Hold Tight Sew Along Week #4

Hold Tight Sew Along Week #4

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It’s the fourth and final week of the Hold Tight Sew Along where I’ve been sharing tips and tutorials to bring your quilting skills to a new level. No longer will curved piecing hold you back from stitching a quilt with curves! 

If you don't have the pattern already, you'll want to purchase the Hold Tight PDF pattern from my Shop page or from our friends at Fat Quarter Shop who now carries this pattern along with the Hold Tight quilt kit. If you’ve just discovered this blog or only just heard about this sew along, there’s still plenty of time to join in on the fun as the blog post for the sew along will remain up to access any time. To get up to speed, take a look at the Week #1 posting dedicated to color selection and working with colors like a designer.

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The Hold Tight Sew Along tutorials are useful to anyone working with fabric and patchwork regardless what quilt is being made. In addition to my written posts, I’ve adding skill-building demonstration videos to further your learning experience. I’ve added a new video dedicated to hand quilting and adding the “strings” embellishment to this quilted quilt before binding. View video support Weeks #1 through #4 on my Sew Along page. All the videos will stay a permanent feature to resource in the future.

These blog posts serve to supplement the instructions but don't provide the detailed pattern information that you'll find in the PDF available for purchase. The Hold Tight pattern will have your material list, cutting requirements, full-size templates, and be fully illustrated. My supplementary blog posts are just that, supplementary and meant to guide you along as you sew and give general patchwork sewing information for anyone sewing curves.

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If you’re a beginner or just in need of a refresher on how to baste your quilt top, machine quilt, and add the binding, check out the Finishing blog post I had written for the Sewcial Bee Sampler quilt. Since I cover the way I put together my quilt sandwich and how I go about machine quilting in the Sewcial Bee Sampler post I won’t go over that identical information here but instead add information specific to the Hold Tight quilt such as batting selection, the machine quilting design I used on both of my Hold Tight quilts, and hand quilting the string embellishment.

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To help illustrate how different batting lofts look in a finished quilt I decided to use the exact same quilting design on both of my Hold Tight quilts.

The white background quilt on the left has a Hobb’s Tuscany Silk batting inside and the ombré quilt on the right has Hobb’s Tuscany 100% Polyester batting inside. I love both of these battings but they have completely different properties.

Here’s what I love about both of these products:

Both preform beautifully with quilting stitched up to 4” apart.

Both have a beautiful drape, light weight (no heavy quilt to wrestle with when stitching), and easy to handle.

Both are excellent for hand stitching and machine quilting.

There’s no shrinkage with Tuscany Polyester and only 3%-5% with Tuscany Silk (but I’ve noticed very little after laundering).

I’ve had no issues with laundering these battings and set my machine to Delicate Cycle, Cold Water wash and rinse, and low heat (delicate) drying.

The Tuscany Silk is similar to a cotton batting for stitch definition and feel but without the weight. The Tuscany Polyester is a high loft for a puffier look and is light as a feather (great for kids and extra snuggly quilts).

You can read further direct from the source at Hobb’s Batting plus take a look at their handing Quilting Products Batting chart to know what’s the best batting for your needs.

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I decided to do a very simple quilting stitch on these two quilts. The original Hold Tight quilt is filled with Tuscany 100% Polyester batting but has a dense, overall quilt design (see quilt below) so the quilt doesn’t puff as much as with the simple, looser machine quilting (see quilt on the right, above). It just depends on the look and feel you want to achieve.

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To stitch the loose Looping Scallop design you will need to do a little prep work of marking a horizontal line across the middle of the block rows.

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By dividing the block rows in half horizontally you’re making guides for two Looping Scallop quilting lines per block row. Stagger the two Looping Scallops in alternating rows as seen in the illustration above. I freeform stitched my Looping Scallops and they look in real life about as wonky as they do on my illustrated drawing.

For one horizontal row of Looping Scallops I used the block seam lines as my guide where I would make the loop. On the next row, that seam line was my midway point between loops that I eye-balled to land in the middle of the block.

I worked from the bottom of the quilt up, as I wanted the scallops to give a bit of a cloud illusion and this felt the most natural for me in creating the loops. You can work from the top down if that feels more comfortable to you. If you’re not sure about eye-balling where the loops and scallops are to be stitched, then draw out the machine quilting design or make a little mark at the midpoints for reference so you have more of a guide to follow.

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Once your quilt has been quilted and before you add the binding, you’ll want to add the hand stitching to create strings on the ends of the balloons. I’ve put together a helpful video all about Hand Quilting and you can find it on the Sew Along page with the other Hold Tight Sew Along videos.

I used all 6 strands of 6-ply Aurifil floss for my hand quilting thread.

