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A mug rug is like a mini placemat with just the right amount of room for the aforementioned mug along with a few little treats. The smaller size makes it great for tight spaces, like an end table or in your sewing room. We incorporated an extended panel with a pocket for a napkin. Use it with the napkin for an especially tidy mug rug or remove the napkin and simply take advantage of the extra real estate… perhaps for some additional little treats!

The main area of our mug rug is a classic pinwheel quilt block in crisp white, ice blue, and cool wintergreen colors plus a festive holiday print. We used fat quarters from our stash, and are willing to bet you have a few in your own collection that might need the ScrapBusters treatment. Do we smell a last-minute gift idea?!

The embellishment feature on this project is the pretty embroidery on the pocket and optional napkin. We used the one of Janome Memory Craft embroidery-only machines: the Memory Craft 500E. It comes with 160 embroidery designs and 6 fonts for monogramming built-in. But for this project, we wanted to showcase how easy it is to input additional designs into the MC500E via its USB connection.

Sew4Home seamstress team member, Michele Mishler created the cute “Let it Snow!” design and has allowed us to feature it here for free. Please note the design is copyright protected by MM Embroidery Designs and distributed through Sew4Home for our visitors with her permission. This design is for personal use and gifts only. Using the link below within the instructions, you can download the design file in any of six major embroidery formats: ART, EXP, JEF, PES, VIP and VP3.

Here are a few super-cool reasons why you might want an embroidery-only machine: 1) you have a reliable sewing machine but are interested in adding embroidery to your projects without stepping all the way up to a top-of-the-line sewing and embroidery model; 2) you are a sewing powerhouse and need to be able to have one machine dedicated to embroidery that can be running while you’re using another machine to finish construction steps; 3) you aren’t really interested in doing a lot of sewing, but would love to be able to add embroidery to off-the-rack garments and linens.

This mug rug is an excellent example of how a bit of well-placed embroidery can add just the right touch to make a project extra special.

The mug rug finishes at approximately 12½” wide x 8½” high with a 4″ pocket opening.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: The amounts shown below are for ONE mug rug and ONE napkin (optional).

  • Scraps or Fat Quarters of THREE coordinating print fabrics and ONE solid
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of low loft batting; you need just one 9″ x 13″ piece
  • Tearaway stabilizer as recommended for your machine
  • 40wt embroidery thread in your chosen embroidery colors; we used 40wt polyester in light blue and medium blue
  • Bobbin thread; we used Janome bobbin thread
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the print fabric for the large pinwheel accents and the back of the mug rug (blue and green Jingle in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 9″ x 13″ rectangle for the mug rug back
    ONE 5″ x 22″ rectangle, then sub cut into FOUR 5″ x 5″ squares for the pinwheel
  2. From the print fabric for the small pinwheel accents and the pocket panel base (blue snow dot in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 8½” x 4½” rectangle for the pocket panel base
    ONE 2¾” x 22″ strip for the pinwheel
  3. From the solid fabric (white in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 2¾” x 22″ strip for the pinwheel
    ONE 10½” x 10½” square for the optional napkin
    The pocket squares will be cut after embroidery; if not doing embroidery, simply cut TWO 4½” x 4½” squares.
  4. From the fabric for the perimeter and pocket panel binding (small green check in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 1″ x 4½” strip for the pocket binding
    Enough 2″ strips on the bias to equal at least 48″
    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, take a look at our full tutorial on bias binding.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the pinwheel patchwork

  1. Find the two 2¾” x 22 strips (the blue snow dot and solid white in our sample).
  2. Place the strips right sides together. All raw edges should be flush. Pin in place along one 22″ side.
  3. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the 22″ side.
  4. Press open, pressing the seam allowance towards the darker fabric (the blue snow dot in our sample).
  5. Cut this sewn 5″ x 22″ rectangle into FOUR 5″ x 5″ squares.
  6. Find the four 5″ x 5″ print squares. Orient each sewn square so the two strips are perpendicular to the print square as shown below.
  7. Place a 5″ x 5″ sewn square and a 5″ x 5″ print square right sides together. All raw edges should be flush.
  8. Using a see-through ruler and a fabric pen or pencil, draw a diagonal line from the upper left corner of the square to the lower right corner.
  9. To create a pinwheel design, you only need one half of the square. It helps to identify the correct half by marking an “x” on the half to discard, as shown below.
  10. Stitch corner to corner, ¼” from the drawn line.
  11. Trim along the marked line, discard the marked half (or toss in the scrap bin).
  12. Press the square flat, pressing the seam allowance toward the print fabric.
  13. Trim away the “dog ears” from the ends of the seam.
  14. Repeat to create three matching squares.
  15. Rotate each finished square a quarter turn to create the pinwheel effect.
  16. Place the two top squares right sides together and pin along what will be the inner edge. Stitch together with a ¼” seam allowance.
  17. Repeat with the two bottom squares.
  18. Place the top and bottom rows right sides together and pin along what will be the center line of the final square. Take the time to carefully align your center points. Stitch together with a ¼” seam allowance.
  19. The finished square should measure 8½” x 8½”. Trim to size if need be.

