Leah Day’s Quilting Study: Show Some Love to the Lonely Keyboard Keys

Ah, the keyboard! A rather recent invention (at least in comparison to the wheel and fire) and so absolutely essential to our modern life. Keyboards are now so ubiquitous I can access one on my phone for texting and social media, my television remote control when searching for movies to stream from Netflix, and Nintendo 3DS while play fun games like Animal Crossing.

Nintendo Game

What’s most fascinating about our keyboards is the way we’ve arranged the keys. According to Wikipedia, back in 1867 this layout was first created by James Densmore for the first commercially successful typewriter.

The arrangement of the QWERTY keyboard was required because it prevented the typewriter from jamming when two commonly used adjacent alphabet letters, like “S” and “T,” were used quickly. By placing the letters further apart on the keyboard, the print heads wouldn’t jam.

Obviously we aren’t clacking away at typewriters anymore but the old keyboard layout has remained and is now popping up everywhere we can find space to stick the 26 letters and 10 numbers on a screen!

So the keyboard, or at least letters we use so often, seems a fitting inspiration for a fun sewing project. Just for curiosity sake, and to feed my nerdy nudges, I found a list of letter frequency on OxfordDictionary.com and found we use the top ten letters in the English alphabet more than 60% of the time.

Keys like E, T, A, N and S get all the love and attention, but your keyboard has so many other interesting buttons that rarely get attention. How about we show some love to the lonely keyboard keys with this cute coaster project?

Keyboard Symbols Printed on Paper

How to sew cute fabric coasters

Step 1:

To get started, open Word and pick the loneliest letter or symbol you can find. Type it, then resize it really big. Really, really big.

How do you know if it’s big enough? In most word processors you can now draw shapes on the page. Draw a square shape and resize it to 5 inches square. If your letter or symbol fills a 5 inch square nicely, you’re on the right track.

Question Mark and Exclamation Point Semi-colon Ampersand

Center the letter and square on the page and print at full size on plain paper. This will be your template for the fun that is to come!

Loving this tutorial? Download this easy, printable PDF, and enjoy it anytime, anywhere, forever!

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Step 2:

Next pick your fabric. I grabbed a 7 inch square of white fabric and gave it a quick starch and press to stiffen ‘er up a bit.

Step 3:

Now for the fun part — tape the paper down to a table surface and tape the fabric on top. Using a fabric marker, trace the outline of the letter and color in the shape completely.

Ampersand Symbol

Step 4:

Next cut a 5 inch square of thin batting. I used Quilter’s Dream Poly in the Select thickness because it’s very thin, but stable. Trim down your painted letter fabric to 5 inches square and a second 5 inch square of white fabric for the coaster back.

Layer the three pieces with batting on top, fabric letter in the middle right side up, then the backing fabric on top right side down.

Step 5:

Using a ¼ inch patchwork foot, stitch along the edge of the squares. Make sure to leave at least 1 ½-inches open on one side so you have space to turn the project right side out.

Step 6:

Before turning the coaster, trim down the fabric and batting along all sides except the open edge. Turn the shape right side out and use a tool like a ball pointed bodkin to gently press out the corners.

Stitching up Keyboard Quilt Block

Step 7:

Finger press the fabric along the opening to align the edges. Using an edge stitching foot, stitch around the edge of the coaster to close the opening securely.

Stitching on a Sewing Machine

Step 8:

Give the coaster one last press to fuse the two pieces together and heat set the fabric marker to the fabric.

Keyboard Symbols Printed on Paper

Repeat these steps with as many lonely letters and symbols as you like! I enjoyed the opportunity to play with many different fonts and cute symbols, many of which are making a comeback these days thanks to email and social media. Who would have thought we’d ever use the “@” and “#” symbol for anything other than cussing in text? #&@% straight!

Let’s Go Quilt,
Leah Day

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