Not only does this Fast Fridays project live up to its speedy name, it’s also a great ScrapBuster opportunity – especially for your favorite leftover 5” x 5” charm square pre-cuts. Cut, layer, stitch, serve (shaken not stirred). It’s just that easy and as cute and colorful as can be. Of course, you could switch to a more elegant look with muted tones and metallics. Or wouldn’t these be lovely on the guest tables in wedding colors, maybe with a touch of lace? Let us know what great ideas you come up with next time you feel like whippin’ up something wonderful in no time at all!
We used a decorative edge blade for our rotary cutter to give the felt backing squares their scalloped edges. You could also try pinking shears. We recommend the thicker wool blend felt, and sometimes it can be harder to cut with scissors. A rotary blade will give you the cleanest cut.
The cotton top layer is backed with a mid-weight interfacing cut ½” smaller all around. This allows you to use the firm edge of the interfacing as a pressing guide as you fold back the raw edges of the cotton squares.
As mentioned above, we recommend a wool blend felt for the backing. The polyester craft felt is simply too thin and stretchy to provide a good foundation for the coaster. The wool blend felts are usually about 65-80% rayon.
Because they are meant to collect potential stains, you need to be able to launder your finished coasters. This means you should prewash both the cotton squares as well as the felt. The best way to handle felt is to hand wash it in the sink. Use hot running water and soap. Gently squeeze the felt into a ball, rinsing and repeating until the water runs clear. You achieve two things with this process: 1) any excess dye is removed and 2) the hot water and gentle agitation of squeezing is actually “felting the felt” further. That will cause it to shrink up now rather than later when the entire coaster is washed. The washed felt should be laid flat to dry. If you are doing a lot of felt (such as for our wedding scenario above), you can use a washing machine set to the delicate cycle. Again, dry flat do not tumble dry. Roll it in a towel to remove any excess water. When the felt is dry, you can press it flat and smooth.
When washing the finished coasters, we would again recommend the delicate cycle and drying flat prior to pressing.
Because our selected cotton prints were rather busy and we already had an interesting edge on the felt, we opted for a utility stitch in matching thread to secure the top and bottom layers. With a plainer fabric and/or a knife edge to the felt, you might want to experiment with decorative stitching instead as well as a contrasting thread color.
If you are making sets of coasters as a gift or for a special event, consider keeping your backing colors to a minimum so they act as the continuity of tone, bringing together the more colorful variety of the cotton tops. We used just three backing colors for our set of six coasters.
Wool felt on the bolt is usually about 36” in width. That means you could cut up to seven squares across the width (depending on your precision). A third of a yard would yield up to fourteen backing squares!
Each coaster finishes at approximately 5” x 5”. The exact size will vary based on the decorative edge you choose for the felt.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Edge Guide foot; optional but excellent for precise seaming around the edges of each coaster
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Quantities shown below are for a set of six coordinated coasters as pictured above.
- ¼ yard of 36” + wide wool felt or scraps or wool felt squares; we used three colors to coordinate with our fabric
- ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton or charm squares or scraps; we used 5” x 5” charm squares from our stash in Hello Luscious by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of 20”+ wide mid-weight interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and felt
NOTE: You can also choose to use a contrasting thread for the topstitching.
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Rotary cutter with a decorative blade or pinking shears
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth
- Straight pins
NOTE: Precise measuring, cutting and pressing is important with this project. Because of the layered border, if you’re even an ⅛” off it will be visible.
- Select a charm square for each coaster; if you are not using charm squares, cut a 5” x 5” square for each coaster
- From the felt, cut a 5” x 5” square for each coaster; we used a decorative edge rotary blade to cut our squares
- From the interfacing, cut a 4½” x 4½” square for each coaster
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Center a square of interfacing on the wrong side of each fabric square (Charm Square). There should be ¼” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Using the edge of the interfacing as your folding guide, press back each side of the fabric ¼”.
NOTE: Because the fabric is just a quilting cotton, there isn’t a need to do a fancy mitered corner. A simple square corner works great to form a sharp point. If you use a heavier fabric, you may need to adjust the corner folds. We have a great tutorial on how to make clean corners with a narrow hem.
- Flip the interfaced and folded fabric square to the right side and center it on a 5” x 5” felt square. There should be ¼” of felt showing beyond the fabric on all sides. Pin in place.
- If possible, attach an Edge Guide foot or similar. You want your four stitching lines to be straight and true.
- Thread the machine with matching or contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. We used thread to best match the fabric and the felt.
- Select a stitch. As mentioned above, a standard straight stitch is fine or select a decorative stitch for extra embellishment. In either case, we recommend testing your stitch option first on scraps to insure it’s the look you want.
- Remember to pivot at each corner. If you are new to working with fancy stitches, we have a handy tutorial with tips for forming pretty corners with decorative stitching.
- We used a Triple Stretch on our Janome Skyline S7, increasing the stitch length to 4. This is a utility stitch normally selected for knits, but because it uses a back-and-forth motion, it forms a triple stitch that has the appearance of hand stitching. The photo below shows a nice close-up of the finished stitching.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild