Dresden Plate Reading Pillow

Hi there, this is Marilyn Parker from Lindylou Kidsworld.

For this blog, we are going to make a “Dresden Plate Reading Pillow”.

This is my interpretation of a Reading Pillow and not at all affiliated with any professional pattern or sewing people or companies.

I am here to show you what I do, and maybe along the way inspire you to make something similar. I set down the basic “recipe” as per me, giving you guidelines. Different measurements or techniques may suit you better, which is more than fine.

So, let's begin:

Dresden plate designs are as old as patchwork itself. Traditionally they have 16 pieces sewn around into a circular shape. They can be used on any décor or clothing as embellishment. I like to incorporate a bit of patchwork with the Bunnycup Embroidery designs. I have used “Children’s Library Sentiments” for this project.

Ok, so the template for the Dresden plate is attached. It has been shortened to suit this project. It is the actual size you will need to base your template on. For the 16 ½ inch cushion I added a ¼ seam allowance all the way around it. For the 18 ½ inch cushion I added a ½ inch seam allowance.

Template Download

One of my favourite ways to purchase fabric for my patchwork quilts & cushions is by buying “jelly rolls”. On the smaller cushion I used jelly roll fabrics. For the larger one, I used fabrics that I had. When cutting out your pieces, either pin the template straight onto the fabric or draw around the shape – being careful to keep the template lined straight along the grain.

When you have cut out your 16 pieces, place them around on a flat surface until you have them in a pleasing design. Then pick them up in a clockwise order so you keep the correct order (one on top of the other). Sew them together, two at a time, right sides facing. Start at the flat edge and stitch towards the corner, stopping a ¼ inch from the edge with a knotting stitch (something on your machine that you can use to stop the stitching unravelling).

1. Layout

Refer to Pic 1 for the layout after they are sewn together. Time to iron- I like to open the seams for this one, so as to press them all flat. (Pic 2). I then hand sewed all of the outer edges under ¼ inch with a running stitch (which can be pulled out later on) (Pic 3). Press these edges.

2. Press seams flat
3. Outer edges

Pin this down flat in the centre of your ready cut square for the front of your cushion (Pic 4). I pin each section down with the pins running horizontal to the sewing line. (Pic 5). Then using matching or coordinating thread stitch your Dresden plate down with straight stich or decorative stitch as I have done. (Pic 6) Ok, that part is done!

4. Outer edges
5. Position on front of cushion
6. Stitch Dresden plate down

Now, for the centre circle – for those lucky people out there with multi-sized circle templates (I saw some at my local store the other day for $60.00) you could use these and get a precise size which fits your needs. I used a salad bowl for the smaller one, and a dinner plate for the larger one! No precise measurements here, but I made sure that I was able to cover at least ½ inch of the raw inner edge of the Dresden plate. You can make a template for later use out of heavy interfacing or any other product you like to use, or as I did - just trace around your shape directly onto the wrong side of the fabric. You will need 2 pieces the same shape (one for the back of the pocket and one in thinner fabric for the lining).

7. Size embroidered piece

Take your embroidered piece that you prepared earlier, and size it up against your background circle. (Pic 7). It needs to sit at least half way up. (50-60% is good I think). I lined the pocket by attaching a thin piece of plain fabric across the top of the embroidery, then back stitched it through the lining. Press this line nice and flat. Place it back on your circle making sure you keep grains and patterns straight. (Remember – measure twice, cut once!) Refer Pic 8. Pin the layers together and turn it over and cut the pocket pieces to match the circle background. (Pic 9).

8. Line up pocket
9. Cut to shape

The easiest way I found to finish off the edges of the circle was to line the whole thing with thin fabric, and stitch right around with a ¼ inch seam, leaving a gap of about 2 ½ inches. While still inside outside snip every ¼ inch or so around the circle, being careful not to cut through the stitching. Refer Pics 10 & 11. Turn the whole thing right side out, make the edge as even as you can and press it flat. Tuck the edge in where you had the gap to do the turn, and pin and hand sew this making sure you keep the shape. Press it. Then place this on top of your Dresden plate, again keeping the grain and design straight and pin horizontally to the stitching line. (Pics 12 a &b).

10. Snipping edges
11. Snipping edges
12 a. Pin to Dresden Plate
12 b. Pin to Dresden Plate

Pic 13 shows a close up of the circle sewn to the plate, using my favourite decorative stitch.

13. Circle sewn to plate

When cutting out the back of the cushion, my recipe is cut a piece the height of your front piece x the width plus 1 ½ inches. Fold the piece in half through the longest length, and cut it through. (I put the zip in the centre back.) I measure the zip against the fabric and stitch from the edges to the pins using a ½ inch seam, and lock the stitch so it doesn’t unravel. (Pics 14 a & b). Overlock (serge) down this seam line where the zip is going to go. Press the centre back seam open. While the back of the cushion is on the ironing board wrong side up, place the zip also wrong side up over the opening. Pin the zip along each side to the fabric and take to the machine. I find this is a really easy way to put in a zip for a cushion. You don’t even need your zipper foot! I just move the needle carriage over to get a bit closer to the zip centre.

14 a. Prepare back
14 b. Prepare back

Then with the back section flat, right side up with the zip running from the top to the bottom, pin the front side face down on the bottom section. I sew it all the way around with ¼ inch seam and overlock (serge) all the edges.

Then, taddaahhh, you have your own Dresden Plate Reading Pillow! (15a & 15b)

15 a. Finished Product
15 b. Finished Product

Now, we would LOVE to see what you do with this project. Once you have made one or two (and they are addictive), you can play with the size of the circle too. The larger you can make it, the larger the story books you can put in the pocket. It would look just as effective with less of the Dresden plate pieces showing and more circle. The one I made using the jelly roll fabrics is a bit too small for the average book, but does hold the sweet little bedtime books that are around.

PLEASE do share what you make here at Bunnycup Embroidery or at either the new Bunnycup Embroidery Facebook Group or at Lindylou Kidsworld Facebook Page. Looking forward to seeing your version of this theme xx.