Valentine’s Day Showcase – Jenna from SewHappyGeek

Welcome to Day 8 of the Valentine’s Day Showcase! I have Jenna from SewHappyGeek here for you. I started following Jenna early in 2011 and was blown away by her amazing tutorials, when I joined SewBeeBlissful I continued to be amazed by her spirit. I hope you enjoy her wonderful mug rug tutorial!

1. What got you hooked on your craft of choice? The allure of cutting fabric into little pieces and making something completely different and wonderful out of it.

2. What lights your crafting fire (ie. what keeps you crafting, why do you do it?)? Oh gosh. My twitter friends and blog followers keep me from feeling terribly washed out when I’m frustrated, and there’s always the joy of using new fabrics too. Flickr is a great source of inspiration too.

3. What is your favorite Valentine’s themed junk food? Well, I live in England so we don’t get any specialised sweets, and actually the English are different about Valentine’s Day than Americans, but I do always buy nice chocolates for DH and DD. My mum always used Valentine’s Day as a means to tell us how much she loved us, so I do the same.

Jenna, the blog is yours – take it away!


My daughter Savi is pretty enamoured with this mug rug, and she’s always so good and cheerful that this Valentine’s Day I’m giving her this special handmade gift. I’m really lucky to have such a great and supportive family, and it’s so nice to have a full time cheerleader in my corner. Thanks, Savi. Mummy loves you!


  • one printed heart pdf pattern from Carol Doak’s free patterns page (just scroll down till you see Crazy Patch Heart)
  • OPTIONAL: an 8″ x 8″ scrap of calico or thin white cotton fabric to make a foundation
  • assorted scraps for the heart foundation/paper piecing block
  • 4 strips of fabric 1.5″ x 6.5″
  • 2 strips of fabric 1.5″ x 10.5″
  • 2 strips of fabric 2″ x 10.5″
  • 2 strips of fabric 2″ x 11.5″
  • Wadding 12″ x 14″
  • Backing for 12″ x 14″
  • 55″ worth of binding (need a binding tute? No problem!)

Finished size: about 10″ x 12″ depending on how big the foundation pattern prints. Don’t freak out if it’s not exactly 6.5″ square. Mine wasn’t and I think it looks ok anyway. 🙂

Ok, right off the bat when you look at the next picture you’ll be wondering if I’ve gone crazy. Of course I have, but it has nearly nothing to do with the sewing. Nearly.

I take a class with a lovely lady named Jackie Sparks. She doesn’t have a blog but she’s the chair of my local quilt group, Romsey Quilters. (BTW I do their website too – that’s why it’s so crap). Anyway, she showed me a way to eliminate all the faff of paper piecing by turning it into foundation piecing. All you need is some masking tape, a ruler and a pencil and some calico.

As you can see, I’ve taped my printout down to my mat, then over it I’ve taped a big square of calico, which is so thin you can see right through it. (So it doesn’t add bulk!) Then you simply trace ALL the lines using a pencil and ruler. Make sure you do the outside 1/4″ lines so you have a seam allowance. And I promise you the extra effort is worth it – it makes life SO much easier!

So I’ve drawn all my lines and numbered the spaces in pencil too. That’s important. Do that now.

Clearly, if it’s numbered, we’ll start with #1. ***#s 1, 9, 10, 11 Cut a piece of fabric that’s larger than the space – it’s a tiny space so a square of whatever will do. Place it RIGHT SIDE UP on the BACK of the numbered side and pin in place. See how I’m holding it up to the light to make sure there is plenty of seam allowance on all sides? You should do that too.

Now I’ve cut a big piece for #2. I’ve place it RIGHT SIDE DOWN (Facing down) on top of the #1 piece. See how the only thing actually IN the #2 space is a tiny little seam allowance? That’s because we’ll be flipping it Right Side UP after sewing that line. Also you need to make sure that when you do flip and iron the square of fabric will cover all of the #2 space plus at least 1/4″.

Do what the picture says. Start stitching about 2 stitch lengths before, and stop about 2 stitch lengths after the line.

This is important. You MUST iron after every seam you sew. That keeps it crisp and sharp, which is why you’re doing a foundation in the first place.

Now fold back the calico and trim the seam allowance to 1/4″. MAKE SURE you don’t cut the calico!!!

