While I wait for my hall lighting to go up, I broke into my fabric stash. It’s been too long. I couldn’t decide on what to start first, so I dove into a few things at once.

From the “favorite scraps” pile, two mug rugs to thank a friend for opening her home to us:


From the new linen yardage, kitchen towels for my sister, who just bought her first house:


From a mix of prints, some ideas for colors and patterns for a stroller quilt for baby Gwen:

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As I work my way through the stroller quilt I’ll post photos. In the meantime, I’ve put together a tutorial for the mug rugs. I really like mug rugs! They’re useful little mini quilts that brighten up the otherwise boring concept of the coaster. They’re the perfect size for a cup of tea and a snack. Mr. K immediately decided that they work as mouse pads, too, and often has one on either side of his computer – one for the mouse, one for his coffee. (Way to roll with the wife’s fabric obsession!)

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These particular mug rugs are patched together with leftover pieces from another project. I had 4″ squares and 2 1/2″ wide strips. I knew I wanted a piece of linen in the center and as binding, so I just moved the printed pieces around until I found an arrangement that I liked. The squares were cut diagonally in half to make triangles.

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I pieced the triangles first, pinning right sides together and sewing along the long edge with a scant 1/4″ seam. Press the seam open.

Note: Use a scant 1/4″ for all seams in this tutorial. 

To piece the strips for the sides and bottom, place them right sides together and sew along the long edges with a scant 1/4″ seam. When you have the three bottom or side pieces sewn, press the seams open.



To piece the block, sew the square made up of the two triangles to the side strip. Press the seam open.


Sew the bottom strip to the top block. Press the seam open.


Square up your block of fabrics. I use a cutting mat, long ruler, and rotary cutter to even out the edges and make sure that the diagonals match in length from corner to opposite corner.



Make a quilt sandwich: Place your backing fabric right side down, then put the batting on top, and then add your quilt block right side up. Pin baste the layers together, starting in the middle and working out to the corners.


Quilt as desired, starting in the middle of the piece and working outward. I opted to sew lines that follow the shapes of the patchwork pieces.


Trim the excess batting and backing and check again that your block is square.


To create the binding, cut 2″ strips fabric.


Lay one strip face up. Place a second strip face down and perpendicular to the first strip, so you form a right angle. Pin.


Sew diagonally from corner to corner, then trim the outside corner down to a 1/4″ seam and press open.


Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together. Add another strip to this if you need more length to make it around the outside of the mug rug. (To determine length, measure each side of the quilt block, and add 8″ to 10″.)


Leaving a 5″ tail, sew the binding to the quilt block, stopping 1/4″ before the edge. Backstitch a few stitches.

Note: for a small mug rug, you’ll start this stitching only an inch or two before the edge of the quilt block, so you have plenty of room to join the binding later. For a bigger mug rug, you can start stitching a bit further up. The idea is to join the two ends of the binding in the middle of the last side of the piece. 


To go around the corner, fold the binding away from the quilt block, forming a 45-degree angle. Then fold it back over, aligning this last fold with the quilt edge, and pin. Stitch the next side starting at the fold and continuing to a 1/4″ from the next quilt block edge.



Stitch around the quilt block until you reach the side you started on. Stitch only an inch or so into this side! On a bigger mug rug you can go further, but for a little one you’ll need most of this side open to join the binding tails.


Cut the first binding tail just past the middle point between the tails, making sure that you have at least 2 1/2″ inches of unstitched binding to work with. If you need to, take out a few stitches so you have a bit more wiggle room.


Lay the second tail over the first, mark the point 2″ past where they overlap, and trim the second tail.

Now here’s the tricky part that I didn’t get a picture of because both my hands were occupied with fabric: Open the first tail and lay it right side up on the quilt block. Open the second tail and turn the end of it over (up and over, so you rotate the fabric away from you and towards the quilt block), matching the two tail ends right sides together and perpendicular. I have a simplified diagram of the result here. You will end up with the same kind of corner that you had when you assembled the binding strips in the first place. You’ll probably need to bend the quilt block a lot to make this work. Pin the tails together.


Sew across the joined tails diagonally, from corner to corner. You may need to manhandle the quilt block a bit to get the fabric to lay flat on the machine.


Trim the excess corner off the binding, finger press the seam open, and fold the now-continuous binding back in half. Pin it to the quilt block and sew the remaining side seam, backstitching at each end.

To finish the binding, starting with the middle of one side fold the binding over to the back and stitch into place using a slip stitch. Fold the corners over as you go. When you reach the end, tie off your thread and run the needle through the backing and batting for an inch or so, and then clip.

Ta da! Now go enjoy a cup of something on your nice new mug rug.