Optional pocket embroidery

  1. Download the Let it Snow! embroidery design in the appropriate format for your machine. Save the design to a memory stick.
  2. Thread the machine with bobbin thread in the bobbin and your embroidery thread of choice in the top (we used 40wt polyester). We used a light blue for the snowflakes and just a slightly darker medium blue for the lettering. The MC500E will automatically stop, lock off, and alert you to change thread color.
  3. Find the remaining solid fabric. Hoop the fabric and two layers of tearaway stabilizer in a smaller hoop. The design finishes at under 4″ x 4″. We used the SQ14b 5.5″ x 5.5″ hoop on our Janome Memory Craft 500E.
  4. Insert the memory stick into the machine, then access and open the file. Start the embroidery.
  5. When complete, the machine will return to the center point and you can remove the hoop from the machine.
  6. Gently tear away the stabilizer from the embroidery and press from the wrong side.
  7. Cut the fabric down to a 4½” x 4½” square, centering the embroidery.
  8. Cut a second plain 4½” x 4½” square. If you are not doing embroidery, you are simply working with two 4½” x 4½” plain squares.

Create and attach the pocket panel

  1. Find the 1″ strip of binding fabric (the small green check in our sample). It will go between the two pocket squares.
  2. Pin the strip right side together with the embroidery square along that square’s top edge. Stitch in place with a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam towards the strip.
  3. Pin the remaining raw edge of the strip right side together with the plain pocket square. Stitch in place with a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam towards the strip.
  4. Fold the sewn panel in half, wrong sides together, so the sides and bottom raw edges align. Press flat.
  5. Find the 4½” x 8½” pocket base panel (the blue snow dot in our sample).
  6. Place the pocket right side up on the base panel, aligning the raw edges of the sides and bottom. Pin in place.
  7. Find the pinwheel square. Place it right side up on your work surface. Place the pocket panel right side down on the pinwheel square, aligning the left 8½” edge of the pocket panel with the right 8½” edge of the pinwheel square. Pin in place.
  8. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the two pieces together. Press the seam allowance toward the pinwheel.
  9. Find the 9″ x 13″ back panel. Place it wrong side up on your work surface.
  10. Layer the 9″ x 13″ batting panel on top of the back panel. Then, layer the finished top panel, right side up, on top of the batting to create a quilt sandwich.
  11. Pin in place around the entire perimeter.
  12. Activate the machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as Janome’s AcuFeed™ Flex system, or attach a Walking or Even Feed foot.
  13. Re-thread the machine with thread to best blend with all the fabrics. We used white. Lengthen the stitch slightly.
  14. Stitch in the ditch through all the layers. We stitched along the vertical seam between the pinwheel square and the pocket panel, along the two main diagonal seams of the pinwheel, and along the vertical and horizontal seams of the pinwheel.

Bind to finish

  1. Find the 2″ bias strips. Seam the strips together end to end to create a finished length of about 48″.
  2. Fold the finished binding length in half, wrong sides together, and press well to set a crease.
  3. Starting at the center bottom, and working on the top of the mug rug, pin the binding around the entire perimeter. The raw edges of the binding should be flush with the raw edges of the mug rug layers.
  4. Stitch in place with a ¼” seam allowance, joining the ends. Fold the binding around to the back of the mug rug, taking care to create pretty miter at each corner, and pin. Hand stitch in place.

    NOTE: If you are new to working with bias binding, we have two very thorough and helpful tutorials: Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching as well as A Complete Step-by-Step for Binding Quilts & Throws.

Optional napkin

  1. Find the 10½” x 10½” square. Create a narrow ¼” hem all around, mitering the corners.
    NOTE: We have a tutorial on this hemming technique, including how to make the clean, finished corners.
  2. Hoop the hemmed napkin with tearaway stabilizer, positioning the bottom right corner of the napkin on the diagonal within the hoop.
  3. Position the embroidery design near the corner, and embroider only the snowflakes (color 1).


Project Design and Sample Creation: Michele Mishler

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