SATURDAY SEWING: simple paper pieced mug rug to bring together friends

Janome Canada Artisan, Meagan, has a really quick, easy and fun Saturday Sewing project for you today. Thanks, Meagan. Ed.




While stuck at home, the urge to create comes in strong waves, and after conversations with friends, I realized I was not alone. I have been daydreaming about sewing up bright oversized napkins, refreshing my living room pillows, and finally creating a spring and summer me-made wardrobe like I’ve wanted for the past few years.

While talking with friends, I realized it’s not just the ones who have been sewing for years who are spending days and evenings at their machines, but also friends who have barely sewn throughout their lives, or even ones who never have. They are utilizing this time to learn a new skill, and thanks to online tutorials, they can do so from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

One of my favourite sewing techniques is paper piecing. When I first started quilting I was completely intimidated by it. The clean, crisp corners, and tiny, impossibly precise piecing just seemed totally out of reach. It was a few years after I began sewing that I finally decided I wanted to learn, and boy, why didn’t I try it sooner? Paper piecing is nothing to be intimidated about. Choose the right pattern, and it’s a great beginner sewing project.

And that brings me to a perfect social distancing sewing project for any level of sewer – the paper pieced mug rug. While spending time at home, I have missed tea dates with friends, and while we have started doing video chats, it’s just not the same. I decided I wanted to put together some fun “thinking of you” care packages that I could drop off (yay for contactless delivery).

I made the mug rugs for friends using my Janome HD9 – while the HD9 is a heavy duty, semi-industrial straight stitch, it is also perfect for quilting projects. It’s power, and precise stitching makes it perfect for quilting, and especially paper piecing. I’ve had friends and customers ask what I use for bag making, and that is definitely my Janome HD9, but I always love pointing out that I use it for quilting too!

So let’s get started!


I decided to theme my mug rugs to the friend I was making it for – for this one friend, I went with a knitting theme as 90% of our conversations revolve around our knitting projects and our love of yarn. I pulled some scrap pieces from my stash and got to work. I used That Red Cup pattern by Sylvia Schaefer, set my Janome HD9‘s stitch length to 2, and began paper piecing. You want to use a short stitch when paper piecing so it is easier to rip the paper off at the end.

If you are new to paper piecing, this is a great beginner project. It only has 3 sections, no small piecing to worry about lining up perfectly, and best of all, even for a newbie, it is a very quick sew. It also works great for young sewers too. If you have kids at home that are looking to start, or advance, their sewing skills, paper piecing is a great technique to learn.

Now that the first two sections are done, I quickly move onto the third and final section.

Once all sections are completed, it’s time to sew it all together. Patterns will indicate the order to attach, but since this one is so simple, it’s a pretty basic A+B, AB+C. Once it is all sewn together, now comes my favourite part – ripping off all the paper! The paper usually comes off easily, but if it doesn’t, just spritz it with a little bit of water and it should peel right off. I find it relaxing ripping the paper off, revealing the perfect back of my block.

Once I have all my paper removed, I often spray it with best press and give it another good press.

Now that your mug rug top is complete, you can finish it off however you choose! To keep with the simplicity of this project, I chose to back mine with fusible fleece, and do a turn and top stitch closure. You can also use quilt batting, quilt it, and bind to finish it off. I chose the knit stitch fabric for the backing, and attached fusible fleece to both pieces.

Once I was finished sewing it together, I turned, poked out my corners, tucked in my turning hole and top stitched all around my mug rug. I then decided to stitch in the ditch around the mug. You can choose any kind of quilting you want for this project, I just wanted to do something quick and easy.

Once I was finished quilting, I was now finished my mug rug. From start to finish this project took me about 30 minutes and is great for using up scrap pieces of fabric.

Being away from family and friends right now is not easy, making cute little mug rugs for friends and delivering with a selection of baked goods and plant cuttings has made me feel more connected.

If you are looking to get started in paper piecing, check out some of these great Janome resources:

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