Short lengths of fabric stacked on a shelf in the room where all such things reside have been calling to me. Coasters, placemats and tablerunners came to mind when I think about how to use these pretty lengths of material.

Coasters are always needed in the summer months when tall glasses, and frosty bottles and cans of icy beverages drop rivulets of condensation on tabletops, leaving impossible to remove water rings.

Placemats are nice to have when company comes to supper and tablerunners add a festive note to the kitchen table for a special occasion.

And all three items make great birthday or holiday gifts.

And now is the time, before the busy December season is upon us to start stitching.

Coasters are the easy to make, so easy they qualify as a binge craft — you know how it goes, you start making a few and the next thing you know you’ve made enough to supply everyone in your family with enough left over to donate to several church fairs. Which is a good thing — unless you get stuck in that groove and never want to stitch anything else/

All is takes to make a coaster is two four and one-half inch pieces of fabric and one four and a half-inch piece of batting. Put the right sides of the fabric together, place the batting on the top (the bottom) and using a one-quarter-inch seam, sew the pieces together, leaving a one-inch gap. Clip the corners diagonally and turn to the right side. Use a knitting needle or other tool with a blunt, pointy end to push the corners out nice and sharp. Slip-stitch the turning opening closed. Topstich with a plain stitch around the edges or use a decorative stitch if you have a machine that does fancy stitching. Make six coasters and tie them up in a pretty ribbon until gift-giving day arrives.

The procedure for making placemats is pretty much the same as making coasters, except cut two 13-inch by 16-inch rectangles from two different fabrics that look nice together, and cut a rectangle of the same dimensions from interfacing or quilt batting. Use a one-quarter-inch seam allowance and leave a two-inch gap. Clip the corners and turn. Slip-stitch the turning opening. Top-stitch and you’re done.

The dimensions of a tablerunner depends on the size of your table, so the first thing to do is get out a tape measure and determine how big you want your table runner to be. Since I have a small table, I’d opt for 28 inches long by 14 inches wide. Choose cotton fabric, or something heavier, such as decorator fabric. Using a sewing stitch, hem the long sides. If you wish, embellish the piece by sewing lace, rick-rack or ribbon down the middle. Fold the piece, right sides together, lengthwise and stitch the short ends together. Turn the piece and press so that each short end forms a point. And that’s it. One tablerunner done. If you wish, decorate it in some way — add tassels to each point, or sew a large, pretty button at each point.

Don’t just sit there, sew!!