Make a Basic Quilted Mug Rug, a tutorial

A Quilted Mug Rug with free motion quilting.

This mug rug is constructed like the sample, but features free-motion quilting.

Last week, in The Mug Rug Bug Hits, I shared photos of a few of the mug rugs I made for holiday gifts. Since then I have had over a dozen requests for a tutorial for a simple quilted mug rug, with options for beginners (common request: no mitered binding.) To respond to your curiosity, I am offering this tutorial, perhaps overly detailed! I hope it is basic enough to motivate a beginner, but also give experienced quilters some ideas.

If you make any mug rugs, or have inspiration to share, please email me with a photo and I will add them to the end of the post! You may also want to look at my free pattern for a fun Lady Bug Mug Rug.

Before we begin…

  • A Mug Rug is a large coaster, perfect for a cup of java and a snack, or a glass of wine and some crackers.
  • The main example makes a mug rug that is about six by nine inches in size, but you can decide to do it smaller or larger.
  • 35 Mug Rug A scrappy mug rug

    This second mug rug variation is also featured in the tutorial.

  • The method shown for making this mug rug would work for traditional small coasters or larger placemats, so please think of this as a process that can be used for other items. It is a functional mini-quilt!
  • I am a big believer in keeping these very washable, and use only fabrics and batting that can go through the laundry with other table linens.
  • This is a great stash or scrap project, including the batting.
  • It can also provide an opportunity to play with machine quilting! The example does not require a walking foot or any fancy free-motion quilting (but that doesn’t mean you can’t try!) This small project is a good way to experiment.
  • Remember that you can always click on any photo to enlarge it.

Gather your scraps, tools, and your wits, and let’s get started!

  1. For one mug rug you will need: a main fabric that is at least 6.5 by 16.5 inches, an accent fabric that is 3.5 by 6.5 inches, a bit of batting cut about 7 by 10 inches, and a 2 by 30 inch piece of fabric for the binding. (The binding does not have to be bias binding, as we are not mitering the corners on this example. While I would never use the packaged “Double Fold Bias Binding” from the notions department on a full quilt, it would work just fine for a mug rug. Or cut a strip of fabric as mentioned.)
  2. Cut the fabric as follows: From the main, cut a 6.5 inch square, and a piece that is 6.5 by 10 inches. Cut the accent piece at 3.5 by 6.5 inches.
  3. Then cut the 6.5 inch square into two pieces. The example shows it cut off-center leaving a 3.5×6.5″ and a 3×6.5″ pieces. You can cut it any where you like, just make sure the smaller piece is at least 1.5 inches wide.
  4. 1 Mug Rug starts with a fat eighth and a scrap of accent

    1. A fat eighth, a scrap of accent fabric, a good start for a simple Mug Rug!

    2 Mug Rug cut three pieces

    2. Cut three fabric pieces as shown.

    3 Mug Rug, split the square, insert the accent

    3. Cut the fabric square, off-center, making a home for the accent fabric.

  5. Pin the accent piece along a 6.5 inch side of cut main piece. Stitch, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Always remove pins as you work so you do not sew over a pin.
  6. Open this, and pin the second piece of the main fabric on to the accent fabric.
  7. Sew the second piece on, again using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
  8. 4 Mug Rug pin accent to one side

    4. Pin the accent fabric to one piece of the cut square and stitch, using a scant 1/4" seam.

    5 mug rug, one side stitched, one to go

    5. With one side of top attached to the accent piece, it is time to attach the other side.

    6 Mug Rug pin and stitch the other side to of accent piece

    6. Pin and then stitch the other side to the accent piece.

  9. Press the seam allowances towards the accent fabric. Press from the back first, then turn and press again on the front to set the seams smoothly.
  10. Gather the parts of your Mug Rug quilt sandwich: your new top, your batting, and the backing piece cut in step 2.
    (A note on batting: These small projects are great for using scraps of batting. The example uses a bit of high loft polyester batting, which will be closely quilted for flatness. This results in a light weight finished item with batting that should not shrink. Two layers of thin loft would also work. Cotton batting is also excellent for Mug Rugs, and provides more heat protection for table surfaces, but may shrink slightly upon washing. You may want to try making one with each batting type, and see which you prefer.)
  11. Neatly stack the three layers, keeping the pretty side of the backing fabric facing down. Line up the edges of the topper and backing, but it is fine for the batting to stick out all around. Place a row of straight pins along one edge of the accent fabric. Check the back to be sure there are no pleats or puckers in the pinned area.
  12. 7 Mug Rug press seams to the darker fabric

