What is a Mug Rug?

This useful little mug rug
for your table or your desk,
is a safe and pretty coaster
where your coffee mug can rest.

It makes a handy mouse pad
and a crumb catcher, too,
so enjoy your morning coffee
with a muffin and the news.

Mug rugs make excellent Christmas gifts, alone or as the focal point for a gift basket, with some coffee and a nice mug. Mug rugs are the perfect size for daily use, at home or even at work, for coffee at your desk. There’s room on each quilt for your cup, a computer mouse and some special treats! They have thin cotton batting and quilted densely enough to create a mat that will lie nice and flat on the table, protecting it from heat and moisture. Your rug mug is washable, just in case you splash a little coffee!

An Apple for the Teacher Mug Rug from GloryQuilts on Etsy

Check out the mug rugs and other one-of-a-kind gift items I have listed in the GloryQuilts etsy shop right now. This one would be a great Christmas gift for a favorite teacher.

I have a shipping special deal right now – an unlimited number of doll quilts and mug rugs can be added to any order with no additional shipping charges! You only pay for shipping the first item. Do your Christmas shopping early. (Does this still count as “early” for Christmas shopping?)

mugrugsbarn

I have some mug rugs available for sale at Pearson Family Farm in Ramsey, MN during their fall harvest events. It’s a great place. Their barn is full of pumpkins, squashes, broom corn, corn stalks, gourds, and all kind of fall decor. Enjoy their homegrown popcorn, browse their collection of vintage cars and farm equipment and enjoy the corn maze. Hay rides on the weekends!

GloryQuilts Mug Rugs

 

mugrugsbarn2

Do you have mug rugs? Do you use them?

Mug Rug Poem (c)2015 Catherine Timmons for GloryQuilts

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Christmas Shopping

I was chatting with my friend Beth from One of His Branches , and we were wondering if many people are doing their Christmas shopping yet. I like doing my shopping early, but there are always some gifts that don’t get purchased until the last minute – usually because I can’t decide what to buy. Like so many people, I do a lot of my shopping online.

I have one daughter-in-law who is very artsy, and I can find pretty things for her on etsy. The grandchildren’s presents come mostly from Amazon. I usually make things for the other women on my list. Everyone loves handmade gifts!

It’s always nice if people have collections or hobbies – that makes them easy to shop for! My brother-in-law is a John Deere farmer. We used to buy him John Deere stuff, when we were still exchanging gifts for the guys. One year we gave him a light-up John Deere Christmas Tree Topper.¬† Now I exchange gifts with my sisters and the guys get together for a male bonding day at the shooting range. They are a lot more enthusiastic about Christmas gifts than they used to be.

We have two rules for Christmas gifts:

1. No gift cards, unless it is for something very specific. Last year we gave my oldest son and his wife a gift card for a bed and breakfast. They love to get away for short trips.

2. Wrapped presents instead of gift bags. There is something special about opening boxed gifts instead of pulling them out of a gift bag. Yes, I know it’s not as environmentally-friendly, but it’s Christmas. ūüėČ

Do you shop early for Christmas?

How to buy a new sewing machine

Are you in the market for a new sewing machine? If you are interested in quilting, crafting, or dressmaking, this list will help you make the investment a wise one. ¬†A cheap sewing machine will only frustrate and discourage you, so buy the best machine you can afford. If you have a limited budget, it is usually¬† worthwhile to seek out a local sewing machine dealer with a good reputation and ask about used machines. Some reconditioned “better” machines will cost about the same as a new machine of lesser quality. A reputable dealer will often provide a limited warranty on these machines and/or lessons on how to use the machine. He will be able to service what he sells and provide accessories and a manual.

The list here is specifically focused on quiltmaking. In a multi-purpose sewing machine, you will also want to see and test the buttonhole process at the store before you buy! ¬†An adjustment to a “free arm” is important. You will want to have zipper, rolled hem, blind hem and some other feet. Those are usually included with a new machine.

