Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Tips and Tutorials Tuesday - Nordic Christmas Mug Rug

With Nordic style Christmas decor being all the rage in stores again this year, I'm making some of my own using the "pixelated" or "watercolor" technique.

Here is a little tutorial on a Nordic Christmas mug rug, but the technique can be used for larger things, such as table runners or wall quilts. You only have to find a fair isle knitting chart or cross stitch embroidery chart with an image you like or make your own on a sheet of square graphed paper. I find that the minimum size for more or less interesting patterns is 7 by 7 squares, so my mug rug is 7.5'' squared. Here are some charts you can use.

You'll need:
  • 1.5'' squares of red and white fabrics - 49 in all, exact number of each color depends on your chosen pattern (mine required 21 red and 28 white)
  • 10.5'' squared piece of adhesive interfacing with grid (more on that below)
  • 7.5'' squared pieces of batting and backing
  • binding
Here we go:

Prepare your squares

Prepare your gridded interfacing - you can either use pre-printed one like Quilter's grid, or draw your own grid on the glue side of light-weight interfacing you (hopefully) have at hand, or stick a piece of interfacing to your cutting mat with pieces of tape so that the grid on the mat shows through. In the latter case you'll have to be careful moving your layout to your ironing place. The pre-printed Quilter's Grid is handy, but it has lines on the non-adhesive side, so to see them on the other side it has to be laid on something white.

Looking at your chosen chart start laying out the squares row by row. If possible, do it on your ironing mat or right next to it.

When you're ready carefully press the whole layout with hot iron until the squares adhere. In a perfect Universe the squares will touch side to side but not overlap.

Now take it to the machine. Fold the first row over and stitch 1/4'' from the edge.

Repeat with all the other rows.

There are different ways to deal with the seam allowance. I prefer pressing them open and to do that we first have to rip them open. If your squares didn't overlap, the seam ripper will glide almost effortlessly cutting just the interfacing. However, if there are a couple of layers of fabric in the way, you'd better use scissors for the job.

With the seams pressed open, it's time to stitch the columns.

Here the seams can be pressed to one side, but I find that the extra time invested in ripping them and pressing open pays off - the result is a smoother surface and easier quilting.

Here is the finished top. People are often taken aback by the drastic decrease in size from the original layout. As we go from 1.5'' to 1'' squares it means a decrease by 1/3 in both directions.

I went for simple walking-foot quilting and binding of the same red as in the squares to stick to the Nordic minimalism.

I'm planning a set of mug rugs with a central "teapot rug" and a wall quilt using this technique, stay tuned for updates ;)))

Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday hosted by Ivonne at Quilting Jetgirl

Linky Tuesday at Free motion by the River

A set of four completed:
Christmas decor

UPD 2:

Please go to this post to see the completed wall-hanging and cushion in the same technique.


  1. Great tutorial and I love the math fact at the end (a decrease in 1/3rd is a lot!). Thank you so much for linking up.

  2. Thanks for the tutorial, wonderful mug rug.

  3. I used this technique on many wall hanging and quilts.....love it

  4. Thanks for the tutorial -- I love red and white fabrics!


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