Sunday, January 01, 2012

Easy Mug Rug Tutorial

Mug Rug * (no binding necessary)
Original design
This one finished approx. 8" x 10".
Yours may finish a little larger.
*Small placemat to hold coffee mug and little plate for a pastry/donut/muffin

This was my first mug rug. It is a simple design and took me about 4 hours, start to finish. I was making it up as I went along, took lots of pictures and made lots of design notes for my blog. The next mug rug will be quicker for me, I'm sure. You may be able to make it in less time, as well.

Things you'll need (shop your stash):
 2 coordinating fabrics for front and back - at least 10" x 12"
Accent fabric - strip at least 2" x 13"
Batting - at least 10" x 12"
Thread - I used red and dark brown to blend with backgrounds
Chopstick or other instrument for pushing out corners
Optional for closing the back: fabric glue, Stitch Witchery, etc.
Small piece of fabric and writing utensil for label (optional)

The dimensions given above are estimates. Keep notes for yourself as you go, recording "better" sizes for next time. Maybe you would prefer your cuts to be a little wider, a little narrower, longer, shorter, etc.

My fabric choices
Top left - Coffee cups and mugs for the front
Top right - red from stash seemed to go with the red in the theme fabric
Bottom - batik-looking fabric from stash for the back

Cut the coordinating fabrics (for the front and back) to the same size - about 10" x 12"
Take the backing fabric (the back), lay it in a "landscape" orientation and make a cut top to bottom. I deliberately cut mine off-center to avoid having to fuss over a perfectly centered back later.

With the newly cut edges together, pin the backing pieces right sides together. You need to plan to leave an area 4 or so inches wide in the center that will be left unsewn. This will create an escape hatch for turning the quilt right side out later. I use two sets of double pins to mark where to stop sewing as I near the center. Using a 1/2" seam allowance, start at one edge and sew up to the double pins, backstitching. Turn the piece and repeat on the other edge. When you finish you should have an unsewn area in the center that your hand can fit through. Press the backing open like a book, seams to one side. The extra wide seam gives you some insurance against gapping.

Escape hatch (wrong side of fabric)

As seen from the right side

The escape hatch is a technique I learned at in a free e-book: "How to Bind a Quilt: 12 NEW Quilt Binding and Finishing Methods for Your Art Quilts." I've used the technique many times. You have to be a registered member to access the e-book, but registration is free.

Take your accent strip, fold the edges toward the back and try it out against your theme fabric. Find a width that looks good to your eye, then press on both long edges. This finishes the long edges.

Place the strip on the theme fabric in a spot that pleases your eye. I placed mine off-center. It's fine if the strip goes past the edges.

Top-stitch along each long edge of the strip. I used red thread so it would blend with the red fabric.

Trim the strip even with the quilt top.

Scotch-tape the escape hatch closed on the right side. This keeps the unsewn center from spreading while you create the quilt sandwich.

Layer your quilt sandwich: batting on bottom, theme fabric right side up, backing right side down. Your backing will be smaller than the theme fabric. Pin through all layers, all around the edge of the backing.

Sew all around the perimeter of the backing (1/4" seam allowance).

Trim the quilt sandwich even with the backing. I like to notch out the corners for turning. You may prefer to take a diagonal cut across the corner.

Next reach through the escape hatch - the unsewn area - breaking through the scotch tape. Grab a corner and turn the mug rug right side out. Use your chopstick or other instrument to push out the corners.
Here's my mug rug turned right side out.
Back of the mug rug

You may want to address the open escape hatch at this time. Use your favorite method to close it. I don't like handsewing, so I might use fabric glue or Stitch Witchery. You can also pin the hatch closed for now and deal with any needed permanent closure after quilting.


Quilt as desired, or try my method: Attach a walking foot. With the left leg of the walking foot against the edge of the accent strip, sew from the top edge to the bottom edge. Clip threads. Go back to the top, place the edge of the left leg against the line you just sewed, and sew another line. The walking foot acts as a spacer to create parallel lines without marking. Repeat until you get near the right edge of the quilt. I prefer to leave an unquilted space that is less than two spaces wide. You may like an unquilted space that is less than one space wide. Either is okay.

Turn the quilt and repeat the quilting starting on the other edge of the accent strip.

Add an optional label on the back (honestly, I just write on the back with a permanent marker) and you're done!

Here's the finished mug rug

Here is the back

Here is the mug rug on a sheet of printer paper. The mug rug was for a gift exchange for the December meeting of the Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild. The mug rug was supposed to turn out about the size of printer paper. The size is not in stone. Yours can be a size that feels good to you.

Have fun making your mug rug. Keep notes as you go. And please let me know if you make one. I'd love to see it!

1 comment:

  1. I think it would make sense to hide your escape hatch by using a zigzag stitch to close it, and then sewing another strip on the back of your mug rug over top of the seam using a decorative stitch. That way, you not only hide the seam, but you make your mug rug reversible. :)


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