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're kicking off the season to dine al fresco, we felt there needed to be an outdoor version of the mug rug. Using a couple 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 a bit larger if you want to practice 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 can usually be just 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 one so guests can spot their mats at a glance, similar to a wine glass token.
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 for an extended period of time.
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
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but great when working with multiple layers
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 extra-large (apx. ½") metal grommet with appropriate setting tools; we used a Dritz® Extra Large (7/16") Grommet Kit in nickel
- 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
- Small hammer and hard surface for setting grommets; we like to use a ball peen hammer and a small chunk of granite
- 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.
- From the batting, cut ONE 11" x 19" rectangle.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- 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. All edges of both layers should be flush. Lightly pin together.
- Place a ruler across the panel. The bottom edge of the ruler should be 2" up from the bottom raw edge of the panel.
- 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.
- 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 or the heat of an iron.
- Cut along the drawn lines through both the fabric and batting.
- Find the front fabric panel (the stripe in all our samples). 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.
- 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.
- Pin along the curve.
- 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.
- Thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin. If possible, attach a Walking foot or engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system. Our Janome Convertible Even Feed Foot Set comes with a dandy adjustable quilting guide to keep seams super straight.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. Remember to lock your seam at either side of that 4½" opening you so carefully marked above.
- 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.
- Grade the seam allowance all around, trimming back the batting and one fabric layer to ¼". Trim all the corners and clip the curves.
- Turn right side out through the side opening.
- 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, chopstick or point turner. 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.
- Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with sewn seam and pin the opening closed.
- 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.
- Draw guidelines with a fabric pen for pencil for each of the three lines. As above, remember to use a marking tool that can be easily wiped away or that will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread that best blends with both the front and back fabrics. We used white. Slightly ;engthen your stitch. If possible, attach or continue to use a Walking foot or similar or engage your built-in fabric feeding system.
- Stitch along each draw line.
- Fold the front up into position to form the pocket. The pocket should finish 6" deep (at the high sides - it is approximately 4" deep at the center of the curve) and the side edges should be flush. This means you are folding along the bottom quilting line.
- 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, trimming the thread very close.
- Press flat.
- Along the top finished edge, find the center point (5" from either side).
- Center a grommet within the top 2" quilted channel.
- 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