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ScrapBusters: Mug Rug

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My brother made me laugh out loud when he said a "mug rug" sounded like a bad toupee for an ugly guy. Although a great guess, a mug rug is really a mini placemat designed to be able to hold your coffee or tea cup and maybe an extra little treat, or... when placed by your sewing machine, a handy place to jab a few pins and needles as you sew. Originally, they came onto the scene as a fun excuse to use up some scraps to make an itty-bitty quilt. We took the mug rug concept a step further by turning it into a hand-sewn greeting card with the addition of our Salutation Strip through the center. Cards are a nice thought, but most eventually end up in the garbage can. Instead, create a Happy Birthday, Congratulations or I Love You message with a purpose; an every day reminder to the recipient that they have a friend in you!

So much more personal and useful than a throw-away greeting card, our mug rug finishes at 10½" wide x 8½" high.

One of our favorite older collections is Tula Pink's Parisville, and we used it for all our Happy Mother's Day projects this year. We pulled out our scraps again for this mug rug tutorial. Thanks to our friends at Free Spirit for originally providing Tula's fabric as well as their coordinating Designer Linen Solids. We were able to find Parisville still available at Fabric.com and Hawthorne Threads.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Scraps of various cotton fabrics or ¼ yard cuts; we recommend THREE coordinating print scraps and TWO coordinating solid scraps. As mentioned above, our sample is made up of fabrics from Tula Pink's Parisville collection: Topiary in Sky, Sea of Tears in Pomegranate and Eyedrops in dusk along with Free Spirit's Designer Linen Solids in Turquoise and Burgundy. See "Getting Started" below for exact cut sizes in order to help gauge how big a piece you'll need from each fabric.
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of lightweight batting: we used Kyoto Bamboo Batting from Fabric.com
  • 1¼ yards of ⅛" piping cord
  • Scrap or ⅓ yard of ⅝ - 1" wide webbing or twill tape; we used a natural cotton webbing
  • All purpose thread to coordinate with fabric
  • All purpose thread to accent fabrics for topstitching
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the solid fabric for the upper left and bottom right quadrants as well as for the back (Turquoise Designer Linen in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 5" x 5" square
    ONE 5" x 7" rectangle
    ONE 9" x 11" rectangle
    NOTE: You can use either of your solid scraps for the back; we chose Turquoise for our back.
  2. From the solid fabric for the upper right quadrant (Burgundy Designer Linen in our sample), cut ONE 5" x 5" square.
  3. From the print fabric for the bottom left quadrant (Sea of Tears in Pomegranate in our sample), cut ONE 5" high x 7" wide rectangle.
  4. From the print fabric for the highlight "coaster" fussy cut one coaster-size circle. It should be approximately 4-5" in diameter plus at least ¼" for a hemmed edge.
  5. From the print fabric for the piping, cut enough 1⅜" wide strips to equal a finished length of approximately 42".
    NOTE: I cut my strips on the bias, but this mug rug is straight-edged piece, so you could also easily work with straight-cut strips.
  6. From the lightweight batting, cut ONE 9" x 11" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Pin the solid 5" x 7" rectangle to the print 5" x 7" rectangle along one 7" side. If you are using a directional print, it should be the TOP 7" side.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two pieces together. Press seam open.
  3. Pin one solid 5"x 5" square to the other solid print 5" x 5" square along one side.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two pieces together. Press seam open.
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Salutation Ribbon

  1. This step is optional, but is actually one of our favorite parts of the project and a great way to play with the decorative stitch and monogramming functions on your sewing machine. We chose a Happy Birthday message; you could add a name, an anniversary date or a favorite quote. You could even leave out the message and just create a pretty line of decorative stitches.
  2. You need to follow the steps in your machine's instruction manual to set up your machine for decorative stitching. We used our Janome Memory Craft 11000 Special Edition, so all we had to do was select the "font" tab on the touchscreen and enter our message letter-by-letter. It was immediately ready to stitch out.
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  3. I recommend testing your message on scrap fabric to make sure you are happy with the size and the color contrast, and to test that the length of the message will properly fit the mug rug. You want the salutation to be about 5" in length. I suggest starting with a 10-12" length of tape or webbing. Stitch the message in the middle of the strip; this will allow you to easily center it on the mug rug, then trim the edges flush with the fabric.
  4. Center the tape over the 7" seam on the sewn pair you just made. Pin the strip in place
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  5. Pin the 7" sewn pair and the 5" sewn pair right sides together along one 9" side.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. Press the seam open
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  7. Stitch the tape down along both long sides with a plain or decorative stitch. We used a straight stitch set at its longest stitch length.
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Quilting stitches

