28 September 2012

Dresden Placemat Tutorial

This is my first sewing tutorial, so I hope it's ok and easy to understand.  If anyone gets stuck, or I've missed out something vital, please let me know and I'll help as much as I can.

I've assumed you have the usual cutting mats, rotary blade and other sewing type equipment, but you'll also want to get the following bits together.

To make a set of 8 mats you will need:

  • 160  of 5" high dresden 'slices' in various fabrics, I used 20 different fabrics and cut 8 slices from each 15" x 5" piece of fabric
  • 8  central circle pieces 5" x 5" in various fabrics (circle templates are included in my Dresden Placemat Templates file, link below)
  • 16 backing fabric pieces 13 x 7"
  • Enough wadding for 8 circles approximately 13" diameter
  • A dresden ruler (although if you don't have one, you can try searching for templates online)
  • Placemat template with scalloped edges, you can download mine here:  Dresden Placemat Templates 

First you'll need to cut out all of your dresden 'slices' or 'blades', I don't know if there's an official term.  I just realised that I haven't really got any photos of cutting out the pieces.  I guess I've assumed that you're all ok with that.  I cut my fabric in strips of the correct height, 5" then used the ruler to cut the blade shapes.  Once I have all my pieces, I like to put them into groups of 20, so that the different fabrics are nicely spread out amongst the plates and so I know I'll have some pleasing combinations in there.

When I've done that, I take my first pile of 20 and lay them out, again just so I can check which fabrics will be sitting next to each other and so I'm happy with how it's going to look.  Then I start sewing them together, pressing as I go.  First into sets of 5, then two halves, and finally the two halves together.

Repeat that process for each plate you want to make.  Then, once you have a nice pile of dresden plates, you'll need to cut the backing fabric pieces.

Take two of the back fabric pieces, and placing them right sides together, sew a 1/2" seam from each side towards the centre, leaving a good 4" gap between them.  (see the arrows in the photo)  Then, open up the two pieces and press the seam to one side.  This leaves us with a nice square-ish shape with a hole in the seam, which we'll use for turning later.

Next you'll need to cut your wadding to size, I cut around my scallop template, but as you can see from the second picture it meant that my wadding was only just big enough, so you'd probably be better cutting approximately 1/2" bigger than your actual dresden size.  Take one piece of wadding and lay the first dresden plate face up on top it it.

Next lay a piece of backing fabric, face down on top of that and pin it into place.

Now you'll need the scallop template.  Lay this on top of your placemat sandwich and mark around the scallops so that you have a sewing line to follow.  Beware though of how you place your scallops.  It looks best if the 'dips' of each scallop to line up with either the centre of a scallop blade or on the line where two blades meet.  In the photo's above, you can see by the arrows I decided to line the scallop 'dips' up with the centre of a dresden blade.  This bit can be a little fiddly, you might need to lift your backing up to check that things are lining up correctly.  I even cut a little of my excess backing fabric away so I could line my scallops up more easily.

 Once you're happy with the placement of the template and have drawn round it, you're ready to sew.  Start anywhere along your line and keep following those curves until you're all the way round to the beginning.

Then, carefully cut the excess fabric away, following the shape of the scallops and making sure you leave 1/4" seam.  Then, very carefully, make a little cut from the edge of the fabric up to, but not through that sewing line in each of the scallop 'dips'.  This will make sure your beautiful scallop shapes come out properly one you turn the mat around.

 You should have something that looks like this.  Repeat the same process for each of your mats.

 This next bit is my favourite, because you really get to see how your mats are going to look.  Using the gap along the seam in the back fabric, turn your mat around.  Carefully push out all the scallops.  You might need to use the blunt end of  crochet hook or something similar to help you.  Then iron the mat from the back side, again carefully making sure your scallops are nicely shaped before ironing into place.

 Next, I like to spread the mats out and test various different fabrics against each one to decide the best fabric to use for the centre circles.  Once you have the fabrics you want to use, cut out the circles using Temple 1.

