Easy-to-turn Dresden-style pieces and trapunto add dimension to a festive pillow-a simple project for learning a new technique.
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Designer: Amanda Murphy


  • 20 scraps of assorted prints and dots in red, green, pink, white, and aqua (appliqués)
  • 1-1⁄4 yards aqua tone-on-tone (appliqué foundation, border, pillow back)
  • 8" square light aqua tone-on-tone (circle appliqué)
  • 6" square each of red tone-on-tone and red dot (bow appliqués)
  • 10" square each of dark pink dot and red circle print (border)
  • 1⁄4 yard each of green tone-on-tone and white tone-on-tone (border)
  • 1⁄4 yard red mini dot (binding)
  • 24" square muslin (lining)
  • 24" square low-loft batting
  • 15" square high-loft batting (optional)
  • Lightweight iron-on fusible web
  • 20"-square pillow form
  • Wash-away thread

Finished pillow: 21-1⁄2" square

Yardages and cutting instructions are based on 42" of usable fabric width.

Measurements include 1⁄4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order. Click on "Download this Project" above for pattern pieces. To use fusible web for appliquéing pieces B–H, complete the following steps.

1.    Lay fusible web, paper side up, over patterns B–H. Use a pencil to trace each pattern the number of times indicated in the cutting instructions, leaving 1⁄2" between tracings. Cut out each fusible-web shape roughly 1⁄4" outside traced lines.

2.    Following manufacturer's instructions, press each fusible-web shape onto wrong side of designated fabric; let cool. Cut out fabric shapes on drawn lines. Peel off paper backings.

From each red, green, pink, white, and aqua print or dot, cut: 

  • 1 of Pattern A

From aqua tone-on-tone, cut:

  • 2--13-1⁄4 ×21-1⁄2" rectangles
  • 1--16-1⁄2" square
  • 4--1-1⁄2 ×15-1⁄2" strips

From light aqua tone-on-tone, cut:

  • 1 of Pattern B

From red tone-on-tone, cut:

  • 1 of Pattern C

From red dot, cut:

  • 1 each of patterns D–H

From each dark pink dot and red circle print, cut:

  • 2--4-1⁄4" squares

From each green tone-on-tone and white tone-on-tone, cut:

  • 4--1-1⁄2 ×15-1⁄2" strips

From red mini dot, cut:

  • 3--2-1⁄2 ×42" binding strips

Assemble Dresden Unit

1.    Fold a print or dot A piece in half, with right side inside and long edges aligned; finger-press fold (Diagram 1). Stitch along top edge.


2.    Turn Step 1 unit right side out; place unit right side down on pressing surface. Using crease to center the point, press point flat and seam open to make a wedge (Diagram 2).


3.    Using remaining print or dot A pieces, repeat steps 1 and 2 to make 20 wedges total.

4.    Referring to Diagram 3, lay out wedges in four sections. Sew together pieces in each section; press seams open. Join sections to make Dresden unit. Press seams open.


Appliqué Pillow Top

Designer Amanda Murphy used a trapunto method to add dimension and fullness to the wreath shape on the pillow top. Steps 4–7 below are optional and include instructions for adding trapunto to the pillow top. Skip to Step 8 if you do not want to add trapunto.

1.    Referring to Diagram 4, center Dresden unit on aqua tone-on-tone 16-1⁄2" square appliqué foundation. Pin or baste pieces in place. (Amanda prefers to use 1⁄4"-wide paper-backed fusible tape that has been fused to the back side of the wedge tips to baste pieces in place.) Center light aqua tone-on-tone B circle atop Dresden unit. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.

2.    Using aqua thread to match foundation square, machine-blanket-stitch around outer edges of Dresden unit and B circle to make wreath.

3.    Referring to Diagram 4, lay out pieces C–H on wreath. Fuse pieces as before. Using red thread to match appliqués, machine-blanket-stitch bow pieces in place to make pillow center.


4.    Thread sewing machine with wash-away thread on upper spool (continue using the same thread in the bobbin).

5.    Center high-loft batting 15" square on back side of pillow center; pin or baste in place.

6.    Stitch around inside and outside of wreath.

7.    Turn over and trim away excess batting (Diagram 5).


8.    Trim foundation to 15-1⁄2" square.

Assemble and Add Border

1.    Use a pencil to mark a diagonal line on wrong side of each dark pink dot 4-1⁄4" square. (To prevent fabric from stretching as you draw lines, place 220-grit sandpaper under squares.)

2.    Layer a marked square atop a red circle print 4-1⁄4" square. Sew together with two seams, stitching 1⁄4" on each side of drawn line (Diagram 6). Cut joined squares apart on drawn line to make two triangle units. Press each triangle unit open, pressing seam toward dark pink dot, to make two triangle-squares. Each should be 3-7⁄8" square including seam allowances. Repeat to make four triangle-squares total.


3.    Use a pencil to mark a diagonal line perpendicular to seam line on wrong side of two triangle-squares.

4.    Layer a marked triangle-square atop an unmarked triangle-square, placing dark pink dot triangle atop red circle print triangle.

5.    Sew pair together with two seams, stitching 1⁄4" on each side of drawn line. Cut apart on drawn line to make two hourglass units (Diagram 7). Press each unit open, pressing seam in one direction. Each hourglass unit should be 3-1⁄2" square including seam allowances.


6.    Repeat steps 4 and 5 to make four hourglass units total.

7.    Referring to Pillow Top Assembly Diagram, join an aqua tone-on-tone 1-1⁄2 ×15-1⁄2" strip, a green tone-on-tone 1-1⁄2 ×15-1⁄2" strip, and a white tone-on-tone 1-1⁄2 ×15-1⁄2" strip to make a border strip. Press seams toward green tone-on-tone strip. The border strip should be 3-1⁄2 ×15-1⁄2" including seam allowances. Repeat to make four border strips total.


8.    Sew border strips to opposite edges of pillow center, making sure aqua tone-on-tone strip is toward pillow center. Press seams toward border.

9.    Referring to Pillow Top Assembly Diagram, add an hourglass unit to each end of remaining border strips to make long border strips. Press seams away from hourglass units. Sew long border strips to remaining edges to complete pillow top.

Finish Pillow

1.    Place muslin 24" square on work surface and top with low-loft batting 24" square. Center pillow top with right side up atop batting; baste.

2.    Quilt as desired. Amanda stitched a feather motif in the aqua and light aqua portions of the pillow top.

3.    Trim batting and muslin lining even with pillow top edges.

4.    Turn under 1⁄4" along one long edge of each aqua tone-on-tone 13-1⁄4 ×21-1⁄2" rectangle; press. Turn under same long edges 1⁄4" again and stitch in place to hem pillow back pieces.

5.    Referring to Pillow Back Assembly Diagram, overlap hemmed edges of pillow back pieces about 4" to make a 21-1⁄2" square. Baste across top and bottom of overlapped layers to make pillow back.


6.    With wrong sides together, layer quilted pillow top with pillow back; baste. Bind with red mini dot binding strips to complete pillow.