National Grandparents Day is Sept. 7 this year. If you are like me, after you become a parent, then you realize just how much your own parents have done for you. My son, Lars, is very fortunate to have such loving grandparents in his life, and I wanted to give them something that was handmade by both of us as a small thank you for all they do. Because my little one recently discovered the joys of coloring, I thought it would be fun to let him decorate some fabric and use his textile design to make a patchwork coaster that G-ma and G-pa can enjoy each morning with their coffee.
Muslin fabric in a light color (my piece was 24 by 35 inches)
2 half-yards (18 by 44 inches) of fabric in any colors you like
Duct or packing tape (or a child’s easel and clamps)
Fabric markers or other permanent markers
Iron and ironing board
Sewing machine and thread
We don’t have an art easel for our 16-month old, but because I had been taping oversized pieces of paper to our dishwasher and letting him draw there, I used clear packing tape and attached my piece of ironed muslin to his usual “art corner.” I gave the baby boy some fabric pens and let him loose on the fabric.
Because he’s still pretty new at drawing, I removed his shirt to prevent any unwanted permanent stains. For older kids who know not to draw on themselves or eat the pens, this step is not necessary!After the muslin had been pretty well covered in pen, I selected two additional pieces of fabric in colors similar to those Lars had used.
I ironed the hand-drawn fabric to heat-set the artwork, then folded and cut it into 2½-inch strips that were as long as the fabric I used.
I ironed the store-bought fabric and cut it into a few 1½-inch wide strips. When I had a width of about 5 inches of store-bought fabric left, I stopped cutting strips. I grouped two of the 1½-inch strips with one 2½-inch strip into a few color combinations that both sets of grandparents would like.
Right sides together, I pinned a hand-drawn strip to one of the store-bought strips and sewed them together on the machine with a ¼-inch allowance and a straight stitch.
I ironed the seam open and pinned the second 1½-inch strip (faces together) to the hand-drawn textile. Then, I sewed those strips together and ironed the seams open.
Using the clear ruler and the rotary blade, I cut the stitched panels into 4½-inch squares. Next, I cut batting (not shown) into 4¼-inch squares and cut the remaining store-bought fabric into 4½-inch squares for the backs of the coasters.
Then, I took a square of batting and placed it behind the patchwork panel. I topstitched along the seams at about 1/8 inch, to keep the batting from bunching up inside of the coaster.With a batting square stitched to the back of the patchwork panel, I was ready to sew around the perimeter of the coaster. Right sides together, I straight-stitched the backside to the patchwork piece, leaving about an 1¼-inch gap in the middle of one side.
Then, I turned the “patchwork-batting-fabric sandwich” inside out (now right-side out!) and ironed it flat.
I folded the seam of the gap together and stitched around the entire border of the coaster as close to the edge as I could comfortably sew.
This closed the gap and gave the coaster a finished look.After one last press with the iron, I finished the coasters by writing the textile artist’s name and year on the back.With a quick ribbon wrap-job, baby Lars had two sets of coasters for his grandparents.
My parents were over-the-moon excited about their coasters (and the “gift” of babysitting their only grandson while I finished sewing).
They already have their coasters in regular rotation on the breakfast table.
In addition to being a great gift for grandparents, these coasters would make awesome stocking stuffers, birthday presents, teacher appreciation gifts or just a thank-you to anyone who cares for your children. Because drawing on fabric is fun for toddlers and teens alike, the whole family can get involved in this craft and make something that will be used and cherished for years to come.
All photos by: Megan Andersen