    7. Press the seam allowances in toward the accent fabric.

    8 Mug Rug assemble the sandwich layer

    8. The mug rug quilt sandwich will have three parts - top, batting, and backing.

    9 Mug Rug Neatly stack layers and pin as shown

    9. Neatly stack the layers, and pin along accent seam as shown.

  13. Stitch along the accent piece, just inside the seam. Remove the pins as you stitch. This is your first row of quilting!
  14. Peek at the back between steps to be sure there are no puckers. Then stitch a second quilting row, parallel to the first row, spacing about 3/8 of an inch away from the first row. The spacing may have to be adjusted if you are using a much narrower piece of accent fabric. You may want to place another row of pins for this row, which is not always shown in the pictures.
  15. Continue sewing parallel rows of quilting across the accent piece, ending on the other edge. As you sew rows, you may adjust the spacing between rows so you end right on the accent piece edge.
  16. 10 Mug Rug Stitch to quilt along edges of accent

    10. Stitch along the inside edge of accent piece.

    11 Mug Rug continue quilting in parallel rows

    11. Stitch second row of quilting parallel to the first one.

    12 Mug Rug Continue parallel rows to edge of accent fabric

    12. Continue quilting in these parallel rows to the other edge of accent piece.

  17. On one side of the main fabric, pin along the edges, pinning through all three layers of the Mug Rug.
  18. Stitch along the outsides edge, at right angles to the accent piece. Make a locking stitch at the start of this step. I used a high-contract thread in these photos just to show the quilting clearly, but would usually prefer a matching thread.
  19. Stop with needle in the fabric, turn the Mug Rug, and stitch a few stitches over. Turn again, and sew parallel to the first row of quilting, about 3/8 inches over. Stitch back to the accent piece, turn, stitch over, and turn, and continue to fill in this section with rows of quilting. Repeat this process for the other section of the main fabric.
  20. 13 Mug Rug quilting the rest of the top

    13. Pin edges on one side of main fabric. Stitch along the edge, at right angle to accent fabric.

    14 Mug Rug Turn and make next quilting row.

    14. Turn, stitch across, and turn to create a quilting row parallel to the first one.

    15 Mug Rug Continue parallel quilting rows

    15. Continue with these parallel rows of quilting until the first section of main is quilted. Repeat for second section.

  21. You have assembled the body of your Mug Rug! Now let’s get it ready for binding.
  22. Press from the right side, then turn it over and also press the back of the Mug Rug.
  23. 16 Mug Rug All three sections are quilted

    16. All three sections are quilted, and ready to prep for binding.

    17a Mug Rug press the top side

    17a. Press the top side.

    17b Mug Rug press the back side also

    17b. Press the back side also.

  24. To make the Mug Rug reasonably ‘square’, use a six-inch wide ruler. Align one edge of the accent fabric to a straight line on the ruler.
  25. Cut the excess off the long sides and discard. Then cut the excess off both ends, leaving the final length of nine inches.
  26. 18 Mug Rug ready to trim for finishing

    18. To trim straight for binding, align ruler on one edge of accent piece before cutting.

    19b Mug Rug Trim to six inches wide

    19a. Trim to six inches wide.

    19a Mug Rug Trim to nine inches long

    19b. Trim to nine inches long.

  27. Prepare your binding by folding it in half the long way, and pressing.
  28. Cut a piece of binding about 9.5 inches long, place on the top of your Mug Rug along the edge, with the open side facing out. Pin through all layers.
  29. Stitch in place using 1/4 inch seam allowance, removing pins as you stitch.
  30. 20 Mug Rug Fold binding in half and press

    20. Fold binding strip in half and press

    21 Mug Rug cut a 9.5 inch piece and pin to mug rug

    21. Cut a 9.5 inch piece and pin to mug rug, with open edge facing out.

    22 Mug Rug stitch first binding strip to quilt

    22. Stitch along the first edge, leaving 1/4 inch seam allowance.

  31. Fold the binding to the back of the little quilt, keeping the Mug Rug smooth.
  32. Pin the binding in place, taking care to secure the back edge.
  33. The pinned binding will cover a bit more area on the back than on the front.
  34. 23 Mug Rug fold binding to back

    23. Firmly fold the binding to the back of the mug rug.

    24 Mug Rug Pin to catch edge

    24. Pin, making sure to catch the edge of binding on the back.

    25 Mug Rug One side pinned and ready

    25. The first side is neatly pinned and ready to stitch.

  35. Stitch just inside the binding, through all layers, removing pins as you sew.
  36. Check the back. It should be nicely stitched in place, but if a bit has escaped the stitches, you can re-pin that section and repeat, or tack it down with hand stitches after the Mug Rug is complete. Now repeat steps 21 through 26 on the other long side.
  37. On the long side of the quilt, trim the ends of the binding flush where it meets the short edges. Cut two pieces of binding 7 inches long, or one inch longer than your Mug Rug’s short sides.
  38. 26 Mug Rug stitch through all layers

