Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

Today is September 1, 2019 and it is the day a winner was chosen from the latest giveaway on my video!

There were a total of 469 comments! It is so wonderful to see so many of you intrested in our craft! Warms the heart 😊

The prize is a 5″x10″ Jolly Bar fabric pre-cut, a Jolly Bar pattern book, and a 5″x10″ half-hexi ruler from MSQC!

I used a random number generator for my phone. I told it I needed a number between 1 and 469 and it chose #83!

I counted top level comments up from the bottom of the comment string and Peggy Perry, you have won!

Congratulations Peggy! Please email your mailing address to me at

For those that didnt win, cheer up! There will be more giveaways in the future.😁

A Zipper Pouch for Yo-Yo Makers

Grandma always said, “Everything has a place; everything in its place.” (I try to live by that…I really do.)  I bought these yo-yo makers to use in the Ocean Frolic Quilt pattern that I got on a shop hop last summer. 

After I got home from my Kimberbell embroidery event on Saturday I was digging around in my stash for another thing (can’t recall what now) and came across theses yo-yo makers orphaned in a drawer, all loose and rolling around, and the instructions were buried under some fabric in a back corner of the drawer. Well, we can’t have that! I need to keep them with the instructions so I know how to use them when the time comes.

I dug around and found some happy fabric from Riley Blake called Bake Sale 2. It was in a mystery bundle I received from Missouri star months ago. I cut 4 pieces of fabric 10″ x 12″ and used a 14″ zipper.

I chose an equally happy 1″ font called Blue Kids on Scooters. I embroidered this with lightweight tear away sticky stabilizer.

I put Pellon Shape Flex 101 on the lining pieces. Then I sewed the inner and outer pieces to a bright yellow zipper. I stitched each piece to the right/left and front/back of the zipper.

I used the toe of the machine foot as a guide for top stitching.

Don’t forget the MOST important step! Open that zipper before stitching all the sides closed!

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are to lineup all 4 pieces exactly the same, they seem to be off on the edges.

No matter. I just drew a line inside the shortest piece of each edge as my stitching line.

Because this is a utility bag I didn’t get all worked up about hiding the inside seams. Instead I cut them with a pinking rotary cutter blade. That makes fast work of finishing off the inside seams.

I love how this turned out! Now I just need to figure out where to put it!

Finding Time for Stitching

This week has been a busy one! My day job has had me working a conference all week, day in and day out, arriving before sunrise and leaving for home after dinner. We had about 150 people come to San Antonio to discuss new processes for migrating Air Force data to the cloud. Very exciting!

I stayed away from the pastry table!

Needless to say, after the drive home, my brain was not ready to shut down yet.

Being away from the sewing machine all week was stressful in itself for this girl. Monday night my darkened sewing room seemed so sad and desolate without the bright lights and the hum of a machine going in the background. So on the 2nd day of the conference, when I got home, I just needed to do something… anything, to satisfy the need to create and sew. I didn’t want anything too intensive so I dug out a simple Villa Rosa Designs pattern that called for four patches made from 5″ blocks. Hello Phoebe!

It said that 40 different prints from a package of 10″ squares could be used. I didn’t want to waste half of a layer cake so I went in search of a Jolly Bar that I thought would be perfect for this project. I know I had a couple of them around somewhere in my recently re-organized sewing room. I chose Bonnie and Camille’s “The Good Life”. So happy and fun! Of course I didn’t take a picture of it before I cut it but here is an image of the layer cake.

Jolly Bars are the brain child of Kim Jolly from the Fat Quarter Shop and are distributed by Moda. They are 5″ x 10″ rectangles, (half of a layer cake) and were perfect for this project. In less than 10 minutes the entire Jolly Bar was cut in half, sorted, stacked and ready to go.

I just needed to get some fabric under a presser foot. This was so beneficial to me. It helped me to refocus my mind, calm my thoughts, and yet feel a sense of accomplishment at the same time. For me, this accomplished what sitting mindlessly in front of a TV could never do.

In less than an hour, I had the main four patch squares of this quilt completed.

I still needed two yards of fabric for sashing and borders so on the 3rd day of the conference I snuck away to the quilt store during lunch. I chose a soft gray with light circles of dots for the sashing/borders and a red print for the binding. I have auditioned it here below. For the backing I found 4 yards of the dark gray print in the image below on Etsy for $4 a yard. Score!!

These Villa Rosa patterns are wonderful in their simplicity and yield a gorgeous result. The sashing was done by the end of day 3. I couldn’t do this pattern match again if I tried. Can you believe this was happenstance?

Borders were done and on at the end of day four. Yay! I’ll say it again… Hello Phoebe!

It feels so good to sew something from my stash and also feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end of a very busy week.😊

Simplicity 8794 #widelegpantchallenge

Have you all heard about Joy Bernhardt’s Wide Leg Pant Challenge? She decided to challenge us all to make up some wide leg pants to get us sewing and because they are SOOOO easy!

I used Simplicity 8794. The pattern for the pants is literally 3 pieces. Front, back, and POCKET! Love me some pockets!

The elastic I used is a 1.5″ wide super soft elastic that I got from Louise Cutting’s website (based on a recommendation from Joy). I trimmed it down to 1.25″. This stuff is amazing and so easy to sew through.

I used 3 machines in this make: 1) the serger for the inner and outer leg seams; 2) the standard sewing machine for the hem; and 3) the coverstitch for the waistband. I think a coverstitch machine makes for such a pretty look on the outside over an elastic waist band. I used Steam-A-Seam for the hem before stitching the single hem stitch at a 4.0.

The fabric is a luscious stretch crepe. It’s heavy and flowy and has a beautiful hand. Sorry, I can’t recall where I got it and it’s not in any of my regular online ordering history so maybe…probably…Joann’s?

I get my labels at Dutch Label Shop. I love this!

These will be worn a lot! I need a shorter top to wear with them though. I would also go down a size. My hips measure 44 so that’s a size 20 out of the package but I probably could wear my standard pattern size of 18.

OK, time to post on Instagram! If you’re doing this, be sure to tag them (use the pound sign! lol) #widelegpantchallenge (and that’s “pant” singular)

#DIME Trapunto Seashell Table Runner is Finished!

I’ve finished the table runner! Yay! #DesignsInMachineEmbroidery has offered a free table runner project and you can get the directions and a link to download the files on my previous post here. Also, those free design files are only good through Dec 31, 2019 so if you think you might want to make this later, be sure to download them from the Ameliescott website now.

Trapunto Seashell Table Runner
Designs In Machine Embroidery Trapunto Seashell Table Runner

I made the last two how-to videos today and unfortunately, before I finished, my camera battery ran out. Dang! Typical… I’ll be editing them and getting them up this week.

Anyhoo…Once I figured out how to use the scan camera in my Brother Quattro (upgrade Kit 1), life became fun, and happy, and full of rainbows! 🙂 So much so, that I was disappointed when the time came to say goodnight to my machine. That nifty little feature allowed me to perfectly place the quilt stitching in the background fabric around the shell and also place the stitching in the accent fabric. I can “see” the stitching on the screen by using the scanned image that the camera picked up. I’m in a silly kind of heaven I never knew existed!

I finished the runner with My Favorite Machine Binding Method using a Kona Silver I got from an MSQC Daily Deal that was hanging around in my stash. However, unlike that blog post, I no longer need or use the Steam-a-Seam due to my Brother PQ1500SL which upped my binding game much to my surprise. The 1/4″ foot on that machine does away with the need for pins, clips, or SAS. I love it!

Oh, one more thing… Offer ends July 31, 2019 to get two years of #DesignsInMachineEmbroidery magazine for the price of one for less than $20! Use this link. If your Apple Safari browser won’t let you through, use Chrome or Firefox or the Samsung browser if you have an Android device. When you get to the point of actually ordering, it switches to https so it is secure.

Thanks to everyone who participated! I hope during the course of this project you learned to overcome your fear and the mystique of your embroidery machine! If you have joined along in our table runner journey, please upload your finished table runners to Instagram and use the hashtag #trapuntoseashelltablerunner

See you on YouTube soon!

Buying a Sewing Machine from Craig’s List or Facebook

I’ve purchased two of my machines from Craig’s List.  Craig’s List (CL) or a Facebook (FB) Neighborhood for Sale page are great resources for finding used sewing and embroidery machines so I highly encourage you to utilize those if you’re in the market for a new-to-you machine.

The first purchase I made was the Baby Lock Ellegante II (sewing & embroidery combo that uses large hoops) in 2015 which had originally been purchased at a dealer with a full set of Koala furniture. 

Shortly after the original owner purchased the machine, she went into a nursing home.  I saw the ad on CL with an asking price of $2,200.  I dismissed it out-of-hand but several weeks later, I text the seller again to see if they still had it (the ad was no longer on CL).  The seller said she did still have it so hubs and I made the 50 mile trek to go “look” at it.  The seller turned out to be the daughter of the original owner who had recently passed away.  Unfortunately the furniture was already sold (dang it!) but the machine was brand new and the sale included a Sew Steady table that had been custom made for the machine that had not been originally advertised.  And by brand new I mean BRAND NEW – it had a zero stitch count on the display.  I haggled the price down to $2k and felt like I’d won the lottery.  The original selling price of this machine was around $8,500.   This cash sale occurred at the seller’s home and I took my husband with me to make the purchase. This is the machine I use at our other home at the coast.

