I had just received a rejection email from a job I really wanted and I needed to feel powerful, so I did the only thing I could think to do.
I made some quilted coasters. And breakfast. And dinner rolls.
And I didn’t feel so sunk anymore. I felt industrious, floaty, able-bodied. Good, good ways to feel. I recommend those feelings highly!
Things are a little bleaker today, but I’m crawling along. Aided by a piqued interest in TBS’s new show Search Party, a huge surprise project in the works, a new and lovely part-time job right around the corner, and my trusty Christmas playlist, I’m going to be okay.
Making things is magic, really. Work is a mystery to me, but not when I remember that my work doesn’t have to only mean the things that I get paid to do. What will my life’s work be? That’s the question my heart keeps shouting. What am I here for? Who will ever want my ideas? Do I belong anywhere? These loud, anxiety-heralding questions get quieter when I use my hands, when I write, when I work on my terms, when I remember that I’m capable of making things happen, when I wrestle the work monster into something I can handle.
So, quilted coasters. I had a bunch of scraps from my first foray into quilting left in my stash as well as all sorts of new found knowledge, so I winged myself some coasters. If you have any quilting knowledge, you’ll also be able to wing your own coasters without my help. It’s a fantastically easy and satisfying project, able to be whipped up in a single afternoon when you have to feel powerful, when you want to WORK. If you’re new to sewing/quilting, I’ve got your back! I’ll walk you through, step by step!
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE SIX COASTERS:
- One square foot each of five different colored fabrics. (I used pretty classic cotton solids from Jo-Ann)
- One square foot of felt
- Acrylic ruler or rigid straight edge
- Rotary cutter and cutting mat OR sharp scissors
- Iron and ironing board
- Sewing machine or needle and thread
- White embroidery floss / needle (optional)
- Start by cutting your squares to your desired size.
Get out your cutting mat and rotary cutter (or scissors), and lay out your fabric. Here you get to make a choice. How big do you want your coasters to be? When I was figuring out this pattern, the choice of how large to cut my initial fabric squares felt confusing to me. I didn’t know much my fabric would reduce from my quarter inch seams. So I guessed and went with 4.5in squares. This left me in the end with 3.5in coasters, a little smaller than I intended them to be, but ultimately pretty nice!
If you want 3.5in coasters, cut each square to 4.5in x 4.5in.
If you want 4in coasters, cut each square to 5in x 5in.
If you want 4.5in coasters, cut each square to 5.5in x 5.5in.
AND SO ON FOREVER!
If you’re working with five different colors of fabrics, cut TWO squares from four of the fabrics and FOUR squares from one of your fabrics. After all your cutting, you will have a total of 12 squares, all the same size. I’ll be working from a 4.5in start size throughout the tutorial.
Be sure to cut precisely, and remember that it’s always safer to cut things larger and scale them down than to end up with pieces that are too small.
Now that you’ve cut all your squares, saunter over to your ironing board, bring your coffee with you, and iron the heck out of each of your squares so that they are all flat and lovely and ready to go! (Your iron is your best friend now!)
2. Have a Half-Square Triangle (aka HST) party!!!
I learned this method of making HST’s in the fabulous quilting pattern I bought from cool quilting lady Cortney Heimerl (here). Here’s a little mini tutorial.
Arrange your squares into two separate piles. Choose SIX squares to be the bases of your coasters, and SIX squares to be your HST’s.
Grab your six HST squares, and pair them up into lovely little color combos. You should have three sets of two squares.
Now you’re going to make a sandwich with each pair. Line them up so that one square is perfectly resting atop the other. You can even pin them together if you’re really into perfection.
Now, as seen in Step One above and the photo below, draw yourself a guide line down the diagonal center of the top square of each pair.
Step over to your sewing machine (or thread your needle and crack your knuckles), and stitch a quarter inch seam on either side of your drawn guide line.
So you will make two lines of stitches, each 1/4 of an inch away from the guideline, with 1/2 an inch between the seams.
Be sure to backtrack your sewing at the beginning and end of each seam so that things don’t end up getting to unraveled along the way!
Sometimes, like me, you will make mistakes, or your sewing machine will suddenly freak out and things will go awry! That’s so okay! That’s when a seam-ripper comes in handly. I actually sort of love ripping seams. Rip it out and try again!
Next, CUT your square sandwiches in half by cutting directly down your drawn guide-line. You should end up with six seamed triangles, as seen below.
3. Press and arrange your coasters. Sew together.
Go ahead and take your lovely triangles that you just sewed and cut, and iron them open so that they look like this. On the back, press the seams open like a book. Pair each one up with one of your pre-cut backs. Then, get your cutting mat out again and trim the backs up to match the triangle squares. Each triangle square should measure 4x4in. I suppose you could initially cut six of your squares to 4in instead of 4.5 in to pre-trim the backs, but I think it’s a bit less confusing to just match it all up at this stage instead of cutting different sizes at first. But, whatever floats your boat!
Go back to your sewing machine, and sew a quarter-inch seam around three sides of your coaster sandwich, leaving one side open for flipping and filling magic. Remember to backtrack to prevent unraveling. It will look like the photos above and below on either side.
4. Invite felt to the party, fill up those sandwiches!
In order for your coasters to be coaster-y, you need some sort of goodness in the middle to pad the world! I had some extra felt on hand, so I decided to cut some small squares and slide it into the pouches I’d made to fill out my coasters.
I cut my felt pieces 3.25in x 3.25in. This slightly reduced size made it more possible to slide the felt pieces into place. You will need six felt squares, one for each coaster.
Place a felt square in the middle of each inside-out seamed coaster.
The flipping will be made easier and neater, if you trim the top corners of the inside of the coaster.
Cutting the corners makes some very fun confetti for later!
Now, a very fun moment, flip each coaster inside out so that it looks all clean and ready to go. Arrange your felt square in the little pocket you’ve created, smooth everything out, and go on over to your iron and press everything nice and flat. You should have an almost finished coaster with one side still open to the world.
5. Two options for quilting!
To close your open tops and finish your coasters, you have two options!
- Fold in the top opening and make a neat machine seam to close it up, and leave it at that! As seen in the blue and green coaster below.
- OR, grab some embroidery floss and a needle and go crazy with all sorts of quilting stitches, closing up that top opening in the process. See the pink and orange coaster below.
Artistic license. Go with your gut! Anything goes! Sew these puppies up and put some drinks upon them! Watch some netflix and sew your heart away!
You made something! It’s wonderful. Work is what you make it. Do what makes you feel strong.
Xoxo, gonna drink some tea.
(If you make these coasters, I want to see them! Tag @amybornman on instagram, and use the hashtag #rswmakes!)