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 
(Google Drive - You will need to be signed in to Google to enable downloads)

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 appliqué to your mats.

Pin your fabric circle over the centre hole in the mats, pin then and using small stitches, appliqué 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


  1. A lovely, well explained tutorial. Thank you for sharing - it is now on my to-to list! :) Best wishes, Pj x

  2. Wow!! very nice pics and explanations!! It seems long, but not so difficult! I have to try it sooner, thank you!!
    xxx Alessandra

  3. Goodie-a tutorial! :-)
    Definitely going to have to have a go at making these - thanks for sharing with us.
    Have a good weekend,

  4. Gorgeous! I love dresdens and made my first one only a few weeks ago, I made it up as I went along and I was shocked at how many blades I needed. I could fancy one of these in the centre of my coffee table, it will be a nice way to show off my favourite fabrics.
    Thanks xx

  5. Very good tutorial. I like how you waited to cut out the scallops until the sewing was done.

  6. Thank you for your very detailed tutorial - I can't wait to try it!

  7. Ohhhhh Sherry, or Ohhh Cherry Heart!!!
    So GOOOOD!!!!!!
    Thanks you!!!!!

  8. A brilliant and easy to follow tutorial.

  9. Wow, sooo great tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing :-) Have a nice weekend! Jolana

  10. Great tutorial. And the placemats are lovely. Great job.


  11. Thank You Verrrrrry Much
    I have 2 dresden ready for backing and sewing around the edges and adding the center piece.

    Again Thank You

  12. Thank you for taking the time to sit and write the tutorial
    Karen x

  13. Such a lovely tutorial, and I can't wait to make some!! Thank you so much for sharing your prettiness!! xo Heather

  14. This is great!! Thank you - it seems really clear to follow and I've been tempted to make them previously but might achieve it this time!! I have chutney to make this week but perhaps I'll do it before half term!! Thanks for sharing! J9 x

  15. The tutorial is great! I already made my set a couple of months ago (I shared them with you on the Attic 24 Ravelry group, and you were so helpful to me in private messages as I worked on them!), but I know this tutorial would have been perfect for walking me through it back then. Great job. :)

  16. Aahh! You just don't know how happy you have made me! I had so hoped for a tutorial because I do so love these placemats and today when I came to visit you I found your tutorial. Thanks a million! It looks great and I will be happy to start on them - only at present I have to complete my Christmas presents and I guess that will take some time, so the placemats will have to wait till the New Year. Thanks to your tutorial I will have something to look foreward to in 2013 - what a nice outlook! Thanks again to you! Greetings from Germany

  17. Great tutorial. Very well explained and your pics were right on. Thank you.