Category Archives: How-to
I know it’s too late to make a set of felt coasters for this Christmas, but I couldn’t share my latest non-pattern pattern until the family members I made these for had opened their gifts on Christmas Day.
The good thing is people need coasters year-round, and you can incorporate any types of designs you like. I like to stick with no more than five colors so there’s a cohesive look, but have fun and play around. There are no rules.
The inspiration for these coasters came from Instagram. I was scrolling through my feed and saw a photo of a mug sitting on a felt coaster. They intrigued me enough to ask the poster more about the coasters. She said they were made long ago by her mother, and she cherishes them.
Hers were square with rounded corners, but I opted for circles. (For the record, I traced around the inside of an embroidery hoop I keep in the box of embroidery floss.)
I could see my Instagram friend’s coasters were two pieces of felt sandwiched together with a blanket stitch. Simple. Not only does that offer an extra layer of protection between a cold glass or hot cup and your furniture, but the bottom layer also hides the knots and stitches from where the decorations are appliquéd to the top piece.
I happened to have several sheets of craft-store synthetic felt on hand. It’s an ideal choice for this project since it tends to be colorfast; wool or wool-blend felt might not be colorfast, so you can test it by putting a snippet of felt in a dish of hot water for a few minutes to see if the color bleeds. You don’t want the colors to bleed into each other. When I started I had no idea what I’d come up with, but I made four coasters in less than three hours.
It’s too simple not to give it a try:
Step one: Cut fronts and backs for your coasters
I chose a different color for the front and back of each coaster, but you can do whatever you like. If you don’t have an embroidery hoop, trace around a small bowl or cut squares. You could do scalloped edges, flower shapes—there are a lot of shapes that will work. Whatever shape you choose, make sure they’re large enough to accommodate most mugs and drinking glasses. You don’t have to be precise—I love a peek of color from the reverse side showing here and there.
Step two: Plan your designs
I thought about what types of Christmas designs I could appliqué onto the coasters, especially given the colors I had to work with. Trees, wreaths, candles, bells, stars, stockings, ornaments, and my personal favorite, Christmas lights.
You quickly realize some shapes are easier—or harder—to cut out. The bell did not go well, so I used the gold felt for stars. They were challenging, but I liked the end result.
If you’re good at embroidery, you might prefer to embroider designs instead of appliquéing cut-outs.
Step three: Arrange your decorations
Position and pin your decorations to the top piece of felt. Honestly, since the felt doesn’t slip around much, you could even skip the pinning if you like.
Step four: Appliqué
I wanted a folksy, hand-made look, so I used black embroidery floss to attach most of the appliqués with bold, and intentionally irregular, stitches. I didn’t even split the floss so it would really stand out. Another choice would be to attach the pieces with a blind stitch using matching floss. It’s up to you.
Step five: Attach the backs
The easiest way to secure the tops and bottoms of the coasters is with a basic blanket stitch. There’s a good tutorial video on You Tube that demonstrates, quickly and clearly, just how simple it is to do.
Once again, I used un-divided black embroidery floss for a bold, decorative look.
I wasn’t at all precise in stitch length or spacing between the stitches because I wanted a random, primitive look to the coasters.
That’s literally all it takes to make practical, pretty coasters. For me, the hardest part was cleaning up all of the tiny bits of felt that fell on my lap when I was trimming pieces.
Now for a quick peek at the backs of some finished coasters:
Look at that—they’re reversible! Even if you top your coasters with seasonal designs, just flip them over they can still be used during the off season.
I made the first four coasters as an experiment. I thought my sister would like them. (She did.) The coasters were so quick and fun to do—and I had enough felt left—so I decided to make another set for my brother and sister-in-law—and finally a set for myself.
What handmade gifts did you get or receive this holiday season?
If you’re a freelance writer like me, chances are you’ve heard of Jenn Mattern, the brains behind All Freelance Writing (and about a billion other websites). Some of us who are lucky enough to know Jenn outside of her professional milieu have discovered her creativity knows no bounds. Whenever and wherever she sees a problem she always seems to find a solution.
A couple months ago she wanted a pen holder and decided to make one from found objects around her home. I broadly hinted that it might make a good guest post for Create From Scratch. Thankfully she agreed. Here it is. Thanks, Jenn!
Create a Custom DIY Pen Holder
When I decided to get back into writing poetry, I wanted to go “old school.” So I bought myself a new poetry journal, pen, and ink, and I looked for a pen holder that appealed to me.
