Caffeinated Quilting: Let's Make a Mug Rug!

Caffeinated Quilting: Let's Make a Mug Rug!

Hey there, fellow quilting enthusiasts! Is there anything better than coffee? Yes, there is. Coffee that you can set on a color mug rug you had a blast making. Not only do these mini quilts add a touch of charm to your coffee or tea ritual, but they also make for great (ahem, last minute) gifts. Let's jump in and I'll walk you through the process I used to create this mug rug! I used my Startled Heart block pattern for this, but these instructions will apply to any pattern you choose.

  1. Select the Right Pattern (No Judgment Here!): Okay, let's be real. Choosing a pattern can be a bit overwhelming. My advice? Go with your gut! Mug rugs are small and relatively quick to make. They don't use a ton of your fabric. If you get into it (or to the end of it) and realize you hate the pattern or the colors or the quilting method you chose... chalk it up to a lesson learned and shove that thing in your closet and move on. Pick a different pattern and get right back on the horse. I have a bunch of different paper piecing block patterns that are sized for making a 6 x 9 mug rug. You can check them out here!

  2. Choose Your Fabrics:

    For mug rugs, I always choose darker fabrics than I would for a quilt. I love a good rainbow fabrics plus white background for a quilt. For a mug rug, I pull out one of the darker colors and use that as the background instead. Because coffee rings on white fabric don't come out, right? If you are going to go medium to light, prints are more forgiving than solids. For this mug rug, I broke into the Nostalgia fat quarter bundle I'd been saving. This is a bundle of Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Solids that was curated by Taylor Krz (aka @toadandsew on Instagram).

  3. Printing Your Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP) Pieces: If your mug rug pattern uses FPP, print out your pattern pieces. Don't forget to choose 100% or 'actual size' when printing (unless you're intentionally scaling). 
  4. Piece Your Block(s): This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you're new to FPP, my favorite tip for working with small pieces is to glue baste (or use a long basting stitch... or both) when joining small pieces. This really helps keep your pieces from sliding around while you're joining them. I'll write a whole blog about that sometime (because I'm a glue basting cheerleader), but for now give it a Google and you'll find something helpful!

  5. Quilting for Texture: Mug rugs are a chance to experiment! Which is what I did here. I used two layers of batting instead of one to get some extra definition in my quilting. Then I set my machine to the longest stitch length and quilted with a low-contrast thread. All things I don't normally do. The result? I think it looks shockingly close to being hand-quilted. And I love it! (Because, if you know me, I don't usually make time to hand quilt things... so this felt like a magical hack.) So try something new! If you hate it, you can unpick, spray your fabric with a little water, hit it with a hot iron, and start over. 

  6. Mind Your Binding: Ah, binding – the part where we all become self-proclaimed perfectionists. Choose a contrasting pop of color for a bit of fun, or match it with your background fabric for that sleek, modern vibe. Every little imperfection in your binding is going to stand out on something this small. So slow down and use all your binding tricks to make sure you don't stumble at the finish line. And if you do have bumps or your corners aren't quite square...put your mug on that part :)

  7. Bonus: Find the Perfect Mug (Or Two, or Ten): Now, the most crucial part – finding a mug that completes the mug rug experience. I got the one in these photos from Target. Did I buy it AFTER I picked out these fabrics? Yes. Did I use the fact that I needed to take nice photos of this mug rug as an excuse to buy it? Also yes. But there are a lot of quilt-themed mugs out there, so get something on-theme if you like!

Here's to crafting, caffeine, and the joy of embracing a bite-sized, perfectly imperfect project. If you use of my patterns to make your mug rug, make sure you tag @katebrownquilts on Instagram so I can check it out!

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