If you, like me, need a little bit of foundation paper piecing (FPP) practice or a classy addition to your apartment decor, join me in making a coaster set!
I was working on a quilt block for SJSA when I realized that my FPP skills were sorely lacking. I was trying to spell out a name with FPP letters, and the sewing felt like a total nightmare. In fact, the first pattern that I used for the letters way way beyond my skill level, and I had to start over with a different, easier pattern.
FPP is the kind of thing that seems really simple from the outside, but actually requires a good amount of practice to get right. You’ll need hand-eye coordination and muscle memory to keep things going smoothly… And to avoid ripping too many seams.
When Aurifil challenged us to make FPP projects this month, I signed right up!
What better way to practice my skills? I decided I’d do a small FPP project - a manageable chunk of practice. I'd make tiny FPP quilt blocks, and turn them into coasters!
Choose A Block Pattern
Wombat Quilts has huge collection of FPP blocks, at a range of difficulty levels, available here.
You can also find a variety of classic FPP blocks on Generations Quilt Patterns.
The beauty of FPP is that you can scale down pretty intricate blocks - you can make things so much smaller than you’d be able to with traditional piecing! The better you get at FPP, the more intricate the blocks you'll be able to make.
For this project, I ultimately decided to keep things super duper simple, with this Arrowheads quilt block.
Print Your Pattern
I find that a 4” to 5” square block is the perfect size for a coaster. If you’re able to find a blocks that’s offered in this size, great! Follow the pattern instructions to print the FPP pattern to its original size.
If you want to scale down a block that’s bigger, here’s how you do it.
Check your pattern to see what the block size is. We’ll call this the Original Size.
Decide on what you want your final block size to be. We’ll call this Final Size.
Now, a little math:
Final Size / Block Size * 100 = Scale in Percent
Print your pattern, setting the “Scale” to the number you just calculated.
For a 6” block pattern, for example, you’ll print at 66% scale to get a 4” final block.
Then, redraw a seam allowance line 1/4” from the block edge. (Scaling shrinks the outer seam allowance in proportion to the block… but we want to keep it at 1/4”!)
Sew Your FPP Mini Block
I’m not gonna teach you the basics of FPP right now, because I’m still learning! But if you want a basic FPP tutorial, I think this one is great.
Quilt Your Layers Together
Grab some backing and batting - I usually like mine to stick out at least 1/2” from my coaster edges. Sometimes I'll use batting scraps, like I did here, and go a little bit shorter.
Make your quilt sandwich — backing, batting, and quilt top. You probably don’t need to baste the layers together since coasters are so small.
And quilt together!
I machine quilted mine with Aurifil 50 wt, which is my go-to, all-purpose thread. I love it because I can finish projects— going from piecing to quilting to binding— without changing my thread or bobbin!
If you wanted more definition for your quilting, you could try Aurifil 40 wt, or hand-quilt with Aurifil 12 wt.
Note: I've tried to provide Amazon links above for convenience, but my favorite place to buy Aurifil thread is Hawthorne Supply Co! They have the widest selection I've seen, in all thread weights, and they often provide thread matches for fabrics!
Bind Your Coasters
Piecing and quilting is the easy part of making coasters. The real challenge is binding something so small! As you might have guessed, typical double-fold quilt binding and techniques for joining don’t work on projects this small.
Lucky for you, I’ve tried a lot of binding techniques, and I have an easy one to share with you today!
Start by trimming off the excess backing and batting from your square. I used my favorite square ruler for this.
Then, measure the outside perimeter of your coaster. Your materials may have shifted during the quilting and trimming process, so this number might be bigger or smaller than you’d expect. It’s really important to get out your ruler and measure all 4 sides at this stage!
Take your perimeter number and add 1/2”. This is the length of binding you’ll need to finish your coaster. (Planning to use bias binding? Add just 1/4”, since your binding will stretch slightly as you attach it.)
To make your binding, cut strips of fabric that are 1 1/2” wide. If you’re working with shorter strips of fabric, you may need to join them together to get the length you need - just like you would with typical quilt binding.
Now, cut your binding to the length you calculated, starting and stopping with straight cuts.
Sew your binding ends together with a 1/4” seam, right sides together, to create a loop.
Open up and press the ends.
With your coaster right-side-up, pin your binding into place. Adjust so that the binding lays smoothly on all four sides of your coaster, with no bumps or pulls.
You will want the binding to be right-sides-together with the coaster top.
Fold the corners in, as shown in the photo below. This should feel familiar - the binding is folded in the same way you’d fold it if you were binding a quilt!
Sew the binding to each side of your coaster, stopping and starting 1/4” from each corner. You’ll want to leave the corner folds loose.
Flip your coaster over, and fold the binding the other side. Pin or clip the binding in place.
Now you can finish your binding in one of two ways:
Hand-sew your binding in place, just like you would with a quilt. Use a ladder stitch and your stitches will be invisible.
Or, if you prefer to machine-finish your binding, flip your coasters back over, and machine sew from the top. You’ll sew carefully right along where the binding meets the coaster top, making sure your stitches are catching the binding on the wrong side.
All done! Repeat for as many coasters as you’d like.
I love that these coasters are stylish and simple, and use up my scrap pile! I know that some of these will make it into my living room, my Etsy shop, and my holiday gifts this season. And hopefully, I'll get better at FPP along the way!