Summer is almost here and it is time to start thinking about quilts for the upcoming patriotic season. The Millennium block is an easy and beautiful block for quilts for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. This block finishes at 12″ so it’s a nice sized block that will make a beautiful table runner too with just 3 or 4 blocks. Let’s get started!
This line of fabric is a combination of an American Basics roll of 2.5″ strips and a navy blue fat quarter.
Block A (1) – 4″ x 4″ square. B (4) – 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares. C (4) – 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles. D (4) – 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles. E (4) – 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares. F (4) – 1.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles. G (4) – 1.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles. H (8) – 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares. These squares matched Block A.
Start by making for flying geese units. Sew 2 of square H to 1 rectangle C. Draw a diagonal line on the back of square H and sew from the outer corner toward the middle.
Trim outside the stitch line to 1/4″ and iron the point open.
Repeat on the other side.
Make 4. They should finish at 2.5″ x 4.5″.
Sew together the F & G rectangles to make 4.
Sew the F & G rectangle to the C & H flying geese unit.
Time to make the corner blocks. Sew B & E together and make 4.
Sew the B & E unit to D.
Make 4 of the corner blocks.
Now lay everything out like a 9 patch!
Sew your nine patch together for a gorgeous Millennium block!
I’m going to make enough of these for 5 across and 5 down with sashing and navy cornerstones in between! So pretty!
I just want to give you a heads up that I’ll be doing a Christmas in July sew along using the Brother Scan N Cut and Simply Applique (much like I did last year with Howl-Lelujah). The pattern is by the same company – Urban Elements and it’s a precious Flamingo in wooly stockings. How fun!
You don’t have to have a Scan N Cut to join in. I’ll be doing both quilts – one using the Scan N Cut and one without. So I’ll demo both. In fact, you don’t need Simply Applique software either! You can certainly sew down the applique pieces the old fashioned way, but using the new technology is so fun and you will absolutely love it. This program is very inexpensive so I hope you give it a try! https://www.allbrands.com/products/65662-brother-sabessa-simply-applique-creative-embroider
Vicki from Creative Notions was so generous to give away two of her 2020 Maker’s Planners with my viewers. On my most recent video, I offered them up to those who made a comment saying they wanted the “planner”. The giveaway closed at March 25, 2020 at 5:00pm CST.
There were 274 unique entries with the word “planner” in the comment. There were over 300 comments but some people didn’t want to enter the giveaway.
From those 274 entries, I chose two random selections using the YouTube Comment Picker.
Winner #1 – Robin Brown
Winner #2 – Fleta Hall
Winners, please email me at email@example.com with your address! Congratulations!!
I’m in the middle of making a YouTube video showing how to make a mug rug for St. Patrick’s Day using Kimberbell’s Seasonal & Holiday Mug Rugs, Vol 2. I know many of my subscribers don’t have (or don’t want ‘gasp!’) an embroidery machine so I thought I’d share a pattern for those who just want to sew one. This mug rug is based on a traditional log cabin block and can be made for any season or event just by changing the fabrics. It’s super easy!
Here’s the pattern. Just right-click (Cmd click) the image to save it to your computer and then print it. The only measurement on the pattern is the width of the fabric strip. You’ll trim the length to match the side to which it is being sewn after you stitch it.
This pattern starts with a 3.5″ square for the center. If you want to add a seasonal applique you can add it here. I’m using a 4 leaf clover that I grabbed from Google Images and resized to be 2.5″ so it will center in the middle square. If you want to use this one, again you can just save the image and print.
I used the manual method to trace the image to an iron-on called Hot Fix Adhesive as a backing and then ironed it to the applique fabric. I was all gung-ho to use the Scan-n-Cut (SNC) however I’m writing this blog post from our coastal home and when I brought my old SNC down here, someone (not moi’ of course!) forgot to bring along the power cord. Note to self: Pack SNC power cord for next trip.
I laid out my pieces to get a general idea of how to piece them.
The log cabin method is so easy because you just have to sew on one side and trim to fit.
I continued to add the pieces according to the pattern. Once the top was all finished, I cut out some of the beer mugs and a lucky horseshoe from one of the fabrics and ironed them on. Then I layered the top, batting, and backing to get it ready to quilt.
I quilted using a simple serpentine stitch using the presser foot as a spacing guide.
I turned it over to carefully trim away the extra batting and trimmed the backing to within 5/8″.
