Tag Archives: mug rug


Hey woohoo, one whole month fast forward in one day only. It’s a miracle! Hrm, yes, it seems like the increasing length of day and the approaching Spring (can’t feel it yet, but we’re getting closer with less snow at least) makes me a bit giddy.

So, the Scandibee October blocks were for Belinda in Norway, and they incorporated flying geese, which are on my mind now, in particular as Anna Maria Horner has an absolutely gorgeous class on Creativebug. Belinda requested scrappy flying geese with low-volume birds, one-hued backgrounds, and as a final punch, a side panel with large motifs.

My sewing machine is a topic I’d rather not talk that much about anymore, so a photo will suffice. It does test my patience, but I suppose that’s what I’m supposed to be dealing with :)

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 1 2016-03-11

There was extensive troubleshooting on Instagram after I posted the same photo there, and currently I’m using leaders as often as possible. Leftover selvedges are perfect when cut up into small strips, by the way.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 2 2016-03-11

Tadaah, that’s much better.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 3 2016-03-11

Indeed it is! As for the leftover half-square triangles of the first block, I decided to use them in a mug rug.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 4 2016-03-11

For some unknown reason I had cut the backing quite a bit larger, which gave me the idea to try a new binding technique. Oh, and what’s that hand stitching? Yes! It’s my first hand quilting! I had so much fun, and it was made possible courtesy of Aurifil’s lovely 28-weight box that I received a couple of years ago, but hadn’t had a chance to take for a test spin yet. I adore the texture, and in fact the Queen of hand quilting, Sarah Fielke, prefers this thread over Perle 8 cotton. Supposedly this behaves better when being pulled through layers over and over again.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 5 2016-03-11

There was a bit too little of the backing despite my initial thought, but machine stitching it in place worked well enough. Due to its purpose as a mug rug, and the fact that the geese points with hand quilting were where they were, I wanted a very narrow binding anyway. As for the technique itself, I think I’ll stick to a separate binding in the future, but I’m very happy I have tried this at least once!

The HSTs from the second block are unused still :) Oh the possibilities…

The October blocks were fantastic and they certainly get done quickly, in case you’re in need of a quick block for some project. I tried to access the website with the tutorial we used, but Firefox claims it’s been reported as an attack site, so I’m not going to put a link here. The block finishes at 12.5”x12.5”, though, in case you want to do your own math. The side panel is 12.5”x4.5” to get you started.

The range of colours that Belinda has received is fantastic, so check out #Scandibee on Instagram if you want to keep track of the quilt!


MQGIM Mug rug swap – What Michelle sent me

Nina With Freckles - MQGIM mug rug swap - Michelle 2015-07-23

Playing catch-up today with old projects! First I’ll show you what the lovely Michelle, stitchesofjoi, sent me in the MQGIM mug-rug swap :)

There was a lovely card, too, with a quote for decoration, and a pretty piece of pink fabric with dots. The latter I’ve already used some of in Cards, my third block of the Simplicity sampler quilt.

But this mug rug is cheerful and in use in my kitchen as we speak! She had hand-quilted the project, which was an extra wonderful surprise. Since my countertop is black, I find the splash of colour very nice, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks Michelle and sorry about the slow blogging, despite already having shown it on Flickr!

MQGIM Mug rug swap – My finished mug rug

Nina With Freckles - MQGIM Mug rug swap - Finished mug rug 2015-06-03

Some of the individual members of Modern Quilt Guild (MQGIM for short) participated in a mug-rug swap that yours truly began to arrange in early April. In May I posted about having chosen the fabrics for my own mug rug, with a circle of geese in mind.

At the same time I printed the templates, but now I’ve misplaced them somewhere, so instead I made an improvised design, with nine colours rather than twelve. What does the back look like then?

Nina With Freckles - MQGIM Mug rug swap - Finished mug rug back 2015-06-03

Sewing theme for a quilter, of course!


Each coloured square measures 1 inch finished, and the background square between pink and red, red and orange, lime and yellow, yellow and navy, dark green and turquoise, and turquoise and violet respectively is 1 inch similarly finished.

Cut 1.5 inch-squares (1 of each colour, 6 of background) and chain piece together into rows. Press all seams open.

Cut 2 background “bars” to sew between the rows, 5.5” x 1.5”. Sew, press seams open.

Cut 2 background “bars” to sew onto the sides of the mug rug top, 1.5” x 5.5 ” (yes, same as the ones between rows, but if you’re using a directional print, this matters). Sew, press seams open.

Cut 2 background “bars” to sew onto top and bottom of mugrug, 7.5” x 1.5”. Sew, press seams open. Your mug rug should measure 7.5” x 7.5” at this point.