My second CL purchase in 2017 was a little different.  It was being sold by a gentleman who was the cousin of the lady who owned the machine and she had passed away.  She had a lot of sewing things and he had sold all but the Brother Quattro Innovis 6000D (sewing & embroidery combo) which he was selling for $3,800.

 The ad had been on CL for several weeks.  This was another cash sale so we chose to meet at a local police sub-station that has a couple of parking spaces marked Safe Exchange Zone and there’s a security camera pointing right at the parking spots. 

This machine came with a full set of rolling travel cases, two upgrades already installed in the machine (a $1,500 value), a never-used external Brother PED memory card reader ($90 value), and a digitizing tablet ($1,200 value).   Again, my husband went with me and this time, because our truck has an inverter for 110 power, I brought along some fabric, thread, and a bobbin to do a test to make sure the machine operated as advertised.  I’m SO glad I attempted to make sure the machine at least powered on while the seller was there because it was then that we all discovered that the wrong power cord had been included with the machine.  Fortunately, we were just a few minutes from an Allbrands Creative Sewing Center and I bought a new Brother power cord for just $15.  I never buy after-market for power cords because it’s just too easy to seriously screw up the power center of your machine.   The seller offered to go back and look for the original power cord but it would be an hour wait.  Also, the external card reader is basically useless because the machine takes a standard USB stick so I’d never, ever use the reader.  I told him he could keep it.  We haggled a bit and due to several factors (lengthy ad listing on CL, no power cord, & useless card reader which he didn’t want back) I was able to get the machine for $3,500.  It was a crap shoot that I won not knowing if the machine even powered up or not. 

So from these experiences, here are some tips I have for you when buying a machine on CL or FB.

1.  Do not go to the sale alone.  EVER.  You must ALWAYS, ALWAYS have someone with you for safety:  preferably a large male (…with a gun…hey, this is Texas and that’s how we roll).  You will be carrying a very large amount of cash dollars and people have been robbed, killed and/or car jacked during Craig’s list sales.  This isn’t meant you scare you, but the more aware of the dangers you are, the better prepared and the safer you will be. Also, tell people where you are going, who you will be meeting, and give them the phone number in case you do not return.

2.  Meet in a public location during the daylight – preferably at a police station.  If you can meet at a local quilt or sewing store, that’s all the better.  You’ll want to buy new goodies for your machine anyway.  If they insist on you coming to their home, evaluate the neighborhood and see #1 above. Obviously, someone can’t drag a quilting frame to a meet-up. I went to the lady’s home for my first purchase, but I took my large husband during the daylight hours and she lived in a very nice neighborhood.  I would not have met the 2nd seller at his home. That’s just me.

3.  Do some homework to make sure you’re getting a good deal.  If what they are asking is the same as an eBay sale, be sure to haggle them down.  Tell them it’s for “X amount” on eBay and you’re willing to wait for shipping for a less expensive price.  Nine times out of 10, they want the sale as much as you do so they will come down.

4.  Find the manual online for the model you want to buy.  Figure out how to find the stitch count to see how much the machine has really been used.  If you have a portable power inverter that can produce 110 power, take it with you to plug in the machine if you’re meeting in a parking lot. If the machine has millions and millions of stitches, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but can be a haggling point to bring down the price. It’s an even better haggling point if the seller does not know the maintenance history.

5.  Ask for the maintenance records or at the very least, ask where the machine has been serviced.  You may be able to gain some insight into the health of the machine.  Then call the shop if possible. If it’s been in the shop for the same thing several times or has made frequent trips into the shop, it might be a lemon someone is trying to unload.   Along those lines, do some online research for frequent maintenance issues with that particular machine.  If you see a lot of problems, keep shopping.  

