Free Giant Dahlia Quilt Tutorial



**I have received several requests for this tutorial to be used for teaching purposes for guilds and groups. You may do so as long as any materials here, printed matter, videos and instructions are offered to students for FREE. This tutorial is not to be used as a profit-making venture. I always intended for this tutorial to be free and it will remain free to anyone wanting to learn my technique. If anyone comes across this tutorial being used in a profit-making manner, please email me at Thank you!**


Lesson 1:

The Giant Dahlia will be a 56 inch circle and have a 15 inch circle in the middle. I’ll be appliqueing the center circle of mine then appliqueing it onto a larger background. We’ll get to that part a little later after the Dahlia construction is done!

Download the free pattern here!

Tools you need to make this are very simple. You can machine sew or hand sew. You will need an Elmer’s or generic washable gluestick and a toothpick or the pointy end of a bamboo skewer, a pressing board and iron. No pins needed! I’m going to share my method of taming curves and taking the scary part out of piecing them. Alrighty! let’s get started! print out just one set of the templates and cut them out making sure you don’t cut off the included seam allowance. All you need is the 10 (or 11) templates. You can follow the color scheme above or use scraps or batiks or whatever you’d like. I chose to use a red/yellow/green/pink/blue color scheme and repeated it twice. Each arc has 10 fabrics in it. You can choose to make each template a different graded color scheme if you’d like. So, using your templates, you will cut the following and I’m going to follow my color scheme above just for example: #1- cut 24 different reds-approximately 1 fat quarter #2-cut 24 different yellows-approximately 1 fat quarter #3-cut 24 different greens-approximately 1 fat quarter #4-cut 24 different pinks-approximately 1.5 fat quarters #5-cut 24 different blues-approximately 1.5 fat quarters #6-cut 24 different reds-approximately 1.5 fat quarters #7-cut 24 different yellows-approximately 2 fat quarters #8-cut 24 different greens-approximately 2 fat quarters #9-cut 24 different pinks-approximately 2 fat quarters #10-cut 24 different blues-approximately 2 fat quarters Optional piece #11-cut 24-approximately 3 to 4 fat quarters needed.
Now, if you like to add the #11 piece, it will make the edge of your dahlia a smooth circle. If you leave it off as I did, you’ll have a pointed edge circle. I plan on appliqueing the pointed edges to a background. Once you have all of your template patches cut, leave them in their stacks in a row from 1-10. Make sure you don’t get any of the numbering turned around or out of order. Starting with #1 which is the small triangle, take one piece from each stack 1-10 starting with #1 on the top and ending up with #11 on the bottom of the stack. That is one complete arc already set up for sewing. Continue to make the stacks for the remaining 23 arcs. You should have 24 stacks that look like this. 001 I’ve been asked about fabric requirements. I used scraps for mine so coming up with yardage needed was a little tricky. I took the largest piece to see how many pieces could be cut from 1 fat quarter and I got 15 pieces from 1 fq. I’m estimating 2 fat quarters needed. I’ve also edited the cutting directions to reflect the yardage needed for each template. This is the largest piece of the arc #10 laid out on a fat quarter to show placement.



This first video covers making your arc stacks and sewing the arc together

This is the next video for this project. I’ll show how I press the outer arc seems under 1/4 inch and how I use the gluestick to secure the seams before stitching.

Lesson 2: Center Circle Dresden Plate and Background

Hello again! I hope that everyone is having fun creating your Giant Dahlia. Tonight I’m going to talk about creating your center. Now, there are many ways you can create your center. About as many ways as a person can dream up. You can choose a floral applique such as a Rose of Sharon applique pattern or a pieced center such as a paper pieced star. However you want to finish your center is entirely up to you. I like to leave a part of the project open for your interpretation so you can make your quilt uniquely YOU. The option I’m going to show you is the Dresden Plate with Blades. I originally printed my templates out for a 10 inch block but I’m not entirely satisfied with the dimension in which the plate turned out once I put it in the center of my Giant Dahlia. It’s too small. The templates I’m providing are for the 5 Bladed Dresden Plate block in EQ7 sized at 13 inches. I think that size will balance much better in the center. I’m using a picture tutorial tonight rather than the video camera. We’ve got some storms rolling in and it’s rather gloomy in this basement studio without the natural light of the sun. So, let’s go!

