27 May 2016

The Flirty 30's Club ~ English Paper Pieced Dresdens

Gosh thanks for your patience everyone.....  this month's Dresdens are finally here!  I'm really enjoying sewing these and the thought of a very pretty quilt at the end of 12 noths, is certainly something to look forward to.   Here's a closer look them.....

 As I promised, this month I took some snaps as I made my English Paper Pieced Dresdens, as I know some of you were interested.  So here we go........

First off, I have to say I didn't use a template for cutting out the fabric, I simply held the paper piece against the fabric and cut out with an approximate 1/4" seam allowance......I air on the side of generosity with my seam allowance, I personally find with English Paper Pieceing (EPP) that it's better to have too much rather than too little.  For precise cutting and for fussy cutting, without a doubt, acrylic templates are fantastic!

Once I'd cut out my fabrics, I then glue baste the papers.   I can honestly say that I never thought I would ever use a glue stick when it came to EPP and I think I will ALWAYS hand stitch the papers for hexies  ......BUT for curves..... well I'm a convert, it makes the job a doddle!!!  (Edited 2018:  humm good intentions and all that, apart from 1/2" hexies which I still thread baste, I'm a glue girl now)

So to Glue Baste, simply run a smidge of glue across the top curved edge of the paper.  Don't panic, it goes on blue but dries clear.  The key I have found is to use just enough to make the fabric stick, don't over glue as it becomes a devil to get the papers out and I'm all for reusing those lots of times!  Then, working quite quickly.... with intent fold the fabric over the paper, it will naturally form little pleats.

Then glue both sides in place, leaving the bottom edge unstuck.

My top tip at this stage for a good looking finished Dresden is to ensure that you have followed the shape of the paper....make sure the the fabric is at all times tightly wrapped around.....
Once you have glued all your pieces, (8 blades and the centre circle)  Lay them out in an order that you find pleasing. Then work in pairs.

Before we go any further a note on needles and thread.  EDITED OCT 17 I have tried many needles, but I have had much success recently with Clover Black Gold Applique Sharp #10 needles...should you prefer a larger eye try Tulip Hiroshima Milliners Straw Needles #10 BIG EYE and 50wt Aurifil, 2311 is my colour of choice for this project.  My nan taught me a long time ago to use a piece of thread no longer than my elbow to the end of my finger tips and I think this really helps with not getting in a knotty messy muddle.

Once you've threaded your needle and knotted your thread, take your first pair of blades, holding them right sides together and ensuring that the shapes are aligned, insert the needle approximately 1/4" from the top of the curved edge, as shown below.  The reason I like to do this, is so that my knot is not near the top edge when it comes to the applique stage, it is buried well out of the way. 
Then use teeny little whip stitches * .....really really close together, make your way up to the curved edge and then all the way down the straight edge, until you reach the end of the paper piece..... you can see this hopefully from the arrow on the picture below. Knot off.

* It's hard to describe, but I think the key to invisible stitches is as I've already said, make them small, but try just to nip the fabric, enough so that it is secure, but not taking great big chunks.

 Repeat for the remaining pairs.  Then join the pairs into two halves and finally into one plate.
At this stage, give the dresden a good press.  This will really help with the applique making it so much quicker and easier as it holds the fold on the curve in place.
Remove the papers.  This is quite easy, simply run your finger under the glued seam to release the paper....this is when you find out if you've over done the glue.....ask me how I know!!!

Pin the centre circle in place and whip stitch in place.
 Remove the centre paper.... you can do this from the underside of the Dresden quite easily.
Pin the dresden to your background fabric, I'm using 9" squares, which I will eventually trim back to 8 1/2" squares when I'm ready to piece the quilt top together.  I found it best to fold the background fabric in half and then in to quarters and finger press the folds. You can then line up your dresden easily.
Using teeny whip stitches applique using the pressed fold line as a guide in place.  You should find that you can easily fold the raw edge of the curves neatly underneath with your needle as you stitch. 

Finally give the finished piece a nice press on the wrong side NOT the right side, this will ensure that you iron out those crease marks, but will not flatten your applique, giving it that vintage puffiness!  Repeat this process two more times and then each month for a year!

Here's my 6 dresden so far......... I may be biased, but don't they look lovely!!

See you next time, when I will hopefully have not one, but two finishes to share!


  1. Ohh! They look amazingly beautiful. I should try as soon as...
    (By the way, my fabrics have just arrived here and they are soo soo beautiful that I can not wait to play with them. You will see them on my ig acount soon:)) )

  2. I love these, they are so cute. Thank you for sharing the process. Just need to find the time for another project.

  3. they are soooo pretty!!


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, it really does make my day! If you have a question, please do ask away and I will do my very best to answer. Sarah xo

Update July 2020: Unfortunately, due to a large increase in spam and inappropriate comments, I have turned on 'Comment Moderation', so your comment will not appear immediately. My apologies for this!

© A Little Happy Place | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig