Ship in the Sea Mug Rug Tutorial of the Month

ship mug rug

I always think of my dad as an old sailor, which is funny because he's the youngest 76-year old I know. He is the inspiration behind this ship mug rug. Back before I was born he spent many years with the United States Navy. Maybe that's where I get my love for the water?

Mug rugs remain so popular! For the past couple of years they are by far my biggest pattern sellers. This is probably for many reasons. They are super easy to make, they can be made using your favorite techniques (hand or machine), they make great gifts, and they can be decorative as well as functional. Most of all, they are so much fun! I hope you will follow us along here on our Mug Rug of the Month Tutorial.

What you will need for one ship mug rug:

  • Small scraps of fabric for appliqués
  • 1/8 yard of light weight paper backed fusible webbing
  • 6 1/2 x 10-inch piece of fabric for the background
  • 6 1/2 x 10-inch piece of fusible fleece
  • 7 1/2 x 11-inch piece of fabric for the back
  • 2 3/4” x 44” strip of fabric for binding
  • Fray-check (optional: to seal the stitches on the back)
  • Thread to match background fabric and appliqué fabrics
  • Embellishment supplies of your choice

Your pattern page(s) will have a list of the embellishments that were used in the sample, such as wiggle eyes, beads, buttons, fabric paint, ribbon, etc. If you will be using glue for attaching embellishments be sure to use a good quality and washable fabric glue. This is the same for paint, unless the mug rug is used for decoration only, you will need to use a washable fabric paint.

General supplies:

Important tips & general instructions:
**Read tips and instructions thoroughly before beginning.

**Iron your fabrics before starting. If you will be pre-washing your fabrics, do not use a fabric softener. It can prevent your adhesive from sticking when fusing. 100% cotton fabrics work best.

**When printing out your pattern, make sure you do not shrink the document. You will want to print it out at the actual size for your pattern pieces to fit your project. You will find this setting in the window that appears when you choose print. Make sure your little square measures one inch. If it doesn’t they will not fit properly on your mug rug.

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Download the Ship Mug Rug template

You can download the template from Payhip.  Add it to your cart and check out - it's free.  The pattern will be saved in your Pattern Library safely until you are ready to sew, then you can download and print it at any time.


1. Download the pattern page to your computer. Print out the pattern pieces and cut them out. If you use cardstock, it will be so much easier to trace around them.

2. Turn your pattern pieces ink side down (unless otherwise stated on the pattern) so that the ink side is facing down, and trace them onto the paper side of your paperbacked fusible webbing. Do a rough cut just outside the traced line. You’ll cut on the line in the next step.

3. Fuse (iron) these to the wrong side of the fabric scraps you have chosen for your appliqué pieces. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the paperbacked fusible webbing you are using. Cut your applique pieces out by cutting on your traced lines. Remove your paper backing and set aside.

4. Fuse the piece of the fusible fleece to the backside of the background fabric, following the manufacturer’s directions for the fleece you are using. Make sure that your adhesive side is facing the backside of your background fabric before letting it touch the iron. I find that when I spray this fleece with purified or distilled water, I get a nice hold.

5. Flip over so that the right side of the background fabric is facing up on your ironing surface. Arrange your appliques on the fabric (glue side down) making sure to keep them at least an inch away from each edge. Your binding will take up about 3/8” of the edges. Once you are happy with the arrangement, fuse in place following the manufacturer’s instructions for your fusible webbing. You can refer to the photo or illustration for correct placement of the appliques.

6. Transfer any markings for the placement of embellishments or additional stitching at this time. I love my water soluble marker for this step. Since I use a disappearing marker (that disappears fast) I like to make my markings at the sewing machine right before I do any accent stitching. If you have no markings to transfer, it’s time to stitch!