  1. Place the batting flat on your work surface.
  2. Place the sewn top right side UP on top of the batting, aligning all the raw edges. If the batting is slightly off anywhere, trim it flush to the fabric.
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  3. Edgestitch the two layers together around all four sides.
  4. Thread your machine with a contrasting thread in the top and bobbin to quilt the two layers together within the top left and bottom right quadrants.
  5. Starting in the top left quadrant, lengthen your stitch and quilt in straight lines from the top raw edge to the salutation strip.
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  6. If possible, use the lock stitch function on your machine rather than a backstitch to lock your seam at the beginning and end. This will look much neater - especially where the seam ends just above the salutation strip. If you do not have this feature, leave the thread tails long and hand knot them to secure.
  7. Starting from the center sewn seam, work your way outward to the side raw edge. I made my quilting lines ½" apart, which was an easy width to keep track of using just my presser foot as my guide. If you'd prefer wider spacing, I would recommend measuring and drawing the vertical lines with a see-through rule and erasable fabric pen. You can then simply follow these lines with your stitching.
  8. Another option is to use a quilting bar attachment, such as the Janome Open Toe Quilt foot with the quilt bar. The quilt bar runs along your previous stitch line, keeping your new stitch line perfectly parallel.
  9. Repeat your quilting pattern in the bottom right quadrant, working from the bottom raw edges and stoping at the horizontal seam line between the two colors.
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Coaster appliqué

  1. Find your "coaster" circle of fabric. Using a basting stitch, sew around the circle along the outside edges of the motif. As we mentioned in our cutting instructions above, you should have fussy cut your circle about ¼" larger than the design so you have that ¼" to fold under as your hemmed edge. If you followed this instruction, the circle you just basted should be approximately ¼" in from the raw edge.
  2. Fold and press under the raw edge, using the basted line of stitching as your fold point. This line-of-basting-method is a slick way to fold and press a narrow, curved hem for appliqué; it gives you an easy, tactile edge to fold against. I like to fold and pin first and then press.
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  3. Because your edge is curved, the hem will fold over on itself as you work your way around the circle. That's okay. I leave the folds as is, pressing them in place, but some people like to clip the curves slightly to help with the turning.
  4. Place the coaster appliqué on to the quilted top, positioning it in the upper right. Use our picture as a guide. Your circle size may vary, but in general, you want to overlap the point where the four quadrants come together, but you don't want to cover up any of your salutation. You also want to be about ⅝" in from the top and side raw edges to account for your piping seams.
  5. Pin the coaster in place.
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  6. Appliqué in place with your choice of decorative stitch. I used my Janome Satin Stitch foot. I love the little red arrow, which allows me to easily keep on track as I move around in a circle.
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    NOTE: If you are new to appliqué, you can also check out our tutorial, How To Appliqué .


  1. Stitch together the 1⅜ strips end to end to create one length that is approximately 42".
  2. Wrap the fabric, right sides out, over the cord, keeping the cord centered and matching the raw edges of the fabric.
  3. Use a zipper foot to stitch in place. When stitching, keep your seam line as close to the cord as possible and the seam allowance consistent.
  4. Pin piping to the right side of the mug rug, matching the raw edges. I started at the bottom edge of rug at the point of the seam.
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  5. This is a very brief summary of piping attachment and finishing. If you are new to the technique, check our our step-by-step tutorial: How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping.


  1. Find the mug rug back piece. Place the finished quilted front and the plain back right sides together. Pin well.
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  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, pivoting at all the corners. If you stitch with the top facing up, you can follow along in the seam you made when attaching the piping; this helps insure you stay close and consistent. Leave a 4-5" opening along the bottom edge for turning.
  3. Trim the seams to ¼" and clip the corners diagonally, being careful not to cut through the stitching.
  4. Turn the mug rug right side out through the opening. Use a blunt end tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick to help push out the corners so they are as square as possible.
  5. Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  6. Thread a hand sewing needle and slip stitch the opening closed.

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Project Design: Alicia Thommas      
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson

Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Baby Lock Melody.