    26. Stitch just inside the binding, through all layers.

    27 Mug Rug The back of binding in nicely attached

    27. Your careful pinning before attaching means that the back of binding is neatly stitched down too.

    28 Mug Rug Two bound edges trimmed and ready for the rest

    28. Cut two binding strips one inch longer than the edge of mug rug.

  39. Pin a length of binding to one short edge of Mug Rug, leaving 1/2 inch tail extending beyond the little quilt. Fold this tail back up over the top of the binding.
  40. Make this same fold with the excess fabric at the other end of the short edge. This end may need to be adjusted as you stitch.
  41. Stitch, catching these folds as you stitch. Remove the pins as you sew. When you reach the end, check to see if the edge of the excess fold aligns with the edge of the Mug Rug, adjusting if needed. Now, fold the binding to the back, pin and stitch as you did for the long sides. Repeat with the other short side.
    You are done! Take a minute to snip any threads, and press the finished Mug Rug.
  42. 29 Mug Rug Turn the end over on last two sides

    29. As you pin the last two sides of binding on, turn the ends over to leave a finished edge.

    30 Mug Rug fold the other end over as well

    30. Fold over the other end as well. This may need ot be adjusted as your stitching gets close to the end.

    31 Mug Rug Stitch the binding on last two sides

    31. The binding is stitched on the last two sides, turned to the back, and stitch down as before.

    32c Mug Rug Finished.

    32. The Basic Mug Rug Sample, with no mitered corners, is finished!

  43. Scrappy Strip Variation: You can make a very different looking Mug Rug using a few scraps from your stash. Select 7-9 pieces of fabric, I used themes but you could go totally scrappy. Cut them 10 inches long. Cut various widths, none less than 3/4 of an inch, or more than 1.5 inches. These can have angled sides, just alternate the wide ends as you stitch. The scraps shown all have a leaf theme, and I may need to add one more to reach the 6.5 inches needed.
  44. Sew these strips together with scant 1/4 inch seam allowances. I recommend using the widest two scraps on the outside edges.
  45. Press all seams in one direction. Press firmly on the back, turn, and press on the right side. Tug a bit as you press on the right side, as it may feel a bit ‘stretchy’ with all the seams! It will be irregular in shape, but that is fine. Follow the same assembly steps for sandwiching, quilt in parallel rows at right angles to the seams, and bind as above.
  46. 37 Mug Rug scraps will become a leaf themed mug rug.

    33. These 10 inch scrap strips will become a leaf-themed Mug Rug.

    33 Mug Rug of scrappy strips

    34. Stitch a handful of themed scraps together, randomly.

    34 Mug Rug of scrappy strips seams

    35. Press all the seams in one direction, press back first, then front.

    36 Mug Rug A scrappy mug rug

    A fun mug rug made of Asian-theme fabric scraps cut in random widths.

  47. More options to try! Mitered binding corners are easier than most beginners imagine, and these small quilts make great practice pieces. You can find clear instructions for mitered corners on About.com. or a video demonstration on eHow.
  48. There are dozens of mug rug tutorials online; Jennifer from ThatGirlThatQuilt blog did a tutorial for Stash Manicure that features a little pocket for a spoon, Rachel’s Contented blog has a tutorial for a quilt as you go option, and Ryan Walsh of I’m Just A Guy Who Quilts shares a tutorial featuring a Dresden plate pattern. There are many more!
  49. And here is the place waiting for a few more mug rugs photos, including yours. Please email your photos to me. Happy Quilting!
  50. Mug Rug made by tutorial tester.

    My tutorial tester made this one!

    Another mug rug by  tester.

    And another test mug rug.

    Ali's Basic Mug Rug (long way)

    Ali's Basic Mug Rug , with the top split the long way.

    A Lady Bug Mug Rug!Check out my directions for a Lady Bug Mug Rug! Halloween Mug Rug QuiltsCheck out the Two Fun Halloween Mug Rugs tutorial for these fun projects. Your Mug Rug Here!

©2010, The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com.

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About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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35 Responses to Make a Basic Quilted Mug Rug, a tutorial

  1. Pingback: The Mug Rug Bug Hits! | The Curious Quilter

  2. Barbara says:

    you are an ANgel – thank you !

  3. J. Johnson says:

    How nice! I was happy to be your “tutorial tester” over the weekend, and will email you a couple of photos later tonight.

