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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mug Rugs - A picture tutorial.

What is a Mug Rug you ask?  Mug rugs are just that... a rug for your mug, and a snack or two.  They are larger than a coaster, but smaller than a place mat.  However, there is not a standard dimension, so make them however you like.  I love to use fabric scraps, so this is a perfect project for me.

Even though mug rugs are terribly cute, they aren't well known.  They make excellent gifts, but the recipient may not know exactly what to do with such a cute item.  To save a little embarrassment from being asked, "It's cute, but what is it?" I wrote a little poem to put in the package on a tag.

This mug rug was made especially for you.
There is enough room on it for your mug, and a snack or two.
If things get a little messy, now don’t you fret.
As long as the wash is gentle, it is okay to get it wet.
When you are relaxing, drinking your coffee or tea,
I hope this little rug makes you smile and think of me.

I just printed it out on an index card and included it in the package.  

I think the hardest part of making these is picking out the fabric and the applique pattern.  I like chickens, so
I just decided to draw one.  If you don't draw (you see I am not much of an artist when it comes to freehand)you can print out a line drawing from the Internet, or find some free applique patterns that you can print.  I drew mine on paper and it was a little larger than what I wanted, so I just put it in my printer/copier and shrank it a little.  

I ended up with this.
The next thing you want to do is trace your original image onto freezer paper, shiny side (plastic side) down.  Don't forget to separate your pieces.  The wing will be separate from the body.  I used a Sharpie.  The plastic backing keeps it from bleeding through, so no worries.

Decide on a background fabric and the back piece that will look nice with the fabrics you want to applique.  I use what I have.  For this one, I am using burlap top with a navy back.  I use something a little protective and stiff for the liner that goes in the inside.  I have used quilt batting as well as that stiff stuff that I don't know the name of.  It is sold to line things.  It also makes it easier to applique than other fabrics.  You can use flannel, denim, or another heavy weight material.  Press all your fabrics.

There is no standard size.  Most people don't want to take up prime real estate on their desks, so I cut mine out 6" x 8" with 1/4" seam allowance.  (That gives a total of 6 1/2" x 8 1/2" for the top and back panels).  I cut the liner out 5 3/4" x 7 3/4" without seam allowances as to not add bulk to the seams.
Next, loosely cut out the pieces from the freezer paper.  You don't have to be precise (like my picture).  If I make a few with the same applique, I will reuse the freezer paper pattern a few times, so it is cut out at this point in the picture.  When I cut my fabric, I leave a little overhang where it connects to another piece, so I can slide it just under the edge of the connecting fabric.
Then, I take the freezer paper and put it on the fabric I want for that piece.  With a dry, hot iron, I press the pieces for 2 seconds to adhere the freezer paper to the right side of the fabric. 
At this point, depending on my conservation of scraps, I either stick the Heat Bond on now, or I cut the pieces out first.  The pictures show cutting them out first because I wanted the edges for some detail work. 
After cutting out all the pieces, turn them over on a piece of newspaper.  If you've noticed my stained ironing board (it's been washed), I haven't always been so protective, but the heat bond is hard on an iron and messy, so precautions should be taken.  I then put a piece of heat bond, plastic down and paper side up on top of my fabric (freezer paper still stuck to the fabric on the other side).
I cover it with another piece of newspaper.  Maybe I should mention that I do use a lot of newspaper. :)

Then I place my iron on the newspaper and press according to the Heat Bond directions on the package.  Mine says 2 seconds with a dry, hot iron.  This adheres the bonding to your fabric applique.

You will end up with all your fabric pieces together.  Notice how I didn't cut out the chicken's tail where it attaches to the body.  I leave a little overlap.
If you cut out your fabric before applying the heat bond to the back, you will have little edges like shown here.  Just pull the excess off, using your fingernail to go around the edge.  Don't leave the little slivers on your ironing board because your hot iron will find them and want to keep them.  :)

Peel all the paper off the fabric (heat bond and the freezer paper) and place your fabric pieces in the desired location on the rug top.  Don't forget to overlap the joining fabrics.  The yellow beak here will be put just under the blue body.
Follow the manufacturer's directions on ironing the heat bond to the project.  Mine says 6 seconds with a hot, dry iron.  AND I use a piece of newspaper between my iron and the project (could you guess) just in case I missed a little heat bond from around the edges.  Be careful if your fabric is light, due to the newspaper ink easily rubbing off.  
Newspaper works well for me.  I just tear off pieces in the size that I need.  The heat bond sticks really well to the newspaper, most of the time more than fabric, so it gathers up any slivers that I might miss.
Once you get all the fabric in place, it is time for the fun part.  The applique!  Don't forget to attach your liner at this point with pins around the edge.  Center the liner on the back (since it is smaller than the rug top and bottom).  When you finish with your applique, the liner will be held in place.