*Note* I use a design wall to do my designing and construction. It’s basically a flannel backed tablecloth with the backside out. I have it taped to my wall with double sticky tape since my walls are good old concrete. Fabric sticks to that flannel backing so good! Since I’m dealing with circles, I like to look at the project vertically to be sure that my circle edges are accurate. I have a hard time judging that if the project is laid on a table.

I chose a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in Green Apple for my background fabric. I cut an 18 inch square and placed it behind the Giant Dahlia.

There will be enough excess behind it so that I can safely handle the project for stitching. I like to cut the center a little bit bigger to start with then trim down any excess after I have the center safely stitched and secured. I’ve said too many bad words by cutting it too small and then having to deal with it misbehaving.

The next step will be to turn under the edge of the inner circle and press that edge well. Make sure the points of the first yellow diamond in the arc meet the edge crisply so you don’t lose any of those pretty points.


Take a good look at your circle and make any adjustments needed for a balanced symmetrical circle. You can safely adjust the edge now without compromising your dahlia shape. It’s easy to work those bigger adjustments in later if your dahlia doesn’t seem to lay quite flat. You have lots of bias edges in the dahlia that will work to your advantage later while making adjustments. Now, it’s time for that awsome gluestick again! Using the dabs of glue just like you did for the arcs, put dabs of glue between the turned under edge and the background every 1/4 inch and press well with your fingers to make sure you have a good bond. Once you have your edges glued under well and the glue has dried, you can hand applique the edge to the background or machine stitch it. Next we’ll make the Dresden Plate. You can find the templates here:

This dresden has 20 blades. I used my original color scheme of blue/pink/green/yellow/red to cut my blades. I cut 4 blades for each of the 5 colors. 002

Since these blades will have a pointed edge, we’ll need to create that point, but first some prep work!

Fold all the blades vertically in half with the rightside of the fabric IN. You want the back of the fabric on the outside, and press them. You want a good press line for the next step.


Now, you will need to sew along the top wider edge which will create the point of the blade. I chain sew my blades together because it’s faster. I put the folded edge under the presser foot first to prevent the edge being stitched from getting gobbled up by those hungry feed dogs.


And now we have a really cool blade chain! snip the stitches between them.


It’s time to make a point! hey, I’m trying to make a point here! let’s make a point 🙂 You’ll now use that vertically pressed fold line you did earlier as a guide to make sure your points are turned out evenly. Put your finger inside the blade and turn the point rightside out. Use a toothpick or the end of a bamboo skewer to push the point out from the inside but make sure it’s not too sharp or it could puncture the fabric. Make your points as crisp as you can get them.


Once, you have all your points turned to the rightside, you’ll need to press them down. Use the vertically pressed crease you made earlier to help you line up the seam with the creaseline and your blade should be perfect. 011 here are the blades all ready to be sewn into a beautiful Dresden Plate. 013 I like to sew my plates in 4 sections. It’s easier to press those little seams. I then join the 4 sections together to form the plate. Press the seams either to one side or open according to your preference. 014

Join all 4 sections to make the dresden plate and press. I should say right now that what I personally do is probably closer to ‘uber” pressing which basically means that if it’s not laying quite flat enough for me, I starch the crap out of it until it behaves 🙂 Starch is my friend.

Next you’ll make your center for your dresden plate. The circle provided in the template is perfectly sized but you can now choose to make that center circle any size you want. If you want a bigger circle, just hunt through your cabinets or pantry for a jar or can that you like. I have made applique circles a couple different ways. I have drawn the circle on the back side of my chosen fabric and put the fabric rightsides together with a piece of light interfacing and sewn right on my drawn line, sewing the entire circle closed. Make a snip in the interfacing just big enough to turn the circle rightside out and press well. You’ll have a circle with a finished edge ready to either hand applique or machine stitch to the middle of your dresden plate. You can also trace your circle shape into a stiffer paper or cardboard and press the edges of your circle to the back of the cardboard to make a finished edge.  There are many ways to finish your circle so however you prefer will be awsome!