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All of my Hold Tight quilt use Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Solids for the top. The white background quilt I’m calling the Art Class color way and you can see the full list of fabrics used on week #1 of the Sew Along. For the backing I had to sneak in a print and used Sporangia Plaid print from my Art Gallery Fabrics Signature collection as the perfect compliment to the colorful front.

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For the Ombré Desert color way I mixed it up a bit and made a gradient background to simulate the sky. Read about the colors that went into making this top along with the color inspiration for the quilt on week #2 of the Sew Along.

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The backing for the Ombré Desert color way is Destination Aerial from my Tapestry collection for AGF. It was the perfect shades of blues and peaches!

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I lucked out with the perfect (although a bit windy) day for photography and love how the blue of the sky looks with these quilts. The balloons look as if they will fly away!!!

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I can’t wait to see your finished Hold Tight quilts, there’s so many possibilities for coloring and even the finishing options make this quilt look completely unique. Be sure to tag me @sharonhollanddesigns when posting to social media and don’t forget to use the hashtag #holdtightsewalong to be entered into our final giveaway that will be drawn from the Instagram hashtag pool on Monday, April 15 (see below for more details).

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Let’s give a huge shout out of thanks to our fine sponsors and their generous giveaway prizes. I personally love the people behind these companies, their quality products, and their dedication to serving makers like you.

Thank you to our friends at Dritz Sewing, the Fat Quarter Shop, Hobbs Batting, and Omnigrid have generously sponsored the Hold Tight Sew Along.

This Friday, April 12th will be our last Hold Tight Sew Along giveaway on Instagram. By using the hashtag #HoldTightSewAlong on Instagram every time you post sew along photos to a public account (private account posts don’t show up in hashtag pools) your IG account is automatically entered into the weekly sew along drawings! Ideas for what to share include your sew along progress, the “I’m a maker” sew along badge found HERE, your fabric pull, blocks, and finished quilt.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @sharonhollanddesigns so you never miss a thing!


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You may need to be restocking your solids stash after this sew along so what better way add some color to your fabric cabinet than with a chance to win this giveaway! One lucky IG winner will be sewing with this beautiful 15-piece Art Gallery Fabrics Summer Sun Pure Elements fat quarter bundle generously offered by the Fat Quarter Shop.

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Don't forget the giveaways for this sew along are held on Instagram (not on the blog) and winning names are randomly drawn from the posts in the hashtag pool. By posting images of your Hold Tight color inspiration, fabric pull, blocks, or quilt. Use the official #holdtightsewalong hashtag every time you post your makes (to a public account) and you're automatically entered into the weekly IG drawings! See my Instagram Friday giveaway posts @sharonhollanddesigns for full details. 

Sewcial Bee Sampler Block #21

Sewcial Bee Sampler Block #21

Here we are, ready to start the last row of our sampler quilt! As we near the end of this incredible journey, my co-host, Maureen Cracknell and I are looking to future collaborations together. The success of the Sewcial Bee Sampler (SBS) has been phenomenal and mostly because of your participation and the remarkable community you've created out of this sew along.  

To help us better understand what you're looking for in a future sew along, Maureen and I have prepared an 8 question survey. This quick questionnaire is completely anonymous and your answers will give us better insight into serving your needs as a quilter. To ensure the most accurate results, please only take the survey once. Many thanks to those who've participated in the SBS questionnaire already. If you've not yet had a chance to take the survey, please do, we're only keeping it open now through the end of the SBS sew along and then we'll close the survey. The link provided on both our blogs will link to the same survey. So, if you access the questionnaire from either Maureen's site or mine, your answers are compiled to the same place.  

We still have a few new Makers joining our sew along and Maureen and I couldn't be more proud of all the gorgeous blocks and the remarkable community that's being built from this sew along. Anyone just joining us may want to take advantage of the in-blog tutorials for the different patchwork techniques used throughout the Sewcial Bee Sampler. Pick up tips and block variations beginning with the first blog post The Start of Something Sewcial.

Time to get sewing this week's block #21--Hourglass. Download the free PDf for the blocks on my Sew Along page.

For the Hourglass block we use three different techniques. 2-at-a-time Half-Square Triangle (HSTs) units, No-Waste Flying Geese units, and Square in Square units. Today's tutorial will be about making Square in Square units. If you need a refresher on how to make the other units used in this block, use the links above to previous tutorials. You may also want to review working with directional prints when making different units.

Square in Square Units

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each 2-1/2" square. Noting orientation, place a marked square right sides together on a corner of the 4-1/2" square. Sew just a needles worth outside the line on the corner side to keep the unit square. Press to set the seam. Trim 1/4" past the stitching. 

Press corner open. Noting orientation, repeat on the diagonally opposite corner. Press. Trim and press corner open. In the same manner, add squares to the remaining corners. Note: It's very important to only add one corner at a time, press to set seam, trim, and press corner open before adding more marked squares to the remaining corners. 

