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  • Nicola

Take an umbrella, just in case...

I had always planned to include a couple of blocks from my patterns in my Keep Calm and Carry On quilt. The cakestand block from Vintage China fitted a treat, but the umbrella block from Jolly Brollies was a tad too small, so it was back to the drawing board or, rather, the computer to tweak the size of the template.

The block is based on a Dresden Fan block. I have always loved the look of those beautiful 1930's Dresden quilts, but I didn't love using the fiddly templates, or the stretchy, bias-edged pieces they gave me.

vintage dresden quilts

And then I watched Joanna Figueroa's Craftsy class Simple Fresh Quilts and had one of those eureka moments. Joanna has developed an innovative technique for piecing Dresdens which uses a template to mark a stitching line. We're all used to making half-square-triangles in a similar way: stitching THEN cutting to avoid handling bias edges. I wouldn't dream of making a Dresden any other way and used it in my Jolly Brollies pattern with Joanna's kind permission. You can also find directions in her Fig Tree patterns Lollipops and Papillon and Issue 16 of Fresh Vintage magazine.

cakestand quilts jolly brollies

If you already have a Jolly Brollies pattern you should copy your template at 110% to enlarge it, but if you aren't able to enlarge on your home printer you can download a PDF here.

Don't have a pattern? You can find Paper Patterns in the Shop and PDF Patterns in our sister Payhip Shop. And there is 30% off both Jolly Brollies and Vintage China throughout April.

To make your resized brolly block you will need the following fabric:-

5 2½" x 6½" pieces for the Dresden Fan;

1 2½" x 5" piece for the handle plus a small piece of lightweight fusible webbing;

1 3" square for the tip of the brolly; and

1 8½ " x 10½" piece or 1 10½" x 12½" piece for the background, depending on the setting you're using.

cakestand quilts brolly block

Assemble your Dresden fans as described in STEPS 8 to 11 of the pattern then, using the enlarged template, trace the handles onto the fusible web and fuse to the WRONG side of the handle fabric, following the manufacturer's instructions.

cakestand quilts brolly block

As the brolly is set vertically rather than diagonally you are going to prepare your block slightly differently. Once you have squared up your Dresden Fan, mark a diagonal line on the back of the 3" square (I like to use a water-soluble pen) and pin - right sides together - to the tip. Stitch ON the line, press open then trim ¼" away from your stitched line.

cakestand quilts brolly block

Next - and apologies, it's a bit fiddly - you need to turn under the raw edges along each side of the Dresden Fan by ¼". I found the best way to do this was to mark draw a line on the wrong side and finger press the ¼" allowance before pressing with my iron. Press a centre-line on your background piece and mark your seam allowances (I used my water-soluble pen again, but you could also finger-press or use a pin). If you are using the original Spell it with Moda setting, using the 8½" x 10½" block, your seam allowance will be ¼".

cakestand quilts brolly block

Centre the pieces on the background then fuse the handle and stitch round the edge before pinning your Dresden Fan into place and top-stitching to the background. In both cases I used a straight stitch, reducing the length slightly and stitching - slowly - as close to the edge as I could.

I'm sure that once you've tried the Fig Tree Dresden method you'll be as smitten as I am. Happy stitching,

Nicola xx


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