I don’t know whether it is a regional thing but we don’t tend to have ‘mug rugs’ in England – well I have never come across one! My house is strewn with fabric coasters though which I change regularly to reflect the seasons and, until this project, I thought a mug rug was another name for a coaster. Now I realise the difference. This is the first mug rug I have made - and I like it; it is an excellent size for my coffee cup and a biscuit. I looked on Flickr for other mug rugs and it appears that people create them and then swap them with other like-minded stitchers. What an excellent idea - I think I might join in next time there is a ‘mug rug swap’. My mind is whirring already with ideas and I was particularly inspired by the Patchwork Pottery’s designs.
As soon as I saw the Cloud Mug Rug in 'Zakka Style' I was drawn to the unfussiness and simplicity of the design. It is very Zakka. However, this presented me with a dilemma. Whilst I love the elegant and clean design I knew that if I made the cloud mug rug in sky blue linen then it would spend more time in the laundry than on my table. So I reworked it slightly by keeping the design but adding a half rainbow background. That way I can place my coffee cup on the rainbow half without too much concern about leaving an obvious coffee stain. Having said that I think the sky blue linen option looks more elegant.
I had a little trouble appliquéing the cloud as per the instructions. I tried twice to hand turn ¼” under and slip stitch it in place as per the book but each time the cloud would lose its definition. In the end I gave up and blanket-stitched it instead. I then machine quilted the wind lines on – I am pleased with the result but realise I need a lot more practise at freehand machine quilting. I have stipple quilted by machine before but I have never attempted to follow a line or a design. This is something I am going to learn how to do and I have ordered a book to help me.
When it came to binding the mug rug I noticed that the photograph showed the mug rug corners were mitred yet the binding instructions in the book didn’t tell me how to do this. I normally use the method whereby you cut four binding strips, attach them first to the two sides, press away from the quilt and then attach binding strips to each side before folding towards the back and hand stitching in place (as shown on the left-hand coaster above). However, the mitred corners look more professional (right-hand coaster above). I know I have used this method in the past but I just couldn’t remember how to do it. So I researched it and found out. It is quite easy once you know how and I do prefer the finished look. I have created a page which details the method for anybody else who is interested. Click here or on the page link to the right.
In order to practice my binding technique I made two nine-patch blocks and two brick blocks from the Zakka magnet project last week. In place of the itty bitty blocks for the magnets I increased the size of the nine-patch squares to 1” each (1½” cut). This gave a nice size coaster for the bedside table (3½” when binded). For the brick block I wanted a slightly larger coaster (4½” when binded). Now you’ll understand why I have so many coasters around the home - I use them to practise my skills. My daughter nabbed the two brick block coasters for her room but here is the pattern for you if you fancy making one or two for yourself or click on the page link to the right.
As for those pesky little magnets from last week – how addictive are they? Friends admire them and before I know it, they are walking out the door with one. So although I mumbled something about ‘never again’ I just couldn't help myself and I've made some more. I used the quick piece nine-patch block method and I devised a quicker piecing for the brick block similar to the coasters only much, much smaller. Last week I thought they were a lot of work for what they are but now I realise – they are little blocks of art that brighten up the home. And making them is so, so addictive. In fact, I’ve gotta go and whip up a couple more for my sister. Enjoy your Zakka project and I’ll be back!