The Dresden Plate Quilt Block is an Applique


Appliques are fun to do, especially when you are working on a sampler quilt and getting tired of putting together tones of little squares and triangles! With an applique, you add a design to a full background square.

Hooray, hooray this is the last block in our Year Long Sampler Quilt.  Not that I want things to end, but we have so much more to do before our sampler quilt is finished!

Last time we created the Stamp Basket quilt block, giving everyone an opportunity to learn about appliqué with the basket handles. This time, the entire “flower” or plate will be appliquéd to a 13” square background.  Don’t worry, its fun and will give you some practice at hand stitching!


This is my first Dresden Plate.  Notice I used five different fabrics, three times, to create the circle.  I’ve seen this pattern done with four fabrics four times and three fabrics, five times.  I’ve done the math and this doesn’t make sense because you can create the plate with either 15 or 16 total “petals”.  Weird.

At this point in the creation of your sampler quilt the selection of the colors in the block is critical. This is your final opportunity to balance the fabrics you’ve been using, make a block either dark or light, or in a certain color to pull the whole quilt together. I like seeing the Dresden Plate on a white background because the colors stand out so nicely.  However, I’m not opposed to trying it this time with a colored background.  I’ve seen it both ways and they can both be done effectively.


Color Decisions

To make these critical color decisions, it’s important to set out all of the blocks you’ve created so far to determine the best placement. In this first arrangement I am trying the Dresden Plate with a yellow background to balance the bottom right and left blocks which use quite a bit of yellow.  In doing so, I can use the other four fabrics of my quilt with the possibility of using white as a petal or as the center circle.  Here, with a yellow center the block doesn’t have any contrast.


In arrangement number 2, I simply switched the Stamp Basket block with the Card Trick block so the two white background blocks straddled my new Dresden Plate.  Each move makes things a little bit better.


For the 3rd arrangement I added the white to the circle in the center and decided it wasn’t going to be enough white to make the block fit in.


The concept of creating some of the “petals” in white would help, but I’m not that crazy about it.


So, I decided to try the white background.  Once I placed the colored fabrics on it I was sure I wanted to do this block with the white background.  Unfortunately I liked the block better, but now the arrangement was off.


By switching the two middle blocks, the white background blocks were zigzagged and the whole composition was much better.  Don’t hold me to it, but this might be my final arrangement.  I’ll know for sure when the Dresden Plate is complete.

So, let’s break down the Dresden Plate quilt block.


The Dresden Plate block is made up of 17 to 18 pieces including the 13” square background.  There are 2 templates you will need to create to cut out the “petals”; one petal and one circle for the center.

Materials List:

  • 15 – 16 petal shapes (the template includes ¼” seam allowance all the way around)
  • 1 circle middle (template also includes ¼” seam allowance)
  • 1 – 13” background square
  • Cotton thread for sewing
  • Quilter’s Straight Pins (with large heads)
  • Sharp fabric scissors
  • Template Plastic
  • Scissors for plastic
  • Ruler to measure plastic
  • Pencil


1.  As always, begin by cutting out the plastic templates.  Download and print the template I’ve made checking to be sure your petal is 5 ¼” long and the circle is 2 ¾” in diameter. Remember, both templates include ¼” seam allowance all the way around the piece.

2.  Place the plastic template on the wrong side of your fabric, trace around it with a sharp pencil or white pencil on dark fabrics.  Then, cut out your pieces.


3.  Even though we’ve spent a long time working with the fabrics to determine which block pieces will be in which colors, you may have to replace pieces with another color even after you have them all cut out!  Make sure to save the pieces you’ve cut and replaced.  They may work in another quilt block.


4.  Once you are sure about your color choices and their locations, it’s time to put the petals together.  For the Dresden Plate quilt block we start by hand or machine stitching petals together.


It’s best to sew half of the petals together in one semi-circle, half in another and then sew the halves together.  Remember to stop ¼” from the outside curved edge so you can turn over the ¼” hem around the curve of the petals.


5.  Once the two halves are stitched together, head over to the ironing board and press the seams around the Dresden Plate all in the same direction.


6.  Next, iron over the ¼” along the curve of each petal.  This is VERY DIFFICULT.  I ended up ironing one end, the other end, and then the middle and was able to soften the points that this method creates with my fingers when it came time to pinning the hem down to baste it in place.


7.  Do the same with the circle for the center.  Iron in the ¼” hem all the way around.


8.  Using your fingers to persuade the curves on the petals to cooperate, pin in the curves.


I pinned three petals at a time and then basted the hem in place, very close to the edge.


9.  Once the hem is basted in all around the Dresden Plate, pin it to the 13” square background making sure it is centered and pinned on well.  Pin the circle to the center as well.  Appliqué the outside curves of the Dresden Plate to the background.  For appliqué instructions check out the Stamp Basket quilt block instructions.


Appliqué the circle center to the plate as well.


10.  Use a seam ripper to remove the basting stitches now that everything is secure to the background.


11.  The last step is to go back to the ironing board and press the entire block flat.  It’ll be beautiful and congratulations, you’ve complete all six blocks of our Sampler Quilt!


Go ahead, line them all up, you know you want to!  Don’t they look wonderful?  Well, next we’ll get the rest of our quilt top made by selecting the colors for the outer border, inner border, sashing and cornerstones.  You can get ahead by figuring out what colors you want and where you want them placed.  I am going to consider making another 6 blocks so I can use mine as a little cover up on our few chilly Florida nights!  I’ll let you know what I decide!


If you are interested in quilting, please visit these two great websites that have all sorts of free quilting patterns, tips and even workshops.   Visit  and these are great websites for quilters of all levels, our thanks to Benita Skinner.

And if you would like to join a quilting forum, please visit the “Quilting Board” @  tell them Shari and Matt sent you.

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