The road ends, but the journey continues...

Don’t Overlook The Obvious

Once upon a time, in the early 1990s, I experimented with simultaneous double sided quilting and piecing of individual blocks. It seemed a promising way to make a scrap quilt in one easy swoop. Until it wasn’t.

I quickly realized the effort far outweighed the reward and set the project aside.

Scroll forward to the early 2020s:

Whilst (I love it whenever I can use this Brit-term) rummaging through various fabric scrap & abandoned project bins, I came across those four orphan blocks.

For more than three decades, they have survived numerous stash purges with no idea of what to do with them after each re-evaluation of their worth to keep!

Then, a few weeks ago, it came to me. The solution glaringly obvious. Finish them off as…

…Mug Rugs.

In terms of my creative development and output, these past few months have been strangely empowering. It’s as if the scales have dropped from my eyes as I re-examine projects that stalled out for whatever reason.

Seeing the now ‘obvious’ next steps which lead to ‘finishes’ is supremely delightful – from poetry writing to quilting UFOs to all things musical; from 3 measure fixes to going with the flow of an intuitive tempo to mug rug creations.

And more. So much more.

*for those interested

Binding Join Mini-Tutorial


  1. zippyquilts

    Hooray! It’s always great to find something to do with a UFO! And I, too, tried that 2-sided QAYG very briefly.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Key point in your comment: ‘very briefly’. It seemed a good idea at the time…

  2. Brilliant idea for a UFO growing dusty in your stash! I bet it is happy to be useful instead of just taking up storage space – ha! I’ve made little pillows from orphan blocks in the past –

    • laura bruno lilly

      The hard part was figuring out how to make their doublesidedness an asset in usefulness! Plus them being so small and all.
      I remember those orphan block pillows! Do you still have them or did your give them away?

  3. Annika Perry

    Yeah! ? Laura, this is an inspired solution for these squares and they are so sweet! I think you might be onto something new here and love these mug rugs! Go with the flow of your creative energy … I’m happy for you and it is a most liberating feeling!? BTW. an excellent explanatory video and photo montage!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Annika, you are so right about it all being a most liberating feeling! And the flow continues to overflow in all areas of my (he)art. Great relief, let me tell you!

  4. Ally Bean

    Cute, cute. I like your creative way of making something pivot into something else.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Ms Bean!

  5. Andy

    Good to hear of your creative ‘purple patch’.
    Not sure if you have that saying over there? Basically means a successful run kinda thing.

    • laura bruno lilly

      “Purple Patch” is a new one for me. And since purple has been my favorite color since before it was a ‘thing’ – this phrase is one I will adopt and add to my list of Brit-terms I like! ie- ‘whilst’ and ‘Manc’
      Thanks for popping in to say ‘hi’

  6. Jennie

    Absolutely perfect solution, and they really look wonderful!

    • laura bruno lilly

      ‘Quick’ solutions (even if after decades!) are satisfying indeed!

  7. deborahbrasket

    Sounds like you are on a creative roll! Go with the flow. Looking forward to your next project.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep, goin’ with the flow!

  8. Janis @

    What a great way to resurrect your project! Any mug would be happy to sit on one of your beautiful rugs!

    • laura bruno lilly

      HA! Love that, Janis! Stay safe and hopefully vaccines are closer than farther for you you guys in SDCA.

  9. rl2b2017

    Hi Laura! Great job on your mug rugs. Useful, pretty, and no longer an abandoned project. Win/win! Trying to work in whilst . . . and can’t come up with a good way to do so. I’m impressed with your usage. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      I guess this could have qualified as a ToDoTuesday post.
      You were the hostess with the mostess on that, Roseanne!

  10. Lavinia Ross

    Lovely work, Laura! I love those “mug rugs”. 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Lavinia. It feels so good to finally turn the corner on many unfinished/stalled out creative endeavors.

  11. Laura

    It is alright if some projects take awhile. They simply need to marinate until the right time comes.

    That is what I tell myself anyway. 🙂

    Mug rugs are a useful little item and are on my to-do list.

    When the time is right. Ha, ha!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Aptly spoken – all bases covered!

  12. piecefulwendy

    Well, this post certainly resonated with me. I’ve finished three small UFOs this week, all the while wondering why it took me so long to finish them. I have three large blocks (12.5″ unfinished) that I am pondering. Too big for a runner (that I could use), so maybe placemats? Hmm. Your mug rugs are lovely, and thank you for that quick little tutorial!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Placemats seem the ‘obvious’ to ponder – so don’t ‘overlook’ that possibility.
      Thrilled that someone took a quick look at the mini-tutorial. I really like this way of joining the beginning and ending binds and I think it looks really professional – HA!

  13. L. Marie

    Laura, I am grateful for your God-given ingenuity! I love my mug rug! ? I also need to look at projects that haven’t gone anywhere. Perhaps they can be repurposed.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Well, now you know the backstory of its creation and finish! HA! BTW: Did you notice the shot glass with the hyacinth is from Joe’s BeBop Cafe on Navy Pier?

  14. marissthequilter

    There is satisfaction in making useful items, and yours must surely be a double sense of satisfaction in turning abandoned therefore useless quiltlets into useful mug rugs. And they are so pretty.
    Hoping to read that poem you mentioned in passing

    • laura bruno lilly

      ‘Quiltlets’ Now there’s a great term you just coined – sounds so much better than ‘orphan block’…HA!

  15. Jane's Heartsong

    They are pretty. I made one square once. Nice combination of materials. That ends the story of my quilting career. 😉

  16. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    So happy to hear about your empowering creative development. Thanks for sharing.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Did you notice my little crafty phone vid? I got the idea from you, lady! So thank you, too.

  17. cedar51

    Laura, now this post has resonated with me on – stash objects, abandoned OR waiting for the right time. With my latest health fiasco causing me to “pause” and as some artists recently said “a lull in making” – I started kind of looking at what was before and still haven’t taken that stash and put it in the garbage bin.

    Hope to follow your lead, not with fabric but with items that are better put together with high tech glue, nails and possibly sawing things up. I feel that quite a few beads will also end up on said end result…

    I have a lot of woven mug rugs which I also used to use for soup bowls – the right size and fit for them

    • laura bruno lilly

      Dear Catherine, it appears we are on the same wavelength! Only you do need to attend to your health before ‘making’ IMHO. One step at a time, right?
      The addition of beaded bling to whatever you have in mind for your own ‘orphaned’ projects sounds delightful.

      • cedar51

        Yes health and mending body is top of the list… concentrating on that

  18. petespringerauthor

    There’s a solution for most things. It just took you a while to figure out the right one in this situation.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You got that right, Pete! Especially the part about it taking me awhile to figure it out.

  19. Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet

    Very attractive, Laura! <3 I never heard of "mug rugs" before, but they make sense. Take care!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Why thank you kindly, Cheryl! You take care, too…stay strong!

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