    I LOVE the detail, it is not overkill. If it seems obvious to someone, they will probably just skim over it anyway. But when you help new quilters, the details are super.

  4. Sandy says:

    WOW thanks great tutorial. Love tutorials. Wish I had thought to make these for my Wed. quilt group … maybe next year. Have you seen the flicker group … there’s like 60+ pages of MugRugs.

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1533394@N22/pool/

  5. Jennie says:

    Really nice tute, thanks!

  6. sandra says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  7. Rae Ann says:

    Your tutorial is fabulous as always and I must say… I am hooked! Now I will have to get some mug rugs made for Christmas gifts, especially when you have shown us every square inch of the way. Thanks for sharing with us!

  8. Pingback: Mug Rugs « Yane’s Wicked Blog-i-ness

  9. nanayane says:

    made mine a little different…

    http://nanayane.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/mug-rugs/
    :) thanks for the fun tutorial!
    ~Elaine

  10. Pingback: Attention Quilters, Your ‘To-Do’ List Has Given Me Nightmares | The Curious Quilter

  11. srrraah says:

    So cute! Can’t wait to try it out :)

  12. Pingback: Lady Bug Mug Rug! | The Curious Quilter

  13. rita in alaska says:

    i came here through the this and that fabrics and their mug rug contest …… and saw your flag counter! i like it! but did not see our alaskan flag, and hope this note to you will put the flag on your list.
    thanx for the tute — i’ve had a few ideas to make some, but didn’t now the size, so now i can get busy

    • I love the flags too, Rita. They are flags of countries, not states, but I can tell you that I have several ‘regular’ readers in Alaska, and in all 50 states, and 12 of the 13 Canadian Prov/Terr! The flag list is auto generated, and I too enjoy seeing new countries show up, and wonder about the people reading from many places.

      Enjoy your mug rugs! They can be many sizes, but I found for me that the @6×9 inch size worked well.

  14. Pingback: Vote for Your Favorite Mug Rug | The Curious Quilter

  15. Pingback: Hello World, Again! My Blog Turns One. | The Curious Quilter

  16. Pingback: Part Two: Halloween Mug Rugs, the Black Cat tutorial | The Curious Quilter

  17. Pingback: Scrap Busting Tuesdays! | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  18. Pingback: The finished mug rug quilt « LinDeZines

  19. Pingback: Day 4 « LinDeZines

  20. Gwenelle says:

    I love how detailed your tutorial is! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks :)

  21. Jolie says:

    Great mug rug tutorial – thanks! Your country counter in your sidebar with the flags is awesome!

  22. Pingback: A Generous Helping of Quilty Holiday Gift Tutorials | The Curious Quilter

  23. Pingback: A milestone: 200,000 hits, and counting | The Curious Quilter

  24. uniquebabyquilts says:

    You are SEW great at making detailed and step by step tutorials. Thank you for taking the time to put this “keeper” together.

  25. Pingback: A small first project–the mug rug! | | Saratoga Modern Quilt GuildSaratoga Modern Quilt Guild

  26. Nicole says:

    Hi there please can you tell me how wide did you cut your binding?
    many thanks for this lovely tutorial, I want to do one right now!

  27. Pingback: New Project Consumes… « Living the 1950s

  28. Pingback: Hand Sewing… Again « Living the 1950s

  29. Linda says:

    I’m sorry but I found your instructions to be just awful. I am a seasoned sewist and I could not figure this out. Nowhere did you say where right sides go together. Nowhere did you say where to insert the batting. I love that you did a tutorial in such detail but a video would have been much better. I’m sitting here with these pieces ready to put together and I can’t make heads nor tails out of your instructions. Please do not be offended, I only wanted to give you meaningful feedback.

    • No offense taken, everyone learns differently! I welcome all comments.

      I commend you for trying, and encourage you to try again, and click on each photo to see the full detail. Try clicking on photo 8, above, to see the placement of the batting. Or check out YouTube for a mug rug video. Please keep on sewing and quilting!

      Since this tutorial posted, it has received well over 300 views a week, generated tons of comments and email, and over 180 quilters have sent me photos of pieces they made from the tutorial. While this project is suitable for a beginning quilter, it does assume some basic quilting knowledge. Many readers have started with the Classic Squares Quilt(part 1 and 2), in any size, and moved on to other items. I know many experienced sewers who have not tried making a quilt before, and are confused with their first one. They come to quilt class full of questions, and that is how we all learn.

  30. Pingback: Quilt Therapy » Mug Rug #1

  31. Pingback: New Project Consumes… | The Pen & Plow

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