My buddy Lisa and I and our husbands trekked up to Austin, Texas with “Media Creds” to check out QuiltCon 2020. QuiltCon gets its name as a take off from Comic-Con which is where all the comic book groupies join up for a comic book convention every year – usually in LasVegas. So QuiltCon is a quilt convention but it is the quilt convention for the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG). You can read about the MQG here. This year, there were 1,600 quilts entered into the show to be juried and 432 were chosen to be judged. Sorry about image quality throughout this post. I snagged the pictures as screen shots while editing the videos.
My previous experience with QuiltCon is limited. I’ve read about it on blogs over the years and have come across posts where quilters have had quilts accepted for judging. I was very excited to interview the Executive Director, Karen Cooper, and come to find out, we live about 20 miles from each other. From what I could tell, she did an amazing job and the show itself was very well-organized and flowed very smoothly.
I loved the Welcome Quilt.
We saw some very lovely work at this show. This quilt took 2nd place in Piecing.
We also saw some quilts that were designed to shock. I guess that comes with the territory of the modern quilting movement. There were political messages and other themed quilts that were very “in your face” about the divisive issues of our time regarding politicians, guns, oppression, political anarchy, immigration…you name it. We saw it all including profanity delicately hand stitched and pieced into fabric. Beauty and art is in the eye of the beholder.
Here is a glimpse of the Best In Show by Peter of Toronto, Canada. This is a screenshot of my interview with him in front of his winning quilt.
This one took Judge’s Choice.
There were also some we saw with no message but just a work of art.
So that’s a glimpse of what we did yesterday. Today we are off to another quilt show in Brenham, Texas that I’m pretty sure will lean more to the side of “traditional quilting”. Happy Trails!
It’s been a busy start to 2020. I’ve picked up a couple of quilting projects and started Ava’s Garden from Connecting Threads in queen size.
For the fabric, I chose Fields of Blue by Moda for some gorgeous Bluebonnets in the Churn Dash blocks. I’m about halfway finished with this beauty and I especially want it done before the Bluebonnets bloom here in South Texas next March.
It’s been about a year since I remodeled my sewing room and I’ve done some refinements along the way. While I’ve purchased bits of garment fabric here and there over the past year, I’ve really concentrated my fabric habit into quilting and embroidery. Garment fabric has been removed to another room and space has been made for the Brother Luminaire that is on loan to me from #Allbrands.
I’m busy setting everything to rights around the room so I’m ready for a full-blown sewing room video tour I’m going to do this weekend.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the Luminaire with Simply Applique to make the Howl-lelujah quilt last December. My next venture with that fabulous machine is to stipple around the applique pieces on the Safari Way-to-Grow wall hanging from Urban Elementz.
I’ve seen videos where the Luminaire can, after scanning in the hoop, create a “stamp” around a shape, thereby creating an outline around the shape. Then I can fill the empty space with a stipple to fully quilt the wall hanging using the embroidery machine. I look forward to figuring this all out and sharing it with my YouTube viewers as well.
My next “First” will be attending QuiltCon in Austin, Texas on Feb 20.
I’ve never been and I’m interested to see if there is a different “vibe” from the Houston Quilt Festival. The world of Modern Quilting is foreign to me so I’m excited to go to Austin to see what it’s all about. Of course, I’ll be taking you along with me and will video my entire trip!
And last but not least, hubs Keith has started prepping for his retirement by re-engaging in his passion of woodworking. First off the lathe are custom acrylic and wooden seam ripper/stiletto combos. They, along with other fine sewing tools including ruler racks, sleeve boards, and tailor’s tools, will be in our Etsy shop soon!
What an amazing year this has been! I find it hard to believe I began this blog 5 years ago. Over the past 5 years I’ve had successes, I’ve had fails, and all along the way I’ve learned what an amazing group of people that quilters and sewers are. Whether you’re in the industry or a home quilter/embroiderer/sewer, you are an incredible group of people!
The beginning of 2019 found me expanding my social media presence and starting up my YouTube channel and oh my…what a response you have given me! In just the first year, I’m almost to 8,400 subscribers! I owe all of that to Joy Bernhardt (above) for her unfailing support to me and encouraging you to visit my channel. That’s hard to believe (that you’d watch) when it’s only been a year. I truly appreciate each and every one of you. I’ve loved meeting you at shops, quilt shows, the Houston Quilt Festival, and at retreats. I’ve loved doing the giveaways and receiving your leftovers for those of you who are downsizing and passing them forward.
