Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mini quilt mouse pad tutorial - scrap buster!

I have been wanting to make a new mouse pad for work for a while, and I have been wanting to make a blue and green themed quilt, and I wanted to participate in Sew, Mama, Sew's Scrap Buster Contest, so this seemed like the perfect project!

I started out with this pile of scraps from the baby quilt I made a while ago.

The strips that I cut for the baby quilt were all just a little too long, so when I trimmed them I ended up with relatively regular sizes of scraps of each color. I had a small rectangle of each of the solids and prints (about 1.5 x 1.25 inches) and a large rectangle of each (about 2 x 1.25 inches). I realized that these would make nice mini blocks without having to do any additional cutting, so a plan began to take shape!
You will see throughout a lot of these pictures that I have 3 extra mini blocks in warm colors. I was going to use them for the back, but didn't like it in the end after I chose the binding, so just ignore those extras! I used 9 mini blocks for my project. It is bigger than a normal mouse pad, but that lets you actually see the blocks. If you wanted to make it smaller you could use fewer mini blocks.

Start by sewing the two small rectangles together and the two large rectangles together using a 1/4 inch seam. Then press the seams either to one side or apart. There are great debates about which is better. I don't claim to know which is better or to do it consistently, so you should do whatever you prefer.
Next, sew the small rectangles to the large rectangles with a 1/4 inch seam and press open.

Since my scraps were not exactly the same size (and because I don't always sew perfectly straight) I trimmed them up to make them approximately 2 x 3 inches.

I also had some strips of white sashing left over from the same baby quilt that were about 2 x 7 inches so I cut them in half and used them as sashing between the mini blocks (again using a 1/4 inch seam and pressing the seams).

I wanted to make it more square so I used 1.25 inch wide strips between the rows. As I mentioned before, I don't always sew straight, so for me, it is always helpful to square up my block at multiple stages. So, after putting all the blocks into rows and the rows into a bigger block I tried to make the edges straight and parallel.

I used the same 2 inch strips on the sides and then 1.25 inch strips across the top and squared up my block to be a final 10.5 x 10.5 inches.

You will also need something for the back and some batting. I used a scrap of white print cotton fabric left over from the first quilt I ever made back in college that was nearly the right size and just needed some trimming and a scrap of batting (this really was a scrap buster project!).

Cut the back and the batting the same size as the finished block. Layer them with the back right side down, the batting, and then the top right side up and pin together with safety pins.

Quilt together however you want. I outlined each of the mini blocks with white thread about 1/8 inch from the edge of the block. Then, I made a double helix - think DNA (did I mention I work in the field of genetics) to run vertically between each column of mini blocks and on the two edges.
Finally, I found the perfect fabric for the binding. It was a fat quarter that I picked up at Jo-Ann's as an impulse buy when I ran in for something else and it caught my eye in the sale bin. I cut my strips 2 inches wide for the binding. Here is a nice tutorial for quilt binding from Heather Bailey. I also really like many of the tutorials that Oh, Fransson! has here. In fact, her web site is also where I got the idea for the baby quilt these scraps came from!

Some potential modifications could be to make it smaller or to use stiff interfacing under the batting to make it more stiff like a typical mouse pad. Since it is large and my wrist rests on the edge, I haven't had any problems with it sliding around. However, if I had problems I was considering trying making dots of puffy paint on the back (kind of like those woven gloves that have grippy rubber dots on them). It had also crossed my mind that a person could use that rubber mesh looking stuff that is sometimes used to either line shelves or under rugs to keep them from slipping, but I don't think I need to do anything for this one.

Getting to see this beautiful fabric all day while I am at work really brightens my day!


  1. Wow! This is my favorite post yet.

    First off, the picture of your pile of scraps is so vibrant and beautiful it just made me smile to see all the colors and patterns.

    Second, the double helix stitching made me go nuts! My genetics geek self eats that up!

    You are awesome. I love seeing all your crafts.

  2. Okay - you better win this contest! you are so great!

  3. This is such a great idea! I always feel better when I make something useful. This will make me feel good about making mini quilts. :)

  4. Love it! The colors and design really caught my eye!

  5. I love it and intend to copy it. Isn't that the greatest compliment?!! Thanks for the great idea

  6. Hi, I just popped over from SMS and I think your mouse pad is beautiful!