Mug Rug Re-Do

Circle mug rug

Recently I had to take a break from my two big quilting projects and actually make something. And there’s no project as quick and satisfying as a mug rug.

The one I made was really a mug rug re-do. I made this blue and gray circle block back in March as a Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild challenge to try pieced curves. I brought the block out again a few months ago when our challenge was to try the magic binding technique. With this technique, you sew a two-pieced binding that leaves a narrow strip (or flange) of the second fabric on the front of the piece.

Circle mug rug with flange

The technique has you sew the binding to the back first, then fold it over to the front and machine sew in the ditch between the two parts of the front binding. I tried it first with an orange flange, but I decided that took away from my goal of it being a blue and gray piece.

So I made the binding again, this time in gray.

Circle mug rug gray flange

The finished mug rug sat in my office/craft room for a few months. Then I realized I really didn’t like it. I loved the block. But I didn’t like the quilting. It was too linear for my first piece with curves. And I didn’t like the binding. I think the orange in the blue binding fabric was still too much orange. And I didn’t like that that the binding wasn’t as taut as I have it when I bind in my usual way.

So I took off the binding and took out the quilting. Which was probably a little nuts in hindsight. But I really wanted to like this piece.

I re-quilted it with gray thread instead of blue, and I echo quilted around the circles to help show them off. The quilted circles are by no means perfect, but I think that just adds to the fun of the curves.

Circle mug rug detail

And I bound it in my usual way with a muted medium blue. The result is a more subdued piece. But I like that it’s more about the circles now, which was why I made the block in the first place.

Circle mug rug

I’ll use the magic binding technique again, I’m sure. One woman at Guild reversed it so the flange was on the back of the quilt. I liked that because it would allow me to keep the binding on front taut and add interest to the back, which is usually a little boring anyway.

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Scrabble-Inspired Mug Rug

Scrabble Mug Rug and Board

I knew I wanted to make Mom a mug rug for Christmas. I thought about making a circle of geese pattern for her or maybe the same star pattern I made for my sister Brenda last year. But neither idea was really coming together. Then at the December Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting, during a break, someone several rows ahead of me held up her smart phone, and on it was a Scrabble board (or what I thought was a Scrabble board, anyway). From that distance, I saw the pattern of the board, rather than just the squares. And it looked pretty cool.

Mom and I have played Scrabble together since I was in high school at least, maybe even middle school. When I lived with Mom and Dad, it was our go-to game, and whenever I’d come home, after I moved away, we’d manage to fit in at least one game. And now that she’s on Facebook, we can play one game after another, so there’s always one going on. (And man, have our games gotten tight! They always come down to the last few words played.)

After that CMQG meeting, I pulled down one of the boards at my house and took a look (yes, Greg and I each entered our union with our own Scrabble game). I decided to go pretty literal with my interpretation and re-create the top quarter of the board in fabric.

Scrabble Mug Rug WIP

I hit my stash and found fabrics to represent each of the squares on the board. I had the perfect fabric for the brown squares but not quite enough of it, so I ended up using two fabrics for those squares. I cut each square to 2 inches, and I decided to press open the seams, since I couldn’t image Mom putting too much wear and tear on the finished mug rug.

Scrabble Mug Rug

There’s a thin white strip between each square on the board, and I tried putting strips of fabric between my squares, but it was too overwhelming. So I went a more subtle route with a zigzag stitch of white thread that also served as the quilting on the piece. The board I remember playing on had a maroon border, but a deep red was all I had in my stash. I forgot to take a photo of the back, but on it I used a light brown fabric with a subtle wood grain—it really looked like the backs of the wooden tiles!

Mom and Scrabble Mug Rug

Mom opened her gift on Christmas Eve, and she said she could tell right away what it was. Whew.

Scrabble Memory Art

While I was home, I took a photo of the other Scrabble-inspired gift I gave to Mom. I made this at least 10 years ago, if not more. The background is an image transfer of a photo of Mom as a child with her mother and sister. In the foreground is her Mom and Dad; and I spelled out her family name in the Scrabble tiles.

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