This time of year, we're all wearing our hearts on our sleeves. Why not spread the love to a few other items? Today, our chubby cherub hearts perk up a plain square coaster. It's a great project to practice your appliqué skills. We used Charm Pack Squares, which made things very fast and easy. But I bet you could also burrow into your scrap basket and find some cute little pieces that have just been waiting for the opportunity to shine.
Thanks to our friends at Moda Fabrics for providing us with their Hoopla pre-cuts for all our Valentines projects. Though not a traditional 'hearts & flowers" motif, we love the bright and happy colors and playful patterns.
If you're new to appliqué, check out our tutorial on the basics of the technique.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies listed are for FOUR coasters
- Charm Pack (we used just eight of the forty-two 5" x 5" squares in a standard pack; if you choose not to use a Charm Pack, you'll need to cut eight 5" x 5" squares): we used Hoopla by Moda Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of plain color fabric to coordinate with your Charm Pack Squares or print fabric: we used a coordinating tan linen from French General for Moda Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of thin batting: we used Kyoto Bamboo Blend Batting from Fabric.com
- Fusible transfer web: we used Wonder Under
- Pressing cloth
- All purpose thread to match fabrics: we used Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP in Safari
- All purpose thread to accent fabrics for appliqué: we used Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP in Red
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Small, sharp scissors for appliqué cutting
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Straight pins
- Download and print the Coaster Appliqué Heart Template.
IMPORTANT: This pattern consists of ONE 8.5" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the heart along the solid line. Set aside.
- Arrange your Charm Pack Squares (or 5" x 5" cut squares) to select the four squares for the coaster backs and four coordinating squares that will become the appliqued hearts.
- From the plain fabric (French General tan linen in our sample ), cut FOUR 5" x 5" squares.
- From the lightweight batting, cut FOUR 5" x 5" squares.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Placing your appliqué
In my humble opinion, the easiest way to handle appliqué is with a fusible/transfer web. You adhere fusible web to the back of your appliqué design, then peel away a paper backing to reveal a heat-activated sticky substance. This allows you to temporarily adhere your appliqué design to its background fabric, making the stitching part of appliqué far easier.
You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for your specific fusible web, but here are the basic steps:
- Cut out a square a fusible web just a bit bigger than your appliqué design. In our case, just a bit bigger than our chubby heart.
- Using the heart template you downloaded above, trace the heart onto the PAPER side of the fusible web square.
- Using small, sharp scissors, cut out the heart following the the drawn lines.
- Place the heart web side down (the non-paper, rough side) on the back (the wrong side) of the Charm Square (or 5" x 5" square) you're using for your appliquéd heart. Using an iron and a pressing cloth, adhere the heart to the fabric. Press for about 5-8 seconds.
NOTE: This is one step where I veer slightly from the manufacturer's directions. Rather than using a dry iron directly on the fabric, I use a pressing cloth so I can use a slightly higher iron temperature and steam to make sure I get a good seal.
- Again using the small, sharp scissors, cut out the heart, following the edge of the fusible web.
- Peel the paper backing from the fusible web.
NOTE: I use my small, sharp scissors to make a small score line in the paper. Just a very light scratch. It gives me an easier place to lift and pull away the paper. Trying to peel the fabric away from the paper at the edges can cause your fabric to fray.
- Arrange the heart right side up (fusible side down) on the right side of the base square.
- Fuse the heart in place using an iron. Our chubby heart is placed at a 45˚ angle. Again, I use my pressing cloth and steam. This time, press for about 10-15 seconds.
- The image below shows the steps in sequence from the bottom and going counter clockwise. Yes, the fabric is different in each step... ya gotta roll with that.
Stitching your appliqué
- Thread your machine with contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. We used a rich red.
- Select the stitch for your appliqué. We used a traditional super-tight zig zag, but you could choose from a variety of decorative stitches, depending on the availability of stitches on your machine.
- Take the extra time to accurately set your stitch width and length. I ended up with a stitch width of 4.0 and a stitch length of .35. I played around with my settings for several minutes and tested the options on an extra square of fabric until I got the look I wanted.
- Start your stitching on the straightest part of the design.
- Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to appliqué. I use my Janome Satin Stitch foot, which is see-through and has a very handy red arrow I can use as a guide to insure my stitching stays half in the appliqué and half in the base fabric.
- Don't be afraid to stop, with your needle in the down position, and adjust your fabric as you move around the curves.
- I like to hold on to my base fabric from both the front and back to keep it moving smoothly. I am NOT pulling or forcing it through the needle, but I am an active participant, guiding it at all times.
- Our chubby heart has nice smooth and easy curves, but it's still important to watch the edge of your appliqué as you turn, turn, turn. Pick a point on your presser foot (if you don't have an arrow like mine) so you can keep the appliqué edge moving along that guide line at all times.
- When you come to the apex of the heart (where the two top curves come together), stitch down into the apex, stop with your needle in the down position, pivot to turn your appliqué so it realigns for the upcoming curve, and stitch back out.
- Use a lock stitch or tie off your threads rather than back-tacking to lock your stitching. Much neater.
- If you are new to this technique, check out our article: How To Appliqué.
Assemble the layers
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match your base fabric in both the top and bobbin. We used a grey-green so it would show against the light linen, but just barely.
- Match up all your coaster sets: one batting square, one back square, one appliquéd top square.
- Place a batting square flat on your work surface. Place a top square over the batting, right side facing up. Place a back square on top, right side facing down. You've made a little coaster sandwich: batting, top, back.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch around all sides, leaving an approximately 3" opening along the bottom. I used my Janome ¼" foot to keep my stitch super straight so the coaster would turn over nice and square. Clip the corners on a diagonal.
- Turn the coaster right side out through the opening.
- Gently push out corners using your finger or a long tool with a blunt end, like a large knitting needle or chopstick.
- Press flat, making sure the open edge turns in ¼" and is pressed flush with the sewn seam. Pin the opening.
- Increase your stitch length. I think topstitching always looks a bit better with a longer stitch.
- Stitch SUPER close to the edge around all four sides of the coaster. This will close the opening and help secure the three layers in place. Like you did with the appliqué, use a lock stitch or tie-off your threads rather than backstitching for a neater start and finish to this seam.
NOTE: I used my Janome Satin Stitch foot again for this step, running that handy arrow along the edge of the coaster. I also stopped close to each corner, took my foot off the pedal, and used my machine's handwheel to 'walk' into the corner, pivot and take a few stitches on the new side. Once I had a good 'bite' into the fabric, I went back to the foot pedal.
ALTERNATIVE: If you are worried whether your machine can handle stitching super close to the edge, it is not mandatory to add this line of topstitching. The coaster is small enough that the layers won't shift much; they don't require this seam to hold them all in place. You can simply slip stitch the opening closed and press, press, press the coaster nice and flat.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Baby Lock Melody.