Because you're simply replacing the corners of the original 4-1/2" square with a second material, the Square in Square unit does not change size and should measure 4-1/2" square when the unit is completed. To better understand the sizes of the unfinished units (the size of unit before sewing into a block), look at how the individual units fit together. Since the center Square in Square is 4-1/2" square, we then can guess the size of the finished Flying Geese units to measure 4-1/2" long by 2-1/2" high. Same goes for the corner HST units. They should measure 2-1/2" square. The Hourglass block, once sewn together, will measure 8-1/2" square before adding the frames. To double check your piecing, you will always know the square size of the block (with frames) by looking at the smallest frame length listed on the instructions. Our sampler has 20 blocks with frames and the five without frames and all should measure 12-1/2" square (unfinished) once and before setting into the final sashing at the end. 

This sampler quilt is pieced using fabrics from my Bountiful collection and Pure Elements solids from Art Gallery Fabrics. Find where to shop online for my prints by using the handy Shop Fabrics page on this blog. Right now, Llama Fabrics has a 30% off sale going on!

I liked this Square in Square unit so much that I went back to block #9-Wedding Ring and replaced the center with a Square in Square unit. It's the same size as we made for this week's block. Here you can see an example of a block with a frame and a block without a frame being the same 12-1/2" square (unfinished) size once assembled. 

It's very exciting to see projects popping up all over the interweb made from my Bountiful fabrics. I have made several quilts that will be featured in magazines over the next few months and love getting a copy of the magazine in the mail. This week I was so pleased to see my Staggered Tin Tiles quilt on the newsstands and part of the July/August 2017 issue of Modern Patchwork

Staggered Tin Tiles by Sharon Holland

Staggered Tin Tiles by Sharon Holland

Don't forget that this Friday's Giveaway Friday and this week I will be hosting the giveaway from this blog. We've got a great giveaway planned from Needle and Foot you won't want to miss!

Sewcial Bee Sampler Block #8

Time flies when you're piecing fun! I can't believe this is our eighth week of the SBS!

My co-host Maureen Cracknell and I are so happy you've joined us for this 26-week sampler quilt event. It's still early in the sampler and not too late to start making blocks if you've just found us. For those just joining, you will want to start the sew along in chronological order because we build off past techniques and with each new block release I've added helpful, in-blog tips and tutorials. Start with the first SBS post and work your way to the present. 

Download the free PDF pattern from my Sew Along page and let's get sewing block #8. 

Block #8 is called Clay's Choice that uses the 8-at-a-time half-square triangle (HST) technique and the same cut sizes we've used in some of the earlier SBS sampler blocks. Block #1 has a step-by-step tutorial of this technique if you need a review.

As I see your blocks being posted to instagram each week by using the #SewcialBeeSampler hashtag, I've noticed many of you are wanting your prints to stay all one direction and thought this would be the time to show you how to control the direction of your prints in three of the patchwork quilting techniques we've been and will continue to use throughout this sew along. 

In the past, I've never been very concerned about keeping all my fabrics oriented the same direction. My thoughts were that unless a quilt is intended to be on a wall like a piece of art, it will never be viewed only from one direction, if in use. Instead, I've embraced the randomness. 

But, after seeing all the beautiful blocks being posted I can totally understand the desire (and struggle) to keep everything in order and directionally the same. It does make the block appear very neat and tidy and shows off the prints nicely. Of course if you're using solids it probably doesn't matter unless there's an obvious grain or nap to the material.

Fabric Direction in Half-Square Triangles

Understanding how directional prints work in HST units turns out to be pretty easy. Let's start with a 2-at-a-time HST unit and build off of that concept. Review how to sew a 2-at-a-time HST here.

Take two same-size squares and place side-by-side in the prefered direction. Note that the black arrows show the direction of the print on the fabric. Finger press a diagonal crease. Place the two squares right sides together and notice the direction of the top square arrow is now perpendicular or 90° to the arrow of the bottom square. 

Sew a 1/4'' seam allowance on each side of the crease (or drawn line for better accuracy). Cut apart on drawn line to make two HSTs. Note: I only folded my fabric over to show how this works for print orientation rather than actually sewing this example together. 

The concept is exactly the same for 8-at-a-time HST units. Review how to sew this technique here.

Audition how the prints will look by folding a square on the diagonal. I like to have the two squares already right sides together and once I have the prints in the direction I want, I simply let go the folded fabric and they're ready to sew.

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the lightest fabric square. Draw another diagonal from the remaining corners. Sew a ¼” seam on each side of the drawn line. In the same manner, stitch on each side of the remaining diagonal line. Press. Using a tool like the Omnigrid Marking Ruler assures an accurate 1/4'' seam allowance on each side of the diagonal center. 