Important Features
  • The needle can sew in three positions – a needle that can be moved to the right or the left gives you more freedom to adjust your seam allowance while keeping the fabric on both feed dogs.
  • The machine can be set to stop with the needle up or the needle down – This is particularly important for machine quilting and piecing inset corners.
  • The flatbed¬†sewing surface is big and smooth. In dressmaking, a narrow free arm is useful, but for a large, flat quilt, we want a working table big enough to spread and support the weight of the quilt. If the bed of the machine is not very large, it should have a built-in extension or flat bed table accessory that slides up alongside of it. These can be purchased separately or made by a handy husband!
  • Foot pedal and electrical cords are long enough for comfort and safety – tripping over cords or having to stretch them across your workspace is dangerous and frustrating.
  • It has a good bright light that illuminates what you are working on. Make sure the light actually shines on the right place. Ascertain that replacement light bulbs can be obtained and installed easily.
  • The feed dogs drop down to disengage. Those little snap-on feed dog covers are a nuisance. Look for a machine that lets you disengage the feed dogs at the touch of a button.
  • The pressure on the presser foot can be adjusted – this controls how “heavily” the presser foot lies on the fabric underneath it. When free-motion machine quilting, you need to be able to move the layered quilt around easily under the foot.
  • A “lock stitch” secures the ends of the stitching lines neatly and precisely. If you have a very controllable backstitch, you can use this instead.
  • It has a good straight (not slanted) buttonhole or blanket stitch. This stitch is often used for machine appliqu√©, both decorative and invisible.
  • The accessories are readily available and affordable. Some of the top quality machines require you to use their specialized feet, which can cost up to five times as much as the generic low shank feet. Even if you are willing to pay for the attachments, you want to be able to purchase them conveniently. Make sure that they are easy to change.
  • It comes with a good owner’s manual – preferably written by someone whose native language is English.
  • A sturdy machine can accommodate a variety of threads. If the seller tells you that it can only tolerate a certain brand of thread, start looking for a better “workhorse” machine – maybe an older used one. They are not so temperamental.
  • There is a local dealer who will honor your warranty. I really do recommend buying your sewing machine, new or used, from a reputable dealer who knows how to maintain and repair the machines he sells. If you are buying a new machine, he should offer a good warranty and free classes in how to use it. Look for at least a partial warranty, even on a used machine, if you are buying a computerized sewing machine.
  • It has a convenient and sharp thread cutter built into the machine.
  • Most machines use a standard-sized needle, but do check on that. You don’t want to have to special-order needles.

Accessories

For free-motion quilting, (stippling), you will need a darning foot. This foot has a spring or hinge and it’s nice if it is open in the front so you can catch the thread ends and see where you are going.¬†

For straight-line quilting and for sewing the binding on your quilt, you will need a walking foot. This is a box-like contraption that is also called an even feed foot or a plaid-matcher foot. Several of the newer machines have this feature built into them and you do not need a separate attachment. You want to be able to disengage it when you don’t want to use it.

A 1/4″ piecing foot is used to achieve a perfect seam allowance. I prefer to use an all-purpose foot, move my needle into the right position and use my first plate line as a guide, because then the fabric is pressed down firmly on both feed dogs and on both sides of the seam. Usually, the use of the 1/4″ foot positions the fabrics only on one feed dog, so they tend to pull to the left.

Your Dealer, Your Friend

Test-drive the sewing machine before you buy it. Bring your own fabrics, because the ones available in the stores are usually stiffened for a nicer-looking finish. Bring some calico and a small “quilt sandwich” of calico and batting. ¬†Test every stitch and see if the store owner will let you try specialty threads in it.¬† The dealer is almost as important as the machine itself! ¬†If the dealer is unfriendly and uncooperative during the sales process, he is unlikely to improve when you are looking for help later. Comparison shop.¬† Don’t be afraid to “haggle”, especially for a used machine. Ask about its history. Ask what “reconditioned” means to him. ¬†A reputable dealer ¬†with a long-term business vision will see you as an investment in his own future. He knows that if you buy a basic machine today and are encouraged by its easy and reliable operation (and his good customer service), you will probably want to upgrade eventually. ¬†You will recommend him to others. Word-of-mouth advertizing and customer loyalty are important to these small businesses. If you find a good dealer, your machine is doubled in value!

What things do you look for when you buy a sewing machine? Which features would you like to have?