Thursday, January 8, 2015

Alphabet Soup for Quilting

I made a set of alphabet templates last summer, but it was only after Christmas that I found time to stitch them into some sample projects. The alphabet is sized to be just right for fitting a one or two word phrase on a mug rug, but there are other projects on which  a quilter might want to use lettering.

Letters are another a fabulous way to use scraps, and using scraps fits right into my goal of trying to buy less and use more of my fabric stash this year. I'm a happy camper today.

Just a few ideas for using lettering in quilting:

Mug rugs instead of cards: I've always liked the idea of using mug rugs as a replacement for those expensive commercial throw away cards with their canned messages. I wouldn't go through this much trouble for everyone, but I would definitely do so for special friends. It really helps that mug rugs come in many, many sizes. If the words don't fit the mug rug you can enlarge or shrink the mug rug to fit the words.

I love the flexibility of words, too. A person can be so creative in how they are used. Each project becomes something totally unique and original. Whatever you make won't look like someone else's project, and I really, truly like that aspect! It's the very reason I refuse to buy kits. I don't want to make anything that's absolutely identical to something another person has made.

What can you say in a mug rug card in only one or two words? This is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • Thank you
  • Welcome Home
  • Love
  • Best Friends
  • BFF
  • Get Well
  • Good Luck
  • Graduate
  • Wedding Bells
  • It's a Boy!
  • It's a Girl!
  • Congratulations
  • Way to Go!
  • Proud of You
  • I Miss You
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Love My Sister
  • Keep Smiling

I began my samples with a keepsake thank you card to have on hand. Just in case. You never know when you might need to give a heartfelt "thank you" to someone near and dear. It needed a bit of something else to fill in and add balance, so I made templates for a couple of flowers and a heart to go along with the letters.

I was really pleased with this first mug rug! I was on a roll, so I made a couple of personalized mug rugs for the desks of my daughter's friends. They are so different from each other and I know her office buddies will be surprised and pleased. I'll have to make a lot more name mug rugs as time permits.

Look how different all of these projects are from one another. They use letters from the same alphabet and they contain the same flowers and heart shapes, but because of length of words, the way the letters fit on the mug rug, different fabrics, and little touches, each one of these is absolutely unique. 

On two mug rugs I used contrasting thread for outlining the letters, but I used matching thread on one. The flower in the thank you project has a contrasting center, but the centers of the flowers in the other mugs are made with spiral machine stitching.

The letters on one mug rug were made with charm square solids and they looked a bit plain. Judy is a short name, so I used only upper case letters to fill more space, but the larger letters gave me an opportunity to dress them up with embroidered running stitches. 

Ideas for using lettering are popping my head one after another! I'll need to make more little picture templates to fit some of these thoughts very soon. Flowers and hearts aren't right for everything or for everyone.

Signs! Anything can be labeled.

This is just a starter list.
  • My Sewing Room
  • Jacob's Room (substitute any name)
  • The Boss (That could be a cute mug rug, too.)
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Welcome
  •  Chores, or To Do (Great on a bulletin board.) 


There is no end to words you might add to quilts. You could personalize a baby quilt, put a title at the top or along the side of a quilt, or add a word or phrase in one of the blocks. If the letters are too small they can easily be enlarged to fit onto a bigger project. 

You needn't stop with my alphabet templates. There are many sets of letters of different styles to be found if you look for them. 

Happy Stitching!!


  1. What is the normal size of a mug rug?

    1. Lisa, the sizes vary so much from one designer to another and even from one project to another. I don't think I've seen anything smaller than 5" x 8", and I haven't run across anything larger that 9" x 12". The main requirement for a table something to be labeled a mug rug is that it should be a good size for a cup or glass of something and a small snack. That makes it larger than a coaster and smaller than a placemat. Most of my mug rugs are either 7 1/2" x 9 1/2" or 6" x 10", but there are some that run a bit larger or smaller in one direction or another.

  2. Can you create a mug rug with large snowflakes???

    1. I may, but it wouldn't be till mid to late summer. I haven't thought about winter themes yet, but snowflake would be a simple pattern and could be very nice.