You know - the things you put your drinks on to protect your furniture. Funny story about coasters . . .
But before I launch into that, don't forget about my little giveaway here. Comments close tonight at 8:00 PM EST
A couple of years ago my sister and I (along with my mom and assorted children) were visiting my grandparents in Florida. Since I like to try to go to a quilt shop or yarn shop everywhere I go, everyone obliged me and we piled into my mom's big rental van and checked out Magrieta's Quilt Shop. Great selection - I'll have to do a review of that shop another day - if I can remember enough about it.
So my sister's not really as into crafting as I am, but I'm constantly trying to persuade her to do projects with me. I'm sure I'm actually kind of a pain in the butt about it. This time she actually caved and we bought the fabric to make this quilt. It didn't take us too long to make the top and we finally did get it sandwiched.
We live about two hours apart but try to get together every few months (which often turns into 6 months or more) to sew together along with my mom, so it took us a couple of these sewing weekends to get to this point. On our third weekend we finally got to the quilting part. I was very excited about showing my sister how to do free motion quilting.
She struggled with it a bit as you might imagine someone would on their first time. I had practiced a lot before I did my first quilt, so I suggested she do the same. I told her she could try making some coasters or a pillow or something. She just very calmly said, "no, I'm not ready to give up yet, I think I'll try a little more." Something in the way she said it made me realize that she thought I was suggesting she cut up her quilt and make coasters or pillows out of it.
I think you had to be there, but for some reason that totally cracks me up even now when I think about it. First of all that she just didn't say, "What the *&^#$ are you talking about?! I worked hard on this, I'm not about to chop it up." or something like that. Second of all that the concept of starting another project in the middle of one would be so foreign to her as to not even cross her mind and so second nature to me that I wouldn't have imagined being misunderstood.
Anyway, so for Christmas, I just had to make her some coasters. Here's the cute little set that I made for her.
I used my own fabric covered box tutorial to make the box. It ended up being just about the perfect size. If you want to try this yourself, the only thing you need to modify following my box tutorial is to use a 7 1/2" x 7 1/2" piece of chipboard (instead of the 11 1/2" x 11 1/2" one in the tutorial) and an 11" x 11" piece of fabric (instead of the 19" x 19" one in the tutorial). Your sides will end up being 1 1/4" high instead of the 3 1/4" in the tutorial, so just modify where you draw your lines accordingly. (Just leave a comment if you have any questions about this.)
I'm sure you can all figure out how to make your own coasters, but here's a little tutorial on how I did it, just in case. I didn't want to go to the effort of doing a binding on them, so this is the shortcut method I used. I ended up making three sets (well I'm almost done - you can see I haven't done the edge stitching and quilting yet), since I think they'd be nice hostess gifts for holiday parties.
Quilted Coaster Tutorial
1. Make 6 little 5" x 5" quilt blocks. I just grabbed some coordinating scraps and tried not to think about it much. You could even just use one piece of 5" x 5" fabric and not do any piecing.
2. Cut 6 - 5" x 5" pieces of coordinating fabric for the backs of the coasters.
3. Cut 12 - 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares of fusible fleece.
4. Fuse the fleece to the back of both your backing squares and your pieced front squares. The fleece is a bit smaller, so make sure you center it. Just eye-ball it - no need to be fussy and measure it exactly. If you've never used fusible fleece before, the bumpy side goes face down on the wrong side of your fabric. Don't try to iron the back of the fleece though, flip the whole thing over and iron on the front side of the fabric.
5. Pin the back and the front of each coaster together - right sides together. Make sure you leave a gap for turning. I put in some extra pins to help remind myself to stop sewing to leave the gap.
6. Stitch (almost) all the way around leaving a gap of about 2 inches for turning. Use a 1/4" seam and backtrack over your stitches at the beginning and end to keep them from unraveling.
7. Clip the corners.
8. Turn right side out.
9. Poke out the corners with a knitting needle or some such tool.
10. Press and try to neaten up the raw edges of the gap as much as possible - tuck them in before you press and they should not even be noticeable.
11. Pin the gap closed. (I was trying to be really fussy and get this nice and neat, but I think you could probably skip this step.)
12. Edge stitch about 1/8" in all the way around. That way you'll sew the gap shut in the process.
13. Then quilt as desired! To prove my point that coasters were a good way to practice quilting, I quilted each one differently. I did three with my walking foot and more or less straight lines; concentric squares, diagonal lines (to make diamond shapes), and curvy parallel lines. I did the other three with free motion quilting and my darning foot; classic stippling, pebbles, and a wavy-kind of shape.