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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Quilted Envelope Throw Pillow Cover

This Day in History - 1945

World War II had been raging for more than five years. The City of Dresden, nicknamed Germany's Jewel Box, remained the only built up area in Germany that had not been bombed. Dresden had become not only a treasured art and cultural center in Europe, but also an important industrial and communications center for Hitler's Nazi Party.

On Feb 13, 1945 British and American forces began an aerial attack intended to maximize damage to  the beautiful city. Over the next 3 days, more than 7000 tons of bombs were dropped on the city and surrounding areas. The bombs and the firestorm that followed left 25,000 civilian casualties and the beautiful city in ruins.


Grandma's 1940's Dresden Plate
Meanwhile, in small town America, my grandmother was raising her young family on a small farm. While Grandpa was herding cattle and growing alfalfa, Grandma enjoyed making quilts when she wasn't gathering eggs, tending the garden, preserving food for the winter or shoveling coal to keep her family warm.

One of the quilts Grandma made in the 1940's was a Dresden Plate quilt. I often wonder at the irony of the Dresden Plate quilt pattern being so extremely popular among women in the United States at the same time the American military men were preparing to destroy the very city the pattern commemorates.


Good things to know: 
  • I'm lining my pillow top with muslin. You don't have to.
  • I'm quilting my pillow cover before adding the plate. You don't have to.
  • I'm appliqueing a Dresden plate to my pillow cover. You don't have to.
  • I'm binding my pillow. You don't have to.
  • You are the boss of your pillow cover. Yes! you are.

Quilted Envelope pillow on display
Let's make a Dresden Plate Pillow Cover.

If you don't have a "spare" Dresden Plate lying about waiting for a home, check out the Dresden Plate tutorial here.

If you will be making one for this project, I recommend making it the size that will best fit your pillow form. My pillow form is large at 20". I want the Dresden Plate to sit prominently on the face of the pillow without wrapping around to the sides.

My plate will sit on a background square with a border all around.

I'm using an 18 degree ruler, so I'll need 20 blades to make the plate. If your ruler has a different angle, divide the angle of your template into 360 degrees to determine how many blades you'll need.

Adjust the diameter of your Dresden Plate simply by making the blades longer or shorter as desired.

I cut 20 blades 5 1/2"" long to make a Dresden plate that finishes at approximately 12 1/2" in diameter.

I know I went through that sequence really fast. For detailed information, read my tutorial or watch this mini tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company. If you still have questions, leave them in the comments.

Make a Quilted, Envelope Throw Pillow Cover:

This is what we are making

Materials Needed:

The usual sewing supplies 

20" Pillow form

Dresden Plate made previously
Background fabric 1 Fat Quarter
Border print 1/3 yard
Backing fabric  1/2 yard
Binding fabric 3, 2 1/2" x WoF strips
Batting 23" square
Muslin for lining 23" square (optional)

Mark the center and edges

Step 1)  Prepare the background of the pillow front.
  • Measure the diameter of your Dresden Plate. Mine is 12 1/2 inches.
  • Starch the background fabric and border print.
  • Cut a square of background fabric 2" larger than the diameter of the plate. 
  • Tip: begin by cutting your background square larger than you need. After starching, fold it in quarters. Press lightly. Trim your square while folded. Mark the center point (NOT with FriXion pen), and the midpoints of the sides inside the seam allowance. These marks will be used to center your plate later.

Add borders and quilt
  • From the border print, cut 2 WoF strips 4" wide.
  • From each border print strip, cut 1 rectangle 4" x 14 1/2" and another 4" x  21 1/2" 
  • Use a 1/4" seam allowance to sew a 4" x 14 1/2" rectangle to each side of the background square, right sides together. Press seams to the border.
  • Sew the remaining rectangles to the top and bottom of the block. Press to the border.
  • The pillow top should measure 21 1/2" x 21 1/2. We'll trim it later.
Step 2) Quilt the background.
  • Press the muslin lining. Lay it flat then spray lightly with basting spray.
  • Center the square of batting onto the lining. Pat to secure. Lift and adjust to remove any wrinkles.
  • Lightly spray with basting spray the back of the block you just made.
  • Center the block onto the batting.
  • Give the sandwich a good pat down to secure the layers and remove any wrinkles.
  • Quilt the background. I did simple, straight lines top to bottom, 1 1/2" apart.
Applique the plate and trim to size
Step 3) Applique the Plate.
  • Center the Dresden Plate onto the quilted background square using the marks as guides.
  • Secure with pins, glue or basting spray.
  • Applique the plate to the pillow front by hand or machine.
  • Use a Perfect Circles template to make a circle large enough to cover the hole.
  • Secure the circle and applique to the center of the plate
Step 4) Trim the quilted block
  • Square up the block to the size of your pillow form plus 1". Mine is 21".

Finish 1 edge of each backing piece.
Step 5) Make the back
  • To make the envelope back overlap in the middle, cut 2 equal rectangles from your backing fabric. They will be the height of the pillow top, and half the width plus 5 inches. Mine are 21" x 14"
  • Finish one long side of each rectangle by folding over the edge 1/2", then over itself again 1/2". Sew the folds down by topstitching close to the edge. Use a guide foot if you have one.
Step 6) Make and sew the sandwich
  • Lay the pillow top FACE DOWN.
  • Lay the 2 back pieces FACE UP on the pillow top so that the raw edges are even with the raw edges of the front block. The finished edges overlap in the middle.
  • Sew around the sandwich with a 1/4" seam allowance
Step 7) Bind the edges
  • From the binding fabric, cut 3 WoF strips, 2 1/2" wide.
  • Sew the strips together using a diagonal join. Here's a video tutorial.
  • Starch the long strip and press, folding in half lengthwise.
  • Bind as you normally would bind a quilt. See this post for an in depth tutorial about my preferred binding method. Here's a video tutorial if you prefer.
Step 8)  Stuff the pillow form into the cover
  • Insert the pillow form into its new cover. It will take some fiddling to get the corners of the pillow into the corners of the cover. Just push, pull or shake as needed.
  • Enjoy your beautiful new pillow!
Don't forget to tell all your friends that you made the beautiful pillow yourself. Then share the link with them.

Thanks for sewing along!
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.
You can follow this blog by clicking the Followers button in the right side bar.
You can also follow Seamless Piecing on Facebook and Pinterest.
Upload photos of your beautiful pillow covers on Facebook to inspire others.

You can also contact me directly at RB.seamlesspiecing@gmail.com.

PS. Next week we'll throw out some Leprechaun bait and see what we can catch for St. Patty's day! Don't miss it.


  1. RB, I fell in love with your pillow as soon as I saw it--especially since I have the same fabric! I hope to start it within a week. Thank you so much for your easy directions, and links to the tutorials and Dresden ruler. I was able to purchase that ruler locally. So I just need to get the pillow form, and I'll be all set.

  2. Thanks Kathy. So glad you like it! Let me know if you need advice or encouragement.

  3. I posted a picture of my Dresden so far to your Facebook page.


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