 Now you'll need a needle and cotton, to make a tacking stitch right around the edge of the fabric, but don't break off your cotton just yet.  Once that's done, place the smaller circle, Template 2, in the middle of the fabric.

Pull the end of the cotton tight now, so that the fabric shapes itself nicely round the circle and make a couple of stitches to hold in place.  Then iron the circle and leave it a minute to cool.

Once it has cooled, gently tease out the paper template ready to use on the next circle.  You should have a lovely circle shaped bit of fabric, ready to applique to your mats.

Pin your fabric circle over the centre hole in the mats, pin then and using small stitches, applique the  circle onto the mat surface.

 I like to add a line of hand quilting around the edge of each mat, so you could do that too, if you'd like.  Then the last job is to turn the mats over and sew up that hole along the seam.  I like to use slip stitch (also called ladder stitch.)

 There you have it, a completed Dresden Placemat.  Well done you!

I really, really hope I've made it clear enough and explained myself well.  You know you can just ask me if you ned to though don't you?

Good luck making your placemats everyone and if you'd like to share the results, please come and post them on the 'Your Cherry Heart' Flickr group.  I'd love to see what you've been up to and coo with delight!

S x

26 September 2012


Do you remember when I was on holiday in the summer and I had my little knitting emergency?  Well, while my other needles were out of action, this is what I worked on to fill the time.

It's a cardigan pattern called Peggy Sue by Linda Wilgus.  Such a sweet little pattern and I've had it sitting in my queue for a while waiting for the right moment to make it.  Since I'm enjoying a real knitting phase at the moment, sparked off by the vanilla knitting experience, it seemed like a good time to take the plunge.

It's mostly stocking stitch so it happily filled my 'vanilla' requirements, although it does also have a very pretty cabled rib that luckily I could manage without a cable needle so it didn't tax me too severely.

I got some rather cute little buttons for it and at an absolute bargin too, just 10p each.  I didn't think you could still find buttons at those kind of prices any more.  I love the swirl on them.  They are just a little touch too small to be perfect though.

I not a great cardigan knitter as a rule, somehow they always seem so daunting, but I think the process is becoming a little easier for me.  This is certainly the best fitting garment I've made to date, which is encouraging.

Until next time then, when I'll be back with the Dresden Placemat tutorial... exciting!

S x

20 September 2012

Dresdens for Dad

My dear, darling readers, you are the sweetest and kindest of all people I'm sure of it.  Thank you for your kind words and sympathy over my dreadful deleting disaster.  I am glad to say that the worst is now behind me and I think I've managed to re-upload and restore pictures pretty much everywhere.  Roughly 900 of the blighters!  But of course, if you  do see something remiss, do not hesitate to let me know and I shall fix it.

I'd also like to thank you for your wonderful response to my new pattern, the Cathy Rose Mitts.  Some of you have even been tempted into buying it and to each of you I am very grateful, thank you.

Without further chit chat though, let us get down the the main business of the day, namely Dresden plates and Dresden placemats.

You may remember earlier in the year I made a set of placemats using Dresden plates and I was mightily pleased with how they came out.  Well, it turns out I wasn't alone.  I don't wish to blow my own trumpet  very loudly, but I did receive some very nice comments about my natty little placemats.  Including, as I mentioned in that previous post, one from my Dad.  Who was so impressed that he even expressed a wish that he could have a set of his own.

Well, what daughter can ignore something like that?  I admit, I was touched that he liked them so much and once that time came around for him to chalk up another year, it seemed clear what I should do.  Make him that set that he had wished for.

I don't often like to go back over old ground a make another of a thing, but occasionally it can be a pleasurable experience.  I didn't find it a chore to repeat making these at all and there's an definite satisfaction that comes from seeing a Dresden plate coming together I think.

