As the summer season arrives, our homes are filled with warm sunshine, fresh air, and a sense of patriotic holiday spirit! To complement our patriotic summer decor, we're excited to share a fun and easy DIY project to add a touch of red, white, and blue to your summertime table. In this tutorial, we'll make an embroidered mug rug featuring the iconic American flag colors. With its patriotic details, this mug rug is the perfect addition to your 4th of July celebrations, or any summer gathering. So, grab your embroidery machine and let's get started!

As JuJu says, you can never have too many mug rugs! This tutorial will show you step-by-step how to complete the ITH Patriotic Freedom Mug Rug. They are so easy to make, with only one hooping needed, and no sewing necessary! 

You can choose the size of the mug rug you’re making depending on what hoop sizes you have. I always print the included instructions for my Designs By JuJu mug rugs, as they will list the sizes of fabric you need for your project. I will be making a 5" x 7" inch mug rug.

Let’s gather our supplies!

Check out Embroidery Supplies JuJu Uses for our favorite supplies. 

You will need:

  • Fabrics
  • Batting
  • No-Show Mesh Cut Away Stabilizer 
  • SF101 Interfacing (for backing the background fabric) 
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Project instructions
  • ITH Patriotic Freedom Mug Rug design loaded into your embroidery machine

Using the chart from the project instructions, I cut my fabrics to the appropriate sizes. I find it helpful to take the chart to the fabric store (or my fabric stash!) when I’m choosing my fabrics. I fussy cut the star print from one of my fabrics to use for the center of my design.

I like to prep all of my fabrics before I start embroidering. Fuse the SF101 to the wrong side of the background fabric.

Take the two large background fabrics, fold them in half long-ways and press them. They will overlap on the back of your mug rug to close it.

Here is a before and after of the background pieces.

Now, we can hoop a piece of no-show mesh stabilizer.

First, stitch a placement line for the batting.

Use the batting to cover the placement line, then stitch it in place. Remove the hoop and trim closely to the stitched edge.

Next, stitch out the placement stitch for the background fabric. Place the background fabric over the placement stitch (covering all edges) and stitch your tackdown stitch.

To trim, we want to leave the edge on opposite sides of the mug rug. With how my project is oriented in my hoop (see image below), my remaining edge is on the right and left sides of my design, but you may do the same using the top and bottom of your design. I do this by making an angled cut towards the stitches and then trimming along the stitches. This cuts the bulk from the center of the design, but keeps the edges so we can attach the backing to it in a later step. The leftover edges will be trimmed down soon.

Now, stitch the quilt design on the center fabric.

When you’re done, it’s time for our mug rug appliqué!

If you’re still new to appliqué, this article will provide some handy tips on how to tackle your first appliqué project!

We’ll begin with our placement stitches for the first color.

Cover these placement stitches with your fabric and secure them with tackdown stitches.

Now, trim around the stitches.

Continue with your placement stitches and tackdown stitches for the rest of the appliqué steps.

Then we’ll complete the satin stitches that will cover the raw edges of the appliqué burst and the star. Make sure to complete these steps in the correct order of the stitching to ensure your work overlaps correctly. Some decorative stitching will also stitch out now.

After your decorative stitches are done, we’ll add our side borders to the mug rug. First, stitch a placement line for the fabric (mine is in red).

Then, lay the side fabric strip (right side down) parallel to the placement stitch. We want to cover the line with about ⅛” - ¼” of the fabric.

Run the tackdown stitch to secure the fabric in place.

Now, remove your hoop from the machine, flip the fabric back (right side up), and sufficiently press the seam with your fingers. Use a piece of tape to secure it and put it back in your machine. 

Run the next tackdown stitches to secure the edge of the side fabric. Then stitch the quilt design in the side panel.

Repeat this process with the other side of your mug rug. Tthe word “Freedom” will be stitched on both sides.

Lastly, we’ll add the back to our mug rug. Using the two pieces of fabric you ironed in half, place the fold of each in the center of the mug rug. It may be helpful to use the guides on your hoop to help with this step! 

Place the first piece on the top side of the mug rug. Overlap the other piece ⅛” - ¼” beyond the center. Make sure the fabric is centered and extends beyond the edges.

Then stitch the final step to stitch down the edges. I find it helpful to slow down my machine to ensure it doesn’t get caught on the edge of the flap. Slow and steady is the way to go!

Once it’s all stitched, remove it from the hoop. Trim the stabilizer closely to the stitches. I didn’t clean up much of the threads on the back because they will all be hidden inside of the mug rug. However, you can trim as much as you’d like.

Trim the fabric ¼” around the seams.

Clip the corners at an angle.

Turn the mug rug right side out. I use a sharp turner to get my corners as crisp as possible. I usually don’t close the overlap opening, but you can secure it with stitch witchery or a small blind stitch if you like.

Now press the opened mug rug to give it a finished look.

You’re done! If you’d like, make your mug rug some friends! I paired the mug rug from this project with the ITH Patriotic Rockets Mug Rug for a fun, coordinated look. Embroidered mug rugs are one of the easiest DIY decorations to make and will make a perfect addition to your summer decor! Everyone is impressed with the finished look and they don’t even require a sewing machine.

Don't forget to share your creations with us on social media (#designsbyjuju), we'd love to see how you're celebrating your summer in style!

Melanie Zitzman

Melanie Zitzman

Melanie has been sewing and crafting from a very young age. She loves to quilt, embroider, and paper craft and is always looking for her next project. She loves gnomes and they are overtaking her house! When she's not crafting she is a part time dental hygienist, a voracious reader, and volunteer hospital pianist.