Bound Edge Drinks Coaster Tutorial / Pattern

As promised in my last post, here is the coaster tutorial. This method of making them with self-bound edges should produce perfectly straight edges and provides the opportunity to play with contrasting fabrics if you want to. I've also tried to cover proper techniques for using a 1/4" foot (owning one is not essential to using the pattern), as well as how a Ladder Stitch is formed...I'm really aware that many of you will already know both of these things and may only use a tutorial for the convenience of working from someone else's measurements...however, I wanted to include these details for those who are newer to sewing, so please forgive me if it seems a little over-instructive.

You can make different sized coasters with this pattern, but you'll need to remember to make the larger square 2" bigger than the smaller squares. The finished size of the coaster will be the same size as the smaller square.

You can decide whether your coaster will be reversible or whether you want the front to be the side that shows no binding, like these ones:

Or if you like the binding detail (see photo below) you could accentuate this by using a contrasting fabric and have the side that shows this as the front. The binding is created from the larger square of fabric. I haven't had a chance to make any with contrast binding yet, but I'll post a picture here when I have.

Ingredients to make one 4.5" square coaster (multiply to make the required number):
  • 1 x 6.5" square of quilting weight fabric (as well as being on one side of the coaster, this piece will also form the bound edges that appear on the other side of the coaster).
  • 1 x 4.5" square of quilting weight fabric.
  • 3 x 4.5" squares of quilt batting/wadding. (I use 1 piece of heat proof batting and 2 pieces of regular quilt batting. Bear in mind that whatever you use will be hugely compressed by the act of quilting so densely, so try to use something with a good loft).
  • Ruler, scissors, co-ordinating thread
  • Basting spray (this is a temporary adhesive that is commonly used in quilt making - it will stop your fabric pieces from moving around. I use one called 505 that is widely available). If you don't have any of this to hand then some quilting pins are a good alternative.
  • An iron is essential.
  • A 1/4" foot for your sewing machine is incredibly helpful, but not essential.

To begin:

1. Iron the cotton fabrics and then cut the amounts of cotton and batting required as per the ingredients list.

2.Create a quilting sandwich as follows: lay the largest fabric square face down, using spray adhesive to baste, place the quilt wadding centrally above this piece. Finally place the smaller fabric square on the top, face up, using spray to baste in place.

Quilting without a 1/4" foot
If you don't have a 1/4" foot for your sewing machine then you have several options: you can use the free-motion quilting technique if you're already experience in that or you could quilt in straight or diagonal lines using the edge of your sewing machine foot as a guide for keeping your quilting lines nice and straight and equal distances apart. Not quilting in a spiral you have the advantage of quilting outwards from the centre (the best way to quilt). Just draw a dividing diagonal or straight line at the centre with disappearing ink, stitch along this and then quilt outwards to either side using the first line as a guide for the next row of stitching. Quilting in a square spiral is difficult without a 1/4" foot and the results may be imprecise...but that's fine if you're happy for your item to have a more cosy, home-spun look.

Quilting with a 1/4" foot

3. If you do have a 1/4" foot, then proceed like this: Start sewing from any edge, exactly 1/4" in from the side. If your 1/4" foot has three horizontal markers on it, at this point the line at the rear should be in alignment with the fabric edge when you take your first stitch.

4. Stop this first line of stitching when the first line on the 1/4" foot reaches the edge of the fabric. Lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric and begin sewing along the next side, stopping once again when the first line reaches the edge and indicates the need to turn the fabric.

5. When the fourth line of stitching is nearly complete, use the first line of stitching as your guide to indicate when to turn the fabric and continue in this way, spiralling toward the centre until the entire coaster has been quilted.

Neatening things up

6. After quilting you may notice several things: that your larger fabric has moved slightly and that there isn't an equal amount of fabric protruding from each side of the quilting sandwich. You also may notice that the edge of the small quilt sandwich looks tufty and unruly. In the next step we remedy those two things.

7. First iron the quilt sandwich and the base fabric with a firm, very warm iron until the tufty edges have been beaten into submission and look more manageable. This step is important as otherwise it will be difficult to create a neat binding. Now take a ruler, and using the inner quilt sandwich as a guide cut the larger piece of fabric so that only 1/2" is left protruding from each side of the sandwich. This can be done quickly with a rotary cutter, but scissors are fine if you don't have one.

