particular coloration with two white plates together looks like small white hearts!

Dresden large center
Curved Plate with Large Center


So what happens if you add more plates, or you make the center larger?  Sure - you can absolutely do that!  Here is an example of a 16 plate block with a much larger center.  Changing up the proportions - number of plates, size of the plate, size of the center - really changes how the block looks, doesn't it?!

Dresden no center
Curved Plate with No Center


So do you HAVE to have a center?  Nope!  Be aware that most of the rotary templates you purchase will have centers.  But you absolutely can create blades without a center.  As with any block that has a lot of seams coming together at a set point (in this case the center of the block), you are going to have bulk, which is why many folks will opt for the circle center.  But you don't have to.  

Dresden Plate small
Pointed Plate with Small Center


We looked at some curved blocks.  So let's take a look at similar blocks that have pointed plates instead.  As with the curved plates, you can have different numbers of plates, as well as different sizes of centers - or no center at all.

Dresdent point lg center
Pointed Plate with Large Center


Here's an example of a pointed plate block with a large center.  This one always reminds me of sunflowers.  Imagine it colored in yellows and golds, with a warm brown center - yup, sunflower!

Dresden point no center
Pointed Plate with No Center


Just as with the curved plates, you can stitch up pointed plates with no center.  But keep in mind the bulk you'll be dealing with at the center of the block!

So how do you MAKE a Dresden Plate block?  Well, I could show you - I could!  But...Leah Day has a terrific little tutorial that walks you through making this basic block.  You can see her YouTube tutorial by clicking here.

Want to know more about this lovely block? You can read a fascinating history of the Dresden Plate blocks by quilter Rona, who writes under Rona the Ribbiter.  Visit her blog and read the history by clicking here.  Spoiler - they are traditionally appliqu├ęd blocks!

Now, on to the fun stuff - the block challenge!  You've seen what we started with - a traditional Dresden Plate block.  

What are the rules of the challenge?  They are simple - post your fabric pull, post two sneak peeks and post your block reveal.  That's it!  The blocks can be any size.  You can make a full quilt or just a block.  

Dresden Scrap Pull

I love to challenge myself to use my scraps for these block challenges.  I have just a few (ha!) scraps, and it feels good to give them new life!  That was my first step - pulling scraps to see what fabrics and colors I can put to use!  As you can see, I had a LOT to go through and plenty of options!

Dresden Templates
To keep things simple, I decided to use a rotary template - and I had a few to choose from!  As you can see, the biggest differences were the length and angle of the templates.  Each would create a slightly different block.  I ended up using the Easy Dresden template, which is an oldie but a goodie!

Dresden plate gradation

I settled on pinks and reds for my blades, accented by some lovely greens (yup - I was thinking flowers!).  I set them up in a gradation - because I LOVE this technique!  More on creating gradations below!

Dresden Final Block

And - tada - here is the final block!  I had so much fun making it!  I approached it a bit different than the traditional methods - and it was totally easy!  I even quilted it myself (I know - shock!).  It was easy straight line quilting, but I think it accents the flower effect!

Wasn't this fun?  Head over to Instagram and check out the post there.  Be sure to click on all the quilters I tagged in my post. You'll see their amazing blocks and their creative takes on this classic block.  You are sure to get great ideas for your own interpretation of this quilt classic!

Head over to Kate Colleran's blog to check out her insights on the bow tie block too!  Click here: Kate's Blog Post

Remember that gradation technique I mentioned?  Well, how would you like to take a class on how to create gradations for YOUR quilt projects?  Well I have an on-demand class coming up in March!  Get on the waitlist now so you'll be sure to get all of the details!  Click the image below to get on the waitlist.

Gradations Class Waitlist

Click Here to enroll


Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? (psst.....I have an Instagram hop coming soon, with PRIZES - I know!)

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Disclaimer Statement: This blog is my personal blog, which means it is written and edited by me - and I may sometimes have guest posts (and they will be written/edited by the guest poster - whew!). This blog does accept forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation, which may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in the blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. Sometimes I (the blog owner) may be compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Please be aware that, even though I may be asked to provide opinions, posts or reviews, I do always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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