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Pieced strips of colorful cotton and wavy, free motion stitching give these coasters the look of a tiny quilt. They’re a wonderful last minute gift idea for the holidays or any special occasion. Wrap up a stack to give by themselves or bundle them with a set of mugs or glasses. Need to make a bunch? No problem; our Fast Fridays projects are all about whipping out something wonderful in no time at all. Pull together some of your best bits of bright fabric and you’ll have scads if these snazzy squares in just a few hours.

The gorgeous fabric we originally used is from our stash: the vibrant Color Brigade by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSpirit Fabrics.

There is an edgestitched frame around each coaster that acts as the pivot point for the vertical wavy lines. The free motion stitching comes up to but does not cross the edgestitching. The lines themselves are not individual but rather a continuous seam that snakes up and then back down as it moves across the coaster.

If you are brand new to free-motion quilting, you may find yourself quickly addicted to this control-it-yourself stitching. Many people describe it as “painting with thread.” The best thing is, there is no wrong move because it’s all up to you! Allow your lines to run into one another or even cross over. Our only suggestion is to stay within the edgestitching frame.

These coaster cuties are a great mini exercise in mixing and matching. You can take an easier route by combining prints from within one collection, as we did with this set. Or, pick and choose from a variety of designers and motifs. If you are new to experimenting with the techniques for the perfect combination, take a look at our tutorial: Top Ten Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints.

If you like this project, you’ll also enjoy our Patchwork Lumbar Pillow with Free-Motion Quilting, which also uses the Color Brigade collection and has the same wavy line style of quilting but in a much larger format, creating a lovely piped pillow.

Our coasters finish as 5” x 5”.

Do you have a suggestion for a Fast Fridays Project? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below or email us.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • For EACH coaster, select scraps or ¼ yard cuts of FIVE different fabrics.
    NOTE: Our design uses TEN coordinating fabrics from the Color Brigade collection to create our set of four coasters. We made two pairs of matching strip-pieced fronts, but all four solid backs were different. 
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of low loft batting
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • All-purpose thread in a slightly contrasting color for the free-motion quilting; we used tan
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. For EACH coaster, from the fabric, cut FIVE different 1½” wide x 5½” high strips plus ONE 5½” x 5½” square.
    NOTE: As shown in our drawings above, some of our cuts were random and some were precisely fussy cut. When determining your cuts, remember to account for the ¼” seams. 
  2. From the batting, cut ONE 5½” x 5½” square for each coaster.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Prepare the front patchwork

  1. Collect the FIVE strips that make up the front patchwork panel. Place them in order. In the photo below, you see our five strips sitting on top of their appropriate backing square.
  2. Working in order (we worked from right to left), pin the first two strips right sides together along one ” edge.
  3. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. We’ve lifted up the corner to show the two strips being sewn.
  4. Continue in this same manner to stitch together all five strips.
  5. When the front panel is complete, press flat, pressing each seam allowance toward the darker fabric.

Layer and stitch together

  1. Find the batting square. Place it flat on your work surface.
  2. Find the backing square. Place it right side up on top of the batting. All four sides of both layers should be flush.
  3. Place the patchworked front panel right side down on top of the backing. Pin in place through all three layers. Leave an approximately 3” opening along the bottom.
  4. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides.
  5. Remember to stop and pivot at each corner.
  6. Also remember to lock your seam at either side of the 3” opening.
  7. Press open the seam allowance and trim the corners at a diagonal.

Turn, press, edgestitch, and quilt

  1. Turn the coaster right side out through the opening. Use a long, blunt tool, like a knitting needle, point turner or chopstick to gently push out the corners so they are as sharp as possible.
  2. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  3. Re-thread the machine with the slightly contrasting thread (we used tan) and lengthen the stitch.
  4. Pin the opening closed.
  5. Edgestitch around the entire perimeter of the coaster, pivoting at each corner. We used our Janome Edge Guide foot to stay very close to the edge while still getting a smooth and even stitch all around. This seam closes the opening used for turning.
  6. Our pretty wavy lines are done with free motion quilting. If you are new to this technique, it is likely your sewing machine manual will have specific steps for setting up the machine. In general, you need to attach a free-motion foot (sometimes simply called a darning foot) and you’ll need to drop the machine’s feed dogs, giving you control of the fabric’s movement under the needle.
  7. Your wavy lines should be vertical, following the seams of the patchworked strips. Start at one bottom corner, about ⅛” in from the corner itself, on the edgestitching frame, then “wave on up” to the top of the edgestitching frame.
  8. When you get to the edgestitching, use it as your pivot point, turning around and stitching back down in the opposite direction, but keeping one consistent seam as you move across the coaster.
  9. Remember, the lines are meant to be wavy and random, ours were approximately ¼” – ½” apart as we snaked up and down. Allow the lines to bend and even to cross over one another a bit.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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Wendy H.
Wendy H.
7 years ago

Was just thinking I wanted

Was just thinking I wanted one more super fast little something for gifts – perfect! Thanks ladies! ❤

7 years ago

CUTE idea.  Practical too!

CUTE idea.  Practical too!  

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