6. If software is included in the deal, like digitizing software for embroidery, check to see if there is a fob (sounds like “job”) that’s required for the software to work. Many pieces of software can only operate on one machine at a time, and while selling the software in a personal sale is perfectly legal, software manufacturers ensure the software can only be used on one machine at a time by use of a special USB stick that’s called a fob. It has a license key on it that allows the software to work. Without it, the software is completely useless and you cannot get another one from the company. If you’re not sure if a fob is required for the software, do a quick Google search prior to finalizing the deal. If one is needed and it’s not there, haggle down the price. Here’s the software that came with our Janome multi-needle. The USB stick is the fob and the software won’t launch without it in the computer. Along that line, ask the seller how many times the software has been installed on another computer. Many pieces of software, especially the expensive ones, have a limited number of installs that can be done whether you have the fob or not. Most will allow 1 to 3 installations because manufacturers understand that users buy new computers.. If it has been installed on the previous owner’s computer ask the seller if it was uninstalled. If they don’t know, you might be buying software that cannot be installed on your system. If the software does not have a fob, then the seller may not be authorized to sell the software. Buyer beware.

7. Get your new-to-you purchase into the shop as soon as possible for a once-over checkup. You don’t want to ruin a project or run up against a deadline only to have a machine that won’t operate properly when all it needed was a tune up. It’s worth it for peace of mind.

So I hope I’ve provided some helpful tips. There are a lot of great deals out there and if you’re in the market for a new-to-you machine, I highly encourage you to look for a used machine first if possible.

#DIME Embroider-along Trapunto Seashell Table Runner

Hi everyone! As promised, here is the post with the instructions and link to the machine embroidery design files to make the runner. I want to thank Eileen Roche from Designs in Machine Embrodiery (DIME) magazine for graciously allowing me to share this with you. And a special thank you to Christine from Amelie Scott Designs who designed this beautiful embroidery pattern. I first learned about Amelie Scott Designs when I was experimenting using an embroidery machine to quilt my quilts. This was long before I took the plunge on my longarm. I have many of her quilting packs and I love them! Note: You will need a machine than uses hoops larger than 5×7 to make this runner. Those of you with hoops that are 4×4 or 5×7, don’t worry, we’ll do another Embroider-along just for you soon. 🙂

CORRECTION: The measurements in the .pdf are off and you need to use the measurements provided below. You can click here to see the page with the correct measurements. Hey, look at it this way – we let others work out the kinks for us! LOL

CORRECTION: When you are ready to make the quilt sandwich, lay the backing fabric FACE DOWN.

1 – Fabric measurementsThe fabric and Pellon measurements should be 6.5 x 8.5 and 2.5 x 6.5 inches. 

2 – Download link — Click on the link below to download the zip file that contains the free embroidery files for our Sea Shell Table Runner.

Link to free embroidery files –

The link will allow a direct download of a ZIP file that contains the 3 embroidery files you will use. Most web browsers can use that just fine. Remember, after the file has downloaded, be sure to right click on it and choose Extract All from the menu. Otherwise the files won’t work.

Also, don’t forget, through July 31, 2019, users who use the link below will receive two entire years of DIME Magazine for the price of one for $19.95. No coupon code is required. You will LOVE this magazine – or at least I hope you love it as much as I do. 🙂

When you are finished, share your project with me on Instagram and tag me @powertoolswiththread I’d love to see your work!

Tomorrow we leave for the coast to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary and will be home on Sunday. See you then!

A Better Hour Glass Block

A friend asked me to go to her house this past week for a quilting lesson.  She is in a BOM (Block of the Month) club with our local quilt store, Scrappy Quilter.  She had her fabrics all laid out, cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter, and pattern book.  All was good.  She said she was really struggling and ripping out more than she was sewing so I had to see what the problem was.  Well, I tell you what.  It wasn’t all her.

The first step on this month’s block had her make an hourglass block by cutting two larger squares into eight triangles and then sewing them all back together on the bias.  ACK!!  The odds of getting a nice finish using this method is down around zero. Three seams must be sewn and everything has to be just exactly right.

I’m in the middle of a BOM myself and had to make some hour glass blocks for the most recent installment.  However, the method in my pattern had me put two of the large squares – a print and a solid – RST (Right Sides Together) and draw a diagonal line down the middle point-to-point.  Then I sewed ¼” away down each side of the line.

You cut on the line to create two HSTs (Half Square Triangles) so the HST is half print and half solid.  Open them up and finger press.  

Pin the blocks together, RST, and nest the seams so that they sandwich nice and tight. You want color on the top on one side and on the bottom on the other. They must be nested in opposite directions for this to work. Mark the center line on the other diagonal and sew down both sides of the line as before.  Then cut on the line.

The result is not only the same, it is BETTER!  You get a perfect center of the hourglass every time, your block isn’t all stretched out, and you still have hair left in your head when you’re finished! Oh, and no ripping involved!

If you ever come across a pattern that calls for the first method, stop.  Life is hard enough as it is and this crazy hobby is supposed to be fun.   No change of fabric cutting measurement is required to do this alternate method.  My friend was ecstatic at how pretty hers turned out and she thanked me profusely.  Totally not necessary my friend.  🙂

Do you have any favorite block short cuts? Let me know in a comment below!