Comments (29)

Momo said:
Momo's picture
A much prettier edge finish for a round mug rug or coaster is obtained by using a circular stitching attachment for the sewing machne (or a thumbtack securely taped, point up, to the machine table), and using a decorative stitch like scallops. Use a pretty machine embroidery thread. I sew the round, then cut it from its fabric layers with Gingher applique scissors afterward. It's much easier to sew and you'll have less trouble than trying to cut a perfect circle beforehand.
Anna Maria Quagliero said:
Anna Maria Quagliero's picture
I love it , I want to make some! thanks!!smilies/cheesy.gifsmilies/wink.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Stephanie791 - Time for a new machine now that you are no longer a beginner smilies/grin.gif !! Until then, you could certainly hand embroider something, the soft cotton webbing, like we used, is very easy to stitch on. You could also use a fabric pen and write something on to a strip of fabric or ribbon -- just test it to be sure the pen doesn't bleed on the fabric/ribbon you choose
Stephanie791 said:
Stephanie791's picture
I have a question... My sewing machine is only a "beginner" machine. I have only been sewing for 3 months and when I bought it, it seemed like a good choice, besides the fact that it only cost me $70 smilies/smiley.gif However, I'd love to make one of these mug rugs and my machine doesn't have any stitching options beyond straight or zigzag. I'd love to have the salutation strip but have no idea how to do it on my little sewing machine with so few stitching choices. Should I just embroider by hand or would that be difficult with twill tape or webbing?
Barbie said:
Barbie's picture
I made four of these yesterday, they turned out super cute and are really easy to make. Thanks for the inspiration!
Debra McCombs said:
Debra McCombs's picture
I made this up yesterday and finished it. So very cute!
I made it for a birthday gift card and oh no, I'm keeping it,
happy birthday on it and all.
Dawn N. said:
Dawn N.'s picture
Cute idea and good tutorial. smilies/wink.gif Nice fabric. Think I'll look around and see if any is still available. Thanks for sharing!!
Susana Barison said:
Susana Barison's picture
Me encantó la explicación tan clara y como estoy comenzando a conocer esta técnica, el tutorial me viene muy bien. ¡Gracias! Soy de Buenos Aires Argentina.
Deborah Lynn said:
Deborah Lynn's picture
That is adorable! I need me about 3 of these as I'm constantly drinking hot tea and carrying it all over the house, then looking for a spot to set it down. They would make beautiful gifts too. Thanks for the tute.
Nellie said:
Nellie's picture
I love this! My husband is always using several paper napkins under his coffee cup to protect the fabric tablecloth. Now I can make him his own "rug mug" so he doesn't have to use all those paper napkins. I'll make him several so if he spills on one he has another one for the next day. In fact, I can make one for each day of the week to match his new set of towels I'm planning to make so he doesn't have to use several paper towels every time he washes his hands in the kitchen!
Eva V. said:
Eva V.'s picture
This is the reason I look forward to Mondays!! A whole new week of posts on your website! This is such a cute idea! Maybe I will adapt it for some Christmas presentssmilies/wink.gif LOVE it!!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ KarenD -- what?! I get no credit for getting the first one correct?smilies/grin.gif Thanks for the catch - fixed.
KarenD said:
KarenD's picture
Granted math is not my subject of choice, but a 5x7 square? in "getting started", number 2.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ gmitchel -- you could certainly do the stitching in that order. smilies/smiley.gif
kimberlee said:
kimberlee's picture
So beautiful! What a fun project!! Can't wait to make this for my friends!
gmitchel said:
gmitchel's picture
Love the mug rug but I have a construction question: Why not leave the embroidered webbing or twill tape stitched into the center seam but not edge stitched to the left front until the upper left quadrant quilting is done? That way you can flip the webbing over to the right side and quit the upper left quadrant. Then flip it back to the left and top stitch. This will conceal the quilting line ends. Just wondering if there was a reason. Thanks always for your great tutorials!
jeancreates.blogspot.com said:
jeancreates.blogspot.com's picture
Ok, I'm so drooling over this -- the cupcake, tea, and mug rug match. LOVE IT!!!!! Our condo just sold, so I've been toying with making a mug rug for my real estate agent. This sealed the deal. He'll love it!
KayZee1 said:
KayZee1's picture
This is such a clever idea! I wanted a handsewn gift for my sister's birthday this month and I think this mug rug fills the bill! Thanks so much.
5grands@comcast.net said:
5grands@comcast.net's picture
I love this project because of the details which make it unique. I've seen mug rug on other sites, but your's is the best. I will have to experiment with my embroidering which I very seldom use. I'm getting back into sewing--everyone will be getting handmade gifts this holiday season. Thanks again and God Bless you smilies/smiley.gif
Larri @ Seams Inspired said:
Larri @ Seams Inspired's picture
I absolutely love this! Your tutorial is the best one I've seen. Thanks for the inspiration. Can't wait to stitch up a mug rug! smilies/smiley.gif

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