Thursday, May 10, 2012

Newby Quilting Bee - Dresden Fan Block

Dresden Fan Block 

I am so excited to teach this class.  This is a favorite old time block with lots of potential!  The blades of your fan could be all the same color, all completely different, you will have to decide.  Perhaps you want a small quarter circle at the corner to finish it off.  Maybe you would like to embellish your fan with some stitching or lace.  Perhaps you want to echo stitch around the blades.  Maybe your fan doesn't have tips...or maybe the tips are rounded.  There are just so many options to be creative with this block.

We will start by cutting a square piece of fabric for our background.  This should measure 15 inches, or the same as your other blocks in our series.

The next step will be to cut the fabric for the fan blades.  We will be making a template before we cut.   Template making is a new concept for us.  What is a template, how do you use it and what do you make it out of?

A template is a pattern.  You will place the template on your fabric and draw around it to create the shape you are after.  We don't typically use a template to cut around, they are too thin and you may end up cutting the template.  ( I say typically because you can purchase plexi-glass templates which you can use to cut around, but for our purposes, we will not be doing this.)

You can make a template using a stiff light weight card board, like the ones you would find in a man's dress shirt.  You can use the side of a shoe box, a folder, a plastic lid, anything that will hold it's shape while you draw around it.  For this block I have created a paper pattern for you to use and will provide some poster board in class for you to experiment with.  We will trace this pattern onto our template material and then cut out our template.

(if you are doing a Dresden Fan and you want more blades or fewer or you want to do a plate, then you will need to do some math and equally divide your circle or quarter circle,  Remember to add 1/4 inch to each blade measurement so that you have your seam allowance)  We will talk more about this in our class.

Once you have your template created, you can "stack" your fabrics, trace your template and cut.  I would not recommend for a beginner to stack more than 4 pieces of fabric at a time.  

Carefully fold each of your blades in half long wise, and machine stitch along the widest end only as shown above.  You don't need to clip your threads between stitches, just keep feeding your fan blades in until they are all done.  This goes quick!  Chain piecing is great when you are quilting and I encourage you to look for opportunities to incorporate this technique in your quilting.

Once you have all your blades stitched at the top, clip them apart and turn them, use a stiletto or a knitting needle or a bamboo skewer to turn that sharp point, careful not to poke through your fabric.  Now line up the seam to the center of your blade, you can finger press at this point if you wish.  Take all your blades to the iron and press carefully, making sure to keep that seam in the center of your blade.

Once pressed, your blades should look like this above.  Now you will arrange them the way you would like your finished fan to look and stitch the long edges together so that they look like the fan below.

Now take two pieces of fabric, right sides together and draw a quarter circle.  You can use a bowl or a plastic lid the size you want for your fan "base".  The two pieces of fabric can be different, you can use interfacing for one side or remnant fabric, it's not going to show.   If you don't want a base, be sure to extend your template pattern all the way to a point.  

With right sides together, stitch along the curved edge only!  Clip your curve, turn and press.

Now for the Assembly!  Place your fan on your fabric block, pin in place.  Place your fan base on top of the fan and pin in place.  It should look like the example below.  Carefully top stitch your fan blades in place along the blades only, then carefully top stitch your fan base along the curved edge only.  Press and you are done with this block.  

Here are some examples of Dresden Blocks.

My Christmas table mats, with holiday colored narrow blades on a muslin background. 

The block below is from the blog Fresh Lemons and has a wonderful modern look due to the fabrics selected and the quilting.

Setting Ideas from Little Foot

More setting ideas from Mary Quilts

There are lots of possibilities for you to explore with this easy and fun block!

Template For Dresden Fan
You will need to enlarge this to a size appropriate for the block you are making.  If you are taking the class, I will provide the template in the class.  If you are not in the class and want a copy, just drop me an e-mail and I will get a copy off to you.

If you are cutting just one block, stack your fabric about 4 layers thick and cut...if you are cutting for a large quilt or multiple blocks, you can cut strips the width of your fabric and lay your wedge template down, marking one wedge, then flip it and mark another as shown above.  There will be little waste with this.  Also, as you see above, you can get creative with your fabric and strip piece it for a totally different effect.  Just an option.

Speaking of can leave your blades flat, you do not have to have points on them, you will simply cut a piece of fabric to match the curve of your fan and stitch along that curve right sides together, then turn and press for a very neat clean edge.  Maybe you like a can do that too, with the same technique, mark your scallops, stitch the backing on, clip your curves, turn and press.  

Here is a great video Making a Dresden Block by the Missouri Quilt Co.

I'm glad you joined us today, I know you'll have a lot of fun with this block and find a variety of uses for it.

Our next meeting will be on Friday, June 8th at 9am.  We will be making two blocks at our June meeting  and I will be sending home the pattern for the final finish up our blocks for the year and then in July we will be assembling our quilt tops and getting them ready to quilt and bind!  Start looking at the blocks you made.  Think about how you want to lay them out, do you have enough for the size quilt you want to make?  You can have duplicate blocks in your quilt, it's okay.  Maybe you like one of the block and want your whole quilt to be that block!  That's okay too!  Enjoy yourself.  The blocks can be made into pillows, table runners, placemats...what ever you desire, you don't have to make a quilt.  Here are the blocks that are coming up for June!  Don't get scared, these are have already learned the techniques to make these...they will just be a review!  Study the blocks below and see if you can recognize the components it takes to make each block!

Old Maid's Puzzle

Sister's Choice

Corn and Beans

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