Moda’s Countdown to Christmas 2020 Quilt

Hi everyone! My name is Becky Thompson from the YouTube channel “Power Tools With Thread” and a blog by the same name.  I am so honored to be part of Moda’s Countdown to Christmas 2020 quilt! This is a great quilt block if you are a beginner quilter or if you are teaching the next generation of quilters.  It is a very simple block that is cut down to size at the end so everything fits just right. It’s layer cake friendly so you can make an entire quilt using this cute Christmas gift block.  The finished block measures 12″ x 12″.


Choose which block will be your “wrapping paper” (Fabric A) and cut it in half so you have two 5″ x 10″ rectangles.  Set aside.

From Fabric B cut one 3″ x 10″ rectangle and one 4″ x 4″ square.

From Fabric C (background), cut one 4″x4″ square and two 3.5″ squares.

Let’ make the “package”. Sew the 3″x10″ Fabric B rectangle between the two pieces of Fabric A to create a ribbon that goes down the middle of your package.

Now for the bow. Draw a diagonal line on one of the 4″x4″ B or C squares.

Place the two 4″ x 4″ squares from fabrics B and C right sides together (RST) and sew them together stitching 1/4″ away on both sides of your drawn diagonal line.

Cut the block you just sewed in half on the drawn line to create two half square triangles (HTSs).  Press the seams in different directions:  one to the dark side and one to the light. This will help them nest together when sewn.

Align your “bow” pieces so they will align on top of your package properly and sew them together in the middle making sure you have a 1/4″ seam where they meet at the bottom of the bow.

Sew a Fabric C background square to each end of the bow. The finished unit will be a bit longer than your package but that’s OK because we’ll trim it down in a bit.

On your “package” piece, fold the sides together matching the ribbon seams and create a finger press crease to mark the center.  You can also do this with a ruler if you like.

Now lay the bow section face down on the package matching the center seam of your HSTs to your newly marked crease.

Stitch together making sure to stitch directly on the bottom of the “V” where the HTSs meet. I like to pin going in one side of the seam and coming out on the other.

Open and iron flat.  Now trim the sides of the background to match the edges of the package.

Using the top of your package as a starting point, trim off the bottom edge of the package so it measures 12″ x 12″.

All done!  It’s ready to go under the tree!  🙂

These blocks are so easy and so fun you can make several of them into a cute table runner or maybe even an entire quilt!

This entry was posted on December 2, 2019, in Sewing.

Creating a Pieced Backing with Unused Top Pieces

Last spring I had the opportunity to attend an event featuring Doug Leko of Antler Quilt Designs that was put on by the Cedar Chest Quilt Shop. I loved all of his quilts, but what I found most intriguing was his use of pieced backings. I’ve always wanted to give this a try. Here he is showing the front of the quilt. The photo doesn’t do it justice – it is simply stunning!

And here is the back.

Last summer I made the Merriment Quilt by Gingiber.

It’s a darling little wall hanging quilt with super cute little woodland animals in a panel. The pattern called for the 4 larger animal prints to be used in the quilt top, but there were also other little smaller animal prints in the panel and I didn’t want them to go to waste. I thought they’d be perfect to piece into the backing. I also had two additional little pieced blocks left over.

Math not being my strong point, I decided to do it the visual way and used my Fons & Porter design wall ( I love this thing. It has lines marked at two inch intervals and makes everything so easy to visualize. I guess that’s the point right? The top is 36″ by 40″ and I wanted and extra 5″ all around to put it on the longarm. So I needed a finished top that’s 46″ inches wide. The height doesn’t really matter so long as I have enough to get it into the Red Snappers on the top edge (and bottom if I choose).

I used painter’s tape on the design wall to show where the finished edges of the backing needed to be and just eyeballed it from there.

I’m pretty happy with how the backing turned out. I added the top and bottom 6″ pieces to it after I took this photo. Now all I need is my new longarm frame to get here and I can get this baby quilted!

Final Issue of #DIME Magazine

One of my YouTube viewers sent me an email that contained an image of a page out of Designs In Machine Embroidery (DIME) magazine stating that this would be the last issue of the magazine. I get the digital version and hadn’t seen it yet.

My emotions went from “This is a scam!” to “Nooo!” to “Aww dang, I love that magazine,” and then finally to embarrassment. Why embarrassment? Because just this past summer, I held an Embroider-Along on my YouTube channel for a table runner that was a project showcased in the magazine. When I requested permission from the magazine to do this, the editor of DIME, Eileen Roche, gave her permission and also offered my viewers a 2-years-for-the-price-of-1 subscription. So throughout the month of July 2019, I urged viewers to subscribe. And now this.

My husband told me not to take it personally. He said, “It’s out of your control, it’s not your fault, so don’t worry about it.” Yes, that’s true but… Anyone who watches me on a regular basis knows that I frequently recommend products to my viewers. Some of these products are provided to me by companies for my honest review and some are not. If I don’t think the product is worth it, it goes unmentioned. However, if I recommend a product, it’s something that I own/use/adore/can’t do without, etc. DIME Magazine was part of this group as I have been a subscriber of the magazine since circa 2010. It may be due to vanity, but I believe that my viewers trust what I recommend to them and they wouldn’t have parted with their hard-earned cash unless I told them it was worth it. Money doesn’t grow on trees. As I struggled with it, he said, “It’s not about you.” That’s difficult for me when I’ve built a relationship with my viewers.