I cannot stress enough to test your machine stitches before heading to your project.  I have to play with my tension a little.  I usually keep it between a 5 and a 6.  I have a Janome 3160 QDC.  I use a zig zag stitch with the clear "F" foot (not the A foot as it says on the machine).  I set my stitch width to 3 (you may need to go smaller for detail work) and my length between 0.4 and 0.5 (smaller for fabrics that fray).  Test yours to see what works best.  You can also use a blanket stitch if using felt or other material that will not ravel.

A note about thread tension.  This is how I remember which way to turn the dial.   
Tight pulls bobbin thread to the Top.  
Loose pulls top thread to the Lower.  

Tight is a Top number (greater than).  Loose is a Lower number (less than).
The order that you do your applique stitching matters.  Whatever is on top should be done last if it touches another piece.  I did the
1) comb
2) tail
3) wing (only because it doesn't touch anything and it was red)
4) beak
5) body
6) eggs (any order because they don't touch anything else)

Before you begin, lower and raise your needle and pull the bobbin thread up through the fabric, then pull the bobbin thread and needle thread behind your foot.

Making curves:
Outside curves, turn your fabric when the needle is on the outside of the applique fabric.  Inside curves, turn your fabric when your needle is inside the applique fabric.  This will keep you from getting gaps in your stitching. Raise your presser foot with the needle down and turn your fabric often when going around curves.
Outside curves going around the top of the comb, inside curves making the dip in the top. 
The needle position in this picture is on the inside of the fabric.

I am new at applique.  If you look in the picture below on the edge of the wing, I turned my fabric when the needle was on the red fabric instead of the blue.  (I should have turned the fabric when the needle was on the blue because that is an outside curve).  That is what causes gaps.  Learn from my mistakes. :)  That's why I blog.
The eggs are outside curves so you turn your fabric when the needle is not on the egg, but on the edge of it as in the picture. 
The needle position in this picture is on the outside of the fabric.
After everything is appliqued, remove the pins (your applique will hold the liner on).  Put the front and backing together (right sides together) and sew 1/4" seam around the edge.  You will not sew through your liner as you do this.  Leave about 3" open so you can turn it.

Clip the corners and gently turn the rug out.  I use a blunt chop stick to help me with the corners, but be careful not to poke it too hard, you'll warp the fabric (I know this from experience).  Smooth your lining inside and take care to make sure it is flat - really flat.  Fold down the seams where you left it open to turn to the inside 1/4" and press. 

Top stitch around the edge.  Depending on the pattern, I may use a wide decorative stitch.  This will catch the edge of the liner and hold it in place.  On this one, because of the characteristics of the burlap, I sewed a double stitch around the edge.  I sewed 1/8" and 1/4" with the same thread that matched the burlap. 

If you are using quilt batting as your liner, it will make your rug look more "poofy" than using the stiff stuff that I still don't know the proper name of.  Some applique designs will allow you to add stitches to it to help quilt it together, such as the lines in the cupcake cup and the lines I put on the icing of the cupcake using a straight stitch.  I put these in after I put the backing on.

I could have put a few straight stitch details in the wing or tail, but I wanted to come up with something cute.  I decided hay would do the trick.  I just took two strands of thread - light brown and straw colored.  With a needle, I ran the thread through the front, connecting the front to the back, and tied a knot in the front with the two ends.  I cut every other one shorter to give it some depth.  It worked great to quilt it.

I made several of the chicken design with different fabrics.  I used black with white polka dots for the body with the red polka dot pattern shown here.  I used white for the eggs.  It turned out nice.
Here's some more that I have made.

Thanks to Wee Folk Art for this free cupcake applique pattern.  There's more on their blog, so let's show some love.
Free motion quilting gave this one extra dimension
I really like the stiff stuff for the liner.  The cupcake turned out cute (the pink ink has evaporated), but the fabric stretched a little when I quilted it.  The stiff stuff really holds things in place.
This gives you an idea of the size I made mine.  Just big enough to hold a mug and a snack or two.

I made this one for a cousin that was kind enough to pick up a Bo-Jo fish light for me and bring it all of 10 hours in the car when she came home for Thanksgiving.  She is a band director, so the music note was appropriate for her desk.

Happy mug rug making!  I love to see your projects, hear your ideas, and read your comments.

Feel free to use my stuff, but please link it back to me.

I have learned that the "stiff stuff I don't know the name of" is stabilizer
I have also posted more pictures of the mug rugs I have completed.  See them by clicking MugRugs at the right, under topics, or use the link here.