Back to the Classroom…… drafting a dresden plate…..

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I wanted to just explain how I drafted my dresden plate block.  It’s not that difficult to do although you do need to be accurate with your pencil lines… you can buy dresden plate templates but I prefer to make my own and that way I have more control over how many segments my plate will have and also how big the plates will be.

You’ll need a few basic drawing tools (if you have children then ask them nicely if they’ll lend you a few bits form their pencil cases….)

a ruler (I’ve used a wooden one but using a very thin metal one will be more accurate)

a protractor

a compass

pencil (I prefer to use a pop up leaded one… with 2h lead)

a calculator

Drawing paper

quilters plastic


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Draw a circle a little smaller than the size you would like your finished plate to be.

(you’ll be drawing the scalloped edge on top so try to visualise the plate a little larger than what you are drawing)

Draw a straight line running from the top edge down to the middle of the circle.


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Carefully place the protractor along the line you have just drawn.  The cross at the bottom of the protractor needs to be placed directly over the centre of the circle, and “0 degrees” needs to be lined up with the downwards line you have drawn.

Depending on how many segments you want in your plate, you will need to measure an amount of degrees.  For this example I wanted the plate to be made from 15 segments…. so you divide 360 (the degrees in a circle) by 15 (the segments in your plate)…… which gives you 24 degrees.

Carefully measure along the protractor 24 degrees and mark it.  I’ve marked it with a pink dot so it is easier to see.


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Place your ruler to the centre of the circle and the point of degree you are using…. carefully draw a line through both points.  Using a 2h lead your line will be finer and more accurate.


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You now need to draw a line between where the two lines cross the circle.


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Measure as accurately as you can the distance and mark the centre point.  Using this point, draw a line which divides your segment in half.


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Using the compass, place the point of it on the centre point and the leaded end on one of the segment edges.  Draw a half circle.  This will give your plate a beautiful scalloped edge.


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Use the protractor to measure a line that will be 90 degrees to the central line in the middle of the plate segment.  Draw straight across.


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If you prefer your Dresden plate to be pointed rather than scalloped, draw lines running through the points where the plate segment crosses through the circle.  It’s up to you how pointy you make your plate.  I measured up about 3 cms from where the straight lines crossed.


Although I have drawn this on to paper, I would recommend drawing directly onto a piece of quilters plastic as it is more accurate than trying to trace it off from paper underneath.

Once you know the size you are working with, it is easy to just draw a smaller section of the circle that you base your plate segment from.


How many segments to a Dresden Plate ……

each segment is divided from 360 (the degrees in a circle)

10 segments = 360  divided by 10 = 36degrees

12 segments = 360 divided by 12 = 30 degrees

15 segments = 360 divided by 15 = 24 degrees

18 segments = 360 divided by 18 = 20 degrees

20 segments = 360 divided by 20 = 18 degrees






2 thoughts on “Back to the Classroom…… drafting a dresden plate…..

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