Easy Dish Rug Tutorial

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Let’s make a quilted dish rug with my dish rug tutorial! What is that? Maybe I should have called it a dish mat as you will use it when washing dishes as a mat to put the wet dishes on. I just love using one of these instead of a dish towel next to my sink. This is a great way to use up old towels that you have.

My quilt dish rugs are usually about 17 x 20 inches.

Measure the counter space that you want it to fit if you need a smaller or bigger one.

This is a great way to use up fabric in your stash that you don’t care for anymore. Your dishes won’t care what they are sitting on. Okay, let’s get started.

Quilted Dish Rug Tutorial

Dish Rug Tutorial


  • Main fabric – blue – 1 fat quarter or a piece of fabric 18″ x 22″
  • Accent fabric – wine – ¼ yard or a fat quarter
  • Accent fabric – floral print – ¼ yard or a fat quarter
  • Towel – use an old towel you have that is at least 18″ x 22″


  • Main fabric – blue – cut the fabric 18″ x 22″
  • Towel – cut to 18″ x 22″
  • Accent fabric – wine – cut (1) 2″ strip the width of the fabric
  • Accent fabric – floral print – cut (2) 1½” strips the width of the fabric

I am using an old white towel for my backing.

cut the fabric and towel for the quilted dish rug

Piecing the Quilted Dish Rug

Stitch together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Sew a 1½” floral strip to one side of the 2″ wine strip, and add another 1½” floral strip to the other side. If you are using fat quarters, you will have to repeat this step.

Dish Rug Tutorial

Press the seams to the floral print.

Press your seams to the floral print

Place your 18″ x 22″ blue fabric on your cutting table with the 22″ side as the width and cut 4½” off of the 22″ width so you have 2 pieces. One is 15½” x 18″ and the other is 4½” x 18″. Don’t throw away the 4½” x 18″ piece.

Cutting 4 1/2 inches off of the blue fabric

Take your coordinating fabric strip and stitch it to one side of the larger piece as shown. The three sewn fabric strips will be longer than needed.

Add the pieced section to the blue fabric and then add the other blue piece

Add the 4½” x 18″ blue piece to the other side. Press the seams toward the blue fabric.

Cut the three sewn fabric strip section off so we have it for the next step.

Trim off the long strip of fabric for the dish rug

Turn your fabric – like this so the pieced sections are all running horizontally.

Turn the fabric for the Dish Rug Tutorial

Cut 6″ off of one side –  don’t lose it.

Cut the pieces of fabric

Take your coordinating strip and sew it to one side. (I bet you already figured that out).

Before you sew the other side, turn the coordinating strip so it is on the opposite side. This makes it simple as you don’t have to match the strips.

Add another coordinating strip set to it
Dish Rug piece before trimming

Next, get a dish towel or what I used was an old towel that I had, and cut it to 18″ x 22″.

Once it is all pressed get your towel. Your fabric will be bigger. Lay the right side up and place the towel on top and trim it even with your fabric. You have plenty of room to move it around.

laying the towel on the dish rug top

Trim the dish rug to the size you want

Now trim your dish rug to 18″ x 22″.

The pieces you trim off can always be used for other projects like a mug rug.

Cut of the scraps

Pin all around your fabric and sew with a 1/2-inch seam. I used a ½-inch seam allowance because the towel was bulky and it would have been difficult to sew the normal ¼-inch seam allowance.

I was able to use a Schmetz Universal 80/12 needle on my vintage 15-91 Singer but if your towel is really thick you might need a Schmetz Jeans Denim Sewing Machine needle size 90/14.

Sew all the way around the dish rug – don’t leave a opening.

Sew all around the dish rug

Trim the corners. You are probably thinking I goofed……how can I turn it right side out….what we are going to do is use our seam ripper and open up a section in one of the strips.

Use your seam ripper to open a seam

I opened the seam up about 3½ to 4 inches to make it easy to turn the piece right side out.

Section left open on dish rug

Here is a closer view so you can see how I opened up the seam.

Back stich where you opened the seam

See the opening, now carefully turn your dish rug right side out. Try not to stretch your opening. You may want to go back and back-stitch the sides of the opening. Press your dish rug.

Press dish rug and pin seams

Press and pin closed the opening. Now top-stitch and catch the opening in your stitching.

closeup of top-stitching the opening

Quilting the Dish Rug

This is a great quilt project to do some straight stitching lines. On this one, I just stitched straight lines about 1½-inches apart. I just back-stitched at the beginning and end of each line.