Now we’re getting to larger pieces. Here’s how to deal with them: 1) Make sure you cut a piece large enough to cover #3 plus AT LEAST 1/4″ on all sides. Personally I cut much larger then trim down. 2) Place it face down on the front, positioning it so the seam allowance is roughly 1/4″ past the line between #’2 and #3. 3) Then pin the line to test your seam before you sew it. 4) Turn it so you’re looking at the numbered side and hold it up to the light as shown above to make sure that once you stitch the line, there is plenty of fabric to cover #3. In this case there’s more than enough.

5) Now reposition your pin so you’re not sewing it and you can sew that line between #1/#2 and #3. PRESS!!!

Here’s how it looks after you’ve added #4. I know it looks messy and awful, but you’ll trim so don’t worry about it. Just worry about the seams and making sure you have enough fabric. Just follow steps 1 through 5 as outlined above and you won’t go wrong.

Here it is after I sewed all the pieces. Doesn’t that look awful?

Here’s the back of that foundation piece. Now that looks all nice and neat, doesn’t it? AND NO TEARING (or tears!)

Now you’re ready to trim the foundation along those outside lines and add your 2 6.5″ strips to the sides. (Again, if yours printed out smaller, don’t fret. Just trim the edges of the strips and decide if you want to add more.)

Here she is all pieced, basted and quilted. I tried a fancy meandering heart FMQ. Some of it looks good, some of it looks like thread vomit as I showed you before. Now all you need to do is put the binding on and you’re good to go!

© Copyright J C Excell, 2011. You are welcome to use any SewHappyGeek tutorial for personal use. You are even welcome to make a couple to sell, but you are not given permission to use my pictures or my words without giving me credit and linking back to the original. You are NEVER allowed to copy an entire tutorial or post.
Sometimes my pictures have my family in them and they are never intended for public use. Also, I work very hard to provide free tutorials for my lovely readers, and anyone copying or selling my tutorials is guilty of copyright infringement.


I am so in love with this technique – I am definitely going to be trying it in the very near future! Monday I am bringing you my friend Brandy from When Life Hands You Fabric…Make A Quilt. She has a fun project in store for you!

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About Melissa Dunworth

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14 Responses to Valentine’s Day Showcase – Jenna from SewHappyGeek

  1. WOW ; pretty . This may be a good paper piecing project for me to try (since I’ve never done it before !) . I really like this !

  2. Lisa L. says:

    What a great tutorial!! It is SO adorable!! Thank you Jenna! 🙂

  3. Kris Garst says:

    That’s fabulous, Jenna! ♥

  4. Connie says:

    How beautiful and what a neat tutorial! I’m going to try this! Thanks!

  5. Terry says:

    So cute and perfect for Valentine’s Day! Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. Mary C in WA says:

    YEA, I’m all for not having to tear off the paper for foundation piecing. Cute little Heart. Thanks for the Lesson. I know your DD will LOVE it!

  7. Jacque says:

    Hmmm, will all of you giggle if I say I’m terrified of paper piecing? LOL I just haven’t had very good luck at it….this is so cute, tho! A pretty present for your “cheering squad”!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  8. Mrs.Pickles says:

    lovely project! I greatly dislike paper piecing, but i just might have to give this a try

  9. sueann w from richmond says:

    Paper piecing has been a 4 letter word but tracing back to Jenna’s Teacher I think it will be so much easier this way Thanks for the tute!

  10. Simply awesome !!! I don’t do paper piecing ; may try later after I get some things done . Not sure if I’m ready for THIS !!!! and my fmq is very bad !!! BUT I LOVE IT !! thanks Jenna !

  11. Melissa–

    I’ve just awarded you a ‘Versatile Blogger Award’! Thank you for inspiring me and so many others. It has been great fun ‘meeting’ you online.

  12. Brandy M. says:

    I love it & really like the idea of using the calico foundation!! I’ll be trying that one day!

  13. VickiT says:

    Great tutorial Jen. I really love this project. Sadly, I am WAY behind and was able to see it finally on Valentine’s Day so it will be waiting for awhile before I attempt this one. As you can see, I may have seen it yesterday but never got a chance to actually have time to post and say thank you. LOL Yesterday was very busy around my house as was the past few days because our Granddaughter was born this past Saturday so now I’m playing catch up. And they surprised us and came over last night to spend the holiday with us.

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