Holiday Party Quilt Sew Along Week 2: Make HSTs

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com

Party people it's HST time! Woot! Woot! Last week in our Holiday Party sew along we picked fabric and cut it all up – no small task. Way to go YOU!

This week we sew, sew, sew then trim, trim, trim. Week 2 is the perfect time to start a new audiobook or finally launch into that podcast your friend has been telling you about. (I'm that friend and you should listen to Edith! so we can talk about it in the next IG LIVE!)

For a full rundown on what a sew along is and how it works, check out the Week 1 Holiday Party sew along post. In a nutshell, we are making this pattern together over a six week period of time and you can win prizes along the way by posting pics to IG using #HolidayPartyQuiltSA. How fun!

Holiday Party Sew Along Schedule

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Week 2 Assignment: Make HSTs

Even though this pattern is made up of identical quilt blocks, it's most efficient to batch-make the block parts and then assemble the blocks at the end. This allows you to focus on one thing, get pretty dang fast at that one thing, then move on. It also allows you to chain piece during the sewing process, which is always a plus.

Extra Supplies

Depending on how you like to make your HSTs, you may want to get an added notion or two. Here are some that I used during my process:

3 Parts to a Half Square Triangle

We have covered HSTs a lot over the years, but I still like to review the basics. Here are the three parts to a half square triangle that we'll cover in this week's post.

  1. Sew strong seams.
  2. Press well.
  3. Trim triminey, trim triminey, trim trim ter-ee! A quilter's as lucky, as lucky can be!! 😉

Tip #1: Sew strong seams.

Set your stitch length. Anytime you are piecing a quilt, it's important to make the strongest seams possible so that your quilts last a long time! We're making heirlooms, people! The easiest way to ensure strong seams is to set your stitch to the right length. When piecing a quilt that length is about 2.5. No big complicated thing here, just make sure your stitch length isn't much longer than 2.5 or your seams will get stretchy. Stretchy seams = loose seams = torn seams = don't DO IT! 

Use quality thread. In addition to the right stitch length use quality thread. I know it's tempting to fish out the old wooden spool of thread handed down to you from great-granny's sewing basket, but don't. Treat yourself to some thread that was made in the last 10 years. Just like a builder wouldn't use old mortar to lay bricks, don't use old thread. (On the topic of thread, you may like The Difference Between Cotton and Poly Thread: A Hard-Hitting Interview and The Best Quality Sewing Thread.)

Be gentle. I remind my toddler multiple times a day to be gentle and it's worth mentioning here too. Be gentle when pressing your seams. We'll cover that more below, but as much as possible try not to use a hot steamy iron to aggressively press your seams open. Steam makes fabric more flexible allowing it to stretch, which is not what you want when pressing seams.

The main takeaway is not to make weak, stretchy seams – not with a long stitch length or crummy thread or a hot steamy iron.

Tip #2: Try out diagonal seam tape.

For such an inexpensive and tiny thing this diagonal seam tape is incredibly handy. Not only will it save you time, chances are it will make your sewing more accurate!

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Line up the center line with the needle on your machine. If you are sewing the multi-colored version you are making your HSTs 2-at-a-time. That means each square pair gets two seams a 1/4" away from the center diagonal.

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

If it helps you to pin your squares together before sewing, do it. Especially if you are lucky enough to own such cute pins like these! (FYI, even though these pins are utterly adorable, they are not as thin as my fine quilting pins, so I probably won't use them as often, but that definitely won't stop me from purchasing more for holiday presents this year!)

I typically don't pin when sewing HSTs this size, but rather opt for raising my presser foot a little bit (that lowers the pressure and drag on the fabric). I also sew a touch slower than usual so my fabric doesn't shift.

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

After you sew one 1/4" seam, rotate your square pair and sew a second one. If you are making the limited color version, you are using the 8-at-a-time method so each of your pairs will have a total of four seams running from all four corners of the squares.

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Tip #3: Cha-cha-cha chain piece!

Once you get the hang of sewing these HSTs, get in a chain-piecing groove and chain them all! Audiobook time...

I listened to The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune while making my HSTs and I have to say it was utterly delightful! Five stars! My best description is it feels like a warm hug. 🙂

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Troubleshooting Tip!

As I mentioned in the Week 1 post, I got a little sloppy with my cutting. (oops!) In this example about 3/8" of the selvage is showing in my square. My solution? Just pretend like it isn't there. 🙂

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Once your HST is trimmed a teeny tiny bit of the selvage still might pop out from the 1/4" seam, but it will be so miniscule even you won't notice once the quilt top is finished.