Dish Rug Tutorial

Finished! Now is it a dish rug or a beer rug????? Builder Bob couldn’t resist putting empty beer cans on it. I hope you liked this tutorial. I think I will have to make a trip to Goodwill and look for towels as I’m going through our old ones pretty fast making these for everyone. Find old towels at Goodwill, give them a good washing and bleach and they would be perfect for dish rugs.

My fabrics weren’t washed before I sewed them and I have already washed and dried my dish rugs. They feel so much softer and didn’t shrink very much at all.

Dish Rug Tutorial

Here is another quilted dish rug that I made. I hope this gives you some ideas!

Another dish rug I made

You could use any orphan quilt blocks to make quilted dish rugs. Just add borders to get the block to the size you want.

Here is a dish rug made with leftover blocks from my Petunia Strings quilt. Sometimes a square dish rug will work better on your counter.

A different quilted dish rug

Quilted Dish Mat

Get a PDF of this quilted dish rug tutorial.

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Connie with her dogs

About Connie

Hi, I’m Connie Kresin Campbell, the quilter, writer, and photographer behind Freemotion By the River. I enjoy inspiring others with my quilt tutorials and patterns. You’ll also see my sweet adopted dogs from time to time.

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  1. Capital idea, Connie! You read my mind. Earlier this evening, I was hoping for something nice to replace the dreadful paper towel or the dish towel I use for this purpose. A dish mat!! Who would have thunk? On tomorrow’s first-project list.
    I will also use your unique design and pull out my older bath towels to make bathmats. I love the easy-to-make design. Should turn out very nice. Thanks for the money saving, upcycle tips. I admire your never-ending talent and creativity. Thanks for your generous sharing. The mat is so nice and beautiful.

  2. Connie this a really great idea. I use a dish drying mat under my watercolors and this would be a very pretty way to combine my love of sewing and painting.

  3. I really like this tutoriel. and a fab idea. I had some towels stashed away from out trailer camping days. Even old Tea Towels would work. Or an old table cloth. Hey it got me into my sewing room again, I thank you for that. Hubby was sleeping to I made the escape. Also found some quilt blocks I can incorperate into the rug. This is 2023/01/07. thank you Connie.

  4. So much nicer than a store-bought mat with thick padding – or an old towel.
    This lovely design can be colour matched to kitchen decor. Fine glasses won’t topple over and the mat can be washed when necessary.
    I’m going to make a couple for myself and more for gifts.
    Thanks Connie for another imaginative and useful project.

  5. LOVE IT! There are so many things I can’t put in the dishwasher and I put them on towels, but this is so pretty! Thanks!

  6. Love your dish mat i plan to make one just like it Ive been using any thing thats handy it would be nice to have a pretty one Ha.

  7. Hi Connie,

    Thank you for the dish rug tutorial. I have made a bath mat and wondered if I could do the same for the dishes. You confirmed my suspicion! Thank you so much!

    Hope you have a wonderful day!

  8. Yay! One more excuse to quilt something around the house. Will also share with my quilt group. (Will credit you)
    Thanks so much

  9. Hello Connie! Thank you for such a great idea. I could use more dish mats and maybe even a dish mat for my dog’s water bowl. Love your newsletter and I hope Rusty is doing well. I missed if he had to have eye surgery again, but hope he is doing well.
    Thank you again for great projects.

    Judy – Michigan

  10. Wow love the dish rug I have several thick towels that are looking yukky and since I’m having recoup day bad knees and hip I am going to use up some qiult pieces and make a pretty dish rug thanks again for sharing

  11. What a great idea, Connie! I always think I'm going to use some of my frayed towels to make potholders–my mom and aunt constantly made them with scrap fabrics–but I don't get around to it. I like your idea–and then maybe I could make some matching potholders!

  12. I finally got around to making this as a gift – it turned out great. Wonderful tutorial. I showed it to my mom and she made a whole bunch for Christmas. Everyone liked the idea. I'll be blogging about this on Applique Thursday as I put some applique on it – hehe, and I'll share your link then. Thanks, Connie!

  13. I LOVE this!! I always drag out a bathroom towel which looks sooo tacky! Can't wait to make this! I need to stop blogging- my list of projects seems to never end! GREAT post! Thanks a ton! Hope you can stop by sometime~ Your newest follower~ Yolanda

  14. This is a great tut. I have been digging through my stash and found towels I had cut up. I have no memory of what I thought I was going to do with them and this looks like an adorable option. It looks much neater than my dish towel on the counter. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Fantastic tutorial. I will definitely give this a go. This is so much better than just using a tea towel. I will be giving that a go!

  16. Ahhh – now that's a good idea! We just use old, odd placemats, but they don't match the decor. . . 😀 Thanks for a tutorial

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