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Outdoor Mini Mats with Pockets

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The indoor variety of this project if often called a "mug rug." It's simply a small placemat to hold just a few items, such as a mug of tea and a biscuit. Since we are coming up on the season to dine al fresco, we felt there needed to be an outdoor version of the mug rug. Using just a few small cuts from outdoor fabrics, we designed a cute Mini Mat that sports a handy, full-width pocket and a grommet for hanging. 

These Mini Mats finish at a generous 10" x 12", and the starting size of your cuts can be just 11" x 19" – maybe just a bit larger for some pretty fussy cutting. You could buy new or use scraps from your stash.

We recommend outdoor fabrics for the best durability. This type of fabric traditionally has a treated surface that makes it resistant to dirt. Light spills also can usually be wiped away.

Our mats feature the same fabric for the inside of all four so they blend together as a set. A unique coordinating print fabric adds a zing of color and personalizes each mat so guests can spot their mats at a glance, similar to a wine glass token. 

Sew4Home super fans may recognize the fabrics we used from their original tutorials: a pretty outdoor pillow trio and a set of water-resistant lawn cushions

The 6" x 10" pockets are a perfect size to hold a single table setting. We were able to easily fit a picnic plate, napkin, and flatware.

Or slip a paperback inside when you need to get up for a drink or a stretch. The pocket keeps the pages from ruffling in the wind and losing your place.

A metal grommet at the top allows you to gather all the mats together and store them on an outside hook where they're always handy. Or clip them together and tuck the set in a drawer. 

Polyester batting between the layers provides a slightly cushioned surface. We suggest polyester over cotton batting for outdoor projects because it's more resilient. That said, although the mats are durable and water resistant, we don't recommend leaving them out in the rain. 

Each mat finishes at approximately 10" x 12" with a 6" deep pocket, which curves to 4" deep at the center. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies


NOTE: The quantities below are for ONE Mini Mat and include a bit extra to accommodate fussy cutting the motif. If your motif is particularly large, you might need an even larger piece. Simply keep in mind the cut size of 11" wide x 19" high. 

  • ⅝ yard or approximate 13" wide x 21" high scraps of TWO coordinating outdoor fabrics 
    NOTE: As mentioned above, you could certainly use scraps if you have outdoor fabric on hand. Also, if your motif is non-directional, you could cut the rectangles horizontally from just a ⅜ yard cut. If directional, a vertical cut is best as shown on our samples.
  • Scrap or ½ yard of 20"+ wide polyester batting 
  • ONE large dinner plate or similar to trace the curve
  • All purpose thread to coordinate with fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From EACH of the TWO fabrics, fussy cut ONE 11" wide x 19" high rectangle. Take the time to center your motif on each piece.
  2. From the batting, cut ONE 11" x 9" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place the batting rectangle flat on your work surface. Place the back fabric panel (the panel that folds up to create the pocket - the prints in our samples) right side up on the batting. Lightly pin together.
  2. Place a ruler across the panel. The bottom edge of the ruler should be 2" up from the bottom raw edge of the panel.
  3. Find the large dinner plate or similar. Center the plate side to side (our plate was approximately 1¼" in from each side) with the rim of the plate butting against of the ruler. 
  4. Trace around the curve of the plate with a fabric pen or pencil. You are working on the right side of the fabric, so make sure you choose a fabric pen or pencil that easily wipes away or vanishes with exposure to the air. 
  5. Cut along the drawn lines through both the fabric and batting. 
  6. Find the front fabric panel (the stripe in our sample). Place it right side down on the cut panel. Align the top and side raw edges of all the layers. Pin in place through all the layers.
  7. Flip over so the batting is now facing up. Using the previously cut curve as your guide, create a matching curve in the front panel.
    NOTE: We cut our curves in two steps to insure a clean line. Because of the higher loft of the polyester batting, you're guaranteed a smoother cut doing fewer layers at a time.
  8. Pin along the curve. 
  9. Before you stitch, take the time to get a precise measurement for the opening that will be used for turning. This opening should be positioned so it will fall behind the pocket when everything is folded up. The pocket's side seams will then close the opening. Along one side, measure 7" down from the top raw edge and mark with a pin. Then measure an additional 4½" down from this first point and mark a second point. These pins mark either side of the opening. 
  10. Thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin. If possible, attach a Walking foot. Our Janome Convertible Even Feed Foot Set comes with a dandy adjustable quilting guide to keep seams super straight. 
  11. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. Remember to lock your seam at either side of the 4½" opening.  
  12. Also, pay attention to your seam allowance around the curve and at the corners. The more consistent the seam width and corner pivots, the better the finished look when turned right side out. 
  13. Grade the seam allowance all around, trimming back the batting and one fabric layer to ¼". Trim all the corners and clip the curves.
  14. Turn right side out through the side opening. 
  15. Gently push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long blunt tool works well for this, such as a knitting needle or chopstick. Press flat.
    NOTE: Not all outdoor fabrics like the heat of an iron. Test a small spot on your fabric to insure it won't melt or use a pressing cloth.
  16. Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with sewn seam and pin the opening closed.
  17. Mark for three horizontal quilting lines to secure the three layers. The top line is 2" down from top finished edge. The middle line is 6" down from the top finished edge and the bottom line is 12" down from the top finished edge.
  18. Draw guidelines with a fabric pen for pencil for each of the three lines. As above, remember to use a mark that can be easily wiped away or that will vanish with exposure to the air. 
  19. Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread that best blends with both the front and back fabrics. We used white. Lengthen your stitch. If possible, attach or continue to use a Walking foot.
  20. Stitch along each draw line.
  21. Fold the front up into position to form the pocket. The pocket should finish 6" deep (at the high sides - it is approximately 4" at the center of the curve) and the side edges should be flush. This means you are folding along the bottom quilting line. 
  22. Edgestitch both sides. These seams will be visible, so stitch carefully. Neatly lock the seams at the start and finish. Either use a lock stitch, very carefully back-tack, or leave the thread tails long and knot to secure.
  23. Press flat.
  24. Along the top finished edge, find the center point (5" from either side). 
  25. Center a grommet within the top 2" quilted channel.
  26. Following manufacturer's instructions or our own great tutorial (How To Insert Metal Grommets), secure the grommet in place.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild


Comments (12)

annette O'Riley said:
  annette O'Riley's picture

Just about to sew and realized batting cut at 11 x 9, should it be the same size as fabric.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Annette - Yes the sizes are correct. At this size and for outdoor use, we wanted the full stability of batting all the way to the edge. When you read through, you'll see where we have notes regarding grading the seam around the curves. Have fun and let us know how yours turn out.

Mary Ellen Edwards said:
Mary Ellen Edwards's picture

I want to make these for my son and daughter in law to enjoy on their boat this summer. What a great idea and project! Tthanks so much!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Mary Ellen - You're welcome - and what a great gift idea!

Diane Beavers said:
Diane Beavers's picture

Love the mini mats for outdoor dining, and just to make my patio look gorgeous:)

THanks for sharing, my outdoor patio needs a make over too and these will be great.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Diane - Thanks! For more ideas, check out our Project Index; we have an "Outdoor" category.

Barbara Frazier said:
Barbara Frazier's picture

Such a fantastic project.  Thank you so much.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Barbara - You are so welcome. And ... such an easy project  !

Sew Cindy said:
Sew Cindy 's picture

these NEED to be at our house. Love the idea. Thank you

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Sew Cindy -- You know... we heard them say exactly the same thing!

Rhonda.Spears204 said:
Rhonda.Spears204's picture

Great project.  I will make these to put in the camper!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Rhonda - Thanks! They would be great for camping>

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