As I sat in my studio the other day thinking about my projects for this week I kept looking at the wonderful colors outside so I grabbed my camera and went for a little walk in the yard. I really don’t have to go far for photo opportunities as I live in the forest which is made up of a vast majority of maple trees.
Growing up on the prairies I saw leaves change color but nothing like they do here in a forest full of maple trees. I’m in awe every year of the color and even though autumn isn’t my favorite season as I know what follows afterwards, the colors truly are magnificent. So I decided that my first project would be sewing a little mug rug in an autumn palette.
What is a mug rug?
A mug rug is a small quilt ranging in size from 4 x 7 inches to 8 x 12 inches. It can be square or rectangle. The purpose of a mug rug is to hold not only your cup of cofffee/tea but also a plate with a little tasty treat. Oh and speaking of treats, Halloween is coming and my other project this week is something to collect those treats in. You won’t want to miss it.
To begin I gathered up a few pieces of batik that coordinated – now the lime green may not be an autumn color but it matches perfectly with the green in one of the other fabrics and I happen to love lime green. For the background I chose a light valued fabric so that the applique will stand out which is a golden yellow. Now I know that none of these colors are in my photo but they are in the area.
Sewing the Pieces Together
The best way to build a checkerboard design is to use strips and then cut them again into strips and resew them together. From the 3 striped batiks I cut 8 strips, each 1 ½″ x 10 inches – 2 green, 2 orange/rust and 4 from the orange/pink/green batik.
I started sewing the strips into pairs on the Pfaff Ambition 1.0 and then the pairs into sets of 4. This is what is called a strip set and it sure speeds up the piecing process when small squares are needed. Not to mention it makes everything a lot more accurate than piecing little squares together.
Once the strip sets are made they are cut them up into 1 ½″ x 4 ½″ rectangles – 8 required in total for my projects as it is going to be 8 x 12 inches when finished. This will create the checkerboard design. Now I put the green fabric in specific positions in the strip sets in order to make a specific design in the checkerboard.
I like to pin, especially when seams need to butt together, and I learned the hard way that it’s better to take the time to pin than have to take the time to rip out, pin and resew. My favorite pins for this pinning job are the Fork Pins by Clover. They hold everything in place and it’s a perfect matching seam every time but be careful when using as they are extremely sharp.
I used the ¼″ foot with a guide for sewing the mug rug pieces together which makes it very tricky to sew right up to the pin, as the pins get in the way of the guide or maybe it’s the other way around the guide gets in the way of the pins. I usually don’t use the foot with the guide for piecing and had to adapt a bit. Instead of sewing within a few mm of the pin I had to stop a good ¼″ back and take the pin out. The seams still stayed put and matched up – thank goodness as I really do not like reverse sewing with my seam ripper.
The finished checkerboard piece is made up of 8 rectangle strips consisting of 4 squares and measures 4 ½″ x 8 ½″.
The Leaf Motif As Fusible Applique
After collecting up some leaves from outside in various sizes I chose one of the larger ones to use as the applique design on the mug rug. They certainly do come in all sizes.
My favorite form of applique is with fusible web and the stitching done by machine. No hand stitching for me, the machine does a far better job. I photocopied the leaf on my printer and then drew the outline of the leaf onto a piece of fusible web with a paper backing and fused it to the fabric.
After cutting a 8 ½″ square piece of the light background fabric I fused the leaf design to the square making sure to cover everything with a Teflon applique sheet so as not to get any glue in unwanted places. If you don’t have a Teflon sheet then parchment paper can be substituted.
After fusing the leaf to the background stitch it to the checkerboard border. The piece now measures 12 ½″ x 8 ½″.
Thread & Stitch Selection
I chose a couple of Tutti variegated threads from Wonderfil to outline the leaf in and quilt my little mug rug. I was a hundred percent sure of the thread I chose for the applique but figured I would give it a go and see what it looked like.
Sandwich the layers before stitching the applique then no stabilizer is needed as the batting acts as the stabilizer for the stitches. Cut the batting and backing pieces 10″ x 14″. I used a low loft 100% cotton batting. Use your favorite basting method, mine is curved safety pins but another option is spray adhesive such as 505.
I wanted the edge of the leaf to have a jagged edge, not a nice uniform edge as leaves aren’t exactly smooth and even. To achieve this I would normally use a free motion zigzag stitch but the Ambition 1.0 has this wonderful satin stitch (stitch #94) with varying widths creating an uneven edge. I changed the foot to the open toed decorative stitch/applique foot so I would be able to see my work.
The thread and stitch are absolutely perfect. I’m really loving stitch #94.
Quilting the mug rug will have to wait until tomorrow as I have some more photos to take of the amazing autumn colors.