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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Coaster Diaster

"Easy" Coaster Project

As someone who participates in the Bing Rewards program daily for Amazon $5 gift cards (I have $15 already!), I have been doing a lot of searching online.  My main searches have been easy or beginner level sewing projects. For most of them it always seems that I don't have the correct supplies. Or I have the supplies but don't exactly know how to use them. So I was happy to realize that I had everything to make simple square coasters.  I had cotton fabric and some batting from an old mattress cover that my mom gave me.

This is one of the first fabrics I bought from Joanne's.  In my sticker shock about how pricey new fabric was I only bought two yards.  (I think this was $7 or $8 a yard.)  I've been hoarding it because it didn't seem like a good match for an apron or burp cloth!
I made a quick template for a 4 inch square coaster. I included the seem allowance.  I also cut the batting a little smaller so I wouldn't have to sew over it. However, as you will see below, this didn't work out. I turned the fabric inside out and sewed three sides.  Then, I tried to sew using a simple straight stitch.
I was sewing but something was VERY wrong. I kept having the bobbin thread bunch up in these hideous stitches. What was wrong? Did I put the bobbin thing in wrong when I cleaned my machine?  Was it the 30 year old thread that I was using from my mom's sewing stuff?  Maybe a combination of all three?  Also, I was using a regular sewing needle that maybe wasn't as sharp as it needed to be.
I switched to another old thread in a contrasting dark brown color. I switched to the zig zag stitch.  I realized after some web research that my tension might have been wrong. I turned it to 4. That helped. Despite trying not to sew over the batting, it was too wide and I was catching it at least on one side. I again had that sewing realization: I have no idea what I am doing! However, I want to figure it out.  Is there a greater challenge than "sewing pretty"? (Maybe like losing weight but this is more fun.)
So I continue to make a set of four coasters.  I had my first experience with the thread ripper. I really had to rip and cut.  It got ugly but at least one side of these coasters look okay.  They are very rustic looking but thick and functional.  I wonder if I can gift these to someone.  Possible tied with a ribbon they will find a home.  For now, they are in the pile with the other "Not-As-Easy-As-They-Look" projects.
What I Learned:
*Sewing through thicker fabric can be difficult
*Use a sharp needle when sewing through layers
*Use newer (not 30 year old) thread
*Change the tension to 4 (I don't completely get this yet but it worked)
*Maybe switch to a quilting or denim needle?
*Cut away excess fabric to avoid too many layers
*Don't give up!  I have a lot to learn but everyone has to start somewhere.
Other Coaster Projects:
Coaster using cork