So what’s a girl to do? Why, validate the news of course. I promptly wrote to DIME to confirm the information. My email was forwarded to Eileen Roche and she personally sent a reply to me. Here it is.

Hello Becky,
Kayla sent me your email expressing your concern about the magazine.

I spoke in length about this on FaceBook Live today, you can watch it there.  Although the magazine appeared very healthy up to its last print issue, it is not financially feasible to continue to print.  We are making sound business decisions and will continue to grow. Our competitor, CME, filed bankruptcy last spring. Their readers received NOTHING for their remaining issues.  Family Circle ceased printing after 87 years.  Newsweek vanished several years ago.  A visit to any Joann’s store tells the story – the magazine newsstand is no longer anywhere to be found.  The publishing industry is in vast decline, this is not something we caused. 
I appreciate your concern regarding your viewers.  They will not lose faith in you as this is totally out of your control and being handled professionally. As the founding editor of DIME, I can tell you I did not make this decision lightly – I have spent all of my 20+ year career making machine embroidery easier and more enjoyable for the embroidery enthusiast and I plan on continuing to do just that.

Eileen Roche
Designs in Machine Embroidery

I read the email to my husband and he said, “See? I told you this was out of your control.” It’s funny (‘odd’ funny, not ‘ha-ha’ funny) that both he and Eileen used the same language. Still that did nothing to remove the odd pit in my stomach about some of my viewers possibly feeling misled by me. However, I do have to give kudos to Eileen to offer a gift certificate to the DIME shop for the remainder of readers’ subscriptions. Most magazines aren’t so charitable.

For those who may feel misled, know that I too am in the same boat with my viewers who subscribed. I paid for my subscription as well and was not provided the magazine for free to promote it. (Heavy sigh) Emotionally, I’m back to, “Dang, I loved that magazine.” The world is a-changing. One of my favorite pastimes was hunkering down with an issue of DIME and a hot cup of decaf-tea to end my day. DIME was one of those magazines that quieted the noise of the daily world. Sadly, that will now be a thing of the past. It was good while it lasted. I guess I can liken this to sports fans whose favorite player has been traded and now they have all these team number jerseys and hats in their closet that are no longer applicable. Do those fans blame the player? Ultimately, no. While they too become emotionally attached to the team as a whole, they know down deep that sports are a business and players are traded all the time due to business decisions that are out of the player’s control. In my case, the loss of the magazine doesn’t diminish my passion for the embroidery game. I hope it doesn’t yours either.

If you are affected, here is the link to claim your gift certificate for the balance of your remaining issues.

Sewing 101: Cleaning Your Machine

My sewing machine wasn’t exhibiting any performance issues, but I did notice a tiny bit of lint peeking up through the feed dog plate. Usually, where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

There’s more to cleaning then just brushing out the bobbin case so I normally remove the feed dog plate with a handy-dandy piece of US currency. Even the squattiest screwdrivers sometimes can’t do the trick. 🙂

One of my favorite cleaning tools is an old makeup brush that came as a freebie in a Loreal makeup kit. A little wiping with the brush found some dust bunnies right off the bat.

Look at ALL that dust and loose threads that were hiding in there! WOW!

A great way to clean the feed dogs is to use an old fashioned pipe cleaner.

I have a happy, happy clean bobbin case housing!

To put the bobbin case back in, be sure to align the little arrow on the bobbin case with a dot or other marker on the housing. I circled the dot on the bobbin case to match with the marker on the housing. If you do this and you’re not sure, take a photo with your phone before pulling anything out.

When was the last time you cleaned your machine? Hmmm? There’s no time better than the present!

Holiday Meadow Placemats

While we were at the coast this weekend, I was digging around in my sewing stash for one thing or another and came across a wallhanging panel called Holiday Meadow.

Then along with that wall hanging panel I found another matching panel for coordinating placemats. I didn’t take a before pic, but you get the idea.

The placemat panel also had bundled with it four fat quarters for backings and I looked at it and thought, “Now where did these come from?” 🙃 Honestly, I had no idea. So rather than let them languish another season, I decided to put them together.

Placemats are very easy and perfect for a quick project. You simply layer batting, backing face up, and top face down. To keep the edges nice and clean, I drew a stitching line in pencil just inside the colored border.

I did a single 45 degree stitch at each corner to give the fabric somewhere to go. This is a trick I learned when making shirt collar points.

I left the opening 7″ wide as instructed on the pattern. I trimmed leaving a 1/4″ edge outside of the stitch line except at the opening which I left at 1/2″. Not pictured: I clipped the corners.

Closing the opening is easier if you iron the folded edge before turning rightside out. Here it is after turning.

I used the inside edge of the presser foot as a guide for stitching around the outer edge.

Then I marked lines with an air-erasable marker for simple straight line stitching 2″ apart to quilt the placemats.

I love how they turned out!

I’m going to look around on the internet to find coordinating fabric to make up the wall hanging.

Now is the time to whip up an easy project for the holidays! What’s under your needle?

2019 Greater San Antonio Quilt Guild Show

Hi everyone! I went to a local quilt show last weekend. Had a great time and made a video of my trip. The video is about an hour so grab a coffee, sit back, and enjoy! Thanks to Janet Miller, the show’s Chair, for showing me around and making me (and my subscribers!) feel so welcome!