I heart mug rugs

But what exactly is a mug rug I hear you ask. Its sort of like a suped-up quilted coaster. I know…we all need them! They are designed to be bigger than a regular coaster because the idea is that they can fit a mug as well as a biscuit or small piece of cake…amazing, right?! The one I have made here is a little smaller than average; partly because I wanted it to be square, and partly because we use a lot of espresso cups and they don’t take up as much space as a regular mug (leaving more space for the cake!). Quilters love mug rugs too because they are a great way to try out new ideas and techniques without messing up a huge quilt with your crazy experimentation.

The planning

So here is a little step-by-step guide to how I made mine. I’m not including the finer details of my make (namely the dimensions of all the pieces) because you can easily work these out for yourself and make any size of mug rug your heart desires. I find the simplest way to work out my piece sizes is to sketch out my design, decide how big I want the finished thing to be then start dividing that up into squares. Don’t forget to add your seam allowance; 1/4″ is standard in quilting.

The first job is to cut out all the pieces. I always give them a quick press at this stage and lay them out to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I’ve marked lines on some of my pieces to create “half square triangles” (HST). An HST is made by placing two squares with their right sides together and marking a diagonal line across the centre. I find marking the lines makes it easier to get a more accurate pair of triangles, especially on smaller pieces like these. Then just sew along the lines, trim off the excess and press open. You can see below how the fabric squares are sewn, trimmed and pressed to create the triangles. After finishing these more difficult triangle pieces (difficult for me anyway!), I then pieced everything else together to make the front of the mug rug. I’ve used two different fabrics for the heart motif but you could use just one.

The cutting and layout

Now its time to quilt! You can hand or machine quilting, both work great but have a very different look. I have chosen to machine quilt this…mainly because I’m rubbish at hand quilting (add that to the ever-growing list of skills I want to perfect). My auntie says that hand quilting is relaxing but I’m yet to see that. It usually ends with me getting frustrated and shouting at whoever is closest “well you show me how to do it then”! I just can’t get it as small as I want. Anyway, enough ranting about hand quilting and back to the project. So to quilt you need to make a little sandwich; some plain fabric (anything cheap you have), followed by your wadding/batting then your front on top. Secure these layers together with some curved pins (you can use regular pins but curved are a bit better) and then get going with the quilting. On the machine you want to use a longer stitch than usual. Play around on some scrap, its all down to personal preference. Once the quilting is done you can trim any excess wadding away to get back to a nice neat square. I have then chosen to add a bit of pom-pom trim to the top and bottom edges and sewn this in place so it doesn’t move. Nearly finished! Now cut out your backing fabric. I have chosen the the black stripes from the front. Cut out a pieces the same size as your quilted front and place them right sides together. Sew round the edges leaving a gap of 3-4″ on one side. Using the gap, turn the mug rug right-side out.

The quilting and trim

Now all you need to do is top-stitch. This will secure the gap on one side used to turn and gives a nice, finished effect too. I used a contrast red thread to match the heart motif. I also added a little framing to the centre-piece of the heart too. Then one last press to neaten everything up (careful of the pom-pom trim, it might melt!)

The final details

And now its time to kick back with a coffee and a biscuit…


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