Cut batting and backing, both around 8” x 8”. Baste and quilt. I used the edge of the presser foot to sew along each square side, and clearly eye balling was sufficient on this small-scaled project. Square up to 7.5” x 7.5”.

Cut binding, 2.5” x width of fabric (WOF) if you’re lazy like me. The total length of the mug rug alone is around 30”, so add a few inches to this if you don’t want to cut WOF. Fold in half, press. Sew with quarter-inch seam allowance on front side of mug rug. Fold binding over edge, pin or use wonder clips, sew by hand onto back side of mug rug. Done.

And a final close-up!

Nina With Freckles - MQGIM Mug rug swap - Finished mug rug closeup 2015-06-03

Now this little creation is on its way to a secret swap partner. Hopefully it will arrive safely and also be a welcome addition to its new home.

Thanks to all the ladies, who participated and made us scattered indie members feel a bit closer to one another!

Mug rugs finished

NWF Mug rugs - Front

My mug rugs

This is the first project finished after my hiatus and I’m so pleased. The mug rugs (first part) are slightly crooked everywhere, but I don’t mind one bit; they got done and I learned much more than expected. And since I’m on a new, more focussed course with this blog, I’ll try to extract my learning experience in a bulleted list after you’ve seen the photos.

(A nice parenthesis: Nobody touches my “just in case” stash! Ever. All the white thread used in any project presented on this blog so far is courtesy of my deceased grandma’s tiny sewing basket, as are the bias tapes and coloured threads used in this project. The embroidery floss came from that same place, too. So yeah, stay away.)

Here’s the quilting more visible. In her class, Jacquie mentioned veering to the right when quilting straight lines and I think I do exactly the same, just look at the matchstick quilting:

NWF Mug rugs - Back

Plain white back

Like I said yesterday, I just eyeballed the thunderbolt (it’s actually my evening mug rug with a snoring Z but let’s not talk about that… thunderbolt sounds more exciting) and quite honestly I have no idea how it could turn out that evenly quilted.

If you would ask me to repeat it, I’d get cold feet and performance anxiety, then screw it up completely, so to see how well it is possible to create whilst being under no pressure at all is quite enlightening. That’s how I wish it would always feel and I hope I’ll be able to find out as many of my weakest points as I can, then try to go to attack rather than succumb to mediocre blah.

And now the morning mug rug in a close-up:

NWF Mug rugs - Light front

Morning mug rug – Front

NWF Mug rugs - Light back

Morning mug rug – Back

And the evening mug rug:

NWF Mug rugs - Dark front

Evening mug rug – Front

NWF Mug rugs - Dark back

Evening mug rug – Back

Yesterday I mentioned using two different tutorials and once I had buried the last threads into the border, I was a bit annoyed. It’s all fine and dandy that people write tutorials, but it is troublesome when there are tricky phases not explained sufficiently. Once I was done with the project, I surfed around and of course found the most comprehensive tutorial out there, one by verykerryberry. The only step I wouldn’t do like she does is to finish the binding by hand when it’s as “insignificant” a project as this.

All I can say is the twisting and turning of single-fold bias tape, which isn’t very high quality to begin with (there’s no clear “side” with one being smaller than the other), can be quite painful. And since the tutorials don’t really show examples of where a seam ends up if you sew closer versus farther away from the outside border, it’s a big gamble.

In the Prudent tutorial, it seemed like the seam would be visible, so I picked a white thread for the bobbin, whilst the top thread (back of evening mug rug) was a dark navy. What a mess…

NWF Mug rugs - Dark detail 1

More stylish overlap of bias tape ends but quite ugly compared to the finish of the morning mug rug

NWF Mug rugs - Dark detail 2

Would be nice to see in a tutorial where stuff will show if done incorrectly vs how it looks when done the right way – This clearly isn’t how it’s supposed to be but bias tape is quite challenging to imagine how it “goes”

NWF Mug rugs - Light detail

The Dana tutorial didn’t talk about proper beginning nor ending as you can see

I wouldn’t rip out these seams since both mug rugs were a practice project from start to finish and they are for my own use. It’s overwhelming as a beginner to see so many different versions of in theory the same thing, but once you take out the magnifying glass, the differences are huge.

It can be quite time consuming to dig out the best of the best and this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. In case anyone wonders why I have so many Craftsy classes on my list, it’s because of the nearly one-on-one teaching; I’d rather pay a bit more for top-notch materials and as icing on the cake have someone answer my questions.

