Monday, December 19, 2011

The Last Minute Gift Adventure

I have a home business.  Among other things, I format and submit health insurance claim forms for my clients.  For the past several years, one of my clients has given me home-made cookies as a Christmas gift.  I wish she wouldn't.  I'm sure she and her daughter believe they are making scrumptious goodies but I just do *not* like their health-conscious stuff.

*Of course*, I graciously accept them; my Mama taught me well.  I even put them out as one of our Christmas dessert selections.  Over and over, I have observed people taking one bite and declining to consume the rest.  That really should say volumes.  I'm not alone in thinking they aren't tasty.

In return, I give her a gift.  This year I was in the mood to make something.  It needed to be from what I had on hand, simply because I do NOT want to venture forth into the crowds and I don't want to spend any more money.  Mainly, it's the crowds ... I find I'm not dealing well with the shaggy hordes.

The Coiled Coaster Catastrophe
One of the quilting blogs I read had a list of quick, easy and cute gifts to make; one of them was coiled coasters.  I downloaded the PDF instructions but darned if I can find that blog now to pass along the link and the PDF doesn't give the URL that it came from.  In any case, all you need to do is to Google for "coiled coasters" and you'll get lots of hits.

Basically, you wrap cable cording (the stuff you make piping with) with a strip of fabric, coil the wrapped cording into a spiral and zig-zag the coils together.  Pretty simple.  I have the cable cording.  I have LOTS of bias binding leftover from my quilting projects.  Wrapping the cording with a fabric strip should be easy to do. 

Apparently, I missed the class and hands-on tutorial.  My attempts were dismal.

My first attempt was pretty messy.

My second attempt was pretty messy
My third attempt was pretty messy. 

Geez, Louise!  For something that is supposed to be easily done, this is taking me FOREVER just to get a single coaster done.  I figured that the wrapping was my downfall; it just was never going to look good enough for me to want to give it away as a gift. 

But then I remembered ... wait!  The whole point here is to create an encased cording ... what if I made spaghetti straps??  Those are just tubes filled with cording! 

I hauled out my Fast Turn tubes, scanned the directions and made my first filled tube.  Well, the finished tube was a bit bigger than the cording that filled it so the final result was less than satisfactory. 

For my second attempt, I made the tube narrower and this resulted in a perfect filled tube!  Hooray!

This is my final coiled coaster.  Looking good! 

But along the way, I decided that these coasters just take too doggone long to create.  While I wasn't logging my time, I know I took A LONG TIME to make 4 unacceptable coasters and 1 good one.  This was not a good use of my time.

Criss-Cross Coasters Coup
Then I remembered the Criss-Cross Coasters.    These are squares (or circles) of interlocking fabric strips that make up very quickly and look cute.  The instructions I used for them were written by Jenny Harris of AllSorts Makery.

As they use 4-1/2" squares, they are the PERFECT project for charm squares!

They can be used in two ways: as a standard coaster. as shown above (or maybe to the left .. I'm never quite sure where Blogger is going to place pictures).

OR ,if you plan your colors carefully (which I did NOT), they can be used as identifiers for stemware, as shown in the picture to the right.

These instructions are VERY clear and VERY easy.  I think I took all of 15 minutes to sew them up.  Now, *that* is my idea of a quick and easy gift!  I made 4 of them for my client. 

Although the directions tell you to make the coasters square, crisp corners are always a problem when you are turning the item inside out.  It's much easier just to round the corners instead .... and that is what I did.  My coasters are a rounded square.  :-)

If you were really, REALLY clever, you could use your embroidery machine to stitch a small motif in one of the fabric strips, which would make each coaster unique and useful as a stemware identifier ... never again would you wonder which glass of wine was yours. :-)

As for the coiled coasters .... my client is never going to see the them; I'm contemplating even if *I* am going to keep them!

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