It is so meaningful to me when I do a “Come Along With Me” video and I hear from so many of you that you can no longer get out to shop in the stores any longer and so appreciate the tour because “it’s just like you were there”. Maybe you don’t drive any longer, maybe you’re a full time care giver, or maybe your health doesn’t permit you to get out as much as you would like. It means the world to me that I can help you continue to visit quilt and sewing stores and shops. Or maybe you’re looking for a new shop to visit on your next outing! Road trip!! https://youtu.be/Dxv4QGmFMzI
2020 is already full of new and exciting things for Power Tools With Thread. I’ve begun a collaboration with Designs by JuJu and I’m so excited to begin to share Julie’s adorable embroidery designs. I’ve also begun collaborating with Creative Notions Quilt Shop monthly subscription where Vickie will provide me the latest and greatest quilting fabrics and notions that I can share with you. I especially love her Kids Box that is full of creativity and designed to get the littles away from a screen and allows you to share your love of stitching with them.
There will be a lot more tutorials and quilt/sew-alongs too. I just love to teach, but not only that, I love to learn from you as well. There’s not a single video I put out that I don’t learn a thing or two from your comments. Many of you know my ‘day job’ is in computers and I so enjoy sharing the new technology with you that can make your life in your sewing room sew much easier! https://youtu.be/CBYfaaNruyY
I will continue to do classes and events with Allbrands and Designs in Machine Embroidery. I also have lots of shop spotlights planned for the new year as well in my travels. My husband is retiring in April 2020 and he says he has plans to be ‘my bus driver’ to take me around to all my quilting and embroidery excursions. I’m so blessed that he supports me the way he does.
He also has plans to begin to make custom sewing tools that he will make in his woodshop. Be on the lookout for a Power Tools With Thread shop on Etsy (or the like) for fine handcrafted tailor’s tools, sleeveboards, ruler stands, etc. Here’s one he made me for Christmas a few years ago. He couldn’t believe I filled up that day! Well duh! lol
As I type this, we are on our way to Manhattan, KS and we are nearly to our destination. Again, I thank you for your support, your likes and chat in the PTWT Facebook group, your loves on Instagram, and your YouTube subscriptions. I want to wish each and every one of you a very blessed and Happy New Year and I can’t wait to continue our stitching journey together!
Since I’ve started my YouTube channel I’ve been asked this same question many, many, times so I thought I’d create a blog post and point viewers to it to save some repetitive typing. 🙂 I’m very honored that you value my opinion. That said, this is just my opinion. I’m not a dealer or on anyone’s payroll, but I love to play with machines and run them through their paces. If you have another machine you’d like to tout, please chime in in the comments below so others can see what I probably don’t know about. Please be positive and respectful. This post only covers single-needle machines. If you want a multi-needle (and are not a professional in the market for a commercial machine), I recommend the Brother 10-needle. The Brother screen interface is the best on the market. I have a Janome 7 needle and I’m not a fan. I wish we’d of spent more and gotten the Brother instead. I believe the Brother 6 needle is too color-limiting, especially if you want to make money with it. That’s all I’ve got on multi-needles.
Buying an embroidery machine is a whole ‘nother world from buying a sewing machine. There are many machines that do both and then there are some that only do embroidery. If you’ve watched my channel at all, you know I’m partial to Brother machines for both sewing, serging, and embroidery. I prefer the Brother brand for several reasons: feet are easy to find, they use a standard bobbin, technicians are almost everywhere, they run forever, and you get the most bang for your buck from a Brother machine. I can count my trips to the “sewing doctor” on one hand for all of my Brother machines and I’ve been sewing on them for almost 25 years as of the writing of this post in December 2019.
Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilt Company says, “Buy the most machine you can afford where there is a technician nearby.” Bingo. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. But what features are out there and which one is right for you? If price is not an option and you only want a single needle machine, go for the big dog, the Brother Luminaire. There. You can quit reading now. But I go more in depth on the machine below. 🙂
I started with the Brother PE770 (above) which they no longer make but its latest upgrade is the Brother PE800. It is an embroidery-only machine and it has a 5″x7″ hoop and a color screen. If you’re just starting out in the world of embroidery and looking for a great machine at a reasonable price (less than $800), then I highly recommend that one. And if you’re so inclined to buy one from Amazon, I’d appreciate it if you’d use this link so I make a few bucks for my recommendation at no cost to you. 🙂 As of this posting, it’s on a pretty good sale (less than $600!) Other affiliate links are below to my favorite embroidery tools and accessories. Brother PE 800 Image below – https://amzn.to/2OVD7yu
Brother or Baby Lock? They are different companies that make their machines in the same manufacturing plant. They produce different machines but the guts are the same. They can be identical right down to the sounds of the chimes and the pin stripes on the machines but have significantly different price points between brands. Kind of like Ford / Lincoln and Chevy / GMC. Brother has a contract with Disney so if you have littles and need to whip out a Minnie, Mickey, Winnie the Pooh, or Tinkerbell, that might be a selling point.
