How to Quilt a (BIG) Thanksgiving Turkey!


1 Layer Cake
Layer Cake Dresden Template or the old dresden template with another ruler to extend it


Hi, it’s Jenny, from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. We’ve got a fun idea for you. Last year we introduced the Dresden Turkey. This is a great fun thing that just popped out of our minds, but we’ve come a long way baby.

We now have made a pattern for that Dresden Turkey. It’s available only in the Missouri Star Quilt Company, probably till next fall. This is a picture of the pattern. Jan Patek and I put it together. How exciting is that, and we have this great pattern, it has a pumpkin, “Give Thanks”. We love the gratitude attitude, and so we’re working on that. I have a special journal that I call “Next Great Idea” and I woke up one morning with a great idea for this year’s Thanksgiving Turkey and here he is! Look how beautiful he is! He’s big! He’s gorgeous! I wanted something that you’d be able to see from the street.

He’s still three rows of Dresdens, just fifteen Dresdens, just different sized blades. He’s the same shaped body, we’re even going to show you how to make him a tie, cause everybody should wear a tie at Thanksgiving, shouldn’t they?

Alright, let me show you how we do this. I love this Sandy Gervais, Awesome, fall Layer Cake. It’s got all those beautiful fall colors in it, but you can make it whatever you want. I wanted you to be able to use a Layer Cake. I thought that was a really fun idea, and since we’re working with bigger pieces and taller pieces, that’ll be a lot of fun for us. So, what we’re doing here is, see, all those white ones well we pulled those out first because we’re going to use those for our background. We’re going to need about twelve of those and they’re going to be sewn together in a big piece that we’ll lay our turkey on. This’ll be the foundation for our turkey. You’ll also want to pull out the color you want for the body, the color you want for the background, and the color that you want to use on the feet, and the beak and the eyes. This I used the same dark for the eyes, and I’m probably going to embroider a little circle in there or something, to give those eyes some spark. So, let me show you how we did this.

This is a 10”, the Layer Cake is 10”, and our Dresden only goes to 8” so let me show you how to do that. Alright, we’ll scoot you over here, and get a little Dresden here. Here’s a piece of my fabric from the beak. Now you only need fifteen pieces, so you are going to end up with a few more Dresdens and you’ll be able to make more than one turkey out of this kit. Here we go.

OK, so we see here now how this says eight. What we’re going to do, and this is just a great, make do method, what we’re going to do is, we want a 10” Dresden, so we’re going to lay our ruler right along the edge of this Dresden. We’ll slide that ruler out and we’re going to make the cut, just like that. We’re going to put our Dresden right back on that line. Putting it straight along the bottom, and then we’re going to do the same thing on the other side, and we’ll scoot this out, and we’re going to go ahead and make this cut. I have a little harder time, being left-handed, cutting on that side. So, what you end up with is a taller 10” Dresden. For our outer set of leaves, we used all the browns and the greens, and remember with a Dresden, you just fold it straight over itself. Just like this, and you’re going to sew that ¼” right along there. Here’s one that’s done. Remember, just straight across the top, and then I like to clip a little edge right there, so, that when you turn it, it just lies down so much easier. So, then you’re going to flip that out. Push that out with your thumb, and it gives you a, makes it’s own casing, and we’re going to want to press that down. Let’s here right at the iron, right here, and so, what I generally do is press from the back and the front. You want to just line up this line so it comes straight down the middle. So, you have this nice blade. You’re going to use fifteen of those to make your feather line.

You’re going to do your bigger ones out of the darker colors and the light toward the middle. Actually, you can do whatever you want! It’s really fine, but we’re going to just sew these blades together. Remember, you just lay them next to each other like this. Sew your ¼” seam and they lay open and when you have fifteen of these it makes that fan for that beautiful feather! So, when you make your blades you’re going to make fifteen 10” blades, and you’ll stitch them together and that’ll be your first layer on here. The next set of blades is 8”, that is, let me see where’s my little Dresden, that is the size of the ruler that you have. If you’ve gotten the Dresden that’s this size, it’s 8” so that’s the middle one. Then we’re going to make 5” ones on these small ones. These little ones are 5” Dresdens, and we’re going to just lay them on top of each other. The whole inside will be the same on all three layers.

Now we got this layering idea, Sewbee came to visit us, she’s active on our forums, and she came over to visit us, and she gave us this idea about layering these! It just hadn’t crossed my mind, but it’s an awesome idea and I think she got it from somebody named Linda, but we love to see your designs on the forums! So, you guys, if you make a turkey we want to see pictures, we just love that! So, anyway, lets talk about how we’re going to layer this and finish this. The first thing I did was put this layer of 10” Dresdens on here, and then you can see here, I just kind of hand-stitched that down, and I just wanted to do it loosely, because I’m going to quilt over it. So, it just needs to be attached to it. Then I layed the next layer on, and again just hand-stitched that down, and the third layer, this middle body part right here, this brown part, that is the inside of a paper plate! You can see how I just use whatever I have at hand.

Eventually it will be made into a pattern, so you don’t have to come up with, re-invent the wheel, but this is about saucer size, and then the body is the same as the other turkey, we’ve just enlarged it. Just made it bigger, and the feet are the same! This guy needs a firm foundation, so he needs some bigger feet than that other turkey, but I did realize he was missing a tie! Everybody should wear a tie at Thanksgiving! Well, the men probably don’t think so, but I do, but I realized that I could make a tie by using one of the Dresdens. Now you could probably just use the small blade. That would probably be perfect, but it was too much yellow for me I wanted to bring in some of this brown. So, I took one of the large Dresdens and of course that was too big. So, I folded the two blades into the middle, and I just folded that down like that, and it’s the perfect size, and so I cut mine off here. I have one here to show you that I’ve cut off, just like that, and with this extra part right here at the end, I just made a little band to go on the neck like that. All that can just be hand-stitched down. I’m going to do a bit of embroidery in the eyes to make his eyes pop and come alive, and then I just think I’m going to quilt him, and I just think he’s going to be adorable wishing everybody Thanksgiving from our window! Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial! We’d love to see the pictures and any comments you have, and we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

posted: All, Holiday Projects, Intermediate Quilting Tutorials, Layer Cakes, Quilt Projects | tagged: , , , ,
Have you used this tutorial to make something cool!?
Send it in to us and share it with the world!
  • Jan

    Laura made one of these and called him Buford!

  • Rutledgesk

    what is the name of the layer cake you used. I could not find it on your website store.

  • Maryellen Pancotti

    I can’t wait to make the Turkey. I don’t think I’ll get it done for this year, but for sure he’ll be up for next year. Thanks so much,

    • Sarah

      Great to hear!!  I hope you get a chance to make him soon!!  Have a great week!

  • Myrtlejs

    If I do not see one of your tuturials before going to bed, I feel as though I have not seen my best friend..I   L O V E    seeing you guys…Jenny you make me smile…. I told my sister in law about you guys and she has told me she has found her fave website….cant wait to make my turkey (even vegetarians can have a little (big!) turkey on her table…thank you

    • Sarah

      Awwh, you are too sweet!  Thanks for that lovely comment!  Can’t wait to see how your turkey turns out!!  🙂

  • Patricia

    I love your tutorials….thank you so much.  Learned so much in such a short time.

  • Maria goumas

    Hi Jenny this pattern is out of stock??? Rain check n also flower pattern ?? How r you???

  • gary snyder

    I noticed you have a quilt with rings. Is this something you designed? I would like to see your tutorial on this quilt. It’s very pretty.