7. Embroider around your applique pieces as desired. Use any stitch you like best. Sometimes I use a tight zig-zag stitch and sometimes I like to use the decorative buttonhole stitch that is on my machine. I’ve lately become quite fond of the uncluttered look of a straight stitch. It’s whatever you want to do for the look you are trying to achieve. Once all your machine stitching is complete, it is time to stitch on any embellishments that require stitching such as buttons, beads, etc. Any glued or painted embellishments will be done at the very end.

ship mug rug

Pre-binding preparation:

1. Place the ironed backing piece with the wrong side facing up on your work surface. Center your applique and fleece piece on top. Hand baste, pin, or spray baste to secure. I prefer to use the basting spray because it’s super quick and the spray lasts a long time for small projects. Using a rotary cutter or scissors, cut your backing piece to the same size as the top/fleece combination. Machine baste (optional depending on how you are basting the pieces together) all the way around this piece, 1/4 inch from each edge. I used a basting spray which holds everything together very well.

ship mug rugship mug rug2. If you want to machine quilt these layers together, you can do that. I always get best results when using free motion machine quilting, but most of the time, I don’t do any quilting. This is such a small piece and fusible fleece was used for the inside. I use mine for decoration so they don’t get washed a lot. If that were the case, you might want to machine or hand quilt around your appliqués.

Applying the binding:

1. Fold one of the short ends of the 2 3/4” x 44” strip of fabric 1/4” to the wrong side and iron in place. Fold the entire length of fabric in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together, and iron.

ship mug rug

2. Beginning at the center front, along the bottom edge of the mug rug, and using the edge that you ironed in at 1/4″, pin the binding to the mug rug with the raw edges of the binding even with the raw edges of the mug rug.

ship mug rug3. Before you do the remaining edges, you will stitch this section in place using a 3/8” seam allowance. Begin your stitching at the folded end of your binding, and stop your stitching 3/8″ from the corner. I like to run a couple of back stitches at the beginning and ending of my stitching to secure seam in place. Remove the project from the machine.

4. Flip your binding piece up forming a fold at a 45-degree angle. Then bring the binding back down so that the fold in your binding will be even with the raw edge at the top. Your raw edges of the binding will be even with the raw edges of the mug rug.

ship mug rug

ship mug rugship mug rug

5. Secure with pins and stitch in place just as you did with the first edge stopping 3/8″ from the end. Repeat these steps with remaining corners. With the remaining corners, you will also be starting your stitching 3/8” from the corner too. When you get to the end, leave an overlap of at least an inch and trim off the excess binding before stitching that final section down.

ship mug rugship mug rug6. Trim off excess threads and remove basting stitches that might have been left behind or exposed. Flip the folded edges of the binding to the back and pin in place. Hand stitch binding to the backing.

ship mug rugFinishing:

If you will be using fabric paint or glue for any embellishments, do that now and let dry. If mug rugs are your thing, as well as other fun sewing projects, stop by my new and improved website, Sher’s Creative Space for LOTS of patterns and one new CRAZY DEAL each week.

ship mug rug

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Hi! I'm Sheryl from Sher's Creative Space. I love to spend time in my studio creating with fabric, ribbon, beads, buttons, and anything else I can find. I like to have open fabric storage because I'm so inspired by color and enjoy putting various fabrics together. I can spend all day in there playing and creating! I blog at Sher's Creative Space Blog.


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Geraldine Webb
Geraldine Webb

Thank you so much for this pattern. My husband was in the UK merchant navy for many years and as his birthday is coming up in a few months time I will make this up as a part of his gift.


Thank-you for the pattern. It reminds me of my many summers taking the SS Badger ship across Lake Michigan.


Thank you so much for this mug rug! I love it! And thank you for all your patterns (free and low cost)!!


Thank you

Brenda Holttum
Brenda Holttum

My late husband was in the Navy and just loved ships and the sea. I have never made anything like this rug before but would love to have a good. Thank you


[…] This amazingly easy pattern was created by Sheryl Hastings from So-Sew-Easy. She named this beautiful mug rug Ship in the Sea.  This mug rug is part of her Mug Rug Pattern of the Month Collection. Sheryl also has an amazing in depth tutorial with a free downloadable PDF pattern. So head on over and get your free pattern/tutorial today! […]


Absolutely fabulous, thank you for this pattern. I know many friends who will enjoy receiving this mug rug. Very clear instructions.

Virginia. Doyle
Virginia. Doyle

Wonderful patterns and instructions.