Category Archives: kitchen

Mug Rugs~What I’ve Learned

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 an 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 it the single and spread the 8 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.

 

 

Valentine Towel for Coach

 

This is Joy, my bubbly, enthusiastic, encouraging exercise coach at the Herbalife Nutrition Club in downtown DeLand.   When asked about her plans for upcoming Valentine’s Day, which fell on a day of our regular exercise class, Joy said that her guy, (a nurse) was working a double shift that day.  So the only celebration would be with her children.

This little tea towel certainly is no substitute for wine, roses, chocolate, and the man in her life, but it was a small reminder that others love and appreciate her.

 

heart balloons from Zundt designs, towel from All About Blanks

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Fun Sewing and our 12 Days of Christmas

Another CC Lucy--and another kitty cat dress for my kitty cat loving granddaughter.

Another CC Lucy–and another kitty cat outfit for my kitty cat loving granddaughter.  The fabric features Disney’s Aristocats.

Happy 2017 to you all!  I hope yours was the merriest Christmas and holiday season ever because the Ferguson family’s surely was.

I can’t help but rant on and on ad nauseum about our holiday activities and good times, so for those who prefer to stay on topic, which would be SEWING, I will save those details for after the sewing news.  But we really had some great fun and you might glean an idea or two for your family gatherings.

At Thanksgiving, almost 4 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose asked me to please make her another “kitty cat” outfit.  Then as she walked in the door for Christmas, she again pleaded with this wrapped-around-her-little-finger Nana for another kitty cat dress. Please!

After the Too Many Cats dress cat-astrophe, I thought maybe I could talk her into trading the  too big, too worn out and too ugly dress for another better one.  Having this fabric on hand and my go-to CC Lucy pattern at the ready, I worked on it for two evenings after she went to sleep.  Voila’!  A new and improved version of kitty cat dress, though I wish I had taken time to lay out the front so the Eiffel Tower was centered.

 

This puffy pocket is a free pattern at Chidren's Corner website.

This puffy pocket is a free pattern at Children’s Corner website.   It’s a sweet little addition to any number of patterns.

 

The pocket is not piped.  I’ve taken to substituting spaghetti bias for piping.  It is simply butted up to the attached pocket and secured with a tiny zig zag and monofilament thread.  Cover the raw edges with a button.  Easy peasy.

The good news?  Vivian Rose loved it, though she did say that the pockets were too small.  She knew she couldn’t fit in her little hand and a big fat chocolate donut. Granddad ALWAYS has a box of Dunkin Donuts on the counter for easy access.  And he replaces it daily when he goes for his early morning hot latte.  He figures they can eat healthy at home.

The bad news?  No way would she give up Too Many Cats, now demoted to Second Favorite Dress.  Oh, well.  It has been laundered 2-3 times a week since Sept. 1 so how much longer can it last?  Maybe a while…. the fabric is such good quality.

The boys wanted to sew (read “embroider”) as soon as they arrived.  Alastair, 7, yo, is quite competent at threading and running my Brother Quattro machine.  Continue reading

A Small Token of Appreciation

Icolin and our Lab Rastus who adores her.

Icolin and our Lab Rastus who adores her.

 

This is my Jamaican friend Icolin.  I love her and so does our Lab Rastus.  She does my housework and keeps my home as orderly as she can manage while dealing with my untidy habits.   I am so grateful that she frees me up for more time in the sewing room.

More than that, she is a loving, serene presence who goes about her business humming–EVEN when she is trying to make her way through my sewing room.  No mess is too much for her.  Dependable, hard working and sweet as pie, Icolin is a devout Christian woman.   She shares my troubles, lives the gospel and prays faithfully for my family and any friends in need.  Icolin is a genuine treasure.

 

I love this woman.

I love this woman.

 

I wanted to do something to show my appreciation, even something as small as embroidering this apron for her.  When I gave it to her, she flashed her beautiful smile and thanked me in her musical Jamaican accent.  She loved it. I could listen to her lilting, island-girl talk for hours.

 

The crown is from Zundt's Regal collection.

The crown is from Zundt’s Heraldry collection.

 

It made me happy to offer her this small  token of appreciation for her hard work and loyalty.  Now that I think about it, there are many others who deserve some tangible expression of my gratitude.  But Icolin is at the top of my list.

Have you made a “small token of appreciation” for someone special in your life?  I’d love to hear about it.