It also occurred to me, while I was sewing away on these mats, that maybe a 'Dresden Placemat' tutorial would be a good plan?  When I posted about the first set of mats back in May, I had quite a few people contact me with queries on how I constructed them, so I thought a little more information on the how might be well received... What do you think?

S x

Update: 1/10/12

The Dresden Placemat tutorial is now available, click here to whizz straight to it!

18 September 2012

I don't believe you wanted to do that!

I have been playing with Blogger today.  Blogger and Google+ in fact.  Mostly this has been all to the good and I've updated my 'follow me' links on the right-hand sidebar there.  You can now find me on Instagram and Threadbias, should you choose to.

So, that's the good stuff.

Then, something else happened.  I made a major and I mean MA-J-OR boo boo!  I was messing around in Google+ when I suddenly discovered some photos lurking in there.  "How did they get there" I wondered?  "Google and Blogger they're all linked, that must be it" I thought. 

Then came my colossal mistake; "Oh well, I don't need them in Google+ too" I said to myself and started deleting albums merrily.  Well quite.  Exactly.

Yep, they are linked, which means if it goes missing from Google+, it goes missing from Blogger, which results in an awful lot of this...

How stupid do I feel, how annoyed?  'Very' doesn't quite cover it.

Suffice to say, you may find a few holes around here if you go a-browsing for a while.  I shall try to put back as many photos as I can, starting with the tutorials  ("No........") and other oft stopped upon pages.

If you find something missing and you'd really love to see it, let me know and I'll get on to it as soon as possible for you.

In the meantime, I'm off to trawl through my old photos and bang my head on a wall!

S x

13 September 2012

Cathy Rose Mitts

Quite a long time ago, about two years in fact, I had an idea for a itty bitty little fingerless glove.  Inspired by the queen of the floral pattern, Cath Kidston.  In seems that these days you can't move half a step down the road without bumping into a bit of Cath Kidston merchandise, but as widespread and ubiquitous as her work has become, I still can't help falling for her pretty, vintage and colourful style.

I wanted to make a pretty, feminine and floral mitt, which always resolved itself into a very Cath Kidston type style whenever I thought about it.  So I worked up something that very closely resembled the idea in my head and came up with some quite cute little mitts and some scribbled notes intending to write up the pattern.

Something stopped me taking it any further though and I can't put my finger on exactly why but something wasn't quite right.  It really needed  a bit of tweaking and I stored it in the section of my brain marked 'to come back to later' which, quite frankly, is a rather overfull and overstretched bit of brain.

In my usual, sluggish and meandering way, it's only been this year that I've finally gotten back to those little mitts.  I found a better yarn to use and a new set of colours to try so I decided to re-work them from scratch.  This time I'm much happier with the results.  All the little niggles that troubled me before have now been worked out and the pattern is a lot simpler too.

It's getting just the right sort of weather round here for these tiny mitts.  A slight Autumnal chill is starting to creep into the air and a little extra warmth in the hand area can be pleasant on such days.

So, I'm going to make the pattern available in my shop, just in case your hands are feeling a slight Autumn chill too.  Or, maybe you might just like little mitts, or roses, or can think of someone who does!

View the pattern page on Ravelry.

I hope you like them and if you decide to make a pair, I'd love it if you shared a picture in the 'Cherry Heart's Cozy Corner' Ravelry group so we can see what you've been up to.

S x

11 September 2012

School sewing

Back during the summer holidays I did manage to get a little sewing done.  It feels a long time ago as it was right back at the start of the break.

But as we only just this summer got around to joining Little Miss to the local library, it was well timed as we've able to use it lots already.

It's on the reading theme, this first item, you see.  Namely, books and the transporting of.  My Little Madam is allowed to take out ten books at a time on a library trip.  Which seems an awful lot to me, but to give the girl her due, she's certainly been keeping pace with their way of thinking and has been racing through the volumes.

