Floating Stitches turn a nine-patch block into a pretty mug rug

I’m still working away at my challenge this week to use up all the 2½” squares in a package. In yesterday’s post I used the PFAFF performance icon to quilt a table runner and bind it by machine. I also started a challenge within the challenge – to use the Pantone colors of the year (yellow and gray) in my projects. Well, today is an easy win for me! This mug rug is made up of the gray 2½” squares from the package.

Colors of the Year 2021 mug rug

I pulled the gray squares first, because they were much darker than the rest. Today I’m using the five gray squares, and some yellow ones too.


  • (5) 2½” squares of same value – in my case gray
  • (4) 2½” squares of a contrast fabric – in my case yellow
  • 6½” piece of batting
  • 6½” backing fabric
  • quilting thread – contrasts well with both fabrics


By now you’ve probably realized that I tend to create by giving myself challenges! This mug rug comes together quite quickly – it’s really just a simple nine-patch block. I decided early that I would add some decorative stitches to make this mug rug unique – that’s where the PFAFF performance icon comes in. One of my favorite exclusive stitch techniques on the performance icon is the floating stitches. I decided to use the floating stitches to assemble the block, so instead of sewing the squares together in rows, I sewed them in columns first. Sewing the nine-patch block in rows instead of columns gives me long seams to use the floating stitches on.

Nine patch-block sewn in columns.

Floating stitches

The Floating Stitches menu is located in Menu 8 -Techniques. The Multi-Touch screen lets you get a good look at the stitches available. I tried to pick ones I thought complimented the patterns on my fabrics and looked a bit modern.

Floating stitches menu

It’s been a few projects since I’ve used the floating stitches, but I remembered there are two potential presser feet you can use. I touched the question mark in the top right of the Multi-Touch screen and then touched on the words Floating Stitches. The screen prompted me to push for more information and up popped instructions – with diagrams!

Floating stitches guide on multi-touch screen.

Using a stabilizer ensures success when using the floating stitches, and this project doesn’t take much. The INSPIRA Fast and Easy Tear-A-Way Light stabilizer works great under the needle and is easy to tear off when the stitching is complete.

I chose a second floating stitch to sew the last column to complete the block.

Floating stitches with stabilizer

Quilting with decorative stitches

Then it was time to quilt the mug rug. I opted to use the envelope method which requires no binding. The one tricky part here is leaving a turning gap – I usually leave a gap of at least 2″, but in this case, I didn’t want to have to turn under a seam allowance. I pinned the three layers together with the batting on the bottom, then the backing fabric right side up and the nine-patch right side down. I used lots of pins on this block! Then I stitched around the outside, leaving a small opening for turning.

Mug rug layers pinned for the envelope method.

I carefully pulled the mug rug right side out through the small gap, then finger pressed the opening closed. I topstitched around the edge and then went back to the PFAFF performance icon to find a few more stitches to use for the quilting.

I didn’t really need to add much quilting to such a small project, but I wanted to at least use a few stitches across the seams. The PFAFF performance icon is loaded with stitches, so I like to challenge myself to try different ones. I decided to add ‘just one more’, and selected a large, asymmetrical stipple stitch to make an ‘x’ through the center. I’m not sure I love the resulting mismatched curves, but I do know that I have another project finished!

I still have some 2½” squares left from this package. Be sure to come back tomorrow to see how I use the PFAFF performance icon for my next little challenge!

This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: See how easy quilting can be with the PFAFF performance icon

Go to part 5: Easily edit font and decorative stitches for a mini word-of-the-year quilt

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