What hoop size? Well, I advise never, Never, NEVER get a machine that only goes as large as a 4″x4″ hoop. You’ll outgrow it in a day and be sorely disappointed you wasted your money. If that’s all you can afford, then save your pennies a little longer until you can at least swing a 5″x7″ hoop. A 4″x4″ is so limiting and as you get better, and kids grow, you’ll want to make bigger designs. Be careful of pictures on boxes in the store too as I’ve seen pictures of 5″x7″ hoops on machine boxes that only contain hoops as large as 100x100mm = 4″x4″. Be sure to read the fine print on the box to determine the maximum size. If you have a bunch of cute 5″x7″ or larger designs, and your 4″x4″ machine can’t “see” them, you’ll be wasting money in more ways than one. After my PE770, I bought a used Baby Lock Ellegante 2 in 2013 and a used Brother Quattro 6000D in 2016 on Craig’s List and they both go as large as 9.5″ x 14″ which really is a great size.
Bells and Whistles: The Camera or Scanner. Embroidery machines coming out lately have cameras and scanners in them which can help you to precisely place a design even if you didn’t hoop your project straight. This feature bumps your price point to anywhere from $5,000 – $12,000 on used machines. However, once you use one of these types of machines, you’ll never go back. My Baby Lock Ellegante 2 doesn’t have this feature so I rarely use this machine for embroidery any longer. It’s been relegated to sewing only. My Brother Quattro has Upgrade Kits 1 & 2 in it which basically turned it into its big brother, the Dream Machine, and I absolutely love the scanning feature. Designs can be moved around to be perfectly placed just by looking at the scanned image on the screen. Here’s what it looks like.
The Brother Stellaire.
The Brother Stellaire (above). I’ll be honest, I’ve not used this machine at all. It is an embroidery-only machine so you cannot sew garments with it. It also comes with an iPod to wirelessly move images to the machine which can then be converted into embroidery designs. The iPod will notify you when it’s finished sewing or if there’s an issue while a stitch out occurs when you’re away from the machine swapping out the laundry. I’m sure it’s an exceptional machine, but I personally am not excited about keeping up with another device (the iPod) to make sure it’s charged constantly and figuring out all the apps and changes that come along with it. I’m a Microsoft/Android girl myself so to me, the iPod was not a selling point. If you are a fan of Apple products, be sure to go see one at a dealer and see if it’s something that’s up your alley.
The Brother Luminaire XP1 and Baby Lock Solaris. Top. Of. The. Line. These machines are identical in every way except for the color of the casing and the Luminaire XP1 has the Disney package in it where the Solaris does not. The upgrades on these machines compared to all other single-needle machines is incredible. They are dual sewing and embroidery, however you do not have to change out the bed of the machine from sewing to embroidery and back again. You only need to change out the sewing feet. That said, it has a large footprint (it takes up a lot of space) and you’ll need at least a 4 foot long sturdy sewing table. It’s very heavy and it’s very big. The technology in these machines is top-notch. First of all, you can (but don’t have to) connect it to your home router so it becomes wireless. Embrilliance embroidery software has a menu driven ability to send designs to the machine wirelessly, e.g. no more saving to a USB stick and taking the design by hand to the machine to import it (heaven forbid!) Other embroidery software may also do this but I’ve successfully done it several times on the Luminaire. These machines will not only scan your garment in the hoop like my Quattro or the Dream Machine, but you can also resize the design on-the-fly if you want to make it larger or smaller before you stitch it out. The tablet-size screen is gorgeous and makes editing designs in My Design Center very easy. It will magnify to 800%+ so if you need a little help in the eyesight department, you’ve got it. The editing tool features in My Design Center (that’s what it’s called on the Luminaire – not sure what’s it’s called on the Solaris) are a lot like Adobe Photoshop. It includes familiar tools like copy/paste, the wand, the hand, the eyedropper, the bucket, and the lasso. And there’s a full pallet of colors and styles to choose from for easy editing. If you are doing an applique quilt, these machines will scan in a paper pattern with an included scanning hoop and create an applique design: placement, tack down, and final stitch right there on the screen. Want to move the tack down in just a tad? No problem. Go back to that stitch sequence and edit it on the screen. Easy peasy. The sewing mode has the ability to project a 1/4″ laser guide on the bed of the machine so your quilting seams are true and straight. You can change the color of the laser from red to green to white – of course. You can change the width of the laser, you can change the length of the laser, and I bet it will run you to the doctor for your next appointment if you find the right button. The abilities of these machines is incredible and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I’ve only played with the Luminaire for a couple of days and so far, I’m mighty impressed. Too bad it’s only on loan from Allbrands.com for a quilt-along I’m currently doing on my channel. I bet they lent to me as a trap! LOL Oh, if you want one of these machines, hold on to your pocketbook. You can buy a small car for less. But hey, life’s short and you deserve it, right? I’ll be adding edits to this post as I play with the machine more. I’ve not yet tried the fancy pen that will edit stitches on the bed of the machine via a projection down onto your fabric. If you know of other very cool things these machines can do, please leave a comment and let us all know! I also watch YouTube videos by Terry Maffit and she is a great instructor on this machine and I’m also a member of her FB group. Great stuff there folks.