When cutting the stitched 5-3/4'' square into HST units, align the ruler edge at exactly 2-7/8''. Does this size sound familiar? If you're using the exact cutting sizes given in the block instructions (rather than sizing up to trim after sewing) this 2-7/8'' size is the same size we use for most of our 2-at-a-time HST units. This will result in a 2-1/2'' HST unit once cut apart diagonally. Tip: I like to use tape to hold my stitched squares in place for cutting apart. 

The 8-at-a-time HST unit technique makes 4 units going one direction and another 4 going the opposite. Be sure to lay out all the block pieces before assembly the quilt block to find the best orientation for the units. Having half the units change direction will allow you to keep the prints running all the same way around the block. 

Fabric Direction in Flying Geese Units

Believe it or not, you can control the direction of your prints in our No-Waste Flying Geese units too! Review how to sew No-Waste Flying Geese units here.

Start by laying out 2 small squares and 1 large square per the block instructions. With squares right sides together, fold a small square in half diagonally to orient the direction of the print with the large square.

Release the folded square and notice the arrows are now perpendicular. Place the second small square in the opposite corner with the print running the same way as the first small square. Draw stitch lines. Stitch and cut apart on the diagonal center. 

Press open and use a folded small square to orient the print direction on the square to the print direction of a Flying Geese section. Draw stitch lines, stitch, then cut apart on the diagonal center. 

Repeat with the remaining Flying Geese unit and small square to make a total of 4 Flying Geese units. You will notice this makes 2 units in each direction, just perfect for keeping the prints all going in the same direction.

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Here's my Clay's Choice blocks for the two sampler quilts I'm stitching. The first one is made using fabrics from my new Bountiful fabrics collection for Art Gallery Fabrics. If you'd like to use 3 fabrics in your block like I have with this one, cut: (8) 2-1/2'' fabrics A, (1) 5-3/4'' fabric B, and (1) 5-3/4'' fabric C and follow the instructions for borders and sewing. 

My second Clay's Choice block is pieced per the block instructions and used two fabrics. The blue print is from my Tapestry fabrics and the pink is from the new Art Gallery Fabrics Fusions Abloom line recoloring a print from my Gossamer collection. 

Since this is a relatively simple block to make, I hope you take the time to experiment with print orientation and continue to perfect your patchwork skills. 

Also, don't forget that Friday is Giveaway Friday and this week I will be hosting the giveaway from this blog. We've got a great giveaway planned from Llama Fabrics I know you'll not want to miss! 

Aurifil      Circa 15      The Intrepid Thread      Fat Quarter Shop      Omnigrid      Llama Fabrics      Color Girl     Lady Belle Fabric      Needle in a Fabric Stash      Dritz      Knotted Thread    NeedleandFoot      Stash Builder Box


Constellate Quilt Kit Giveaway

This week we say goodbye to summer and hello to fall as the autumnal equinox officially begins. Time to start nesting as I described in my last post. As many of you are aware, this blog is sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop. It's great fun working with Kimberly Jolly, founder and owner of FQS and her terrific staff. Did you know about all the helpful YouTube videos FQS has?!? From how to use the latest sewing and quilting tools, to step-by-step block piecing, and how-tos, they've got it all and do it all.

Each month, this blog and the Fat Quarter Shop giveaway Art Gallery Fabrics fabric bundles. At the beginning of the month we gave away the Ivory Color Fun bundle to one of my readers and Katy Marriott was the lucky recipient! My generous sponsor has a surprise this month with another incredible giveaway--the Constellate Quilt kit! Yes, that's right, a quilt kit will be given away this week. The Constellate Quilt is an Art Gallery Fabrics pattern made with AGF Denim Studio fabric.

AGF denim is like chambray--soft and drapey. The same high quality you'd expect from any Art Gallery Fabrics substrate. The Constellate Quilt kit with printed and solid denim fabrics is a $99.98 dollar value and makes a 41" x 54" quilt top the includes binding*. See details at the end of this post on how to enter the giveaway.

*Please note that backing is not included in this kit and would require 3 yards of additional fabric.

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Giveaway for the Constellate Quilt kit begins today, Monday, September 19th, 2016 and will end on Monday, September 26th, 2016 at 4 p.m. EDT. 

  • Leave a comment on this blog post anytime between 9/19/16 and 4 p.m. EDT on 9/26/16 to be entered into drawing

The winner will be randomly drawn and notified via email so be sure to completely fill out the comment box entry form with a valid email address. If commenting anonymously or with a no-reply, be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment to qualify for the drawing. If the winning entrant does not reply to my congratulatory email or comment reply within 24 hours I will select an alternate winner's name. 

Good Luck!