This same solution can be applied to squares that are a little bit short. Just line when up as best as possible and sew. It's OK if both fabrics aren't exactly 1/4".

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Tip #4: Use a tailor's clapper when pressing.

You knew I was going to say that, right? 😉 Just think of me as a flight attendant reminding you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping someone else. Like, duh you already knew that but juuuuust in case this is your first flight and oxygen masks are a new thing to you, I'll say it. I'll even show you a video on it! Heeeey! 

2 Ways to Trim HSTs:

  1. Trim before you press the blocks open. The easiest way is with the Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer. Here's a blog post with a video tutorial on using that.
  2. Trim after you press the blocks open. I like to use a rotating cutting mat with this technique so I don't have to cut at weird angles or move my block and ruler. Check out this blog post for a tutorial on that.
The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew
The best tutorial on how to trim half square triangles for quilting! Make perfect HSTs every time with this sewing method. suzyquilts.com #quilting #hst
The best tutorial on how to trim half square triangles for quilting! Make perfect HSTs every time with this sewing method. suzyquilts.com #quilting #hst

If you do not have a 3 1/2" or 6 1/2" square ruler, you can still trim your blocks easily. See below.

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Just make sure that your diagonal seam is lining up with the 45° guidemark on the ruler you are using. Trim two sides, then rotate and trim the other remaining sides.

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew
The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

What a little HST cutie...

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Tip #5: Continue to keep your Color 1 and Color 2 pairs together.

There are a lot of pieces in this quilt so I suggest keeping your block bits organized. The simplest way to do that is just keep them stacked together!

Next week we make our Template A units and there is a 100% chance this same organizational tip shows up then too. I know you know to stay organized, so just keep picturing me as that flight attendant staring down the aisle vaguely pointing at things while you try to connect to the free Wifi. haha! 

The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew
The Holiday Party quilt along includes added tutorials, instruction and quilting tips to sew this fat quarter modern quilt. suzyquilts.com #quilt #sew

Week 2 Sponsor & Prize

One of our favorite sewing shops is the sponsor for this week's prize – Sewing Arts Center! By posting a pic to IG and using #HolidayPartyQuiltSA you are entered to win a $100 gift certificate to anything on their website, and people, they have everything.

The folks at SAC are so much fun and always cooking up new kits and discounts, so make sure to follow along with them on social media and through their newsletter!

How to Win

  • Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post a picture of your sew along progress. Use #HolidayPartyQuiltSA in the caption.
  • You must have a public Instagram profile to participate. 
  • Each photo posted is an entry and you can enter as many times as you want in a single week. Once the week is over, those posts do not count in the next week's giveaway. Every week we start fresh.
  • Your photo must be posted between Tuesday, October 19 and Tuesday, October 26. The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. on that day. Good luck!

16 thoughts on “Holiday Party Quilt Sew Along Week 2: Make HSTs

  1. Bre says:

    When you’re chain piecing the HSTs for the multicolor version, do you chain one seem in the square pair for multiple sets and a then turn around and chain the second seem all the way down the chain? I’m confused at how you chain piece and turn around on each square. Thanks!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Great question! When chain piecing these HSTs I first chain piece one seam in all of the pairs, then snip the threads, rotate the square pairs, then chain piece the second seam.

  2. Karen says:

    Love this pattern and I am enjoying the sew along so much! Also love the podcast recommendation (Edith). Keep those recommendations coming!

  3. Caitlin Musashe says:

    I finished all my HSTs and pressed my seams open… but then I watched the video which shows the ability to “lock” the seams to match when pressing toward the side… do you think it’s too late to go back and press to the side? I wish I had watched the video before I made them all!

  4. Caitlin says:

    I already finished my HSTs and I pressed my seams open. I just watched your block assembly video and it mentions pressing to the side to make your seams “lock”. I wish I had watched it before! darn! do you think it would alter the square in any way if I go back and press to the side? I am still tying to decide if that is a bad idea.

  5. April Wong says:

    If my trimmed HST are off in sizes should I recut or it’ll be okay…? I’m talking about some 6inch square instead of the 6.5inches. Yikes………..

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      It sounds like your large HSTs are up to 1/2″ off. Is that right? Unfortunately, if that is the case, you will run into some issues sewing the pieces together. I wonder how they got so small.

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