Category: Tutorials

diy quilted dish drying mat

quilted dish drying mat DIY

It must be Germany fabric week around here, because this project features another fabric from the pile I brought home last summer. This is an American fabric, not German or even European, but it’s still a special reminder of that trip.

I made this dish mat for two reasons: first, I wanted the mat to fit perfectly underneath my drying rack; and second, I was getting really tired of spending money on furnishings and supplies for my apartment (it’s like the list never ends!). This was a quick and easy project that helps me showcase a beloved fabric in a super useful way.

quilted dish drying mat DIY

I took an old white kitchen towel that wasn’t so white anymore, chopped it in half and cut off its binding. I used two layers of towel in between my cotton outer layers.

DIY quilted dish drying mat

the quilting was just disastrous!

I quilted along the lines of the spatula pattern, and everything shifted while I was quilting. It was a mess! But I just trimmed the edges so they were square again. No worries.

As you can see, the stripe of the towel shows through on the yellow side of the dish mat. That’s the bottom, so I don’t care!

quilted dish drying mat DIY

I cut my own binding from the yellow cotton – straight binding, not on the bias. Because of the thickness, I used Heather Bailey’s Quilt Binding Tutorial, a great way to flawlessly bind quilted items, especially when you’re using homemade binding.

After stitching the binding right-to-right to the front of the mat, I decided to go for it and secure the binding to the back side by machine, rather than hand-stitching. I used a ton of clips and managed to catch all the binding, which always feels great.

quilted dish drying mat DIY

Of course, in day-to-day life, the mat hides underneath my dish rack like this. But the cheeriness of the bright spatulas manages to peek through my mountains of dishes, and my countertop stays dry. A win for sure. I’m planning to make another to have on hand for baking days, when I have too many dishes for the dish rack and am forced to lay them out on a towel on the counter. This is a much more elegant solution!

quick craft: preserving cardboard coasters with glass

When I’m traveling, one of my favorite ways to get to know a city is by sampling local beers. I’m a big fan of brewery tours because the history of a brewery directly correlates to the history of a town or region, and it’s always interesting to learn about how companies get started.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass - yes, that's just water

Since beer is one of my preferred tools for getting to know a place, I end up with a lot of souvenir beer glasses and cardboard coasters. I always hoard the cardboard coasters with plans to stick them in a photo album, but my pictures never make it past the digital world. I just can’t get myself interested in scrapbooking, “memory keeping”, and the like.

So what better way to display my coasters… than as coasters?

Approximately 2 lifetimes ago, also known as 2006, I won a shoe decorating contest with my Starburst wrapper ballet flats. One of my crafty prizes was a glass coaster-making kit, still available at Go To Great Panes. It’s a simple kit: 8 circles of clear glass and some stained glass foil tape, which is readily available at hardware stores. The coasters are simple to make: sandwich an object between the glass circles and then run foil tape around the edge to seal. The kit suggests creating coasters using pressed flowers, but that wasn’t quite to my taste. So when I finally unearthed the kit again and had my, “if you don’t make this right now it goes in the trash” moment, I did the obvious math: coasters + coasters = coasters.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

I used the glass circle as a template to figure out which coasters would be well-suited to the size and shape of the glass. I also chose coasters from different trips for variety.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

I made a giant mess cutting away cardboard until my coasters were all perfectly sized. Then it was just a matter of lining everything up, applying the foil tape, and using a bone folder to smooth down the wrinkles.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

On the back of each coaster, I wrote the location and the year.

Clockwise from top left:
Montreal 2012: Brutopia beer pub & microbrewery
Berlin 2013: Berliner Pilsner, whose logo I just love because that bear looks so happy.
Seattle 2013: The Pike Brewing Company at Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA
Cologne 2009: Gaffel Kölsch, whose coaster is cute on both sides. The back reminds me of a “check yes if you like me” note from grade school, although I have a feeling it wouldn’t get great results in a bar setting.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

The kit also included tiny adhesive rubber feet to keep the foil from scratching the table. A coaster wouldn’t do much good if it protected the table from moisture but left it covered in scuffs!

This isn’t a super noteworthy project but I love that these coasters can now be used indefinitely. And they couldn’t have been easier. I’d like to make more but I’m still hunting for appropriately-sized 3.5″ glass circles… let me know if you find a good source!