Place your dresden plate in the center of your background circle and adjust to make sure it is centered. You can glue it down with the gluestick or use pins to secure it while you hand applique or machine stitch the pointed edges down.

This picture is when I realized that the 10 inch dresden plate I made was just a little too small for the background center. It looks a little wimpy in there. The 13 inch plate templates provided will make a larger, more balanced plate for the center.


That’s it! once you have your dahlia edge stitched and secured and your plate stitched and secured, you will be ready for the next big lesson! That will be applying your Giant Dahlia to a large background square and then you’ll be a huge step closer to enjoying your own unique Giant Dahlia quilt! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ **NEW** Background Instructions 7/6/2013 Now that you have your Giant Dahlia sewn and the center sewn, it’s time to apply it to a background. For my GD, I chose to make a 60 inch square background.  You can make yours bigger if you’d like, but I’m going to give instructions for the 60 inch measurement for teaching purposes. At this point I’m going to give beginner/intermediate level instructions. You’ll be appliqueing your GD onto the background fabric square and once you have that process complete, you can choose to cut away the excess background fabric behind your Giant Dahlia or you can choose to leave it intact. That’s a personal choice I will leave up to you.  Quilting fabric is sold in 44/45 inch widths. Due to that width, you will need: 3 and a half yards of background fabric. From that you will cut: Four 30.5 inch squares To jazz up your background, you could choose 4 different fabrics for your background. They don’t have to be the same fabric if you have some pretty fabrics you’d like to showcase. Sew your four squares together in a giant 4 patch. 4patch

The vertical and horizontal seams created will also serve as markers to help center your GD on the background.  I don’t have sufficient floor space or table space big enough to spread my background out on the floor so I have to get my GD centered and adjusted vertically on my design wall. The following instructions apply whether you do this step vertically or horizontally.

**Refer to the picture posted below for the following instructions**

Look at your GD. You will see that it is made up of 4 sections. I centered mine by placing the point of the outermost dahlia piece vertically at the top, bottom, and sides. These sections are designated by the white lines in the picture example. The GD measures 56 inches wide at those points so I know that I should have at least 2 inches between the point and the edge of the background fabric. If you make your background larger, you will have a greater measurement. Once you have those 4 points pinned and secured and the center of the GD center is lining up with the background seams’ center intersection, you are ready to start doing a LOT of measuring 🙂. This step can be a little tedious, but the attention to detail will pay off with a perfectly centered Dahlia.

I’ve broken the picture up into 4 sections denoted by the white lines. Since this is a symmetrical pattern, every point in each section should have the same measurement. You will need a notepad and pencil to keep track of your measurements.

You now have the top, bottom and side points of the GD pinned. Smooth your dahlia out as much as possible, making sure that it lays flat on the background square without distorting it. Look at the example picture. See where I have put the pink lines from the point of the dahlia to the edge of the background? those are the measurement points that need to be the same in all 4 sections. All the A’s need to have the same measurement from the dahlia point to the edge of the background fabric, and so on with all the B’s, and the C’s. Don’t be afraid to smooth and gently tug a point to where you want it to be. There are a lot of curved seams in the dahlia and they can be adjusted fairly easily. Once you have all of the points adjusted and pinned, you can do as I did and use the gluestick once again to glue the edges of the dahlia down. I glued every single edge of my dahlia down so nothing would shift during the handling of it while I appliqued the edges down. Just get it as secured as you can and then either handstitch or machine stitch the edges of the dahlia to the background. This step is all about the measuring, I can’t stress that enough. Go slow and make sure you have your dahlia exactly where you want it to be and secured down before you pick up the entire quilt top or move it.

At this point you can add multiple borders, appliques, and just about anything your heart desires to personalize your Giant Dahlia and make it your own. Thank you for following along and I sincerely hope that you have had fun learning my method for creating a Giant Dahlia quilt!