#RowByRow Taste the Experience

During the Sizzlin’ Summer Shop Hop that I went on a couple of weeks ago, many of you commented on wanting to get the pattern and the kits for the quilt that was designed by Julie from #2ChicksQuilting in Ganado,Texas.

Here is a list of shops in Southeast Texas that are participating in the Row by Row Experience and they will all have a kit to make a block of this beautiful quilt.

  1. Beefore It’s a Quilt in Port Lavaca
  2. Quilter’s Cottage in Richmond
  3. Quilter’s Patch in Victoria
  4. Two Chick’s Quilting in Ganado
  5. It Seams to be Sew in Sugar Land
  6. Seams Like Home in Yorktown
  7. The Square Quilter in Shiner

Here is the video that shows the quilt that Julie designed.

Contact info for all the stores is on their websites. Get the kits before they’re gone!

DIME Trapunto Seashell Table Runner – Supplies

Designs in Machine Embroidery (DIME) has been so gracious to allow me to do an Embroider-along with you featuring a free table runner pattern that is featured in the May/June 2019 issue of the DIME magazine. The only catch was I had to wait until July 1st to share with you how to get the freebie machine embroidery patterns. The embroider-along will be like Embroidery 101. We will go slow with learning how to thread your machine and getting familiar with the parts of it. I want you to go dig around and find the manual for your machine. Yes, you have to take the machine OUT of the box! Then I want you to read that manual like you would a book. I guarantee you’re going to learn something. You spent a ton of money on this thing and it deserves better than remaining in a box. You have powerful tool in your hands and it’s time to learn how to use it.

Now, I CAN give you the list of supplies you will need. This particular pattern is for hoops larger than 5×7 however, I’m going to search for some free designs that can work in smaller hoops. No promises, but I’ll do what I can. I will post where you can get the free designs on July 1st and I’ll also post a .pdf of the directions on my blog then.

Here’s the supply list from the article. The links below are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase from Amazon using these links, I make a few pennies. Don’t feel obligated; the legal beagles make me tell you this. If the specific product name isn’t mentioned (like the painter’s tape, needles, and thread) those are my Amazon choices vs. coming from DIME).

  1. Floriani Wet & Gone or OESD Aqua Mesh Water Soluble Stabilizer
  2. 1 yard Pellon Shape Flex
  3. Six 6″ squares of batting (I’m using 80/20 White & Natural)
  4. Six 6″ squares of different pastel fabrics for the seashell applique
  5. Six 2.5″ x 6″ different pastel fabrics for accent rectangles
  6. 1/4 yard background fabric (42″)
  7. 1/2 yard backing fabric
  8. Quilter’s Dream Blend Batting (craft size)
  9. 1/4 yard binding fabric
  10. Painter’s tape
  11. Mark-B-Gone water soluble pen
  12. 75 embroidery needle
  13. Embroidery thread

Now, if you don’t have those special battings or that particular brand of WSS (water soluble stablizer), use what you have on-hand. I will be using my Sulky Solvy for my WSS. This is a learning exercise for newbies and I don’t want you to feel like you have to rush out and spend scads of cash on specialized products. However, for the best results or if you’re not sure, use what DIME recommends.

A note on the thread linked above. That thread is recommended for many machines and used to be called Embroidex. I have a couple of boxes of it and I’ve had good results and it gets good Amazon reviews. I originally bought it because name-brand thread is so expensive and I wasn’t sure if I would like this whole machine embroidery thing so I bought it to keep my initial investment to a minimum. Yes, I’ve had thread breaks, but I’ve also had thread breaks with Madiera. I’ve not had any thread breaks with Isacord but my quilt shop carries that for about $6 per spool. You use or buy what you have on hand or can afford.

OK, this should be fun! Again, I’ll post where you can get the free designs on July 1st! You have homework:

  1. Take your machine out of the box.
  2. Read your manual.
  3. Find fabrics you want to use.
  4. Choose your thread colors. You will need 3-4 per shell (see below) and one that disappears on the background fabrics to create the trapunto effect.
  5. Take a deep breath…YOU CAN DO THIS!! If you have questions or get stuck, comment on the post in this blog for that part, and I’ll respond. I’ll write it out and give a video demo if need be.

Also, DIME has provided a discount to my subscribers if you want to subscribe to the magazine so you can get TWO years for the price of ONE! YAY!! Here’s the link. No coupon code required. It is only good until July 31, 2019.

So excited!! We start in 2 weeks. This will be fun!