Updated September 11, 2021.
Making a needlepoint coaster is not hard to do, so let’s talk about how to do it.
Begin by selecting the size for the coasters. Square coasters are vastly easier to make than round coasters (I’ll put some notes about that in a bit). Coasters generally are 3 or 4 inches square, so plan on that for the finished size of the stitching.
The stitching instructions are for all coasters where the needlepoint is exposed. The finishing instructions are for finishing your coaster from scratch. You can also easily use self-finishing items to complete a coaster. Several companies make these including Cooper Oaks, Sudberry, Planet Earth,and VNG.
Stitches, Threads, & Coasters
Because coasters get sone wear, you will want to use stitches that won’t snag. Because you will be putting something directly on the stitches, you will also want stitches that are flat and not bumpy. This is not the place for smyrna crosses, padding, or exposed canvas.
Every thread you use MUST be colorfast. Glasses are often wet on the bottom or sweat and this moisture will cause non-colorfast threads to bleed. If you are not sure about colorfastness, test your threads before stitching. I once worked very hard creating a piece that almost immediately was ruined by water.
It’s better if threads are absorbent and somewhat water resistant. This makes wool a fantastic choice for coasters.
I had been thinking that all the ready-made needlepoint coasters I had seen were wool in Tent Stitch because it was cheap to make. That is why, but it turns out, it’s also a good choice.
The Innards & Back of the Coaster
You will need something inside your coaster to give it some strength. The best thing for this is 14 count plastic canvas. It’s strong and flexible. You can cut it to the size you need.
If you want your coaster to be thicker, buy some thin sheets of cork and add them to the inside.
Cut both the plastic canvas and the cork to be 1/4″ smaller than the finished needlepoint.
For a backing you will want something like Ultrasuede, that is rough enough to keep the coaster in place. I like Ultrasuede because you can often find small pieces, it comes in lots of colors, and you can cut it to fit. To begin, cut it slightly larger than the finished needlepoint. You’ll trim it later.
If you want to make round coasters begin by finding plastic canvas rounds that are the size you want. Use one of them as the template for your needlepoint, but stitch about three stitches beyond the outline from the plastic canvas. You could also use heavy paper disk drink coasters the same way.
The other important difference is in finishing, you will need to clip the unstitched margin of the canvas in order to make the edge smooth. You can find directions in clipping seams in many sewing books and on sewing sites.
Making the Coaster
Assemble the sandwich so that you have the needlepoint on top, then the cork (if you are using it), then the plastic canvas. Make sure the innards are centered on the needlepoint.
Make diagonal cuts at each corner of the needlepoint to reduce bulk. Turn the edges of the needlepoint to the back and temporarily secure with clothespins.
Look at the edges to make sure no canvas shows. If it does, trim your innards a bit to make them smaller then repeat the steps above.
Once you are happy with the edges, lash the needlepoint to the plastic canvas using pearl cotton or linen (these threads are very strong). Do this one side at a time by removing the clothespin, pulling the needlepoint taut, and then sewing through the margin and the plastic canvas many times to secure it.
Now your coaster needs a backing. Trim your backing to be slightly smaller than the coaster top. With two strands of matching floss, sew the back to the coaster using blind hemstitch or another binding stitch.
Your coaster is ready to go!