How to Make a Mug Rug: Step-by-Step Tutorial

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You Can Do It

“The expert at anything was once a beginner.” ― Helen Hayes

Want to make a mug rug with me? It’s a great way to learn how to quilt. I’ll show you each step and provide some helpful tips and tools along the way. Trust me, you can do it.

Start Small

First, you’ll need fabric and some basic supplies. I’ll show you what I’m using, but you can substitute with whatever you have available. Start small and build your own collection over time.

 Start with Tea sentiment panels, fabric, Wonder Clips, Creative Grid ruler, Rotary Cutter and Mat

Start with Tea sentiment panels, fabric, Wonder Clips, Creative Grid ruler, Rotary Cutter and Mat

Step One: Gather Materials and Prep Supplies

The first thing I did was print the Start with Tea sentiment panels on fabric paper. I set the sheets aside as I gathered other tools and supplies.

I chose a 10″ x 10″ layer cake of fabric called Rosewood designed by 3 Sisters for Moda Fabrics.

Using a Creative Grid ruler, rotary cutter and cutting mat, I measured and cut the fabric into 1 ½” x 10 ½" strips. To make sure I would have a variety, I chose a mix of light, medium, and dark hues with a mix of small and large prints. I also picked a couple of tone-on-tone neutrals from the collection.

 Layer cake cut into 1½” x 10 ½" strips.

Layer cake cut into 1½” x 10 ½" strips.

Mini Wonder Clips and a plastic tray I picked up at a local dollar store helped me keep the strips organized while I worked my way through the layer cake. It’s like prep work for jigsaw puzzles! I used to spend hours sorting and organizing all the pieces before starting to put it together.

Step Two: Play with Design Possibilities

Before I did any more cutting, I experimented with possible layouts. I started with the ones included in the Start with Tea Pattern and just kept playing. Oh the possibilities!

Tip #1: Snap photos of the different layouts. It helps you see what’s working and what’s not. You can also save layouts for future projects.

Tip #2: Use the coloring pages provided in the pattern to try out different palettes. Cut-n-paste them into a notebook.

After playing, I had to pick which layout was working for me. I sketched and took notes.

Step Three: Cut, Sew, Press, Repeat

I made final cuts on some of the strips. After cutting, I had 4, 6, 8, and 10 inch strips.

I also cut the tea sentiments and removed the paper backing. Because the fabric is white and thin, I like to iron fusible interfacing on the back. It’s an optional step.

Ready to start sewing with me?

To prep for sewing, I placed two strips right sides together and drew a straight line marking the quarter-inch sewing line with a Frixion Pen. If needed, I used pins to keep the strips in line. Then, I took it to my sewing machine and stitched on the line.

If you’re comfortable sewing an accurate quarter-inch seam on your machine, skip the pen part. I’m a perfectionist. I get straight seams and I love seeing the pen marks disappear when I iron. It’s like magic and makes me smile.

Tip #3: Double check that right sides are together before sewing. The seam ripper will get a workout if you don’t. Ask me how I know.

 Right sides together, draw seam line, stitch on line, press to open seam, repeat.

Right sides together, draw seam line, stitch on line, press to open seam, repeat.

Next, I took the stitched pieces to my pressing board. I set the seam by placing the iron on the sewn line. Then, I pressed open the strips with the seam set to one side.

Piece by piece, I repeated these steps until the top layer was stitched together.

I used my Creative Grid Ruler to check how things measured up and whether or not I needed to trim anywhere so that everything was squared up.

I usually do a final press of the top layer once the pieces are all sewn.

Step Four: Batting, Backing, and Binding

It’s sandwich time!

I cut the batting and backing fabric slightly larger than the top layer.

 Square up the top layer, cut batting and backing fabric for your quilt sandwich.

Square up the top layer, cut batting and backing fabric for your quilt sandwich.

I used basting spray to adhere each layer together.

Tip #4: If you don’t have basting spray, you can use safety pins.

Now that my sandwich layers are secured, I’m ready to quilt. I want to keep it simple and stitch straight lines to add a complimentary design element to my layout.

To finish the mug rug, I will probably use bias tape and follow a binding method I learned from this video tutorial.

Stay tuned to the blog to see my final mug rugs and placemat. I’ll also be posting more tutorials on quilting and binding techniques and tips.

 Time for some maple apple cider while I quilt and bind my Start with Tea mug rugs and placemat.

Time for some maple apple cider while I quilt and bind my Start with Tea mug rugs and placemat.

Step Five: Celebrate and Sew Much More

I remember being so intimidated by all the beautiful quilts I saw people make. I’d think, “I could never do that.” Sewing hidden seams wasn’t the scary part, the oh-so-visible top stitching was the reason it took me so long to start quilting.

Here on the sunporch, we remind ourselves every day to create in courage and in joy. Yes, it’s scary when you’re a beginner. Yes, it’s scary to put your voice, your art, your writing out into the world. Thankfully, you’re not alone; we’re here and ready to cheer you on.

Sew…take time to celebrate because now comes the tough part.

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To keep or to gift?

…that is the question! Here are a couple of fun gifting ideas for your mug rug:

  • Tea for Two: find a gift basket. Fill it with a mug rug or two, teacups, spoons, sampler teas, cookies, honey or cinnamon sticks. Don’t forget a bit of chocolate.

  • Quilt-in-a-Jar: fill a mason jar with pre-cut fabric strips, sentiment panels, a couple spools of thread, and a link to our blog tutorial and patterns. Add a little twine and a tag that says “Strip Tease.” It’s sure to make a quilting friend smile.

  • Novel Teas: Books and tea are a perfect blend. Make a mug rug inspired by your favorite books and authors. Box up a book, a journal, mug rugs, tea recipes, and a spoon with Novel Teas!

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What’s next?

You can’t just stop at one mug rug. There’s always more fabric waiting on the craft table. There’s also a growing number of items in our shop to inspire you to sew much more:

Mug-Rug-Making Tools and Supplies

I started with basic supplies, reminding myself that quilters from earlier days did not have fancy tools and they made beautiful quilts.

Like a mug rug, start small. Piece by piece and tool by tool, your skills and supplies will grow.

Quilting Essentials:

  • Fabric: (pre-cut fabrics like jelly rolls, jolly bars, and layer cakes are perfect starters)

  • Fabric Scissors

  • Pins, Needles, and Thread

Tools and Supplies I Use:

*Optional Items:

In my craft studio…

Sunporch Studios receives a small commission when products are purchased through affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting us!

Today’s post featured the products I use to make mug rugs. I stocked this link list to give you lots of options as you build your own collection.

 Pin Me! Tutorial: How to Make a Mug Rug

Pin Me! Tutorial: How to Make a Mug Rug