Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Part 2 -- Dresden Stars Tutorials

Are you ready?  
Today, I'll review the templates and cutting.
For one block, you need six pairs of blades, six kites, six background diamonds and a 1" finished hexagon to applique to the center (I'll cover preparing the hexagon in Part 3).
Let's start with a look at the templates to use.

The last page of the pattern has the three pattern pieces drafted without seam allowances and was done in a response for requests from students wanting to hand piece the block or English paper piece.  These can be used to make rotary cutting templates if you prefer.  You'll need template plastic, a glue stick and an extra copy of the pattern page.
Glue the pattern sheet to the template plastic and allow the glue to dry completely.
Once the glue is dry, rough cut the three shapes apart leaving extra space.  Then using a rotary ruler (with an old blade), cut the three shapes to size by placing a ruler on top of the template plastic aligning the 1/4" marks with the pattern line and cutting.  This will add 1/4" seam allowance to each shape.
The three templates are almost ready to use.  Note that each has a "grain" line.  I use these more to line up the template with the "grain of the print" than the fabric when working with directional prints.
The final step is to trim the points of the templates.  Use a rotary ruler.  Align it squarely with the tip of the pattern piece, draw a line 1/4" from the seam line and trim off the tip square to the ruler.
Here are the finished templates.
I prefer to use Marti Michell's templates -- they are so accurate and versatile.  Here's a quick story on me to illustrate the 180 degree flip I did on cutting patchwork with templates.  Marti recruited me to work as an educator for her when I closed my shop in 2005.  I was surprised because I had been avoiding her and her templates for years!?!  She convinced me to spend a week with her in Atlanta learning to work with them and I came away convinced.  The biggest selling point for me has been the increased accuracy of my piecing.  Using a template to cut pieces means all the pieces are exactly the same and that is HUGE when working with complex shapes like diamonds and hexagons.  

For this block, I use template H52 and H52b plus the "kite" from the 2" Kite & Crown set.  See all those purple shapes printed on H52 -- those are all the shapes that can be cut with this one template.  I'll be using 52b -- the half diamond.  Also I should mention that my kite template doesn't have any markings printed onto it because it was a "proto-type" -- yours will have printing on it.
** I leave some of the paper backing on my templates to cut down on "skidding".
Since I'm working with 10" layer cake squares, I begin by layering a pair of squares right sides together.  I cut three 2 1/4" strips.  If you are working with a jelly roll or 2 1/2" strips from your stash, there is no need to trim the strips down, just layer a pair right sides together.
To cut a pair of "blades", align the solid purple line of the template along one edge of the strips as shown above.  If you are working with homemade templates, use the "blade" template.
Cut pairs until you have six sets as shown below.
Don't separate the pairs and leave them on the cutting mat for the "trim" step.
(The leftovers at the top of the picture will be used for kite points on other blocks.)
You'll notice I've shifted the template a bit to one end which is different than the pattern picture you have.  Just saving a bit of fabric.

Now for the trimming step.
Save your brain energy and line up the blade pairs and the pattern photo to match.
Use the kite template and line it up as in the photo, trimming the right end of the blade pairs.
If you made your blade template, you don't need to do this trim.
Before lifting the kite template off the fabric, grab a sharp pencil and use the hole in the template to make a dot on the wrong side of the blade --  just one dot for each blade pair -- don't skip this step!!
This signals you where to stop sewing when we start the piecing next week!
Now cut six kite shapes from a contrasting print.  
I'm using the leftover from another blade pair.
There is enough fabric to cut six of these if you set the template against the cut edge from the previous kite. 
 If you are working with jelly roll strips, the template will just fit.  I match the "flat" point to one edge and if the other end falls a wee bit off the edge, it works out okay because we will have a "dot" at that end.
Six kites!
On the wrong side of each kite, mark one dot!  That's all you need!
Now you just need to cut background diamonds to fill out the edges of the blocks. 
Start with 3 1/8" strips regardless of which template your are using.  One strip across the width of the fabric will yield 9 diamonds, so two strips will give you 18 diamonds, enough for three blocks.
If cutting with the homemade template, I suggest laying a rotary ruler on top of it to prevent shaving the thin template with your rotary cutter.
Final step, two dots -- one on each side.  There is no need to transfer dots to the sharp pointed ends.
Final note -- if you are making templates, you will need to make a hole.
I suggest using Marti's DELUXE CORNER TRIMMER tool.  It looks odd, but it's very versatile!  It is used for trimming points (for better matching) and includes holes for transferring dots to many shapes.
The 120 degree corner will cover all the corners that need to be marked!


 1.  Organize the fabric combinations for two or three blocks -- you might want to make at least one of them for a "practice block" especially if you haven't already tried using my Set-In Piecing Simplified technique.  

2.  Cut the pieces for two or three blocks (including background diamonds) following today's blogpost and your pattern.  Don't cut too far ahead for now.  I want you to be sure you enjoy piecing this block before you commit to a king size quilt!?!  If you hate it, two or three blocks could become a tablerunner or a stack of potholders -- (-;

3.  Get that UFO organized that you'll be using for "leaders and enders -- maybe set it up on a tray or in a box lid (you do use box lids, don't you?) to make it easy to access without getting any of it mixed into the Dresden Star block pieces.

4.  Finally, if you have questions -- put them in the comments below!

I'll be back to start the piecing process next week, Wednesday, July 5!



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