Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tutorial - Dresden Mug Rug

Dresden Mug Rugs are great gifts and fun to make. I've made a few lately and put together a tutorial so that you can make some, too.

I took pictures while I was making both of these, so if the color combinations switch back and forth, that's why. The question I get asked more than any other with this project is, "Where did you get such small dresden templates?"

The first (and only) dresden templates I use are from Sew Mama Sew. You can find them here.
After printing these templates, I reduced them by 50% on my copier. That is what makes this cute, smaller size. I print them on card stock so they will last longer.

Other fabric and supplies you will need:
Fabric to cut 20 dresden wedges (scraps work great for this, or a charm pack of five-inch squares for fabric variety)
Background fabric - a fat quarter or scrap that is approximately 12" x 15"
Batting - approximately 12" x 15"
Backing fabric - a fat quarter or scrap that is approximately 12" x 15"
Thread - either to match or in contrast to your project
Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies (scissors, pins, turning tool, ruler, mat, rotary cutter)

Before sewing, spend some time selecting fabric. I was making these for two upcoming gift exchanges and wanted to use traditional Christmas colors. After digging into the stash, I cut one wedge each from each of the selected fabrics.
To cut the fabric, I simply lay the cardstock template on the wrong side of the fabric and trace it. For most of these, I used a regular #2 pencil or a ball point pen. The drawn lines are your cutting lines so you don't need to worry about using something that will wash out.

The black fabric in the photograph is under consideration as a background for these, so that is why they are scattered all over it. The next step is to determine your layout. Dresdens are very versatile and can handle anything from two fabrics to twenty.
Here's a monochromatic greeen,

a multi-colored layout,
red and gold,
red and green,
and finally, green and gold. After deciding which layout to use, it's time to start sewing. The first step is to fold each wedge in half lengthwise and sew across the outside edge. I chain piece these, which means I start sewing the next piece without taking the previous piece out of the sewing machine. This makes it easier to keep the pieces in the order of my design. I cut enough wedges to make three dresdens so I went ahead and sewed them all.
The next step is to turn and press each wedge. I like to take the full string of wedges to the ironing board, lay them down and snip them apart without moving them. Again, this just helps keep them in order. I will pick each one up, turn and press it, and put it back in its place in line.

I use a dull bamboo skewer to help those point be nice and crisp.
After that, pick the wedges up one pair at a time and sew them together. These can be chain pieced as well. Press the seams open, and be sure to put them back in the right order.

After the pairs are sewn, turn each pair into a group of four by the same process. Keep going until you have a finished circle of wedges.
With your finished circle in hand, audition center circles and background fabrics. I love the black background with this dresden and went with the dark green circle for the center.
This is the circle template just as it is when reduced to 50%. I wanted more of the dresden to show so I cut the circle down a little bit. I didn't measure for this, but used scissors to trim approximately a half inch away from the outer edge of the circle.
This smaller size circle is more what I had in mind. You should always feel free to experiment. That is my favorite thing about sewing and quilting; all of the rules are optional. I am not so good at following the rules anyway.

Now is the time to decide on the final size and setting for your finished project.
For the one with a red background, the dresden is fairly centered and there is not a lot of extra background space. The background for this look is cut eight inches by ten inches.
If you want more background, go with something larger. This one is nine inches by eleven inches. Scooting the dresden into one of the corners leaves lots of open background. As far as I know, there is no official size for a mug rug or candle mat, so just go with what looks good to your eye.

Cut your background and batting to the size you have decided. Keep in mind that the finished size will be a half inch smaller than the cut size. For the backing fabric, cut it a half inch bigger in one direction. For example, if you background is 8" x 10", cut your backing fabric 8" x 10 1/2". This is so there will be an opening in the back of the project for turning it right side out rather than along the edge. Cut your backing fabric in half. This will leave two pieces that need to be sewn together.
With right sides together, sew part of the backing seam. Stop about a third of the way down and backstitch. Then lift your presser foot and scoot the piece down to about 2/3 of the way to the bottom. Start sewing again, being sure to backstitch to secure the seam. I've stuck my scissors in the opening to help you see the hole. There isn't any binding on this project and I prefer not to have the opening on the edge.

Before we assemble all of the layers though, the front needs to be finished.
Lay the dresden on the background and move it around until you are happy with its position. Remember that 1/4" of the edge will be in the seam so don't put it too close to the edge. Pin it down. I use four or five pins to secure it. Then take the center circle and pin it with a single pin in the center. Stitch the circle in place. I like to use a satin stitch for this, but really, there are plenty of stitches that work here. My goal is to cover the raw edges and satin stitch works great for that.
The next step is to secure the edges of the dresden. I like using a straight stitch, and again, there are many other equally good stitches that can be used.

Now we're ready to assemble. Lay the batting piece on your work table. Lay the background with the dresden sewn on it right side up on top of the batting, then lay the backing fabric right side down on top of that. Pin around the edges to hold everything in place. Use a 1/4" seam to sew around all four sides.
Trim the corners before turning it right side out. That will help reduce the bulk in the corners. Use the hole in the backing fabric to turn your project right side out. Use your turning tool to poke out the corners. Press. The good news about the hole in the back is that it will be secured with the quilting. You shouldn't need to sew it closed.
All that is needed now is some quilting. With a small, fast project like this, I tend to stick with straight lines. This is definitely a "quilt as desired" project, so feel free to let your imagination (and sewing machine) run wild.
Masking tape is my secret for straight lines. I only use one piece of tape and move it around the project as I sew. I also lengthen the stitch on my machine for quilting since it's not critical to holding the project together. I think the longer stitch looks prettier, too.
Since there isn't any binding on this project, try not to let your quilting run off the edge of the quilt. I think you can see the stitching along the top and left edge of this one. I stop short of the edge, turn and edge stitch to my next quilting line. Sometimes I'll finish with a pretty decorative stitch around the outer edge, but I liked the simplicity of the straight stitch on these.

I hope these Dresden Mug Rugs or Candle Mats give you as much pleasure as they do me. This is another great way to use up some of those smaller scraps for beautiful gifts. I gave one away today at our guild Christmas luncheon (you can read all about that on my dear friend Holley's blog). One is going into an office gift exchange, and I have a special recipient in mind for the third. Projects are flying out the door about as fast as I can make them, and that is one of the things I love about this time of year.


  1. Love the Dresdens, and my favorite colorway is the green layout at the top of the page.

  2. Oh my goodness! I love these mini dresdens ... I guess you know I will have to give up my place mats, bags, etc. And start putting together these cute little morsels!!!!

  3. This has got to be the best gift in the office gift exchange.

  4. Love the mug rugs, my favorite color way would be the red and green layout.

  5. Love the mug rugs, my favorite color way would be the red and green layout.

  6. Just an adorable tutorial--love it thanks hugs, Julierose


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