This Rainbow Mug Rug Is Bursting With Color! [FREE Pattern + Tutorial]

Rainbow Mug Rug

Enjoy a rainbow burst of color with this fun little project, which includes a basic sew-and-flip technique on a paper foundation (don’t worry if you’ve never tried it before — we’ll walk you through it). Plus, you’ll find tips for trimming and step-by-step photos to ensure success!

Download the tutorial and pattern here!

Boundless Rainbow Fabric Bundle

While this mug rug uses solids, any fabrics would work, and alternating two fabrics would make a striking variation on this design.

I used a Boundless Fabric Bundle from the Bluprint Supply Shop. It features gorgeous saturated colors and the perfect weight for this sew-and-flip technique. If you are in the mood to try something new, these might just be what you need for a spark of inspiration.

What you need:

Rainbow Paper Piecing Pattern

1. Printing the pattern

This pattern begins with the paper foundation, which is included in your free download. Be sure to read through all of the steps before beginning to avoid any mistakes or confusion. This pattern is best when printed on light weight copy paper such a 20-lb. paper. If you have a paper product designed for paper piecing, that’s even better.

Prefolding the paper pattern

Trim the paper 1/4″ away from the outside line. Use a ruler and rotary cutter, or mark it with a pencil and use scissors. Then, fold the pattern on each of the lines. This will score the paper so that it is easier to work with during the later steps.

boundless brights rainbow

2. Choosing the fabrics

If you choose to make a rainbow, this pattern requires 15 fabrics. Or, you could simply choose to alternate two or three fabrics. Arrange the fabrics in rainbow order or in any way that makes you happy. There is no right or wrong design — just choose the one that appeals to you!

Choosing your favorite fabrics

3. Cutting the fabrics

All 15 strips can be cut 2″ wide. Most of the strips can be cut 6″ long. However, the strips that will be used for the corners will need to be 8″ long. If you are using scraps, simply lay them across the paper pattern where you plan to use them to ensure they will be long enough.

Placement of first two fabrics

4. Sewing the first two strips

The first two strips will be placed right sides together, with the first strip touching the paper. Using a ruler as shown above, lay the strips so that they overlap the first sewing line by 1/4.” This will create your first seam allowance.

Set your stitch length to 1.8 – 2.0 for shorter stitches. Shorter stitches will make it easier to remove the paper in the end. Begin sewing at the edge of the paper and continue sewing off the edge of the paper. Do not stop sewing at the end of the line — if you do, it will also make removing the paper more difficult.

Finger Pressing the Seams

5. Finger pressing

Once the strips are sewn, flip the paper over and finger press the seam open as shown above. Take care to completely open the seam and make sure the fabrics are laying flat and smooth.

Trimming the seam allowance

6. Trimming the strips

Fold the paper on the next sewing line (not the one that was just sewn) and trim away the excess fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance as shown above. An Add-A-Quarter ruler works perfectly here but is not necessary. Layer the next strip, right sides together, on the newly cut edge of this strip. Then repeat the steps beginning with sewing.

Repeat sewing each strip

Continue to sew, flip, finger press, fold the paper and trim. This will build your rainbow one strip at a time.

The Rainbow Grows

This is what the rainbow will begin to look like once several more strips are added.

Trimming the seams at the base

Notice that the seams come together very closely on the bottom edge. To prevent extra bulk, trim the seams at an angle with scissors, leaving about 1/8″ at the very edge as shown above.

The Finished top

This is what your rainbow will look like once it is completely sewn. The rainbow can now be pressed with a hot iron if you choose.

The Finished top from the backside

This is what the back of the finished rainbow will look like. Notice all of the seams run off the paper at the beginning and end of each sewing line. 

Carefully tearing away the paper

7. Removing the paper pattern

Securely grip or press the end of the seam before pulling the paper away. By doing so carefully, you will prevent un-stitching the first few stitches. The shorter stitch length will have perforated the paper and it should tear away easily.

Once the paper is removed

This is what the backside of the rainbow will look like once the paper is removed. Handle this unit carefully because there will be bias edges. If desired, stay-stitch around the entire outside, less than 1/4″ away from the edge, to stabilize the unit.

8. Assembling the mug rug

Layer the rainbow on top of the batting and backing. Simply quilt by stitching “in the ditch” along each seam line. Decorative stitches would add interest as well, if you choose. Once the rainbow is quilted, trim the batting and backing even with the edges of the rainbow.

Adding the binding

Add the binding as you would to any quilt, and stitch the binding down on the back by hand or machine. If you’d like more information on traditional quilt binding, check out this post on the Bluprint Quilting Blog.

Finished Rainbow Mug Rug

Now that you’ve learned the basic steps to sew-and-flip paper piecing, you can attempt any pattern using this technique. Enjoy your mug rug (or send it to a friend) — but don’t forget to share it in the Bluprint project gallery. We love to see what you create!

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quilting scraps guide

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