So a handy, dandy way of moving all these pages from A to B seemed to be called for and this is my answer.  The 'I Love Reading' book bag.

I put her name on the back too, which she adores.  So much so, that the back has become the 'official' front, according to her.

I also whipped up a little sleeve for her recorder to live in.  The plastic one it came with didn't last for very long, and at least this way she'll know which one is hers from the other side of the classroom.

I'm afraid it's only a very quick visit today, but at least you're a little more up to date with recent crafty events around here.

I do have lots more to share and so many ideas buzzing round my head dying to burst out that I feel like my brain might explode any day now.  Unfortunately at the moment I'm still struggling against the tide of 'things to do' frantically trying to get caught up enough to have time for anything else.  Hopefully now that a full week of school is finally here and regular routine is starting to return, the tide will start to turn and flow my way.

Until then, I'll just say that a new pattern is working it's way towards these pages... stay tuned!

S x

04 September 2012

Getting back on track

Do you all remember, in the long, long distant past, I was working on making myself a Pretty Crafty Home?  Some of you liked the idea and were kind enough to join me too.  All was going well until July, when the school summer holidays hit!

I decided to take a break from PCH-ing for a month, planning to get back in the creative and homely spirit in August with some child friendly home makes.  Well, I didn't quite get there.

Lots of things filled the time instead.  First came in the lovely new arrival in the shape of my little niece.  Next, we planned lots of craftiness and then of course, there was the lovely holiday to Cornwall.  After that, there was a happy event to plan once we got home.

 It's always nice to get to be an honorary fairy for the day when you're seven after all.

We've had people to catch up with, jobs to do and maybe we even squeezed a little bit of slobbing around in too.  Although not nearly enough for my liking.  No repeat of those lovely lazy 8 o'clock starts that I enjoyed so much last year, unfortunately.  Why do children insist of waking so early?

Still, we did make a tiny step in the right direction.  Last week we finally managed to make a start on my grand plan for Little Madam's ever growing supply of artworks.

We'd managed to track down everything we needed in our big craft shop at the end of summer and it was very nice for us to sit down together and have some Mummy and Daughter crafty time together.

It's so much fun now that she's getting a little more confident of her own skills and creative ideas.  And I don't tire of these delightfully simple children's type crafts.  I mean, can you beat mixing up paint colours and getting your hands covered in colourful gloop?  Ok, so I tend towards being the 'lay down paper', 'don't mix the brushes' and 'keep things neat and tidy and clear up quick afterwards' kind of person, but still... mucky fingers is fun for a while

We haven't quite finished the final stages yet of our little joint project yet but pictures will be coming this way soon.

In the meantime, now it's September and I really need to get my PCH plans back on track.  There's still plenty of time left to make some differences around here and I don't want to waste a moment more of it.

I've already revised my vast list of Things To Do from a mammoth 63 items to a mere 14.  Most of them, I'm pleased to say, are crossed of because they're done, done, done!  Some I'm moving along to next year because time or money isn't going to allow or in some case maybe they were just plain too ambitious.  Still, they're staying on the list because maybe, one day...

I've also started to tidy up and clear out and get the house back in shape after the ravages of summer.  Little Madam's bedroom alone is turning into another gargantuan tidying task.  A birthday and an influx of delightful new gifts to house is largely to blame but I'm getting there.  I've got my revised list of tasks that I can realistically accomplish this year and I'm ready, fit, focused and raring to make more pretty things for my home.

What about you?  Do you need to get your PCH plans back on track too?  Maybe you want to revise your List, or have a little de-clutter?  Depending where you are in the world, maybe you want to get ready for Autumn, or is Spring putting cleaning more on your mind?

Whatever you want to do to get back on track, why not leave a comment and let me know your plan for September?

Or, meet me over at the PCH Flickr group and we'll compare notes there.

Either way, good luck everyone.

What to make a Pretty Crafty Home too?  It's not to late to join me and make some changes in your home too.

S x

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