I’ve always thought mug rugs were a great idea and always meant to stitch some. Finally, a need arose and a set of these unusual “rugs” seemed like the perfect hostess gift for a perfectly gracious host and hostess.
The second set was made for the guest of honor and speaker, extraordinary Pastor James of Ghana. So two gift sets of 4 mug rugs were made. I don’t enjoy stitching identical designs again and again, so I changed the thread color of the background stitching and some of the lettering.
At a lovely dinner at the home of members of our church, Pastor James spoke passionately to a large group of guests about the challenging conditions in Ghana. Our host and hostess, a physician and nurse, had gone there on a medical mission trip this past summer.
As he described conditions in Ghana-no running water in the schools or even the police station, only one hospital several miles from the town of 1.5 million people, accessible only by foot or one of the few motor scooters–one thing he repeated more than once stuck in my mind. He said, quite vehemently, “You in America have absolutely NO reason to complain. I and people in my country have good reason to complain, but you have NONE! Every day you should drop to your knees and thank God for all the blessings you enjoy here!”
In retrospect, the mug rug gift seemed a bit paltry relative to the delicious dinner and the moving testimony from Pastor James, but I had decided a gender neutral item would be best and mug rugs is what it was.
As always, I was rushed and finished these in barely enough time to arrive to dinner at the scheduled hour. Consequently, the picture is really not good at all. I should have had a cup and cookie resting on a single rug and the 8 spread apart.
So much was learned on this relatively simple project. First, I began with a mug rug from Kimberbell Designs, Holiday Mug Rugs. This collection is wonderful with delightful designs and background stitching. But I just needed a background and a blank canvas for my Ghana design. I selected the Cardinal for its background but eliminated the cardinal itself and the snowflake. There are several background patterns in this collection. Now I want to sew some for Christmas gifts. And I will use what I learned on this project!
I really wanted an applique’ design of Ghana so I could use that souvenir fabric from my daughter’s trip to Africa. But what were the chances of finding that? Surprise!!!! On Etsy, you can find anything. This site, Pixels to Threads has applique’s of several exotic countries! I was thrilled.
The tribal fabric made in Tanzanika was used for the applique’ and for the backing. I’ve had this fabric for 12 years now and often wondered if I would ever have a use for it. Now I am so glad it was in my stash! The Ghana lettering was done in Brother PE-Design.
Instead of using two fabric, as shown on the cardinal mug rug, just one was used, and that background fabric choice was my first mistake. It is a relatively heavy, almost coarse linen like piece that seemed perfect for the design. But these rugs, I expect, were designed for quilt weight fabric, not one so heavy. It was difficult to press the seams flat after turning the rug right side out. Note to self: use quilt weight fabric next time.
Next, the instructions were to use a very light weight batt. But wouldn’t you know, I had a medium weight scrap that was just the right size to make all 8 rugs. I love using up scraps! How important could the batt weight be? That was my second mistake. It IS important.
Even with very close trimming of the batting at the seam line, pressing those thick seams was an even greater issue in combination with the heavy top fabric. Ultimately, monofilament was used to straight stitch very, very close to the rug’s edge to flatten it.
Frankly, I was doubtful that the mug rugs would be much of a hit. But when I saw our friends a few days ago, our hostess confided that she had kept only 2 of her rugs. Two of the Ghana mission helper/organizers who were at the dinner were so taken with them that she shared the other two. Pastor James, seeing their appreciation for the rugs, gave them two of his. Of course, he might just have had no use for them. Still, it was touching. So each of four Ghana interested people now have 2 rugs each.
At our hosts’ home that night, I was so pleased to see what they had done with the dishtowel hostess gifts I had made for the first “Ghana” dinner we attended when they shared their mission experience. I regret not including a caduceus. I even have one in my design library, but didn’t think of it in my usual rush rush project sewing.
I doubt these towels will ever see a wet dish. But I am so pleased with how they were arranged and displayed.
A quick laugh—I texted a picture to a friend who asked what I was working on. Somehow, only the Ghana applique’ showed up and not the text. Perplexed, she asked her adult daughter what she thought that was. “Cheese?” she replied. Then the next photo came through and the question was answered.
Again and again, I am amazed at how much personalized gifts like the simple dishtowels and mug rugs can be so appreciated. I appreciate my Brother Dream Machine which enables me to make these appropriate gifts.
What are you sewing? What do you use for hostess gifts? I’d love to hear about your projects.
Required disclaimer: I am an official “brand ambassador” for Brother. It’s a title of which I am proud.