If you’d like to make your own, I did find some super cheap 4-inch glass squares. And 1/2-inch foil tape is easy to find.

Enjoy, and I’d love to see what you come up with!

gift guide: gifts for the seamstress who has everything

seamstress gift guide: sewing tools

Last year’s gift guide, the ultimate beginner’s sewing kit, was tailored toward a beginner sewer, someone who is just starting to collect supplies. This year, I thought I’d bring it up a notch and share some of my favorite specialty tools and supplies that are a little bit less standard. This list is pulled from my personal favorite supplies – so I suppose I am truly the seamstress who has everything – and if I didn’t love it, it wouldn’t be on this list.

So if you’re looking for something special or new for the seamstress in your life, hopefully these supplies and trinkets will give you a good start. And yes, there is some overlap between the two guides – some of my ultimate favorites deserve repetition.

nifty gadgets

seamstress gift guide: sewing tools

I’ll say it again and again, but I use my Turn-It-All turning tool for everything. I use it for narwhal tusks, dress straps, alpaca legs, drawstrings… things that I would have never been able to deal with before the Turn-it-all came into my life. I swear, I’m not their spokesperson, I just love whoever invented this.

Another nifty tool that I use all the time is my scalpel-style seam ripper. It has an extremely sharp blade, so it’s definitely not a kid-friendly tool, but it does an excellent job of quickly ripping through threads when you’ve made a big mistake.

The Clover Wonder Clips are like binder clips that are specially made for sewing and quilting. They’re great for thicker fabrics or multiple layers that can’t be easily pinned.

Turn-It-All, $9; Havel’s Ultra Pro Seam Ripper, $8; Clover Wonder Clips, $13


seamstress gift guide: sewing tools

Maybe your favorite seamstress has all of the necessary tools, but she’s ready for the next level of supplies. To me, one of the best ways to improve your sewing supply stash is to invest in quality cutting tools. This means Gingher. These shears are the best shears, these snips are the best snips, and this rotary cutter is the best rotary cutter. I really don’t think they can be beat.

Gingher Rotary Cutter, $36; Gingher Craft Scissors, $15; Gingher 8-Inch Dressmaker’s Shears, $25

sewing machine feet

seamstress gift guide: sewing tools

If you know enough about your seamstress’s sewing machine to pick out a specialty foot, they make a great bonus accessory. Most machines come with a good assortment of feet, but two non-standard feet that I use all the time are my walking foot and my invisible zipper foot. The walking foot is most commonly used for quilting, since it helps keep multiple layers of fabric from bunching, but it’s also useful for long seams like on curtains or other home dec projects. I use it all the time. The invisible zipper foot is, of course, for installing invisible zippers so that they are truly invisible.

Singer Even Feed / Walking Foot, $12; Singer Invisible Zipper Foot, $6

organization & storage

seamstress gift guide: sewing tools

A good thread rack is key for organized sewing. For a dust-free option, I managed to snag a vintage thread box (exactly the same as the one shown) for $1 at a thrift store. I love it, especially with the inner bobbin storage. Various Etsy sellers have quite a few of this exact box in both this green and a golden color.

And if you don’t have a Grabbit magnetic pincushion yet, you are seriously missing out.

Grabbit magnetic pincushion, price varies; Vintage Thread Box, $14; June Tailor Mini Mega-Rack ll, $12


seamstress gift guide: sewing tools

Maybe you aren’t quite sure what supplies your seamstress could use, but you do know that she loves to sew. Well, I’d say a dressform necklace is an obvious choice! And here are a few more etsy picks.

Chevron Dressform Necklace, lasercut wood, $12; Hedgehog Pincushion, $15; Handmade Little Scissors Necklace, $15

Most of the links above are Amazon referral links, which means I get a small commission if you buy from my link. I own every one of the supplies referenced* and they are my go-to crafting supplies, so I promise they will be well-received gifts! Even though Amazon Prime is always a great option, many of these items can be bought at JoAnn’s with a coupon if you’re looking to get a better deal.

*exception: i do not own these exact models of the walking foot and invisible zipper foot, nor do I own the etsy items listed.