The closest pen holder I found to what I wanted was about $50 and a bit too small. I got fed up with the fruitless search before long. Then I was poking around my tools looking for something for a home repair project I needed to knock out, and a light bulb turned on.
I could make a pen holder.
After all, the simple wooden style I was after didn’t look too difficult to replicate. So I dug around the house a bit and found everything I’d need to whip up a custom pen holder. And I’ll show you that near the end of this post. But first…
When Paula saw my original pen holder, she asked if I’d be interested in a guest post to teach you how to make one. So I popped over to the craft store and picked up a few things (it’s super cheap, I swear), and I made a second one so I could take some photos and show you the basic process.
Here’s the gist of how to make your own inexpensive wood pen holder. You can swap out the two wood pieces with pretty much any material you’d like as long as you have a base and a ring of some sort to support your pen. I bet you can come up with even more creative ideas.
What You’ll Need
- Wooden base
- Wooden ring (Both wooden pieces are less than $1 each at a craft store like A.C. Moore or Michaels.)
- 1 sheet of felt (or leftover pieces are probably plenty – about $.30 at the craft store)
- Wood stain or paint of your choice (won’t need much, so whatever you have on-hand is probably enough)
- 1 sponge applicator or brush for the stain
- Glue (super glue, wood glue – anything strong enough to hold two wood pieces together)
- Newspaper or paper towel to protect your work area
What to Do
Step 1: Set up your work space.
I laid out some paper towel because I keep some around this desk when I’m painting anyway. But you can use newspaper, a rag, or whatever you have on-hand. You don’t need a large work space protected for this – just somewhere to stain the wood and let it sit until it dries.
Step 2: Prep the wood.
My mistake with this new pen holder was that I didn’t realize how rough the edges of the base looked until it was stained. I highly recommend sanding both pieces lightly to get a consistent surface.
Step 3: Stain the wood.
Apply your choice of stain (or paint if you prefer) to both pieces of wood. You don’t need to do the inside of the ring, as that will be covered with your felt later, but do make sure you stain the entire upper edge of the ring. Set both pieces aside to dry.
Step 4: Glue the ring to the base.
Apply a thin line of super glue (or wood glue, or whatever strong adhesive you have around) to the bottom of your wooden ring. Carefully place it where you want it on the base, and apply gentle pressure. You don’t want to add so much glue that it seeps out onto your wood base when you press down.
Step 5: Cut and apply your felt pieces.
Start with your base. In my case, this was simply a small felt circle. It’s okay if your base is slightly smaller, as your wall piece will cover any small gaps around the bottom. Push it to the bottom of the ring. No need for glue. It’ll actually go through the felt and make a mess anyway.
For the wall of your ring, simply cut a strip of felt as wide as your ring is tall. Leave it a bit longer than you think you’ll need. Then roll that felt strip tightly and insert it into the ring. Let it open, and gently press it against the walls.
If your felt ends overlap, pull the strip out and trim a little at a time until the two ends meet perfectly. If you do this, you won’t need an adhesive at all. You can use glue if you’d like, but I preferred to avoid the risk of any seeping through and making contact with my pen.
There you have it – your new pen holder!
What I’d Do Differently
If I were to start over with this project, I’d have done a few things differently:
- I would have chosen a slightly larger base.
- I would have sanded the wood first.
- I would have sealed it with a clear coating to give it a smoother finish and some shine.
Those are just things to keep in mind that you can tweak to make your own pen holder a bit nicer than this one. But this isn’t the one I’m actually using, so I wasn’t too worried about it. You see, my first was made from “found items” instead – I had everything around the house already. Here it is:
For this one, the base was a rosewood flooring sample I had lying around from when we were looking into replacing flooring around the house. And the ring is the decorative ring from a WoodWick scented oil dispenser (there’s a logo on the back end that no one’s going to see from my desk). The wood of both just happened to match perfectly.
I glued the ring to the flooring tile and use self-adhesive felt pads, cut to fit (the little felt pieces you stick to the bottom of furniture legs to make them slide easier).
The only problem I had left was the ridge in the front of the flooring sample. I happened to have some insulation tubing that fit perfectly. It was white, so I pulled out a Sharpie to make it look like a simple black rubber accent.
It was a project done on-a-whim, made from things that would have otherwise been thrown away. So, even though the craft store version is cheap (I spent less than $2.00 because I already had stain, a foam brush, the felt pads, and glue), you very well might be able to whip one up for free!
To check out another one of Jenn’s recent creative inspirations—a way to make her regular desk transform into a standing desk and back again—check out her recent blog post at All Freelance Writing.