Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fake cathedral windows mug rug - A tutorial.

I love shortcuts. Can't help it. I like to practice constructive laziness wherever possible ;-) 

A hand-pieced-and-quilted grandmothers flower garden quilt, whilst insanely beautiful, would drive me to drink. (Well, slightly more than usual anyway).

I just love the idea of simplifying techniques, and while this doesn't really look anything like a real fancy pants cathedral windows block, the quilting has some of the same qualities.

So its a kind of "fake it till you make it" tutorial. Let's start shall we?

Materials needed:
16 x 2.5" squares for the front
Scrap of batting/wadding at least 10" square
Backing fabric, again at least 10" square

First you will need to gather your 2.5" squares. Jelly roll scraps are perfect for this project, or indeed any kind of scrap. All of these came out of my scrap-bags*. Whenever I make a postage stamp design in a 2 colour scrappy style I like to use an unbalanced number of each colour. So here I have 9 reds and 7 greens. It just kinda adds to the random affect a little more.

*A typo here would be hilarious.

Arrange in a pleasing layout. You could iron them. I obviously didnt...

Stitch together rows and columns (with a quarter inch seam allowance) in whichever way you favour. I usually flip columns 2 and 4 over onto columns 1 and 3 and chain piece to make pairs. I then piece the pairs together and finally the rows. There's so much discussion over the "right" way to press seams... so just do what feels best. I usually press rows 1 and 3 to the left, and rows 2 and 4 to the right, so that the seams can nest.

Layer up your backing (right side down), batting and 16 patch block (right side up). You could baste with a little bit of spray or some pins, but if you are careful and your backing is big enough then I wouldn't bother.

I do recommend switching to your walking foot at this point if you haven't already. "What if I don't have one?" I hear you ask.... Its fine. I'm still not sure I can notice its purported benefits, I just threw that in there to sound like I have mad skillz. 

Stitch in the ditch on all the seam lines following the grid of the squares.

Now comes the interesting part. Start at the top of one of the middle lines with your needle down, and at an angle pointing toward the opposite corner of the square.

Begin stitching toward the middle of the square, curving back around when you get to the middle so that you end up in the second corner, level with where you started. The next picture explains it better. You are basically doing a wiggly line taking up half of each successive square (like a sine wave, for the nerds amongst us). Follow the white stitching line from the picture below, and when you get to the end, stop with the needle down.

Pivot, and return to where you initially started, doing the same wiggly pattern, but on the opposite side of the sea following the black dotted line. Repeat this step for all the vertical stitch lines, and it will look like this:

Now do the same for every horizontal seam line. The last step is to do the same semi-circle pattern around the entire edge, pivoting at each seam point and corner. You could skip this step if you wanted though, because most of these lines are hidden by the binding anyway.

Trim the batting and backing away and make sure to square it up. I squared mine up to 8.5 inches. Bind as desired. I always stitch my binding by machine. Constructive laziness strikes again! There's a great tutorial here for anyone that needs it, although weirdly I do it backwards to the way Rita advises. I sew on to the back first, and then stitch down on the front.

And there you have it. One fake-it-till-you-make-it mug rug. This particular one will be going off to my partner in the BQS to spread a little Christmas cheer. I might even make another for my partner in the MTRS just because :-)

I made a few for Christmas gifts last year, the backs of which were plain. These show of the quilting really nicely!

Do let me know if you make anything from this tutorial, I'd love to see it!!


  1. Oh I love the way you just toss that picture of LOADS in there at the end!! Great idea!

  2. Love the mug rugs and your sine wave (yes, I'm a nerd!) - great tutorial!

  3. Wow that's lovely. I will give this a go when my machine gets mended.

  4. wow, those are lovely-will have to give them a try

  5. Hee hee, you nut! Although I'm not sure which of us is the worse geek, you for mentioning sine waves, or me for knowing exactly what you meant :o/ ;oD

    Love the effect though :o)

  6. Gorgeous MR & an inspired idea! Btw, I've tried to send you the crochet socks pattern 3 times! Can you check to see if it has come through successfully? Jxo

  7. very clever! looks fab and anything that makes things easier is in my book the way to go... Great tute!

  8. Great idea and fab tute, they look gorgeous!

  9. Great tutorial, I may have to try it as my first attempt at quilting. And it's looks great, you'd never guess it was that easy!

  10. Looks so much quicker than the real thing!

  11. great tute, guess thats another thing to add to my mental list....

  12. Anything HAS to be quicker than the real thing! Imagine using really contrasting thread to give it another dimension!

  13. Great tut that will come in handy one day.

  14. It's a very good idea, thanks. I am far too lazy to make a real cathedral window block.

  15. Sine waves and scrap-bags all in one post! Just lovely, Miss Laura, I might well have to have a go at that quilting method one of these days x

  16. They look wonderful! Will have to give this a try, thanks for sharing!

  17. Thats a great effect! There is another short cut you can make. I'll try and describe it briefly- after you have made the 4strips, take number 2 and put in, face up, in the r ight place on the wadding/backing sandwich. Take strip three, and pin it to strip two through all the layers. Stitch. Open up and press. Now pin strip 1 to strip 2 and strip 4 to strip 3 (then check several times they are in the right place, LOL) and press open. This is my version of Quilt as you go. You Now just need to quilt in the ditch at right angles :-). I do this on 90% of my quilts. I also stitch onto fleece rather than wadding/backing. Saves time AND money :-)

  18. A very cool shortcut method. This would be a great quilting pattern on anything. And I am pleased with what you said about a walking foot - I tried one once but I really didn't think it made any difference so sent it back!

  19. Love your mug rugs!! So much color!
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  20. Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I love your idea so much that I featured it on my blog today:


Thanks for dropping by - I love to hear what you think, so please leave me a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...