There are other brands of embroidery machines out there but I can’t give an honest review of them because I’ve never used them. If you know of good info to share on other machines, please leave a comment. My dear friend Joy Bernhart has a Bernina but she only sews clothes on it and uses her Baby Lock Solaris for embroidery. Although the Bernina will embroider, she prefers the Bernina for garment sewing. And she has a LOT of machines like me so I trust her judgement. Also, call around your area and see which certified technician types there are. If there is only a Pfaff technician, then that may be your answer. According to Sarah Gunn from the blog Goodbye Valentino, she loves her Pfaff embroidery machine and uses it to make gorgeous necklines and cuffs on her tunics.
Basically, you need to decide what you can afford and then get the most machine – just as Jenny said. It’s really all in the bells and whistles. Do your homework, test drive some machines, and see what works for you. But if you’re just starting out on a budget and want a great first machine, again I highly recommend that Brother PE 800 from Amazon. For great how to’s on that machine, search the Brother PE 770 on YouTube and watch Vince Arcuri for beginner videos. I’m always happy to answer any questions as well.
Affiliate links – (I make a commission from Amazon on the products below at no cost to you). I’ve purchased all the items below so I can personally highly recommend these to you. I’ve even done repeat purchases on these products. These accessories are what is in my sewing room.
Thread – This link is for Brother Embroidery thread. I’ve used it for years and it works very well for me. I’ve had no problems. I’ve NOT used the brand on Amazon call Brothread. Don’t be fooled by the name similarities, the cheap price, and the hundreds of 5 star reviews. The link below is for inexpensive thread I’ve used for years that I bought when I was just starting out. Embrilliance even includes it in one of the brand types it supports. Again, this is NOT Brothread. This is Brother Embroidery thread. You get 63 spools for $40 and it’s worked well for me in my Brother PE 770 and the BabyLock Ellegante 2. If you are just starting out in machine embroidery, I think you’ll be fine to learn on this vs. dropping over $300+ on other high-end thread brands. https://amzn.to/2qyUo7m
Thread Tree – You wouldn’t think you’d need one of these but it is probably my most valued accessory. It is so great to set my threads up in order, hold all the tails in the spring at the top, and keep everything nice and neat. It speeds up your process so much and keeps you straight when you’ve got a lot of colors. This is money well spent. https://amzn.to/38cG5pS
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 12.5″ x 12.5″.
1 – 10″ x 10″ square for the “wrapping paper” (Fabric A) 1 – 10″ x 10″ square for the “ribbon and bow” (Fabric B) 1 – 10″ x 10″ square for the background (Fabric C)
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 1/2″ x 10″ rectangle and one 4″ x 4″ square.
From Fabric C (background), cut one 4″x4″ square and two 3 5/8″ squares.
Let’ make the “package”. Sew the 3.5″x10″ Fabric B rectangle between the two pieces of Fabric A to create a ribbon that goes down the middle of your package. It should measure 12.5″ wide.
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 (HSTs). 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. Sorry, I missed the image of this unit before it was sewn but you can see it ready to sew below.
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. I like to pin going in one side of the seam and coming out on the other. I also like to give myself a guideline using a Frixion pen so I hit the point exactly. Stitch together making sure to stitch directly on the bottom of the “V” where the HTSs meet.
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 1/2″ x 12 1/2″.
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!