These thoughts stem also from my realisation the other day. I never start from the correct cuts of anything, but always have to adjust something – and instead of a project taking x amount of hours, I end up spending at least double the time on it. One take-home message from all of this is most certainly to plan better in the future; maybe skip patterns requiring fat quarters if I have only a skinny quarter to mention one example.

List of techniques learned and tools used:

  • Making a quilt sandwich
  • Pin basting
    • My Hemline curved safety pins for quilting are thick and can leave holes (normal?)
  • Quilting
    • Switched to 90 needle
    • Used a walking foot (quite complicated to attach)
    • Adjusted thread tension
    • Adjusted needle position
    • Tried different stitch lengths
    • Finally got used to using the needle threader
    • Squared up both rugs
  • Attaching single-fold bias tape
    • Used amazing Clover fine patchwork pins (but oh they stab me still!)
    • Used Clover wonder clips (have 10 for testing, love them and need more)
    • Tried two different ways to sew the proper way, neither worked properly, and concluded I will try the verykerryberry tutorial next time

When putting everything on a list like this, it’s no wonder it took me hours to complete these two mug rugs. Almost each step produced questions in me, which I had to answer before moving on, and the sewing-machine manual came out a few times, too. The research and re-reading prior to various steps made the process even more protracted, but it was worth every second of it.

I mentioned being more aware of stuff before beginning a project, which is why you will see a short analysis of the ongoing projects, my works in progress. When I start new ones I will do a similar roundup of why I should make a particular quilt. I’m beginning to think it’s more important right now to keep pushing into new territory, rather than settle for the same squares, rectangles, half-square triangles, and flying geese as always.

Now is the time to get experience under my belt, collect a toolbox of techniques, and only once I’m an intermediate quilter can I fiddle more with what I already know. As crazy as it may sound, I will start turning down patterns for now if they don’t challenge me enough. All this from two small mug rugs! I like :)

Mug rugs in the making

The story of my generic walking foot – or rather lack thereof – is so long and boring that I’ll skip to the part where I’m showing the first project made with it.

Craftsy - Jacquie Gering - Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot

I seem to learn best when watching demonstrations, so when there was a sale at Craftsy, I enrolled in Jacquie Gering’s class Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot. As usual my level of confidence has gone up through the roof.

Months ago, when sewing together a front panel for my mom’s iPad cover, I also improvised two smaller pieces for myself. I squared them up to 5.5” and then the troubles with finding a walking foot began, so I forgot about them until yesterday’s un-earthing of miscellaneous this and that in the WIP box.

Here’s where I picked up where I had left them:

NWF Mug rugs - Ready for basting

My first quilting project ready to be pin basted

Maybe you recognise the scraps from Piece of Cake 3?

Finding batting was another ordeal, but luckily there are many great shops within the EU (to avoid high shipping fees and possible import taxes) to choose from. This is Warm & White.

The mug-rug backing is cut from an old thin curtain of mine and I was a bit nervous about how it would behave during quilting.

I started with the lighter mug rug and quite soon noticed something that I’d kindly label as “you get what you pay for”:

NWF Mug rugs - Walking foot issue

Walking foot issue

The needle is in middle position when using other presser feet, but as you can see the placement on this walking foot is way off to the right. In her class, Jacquie talks about features of a well-designed foot and none have been added to this one. The widths and holes of the (quite closed) sole plate have no connection to fractions of inches and there are no markings on it either.

I’ve decided not to fret about this, but will use the available “lines” in combination with the foot guide and outside markings (masking tape, hera marker, etc.), and once I upgrade to a better sewing machine in the future, I’ll see to it that all the requirement boxes have been ticked. Live and learn, and accept the challenge for now…

The quilting I chose for the first mug rug was simple, just straight lines as parallel as possible. In the photo above they are close to a quarter inch and then I got the idea to do matchstick quilting like Jacquie teaches.

The second rug was quilted around a first line of zigzag that I made. I hadn’t planned any of it, but just let my hands translate random ideas, and there were no guide markings made anywhere. All I did was use a few lines on the walking foot:

NWF Mug rugs - Two kinds of quilting

Two kinds of quilting

As you can see, I’ve reached the binding stage already. I found a tutorial by Dana Made It, but since it didn’t cover how to handle corners I looked some more. The one by Prudent Baby looked so similar at first glance that I kept going with Dana’s version. Later I got confused because Prudent was “upside down” all of a sudden.

I had already pinned the single-fold tape in place on the darker mug rug, but removed it again. Personally I think there are a few more positives to the Prudent Baby tutorial and I want to see whether I like the look of that version more. And that’s where we are right now, so stay tuned for part 2! Despite smaller hickups I truly love this craft!