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BH5 – Block 9 – Sarah Thomas

BH5 – Block 9 – Sarah Thomas

Written by: 
Anna Dineen


Hello, Blockheads, and welcome to the final block in Group 1 of Blockheads 5. Wow! I just can’t believe how quickly these last 9 weeks have flown by! It’s been so much fun getting to know you all better and see all your amazing blocks through our lively Facebook group.

If you haven’t joined our Facebook group yet, it’s not too late! Come join us and share your blocks and be inspired by the many quilters posting their blocks every week. Haven’t started sewing along yet? That’s ok too! There’s no deadline – sew and post your blocks on your own schedule! Find our Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/253867175058745

Here's a friendly reminder that this week is the last block of Blockhead 5 – Group 1. I’ll post our simple setting options for these first 9 blocks next Wednesday, November 15, 2023. Then we’ll have a short break over the holidays before Blockheads 5 – Group 2 kicks off on January 3, 2024.

OK, now for all the details on Block 9! I’m so excited to announce that this week’s block was designed by a NEW Moda designer, Sarah Thomas of SARIDITTY! Sarah has designed three collections for Moda, and she is just getting started! This is Sarah’s first time participating in Blockheads, and she has created a really fun original block design that looks great on its own – but you’ll see how making several blocks yields a festive tablerunner or quilt!

You can find this week’s pattern here: BH5 – Group 1, Block 9 – Candy Striped Holly Star by Sarah Thomas

Follow along with Sarah!
Instagram: @sariditty

If you’re new to Blockheads, here are a couple of quick things to know:

  • This is a free quilt-along. No sign-ups are required. Just download the pattern and you’re ready to sew!
  • The PDF patterns will be posted on the Moda blog and in the official Facebook group every Wednesday by 8:00 AM CDT.
  • You can also bookmark this page: Blockheads 5 main page to find a convenient list of all the patterns as they are released.
  • If you’d like to sign up for our blog newsletter to get blog posts delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here: Blog Newsletter Sign-Up
  • If you want to sew along with a virtual Blockheads community, head over to Facebook and join our official Moda Blockheads Facebook group. Our group is an active and vibrant community of 69,000 quilters and counting! It’s a great place to be inspired and share pictures of your Blockheads progress.
  • If Instagram is where you prefer to hang out, be sure to follow us (@modafabrics) and the hashtags #modablockheads and #modablockheads5 to see the latest blocks from our designers and other Blockheads.
  • Be sure to get your official Blockheads t-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, water bottles, and more from our pop-up shop HERE.

(Looking for a little more information about Blockheads? You can check out the Blockheads 5 archive HERE.)


Sarah has designed such a sweet block for us this week, and I can’t wait to see how all you Blockheads decide to stitch it up!

Sarah has shared a couple of project options using just this block. I absolutely love how making only red and white blocks creates a candy cane effect in this table runner! I really hope someone in the group decides to make one!

And it looks so different in this ombre rainbow quilt mock-up! What a colorful, friendly, and modern design.

This block is so versatile, because I could also see it in red, white, and blue for patriotic project or in softer shades of blue and cream for general winter projects.


If you need a visual tutorial on foundation paper piecing, you can check out the video I did for our first FPP block in this series, which was designed by Brigitte. The templates will be different, of course, but the overall construction principles apply! You can find that video here:

If you just need a quick refresher, here are some general FPP tips to keep in mind:

General FPP tips

1. Print or copy the pattern PDF and templates at 100% or “Actual size” to ensure accuracy. The template pages will have a 1” square gauge on every page; be sure to measure that square after printing to confirm that it is exactly 1”. The seam allowances for each template must also measure exactly 1/4”. Confirm all measurements before sewing.

2. Cut out the unit templates from the template pages before sewing, leaving about 1/8”-1/4” excess around the dotted seam allowance line.

3. When cutting your fabrics, make sure each piece of fabric extends about 1/2” beyond the section it’s meant to cover. For example, when cutting fabric for A1, make sure the fabric extends 1/2” past the solid outline of A1 and into the neighboring sections and/or the seam allowance, if the section is adjacent to the seam allowance.

4. Complete the individual foundation paper units in order numerically and alphabetically.

5. For best results, shorten your stitch length and snip threads after each section for a neat finish.

6. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam to secure it.

7. Remember that on FPP templates, you will stitch on the solid line and trim the completed unit on the dotted line.

8. When trimming each paper pieced unit, be sure that the fabric extends to the edge of the paper to secure your block with a 1/4” seam.

For me, one of the trickiest things about FPP is cutting my fabrics large enough to cover each section but not so large that I waste a lot of fabric. I used to just cut oversized squares of fabric, but that made lining everything up a little confusing. One way to help find that sweet spot is to print out extra templates, cut the individual sections apart, and use them as fabric-cutting templates. Just be sure to add about 1/2” seam allowance when cutting out your fabrics. You’ll trim it down to 1/4” after joining each piece, and I think it’s always better to have a bit of extra wiggle room in FPP, especially until you get the hang of it! I talk about that technique in the video, if you’d like to see it in action.

My best tip for the construction of this block is to use that technique for cutting your fabric pieces with the individual template pieces as your guide – but cut your pieces with at least an inch allowance around your template pieces. You definitely want to have ample fabric to work with, given the angled shapes of the pattern pieces. 


Alison and I were talking yesterday about what a difference the appliqued holly leaves and berries make in the finished block design! The applique just gives it a little extra holiday “oomph.”

If applique is not your thing, don’t feel like you have to miss out on the effect! I’m here to reassure you that it’s perfectly OK to use a little fabric glue to adhere the leaves and berries to your block and then machine-stitch them down for a raw-edge applique effect – OR just quilt over them to make sure they are secure


OK, ready to see our Candy Striped Holly Star blocks?

Tammy is using prints from various Betsy Chutchian collections for her blocks. No applique on hers, since she’s not making a Christmas version, but you can see how striking the design is even in traditional fabrics!

Alison is using Christmas prints and Moda Basics for her blocks. She made the 12” version and traditional applique for her holly leaves. For the berries, she made tiny fabric yo-yos, and I absolutely love the effect! She does such neat applique!

And I am using a scrappy “Cottage Christmas” fabric pull featuring prints from 3 Sisters, Brenda Riddle, Bunny Hill, Fig Tree & Co., and more. I made two 6” blocks because I’m planning to use them in the bench pillow setting that I’ll be sharing next week. Instead of working with such small applique pieces, I opted to glue baste my leaves and berries, and I’ll probably just machine quilt over them when I make my pillow!

Now…off you go to press, cut, and sew! And don’t forget to share your blocks with us in our Facebook group or on Instagram (#modablockheads5)!