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
- Week 1, October 12: Pick and cut fabric
Sponsor: Global Fiber Textiles & Notions - 31 Day Fabric Advent Calendar Box which contains 62 fat quarters, a pattern, and fun extras AND The Gather Quilt Shop - 3 Holiday party throw quilt kits
- Week 2, October 19: Make HSTs
Sponsor: Sewing Arts Center - $100 gift certificate
- Week 3, October 26: Sew and trim all Template A units
Sponsor: Lavender Fields Co. - Free longarm quilting for one Holiday Party quilt plus 20% off for any other Holiday Party quilts made during the sew along
- Week 4, November 2: Assemble 8 blocks
Sponsor: DuckaDilly Liberty Fabrics - $100 gift certificate
- Week 5, November 9: Assemble 8 blocks
Sponsor: Lamb & Loom Fabrics - $100 gift certificate
- Week 6, November 16: Assemble the quilt top
Sponsor: Trace Creek Quilting, Modern American Vintage and Aurifil
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.
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.
- Sew strong seams.
- Press well.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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...
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. 🙂
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".
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:
- 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.
- 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.
If you do not have a 3 1/2" or 6 1/2" square ruler, you can still trim your blocks easily. See below.
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.
What a little HST cutie...
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!
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!