I’m such a sucker for these things.  And the sad part is, I really don’t need to add anything to my holiday schedule, but I just don’t seem to have any self control.  It’s like binge start-a-new-project.  The beauty of this one?  It didn’t take much time.  Okay, so maybe it was time that I was supposed to be doing something else, but at least it was only two days of distraction rather than two weeks.

As you may already know, I have a deep and abiding obsession with social media- Instagram in particular.  One of the many reasons that I just can’t get enough is all of these fabulous swaps that go on, and I just get so titillated when I manage to get in on one!  So this was the latest- the #festivemugrugswap hosted by none other than Angie Wilson, aka Gnome Angel, or @gnomeangel.


Click the pic to check out Gnome Angel’s site!

As soon as I was all signed up through a website called Swap-Bot, I was ready to go!  There are about 90 participants in the swap, and it is international.  The person I make for is not the person who is making for me, and the deadline was set for

Oh crap!  I just remembered I need to sign up for another swap before registration closes!  I’ll be right back…

That just happened.  #RainbowMiniSwap.

Okay, back on subject.  The deadline for the #festivemugrugswap was set for December 17, 2014, and you know that this is a crazy time, so I had to get on it quick.  I got my assignment, but I can’t tell you who it is because I just took it to the post office today and I don’t want to spoil the surprise for my partner!  I will say this… it has a LONG way to go until it has arrived at its destination…

Wanna see what I made?

IMG_7859Yeah, I know, it’s pretty dang cute!

So, what is a mug rug?  Well, it doesn’t take a whole lot of Googling to find out, but just quickly, it’s really just a mini quilt, about 4″x6″ or 6″x9″, to cheer up your desk or workspace and have a cute spot to put your mug, water bottle, or glass of lemonade, along with a cookie, biscuit, or my personal favorite, a bit of chocolate.  Kind of an over-sized coaster, or an undersized place mat.  (I don’t think I will use mine that way- it will end up on the wall.  I’m sure of it.)  Anyway, there are lots of discussions about mug rugs, like on Gnome Angel, or on Two More Seconds, or even The Patch Smith.  There are also some free mug rug patterns on Craftsy that are just about to die for- I like the map of the US.  Hmmm… a mug rug swap of the country you are from… thinking out loud, thinking out loud.

Anyway, here are a few techniques I used while making this bit of fabulousness.

1- Background.  I used a technique that Bonnie Hunter over at Quiltville uses to make a Scrappy Trips Quilt.  This was a very simple process, and I used 1 1/2″ strips to put it together.  I really love this technique because the possibilities are literally endless.  To achieve the look I wanted, I proceeded to the point of making my strips into a tube, and then cut the tube into 1 1/2″ strips.  From there, I randomly “unstitched” the tube instead of following a particular pattern.  I wanted the background to be random because it was distracting when it was orderly.

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2- Frixion pen and sandpaper.  Generally speaking, this is how I mark things for quilting, embroidery, etc.  However, be it now known that Frixion pens don’t work on everything- sometimes they leave marks even after you iron them away, so consider yourself warned.  If you don’t test it and it ruins your project, it’s your own fault.  I’m just sayin!  I have long used sandpaper under fabric when I am writing on it, whether non permanent or permanent.  It keeps the fabric from sliding around while you are writing, which is very helpful.

3- Quilting before applique.  I know, not the norm, but I find it makes things a little easier.  I actually made two of these, because when I had the background made and fused my pieces on, I realized I was going to have to quilt around or over or whatever, and I wasn’t thrilled about it.  So I made another one.  This time I layered my quilt top with batting ONLY (no backing), and went ahead and quilted it down.  When I got to this point, I hand embroidered the text- through the quilt top and the batting.

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4- Machine applique.  I really love that quilting is all about resourcefulness.  I knew I wanted my little gnomes to have a swanky vintage camper to call home, but this girl aint got no drawing skills, so off to the Internet I went.  I found this super darling free pattern from Flamingo Toes, and knew it was the one and only for my gnomes.  A little Steam-A-Seam 2 (not the Lite variety) and a few scraps added up to some gnomey magic.  After adhering the image to the background, I added the piece of backing fabric.  Then when I did the machine applique, it appliqued and quilted the piece at the same time.  I forgot to get a pic of the back, but what you see on the back is an outline of the applique on the front.

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5- Quilting and binding.  Just to add a little more stabilization, I did just a little more line of quilting in the aqua on the side where the hand embroidery was.  This is where I made a mistake in not basting enough as I was going along, and it puckered a bit on that stitch line.  Hopefully my partner will for give me.  Anyway, once that was done, I did something I rarely do on a larger quilt- I squared it all up.  I don’t normally do this because I have a certain way I prefer to do binding, and squaring up doesn’t work well for me when I use a 2 1/2″ or 2 1/4″ binding.  But that’s for another blog post.  In this case, I wanted the binding to be tight, and tiny, and as close to perfect as possible.  So, I cut a 1 1/2″ binding.  I also cut a 1 3/4″ binding just in case I decided that the 1 1/2″ one was going to make me want to kill someone.  But I didn’t need it.  1 1/2″ turns out to be one stinking fabulous binding.  It finished at 1/4″ on both sides, and it was beautiful, if I do say so myself.

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6- The extras.  I didn’t take a lot of pics of the extras I sent, mostly because my partner hasn’t gotten her package yet.  If she posts a pic when she receives it, I will steal it and show it here.  But, I do have a pic of the little coaster and/or Christmas ornament I sent.  Oh, and here’s a link to Generations Quilt Patterns for the free Economy Block pattern.

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That’s all folks!  I really had a lot of fun making this one, and I hope you feel inspired to make some mug rugs yourself!  They really are fun little gifts, and great little distractions from whatever big project you just need a break from.  Enjoy!


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