8. After ironing and squaring up, it should look more like the picture above.

Creating bound edges

9. To create the bound edge fold the single layer of fabric inwards toward the quilt sandwich, so that the raw edge touches the sandwich wadding. Now pull the folder outer edge up and over the edge and pin it in place just a fraction past your first line of quilting. Normally I place my pins in perpendicular to the edge, but this is fiddly, so I recommend placing pins parallel to the edge here to make sure things stay in the right place.

10. When you come to a corner simply make sure the first edge is folded in nicely and then fold in the other edge so that it covers this, as shown above.

11. If you're in a hurry you can machine quilt this bound edge in place, however, a much better finish can be had by hand-stitching the fabric in place, using an invisible ladder stitch.

Ladder Stitch:

i) To create a ladder stitch, after securing your thread in the fabric, take a stitch through just the upper layer of the quilt sandwich (see picture above).

ii) Now take another small stitch through the edge of the binding fabric, entering exactly opposite to where the thread has just come out. Do not pull this stitch tight, leave it very loose.

iii) Now return to take another stitch through the upper layer of the quilt sandwich, followed again by making another through the edge of the binding fabric. After four or five stitches, pull the loose threads up and they will magically disappear and the fabric will be held in place just where you wanted it to be. Repeat to bind the rest of the coaster, stopping every four or five stitches to draw up the loose thread.

Finishing off

13. Finally press with an iron once more and then go and make a nice warming cup of hot chocolate to put on the lovely finished coaster...I find this produces the best results in completing the remaining coasters to be added to the set (yes, it's May...but this tutorial comes to you from chilly England! x).

I'd love to see any coasters that you might make from this pattern - you can either email me or drop them into my Flickr pool here.

If you run into any problems then do let me know and I'm happy to try and help (although those who know me well would perhaps suggest that 'Florence' and 'email' are not synonymous with Rapid Response...but I do normally get there eventually!).

I also wanted to mention that my paid-for patterns (eyes right in the side bar: that's the Tabitha Bag and the Lis iPhone Holder patterns) are now all the same price at £6.50 (that's approximately $9.40USD or 7.60 Euros) ...which is also a few pounds cheaper than they used to be too.

Florence x

This tutorial may not be reproduced in whole or part either online or offline. I am, however, always grateful when people link to one of my tutorial and you're welcome to use one of my completed coasters photos to illustrate the link.


  1. Oh neat! I never knew how the ladder stitch worked! Thanks for such a great tutorial!

  2. Hello Florence. It's been ages since I was able to visit blogs as our dear computer crashed and this one is sooo sloooowww. off for a catch up now xx

  3. They look lovely, especially in the fabric you are using. I love Amy Butlers work.

  4. Glorious, and so wel explained. How have I never come across basting spray before?!

  5. Thank you so much Florence - you can always be relied upon to do things properly and nicely! And you take all the hard work out of it too. This will be very handy I suspect.

  6. So many brilliant things in this tutorial - thank you very much! I just made my mum some place mats and napkins, so some matching coasters may well be in order! Also, that basting spray sounds utterly magical - I must track some down.

  7. Hello, what an amazing blog you have ! Your tutorials are as inspiring as they are clear and thorough. Thank you so much!

  8. Hi Florence

    I think these look great. The explanation looks really clear. I am going to try a coaster first, to get the technique right, then try some place mat sized ones. I will post a pic if this turns out OK


    (I am the Japanese pattern book buyer/twitter person but use this e mail address for blogs as I am working on writing a knitting one!)

  9. Thank you so much for this tutorial! Your instructions are so clear :)

  10. Thanks for the tutorial. I never knew what to do with the 1/4" foot - um, as a matter of fact, I didn't even realise I had one until you showed a picture of yours!

  11. Great tutorial and pretty coasters!! Thank you for sharing your pics through the Craft Gossip Flickr pool!

    I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  12. so cute! thanks for taking the time to write it up such a nice tutorial for it.

  13. I was just thinking last night "You know when my girlfriends come up for a weekend in July, it would be fun to make them a little gift. Coasters might be good!"

    And here is your fabulous tutorial on my computer this morning. I think my coaster gifts are meant to be :)

  14. These are so cute, I am planning to make some drinks coaster for I have plenty of scrap fabrics to use. We use to have glass coasters but most of them are already broken


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Florence x