Hold Tight Sew Along Week #3

Hold Tight Sew Along Week #3

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Welcome to Week #3 of the Hold Tight Sew Along where I'll be 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 and take part in the sponsored giveaway prizes for each week of the event. 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. The videos support Weeks #1 through #3 and you’ll find these helpful videos on my Sew Along page. All the videos will be available on Week #1 of the sew along for those wanting to work ahead and 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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Even though I’ve labeled this pattern an intermediate skill level quilt pattern, I firmly believe that even a confident beginner can tackle curved patchwork with ease because you’ve completed the following:

  1. You’ve printed out the PDF instructions and templates to 100% scale (not borderless) onto US letter size paper and because you’ve cut your fabrics true to size (see Hold Tight Sew Along Week #2 post).

  2. You’re sewing with an accurate seam allowance. As with any patchwork sewing its imperative to stitch with an accurate 1/4” seam allowance. Take a moment to read the Seam Allowance section on my Perfect Patchwork tutorial.

I’ve prepared bonus videos for this week’s tutorial and you’ll find the Hold Tight Sew Along Week #3 parts 1 and 2 are extremely helpful for pinning, sewing, press, and squaring up your blocks. Find all the Hold Tight Sew Along videos on my Sew Along page.

Sewing Curves

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First image: To begin, find the center of an A and B shape and finger press a crease. With the largest A shape on the bottom (right side up), pin midpoints with the smaller B shape, right side down, on top.

Second image: Align a short, squared end of the B shape to the corner (straight) edge of the A shape and pin. Repeat on the other side.

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Place the pinned pieces over your knee or a pressing form to help the curved pieces align. Place additional pins at equal distances so the curved edges match.

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Using an accurate 1/4” seam allowance, stitch with a short (2.4-2.6) stitch length. Slowly sew the seam along the curve with the sewing machine needle in the down position. By having the needle lowered into the fabric when the machine is stopped this allows the presser foot to be raised and holds the fabric in place without loosing the needle position.

Remove pins as you sew. Avoid pulling or pushing the pieces to be sewn so as not to stretch the bias curved edges. Continue to check that the raw edges are matched and lift presser foot to reduce any bulk in fabric before lowering and continuing to stitch.

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Once two pieces have been sewn together, finger press the seam open. Press block in an up and down motion (not side to side) to avoid distorting the block.

Note: For this quilt I recommend pressing the seams open because it will be easier to assemble the quilt top and avoid bulky seams.

If you’re piecing a B/B/C block where three shapes are sewn to make a block, press the first seam open before proceeding to stitching the second seam. Once a block(s) are pieced, proceed to Squaring the Blocks.

Squaring the Blocks

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Use the Block Trimming Template found in the PDF and make a plastic template. Transfer all markings onto the plastic. See Week #2 blog post. I’ve added in some extra wiggle room into the Hold Tight blocks and they’ll need to be trimmed exactly to size for quilt assembly. Tip: Use rolled Washi tape to hold the plastic template in place while cutting. This also allows the template to easily be rotated when trimming a different side.

First image: For an A/B, align the square edge of the Block Trimming Template to the right angles of the A shape (lower left) as this piece will have the least amount of distortion from sewing.

Use the curve marking of the Block Trimming Template to match template with the curved seam on the block.

Second image: Before trimming the block to size, take a moment and make sure the seam allowance area of the Block Trimming Template is covering fabric on all sides and that the curve(s) of the template and block match and seam allowances are true. Trim sides as necessary to square the block.

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When trimming a B/B/C block, use both curve markings on the Block Trimming Template (see second image where the curved markings have been highlighted in black). Align template to block curves and double check that seam allowance is correct on all sides before trimming.

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A sew along’s a lot more fun with sponsors and giveaways, right!? Our friends at Dritz Sewing, the Fat Quarter Shop, Hobbs Batting, and Omnigrid have generously provided the Hold Tight Sew Along with products I know you’ll love! 

Every Friday I’ll be posting weekly a 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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I’m so excited for this week’s giveaway. Our friends at Hobbs Batting are offering batting prizes for two winners. We’re holding a giveaway here on the blog (see entry details below) and another winner drawn from the #holdtightsewalong Instagram hashtag pool.


The lucky winners will be able to select three, throw-size batts of their choice from the following fine quality Hobb’s Tuscany brand battings. I personally love the Hobb’s Tuscany batting collection and found it to be the best batting for handling, drape, stitch definition, and quality.

Tuscany Poly

Tuscany Unbleached Cotton

Tuscany Bleached Cotton

Tuscany SUPREME Cotton

Tuscany Cotton/Wool

Tuscany Wool

Tuscany Silk

Giveaway now Closed. Congratulations to Margaret Swan!

Note: This giveaway is open to EVERYONE! If you're a "no reply" or anonymous commenter, please remember to include your email address in your comment--you can't win if I can't get a hold of you!

1. Simply leave a comment here under this post! (First comment entry).

2. Follow Hobbs batting on one of their social media platforms *  Blog  *  Instagram  *  Facebook  *  Just let me know that you did by making a separate comment here to record that entry. (Separate comment - second entry). 

3. My followers get a third entry! If you follow via subscribing to my posts, through Bloglovin (or other service), or on Instagram, just let me know by making a separate comment here to record that entry. (Separate comment - third entry). 

4. Help spread the word!! I know that many of you already do, so I thought it would be nice to add that as another way to enter! Spread the word about the Hold Tight Sew Along on YOUR instagram, facebook, tweet, pin, blog post, etc... (separate comment - fourth entry). 

That’s FOUR possible entries! Enter now through Monday, April 8th! The winner will be picked at random around 4 pm Eastern. I will post the name of the winner on this post once they've been notified and responded to my email.

Don't forget the giveaway for this week is also held on Instagram for an additional chance to win and will be randomly drawn on Monday. The winner is 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 and don’t forget to tag me too! 

Community Sampler Week #4

Community Sampler Week #4


Welcome to week #4 of the Community Sampler sew along where we not only work on our patchwork piecing techniques but also share our makes on Instagram and have fun with a like-minded community of quilters. My co-host and sister Art Gallery Fabrics designer Maureen Cracknell and I are so happy to have you sewing with us and look forward to spending the next few months with you.

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There are eleven blocks in our quilt and each Wednesday will be a new PDF block release or finishing step for the quilt. If you are just joining us, pick up the Introduction PDF on the Sew Along page and you'll get a material list along with coloring pages so you can get started planning your quilt. Then, work your way through the first Community Sampler post to the present.

Many of the patchwork units (like Quick-Corner, Flying Geese, Half-Square Triangle, and Square-in-Square units) used in this year's sampler have already been oversized to allow for trimming and squaring of units before assembling your block. Please cut your pieces EXACTLY as given in each of the PDF instructions because bumping up the size of the pieces from the measurements give will not bring great results in some cases. Take advantage of my in-blog tutorials for each of the different quilting techniques used in our sampler.

Accurate cutting and use of a true 1/4'' seam allowance is a must for successful patchwork piecing. All your blocks will measure 12-1/2'' square (unfinished). Review how to cut strips, sew with a true 1/4'' seam allowance, and other helpful piecing tips on my "Are You Ready to Sew" post.

Let's start sewing our third block--Ribbon Star. Download the free PDF on the Sew Along page.

Triple-Square Triangle Units

I love how you can put squares together to come out with intricate patchwork units like this Triple-Square Triangle (TST). All the cut sizes have already been sized up for trimming and squaring. I'm using the 6'' HST Bloc-Loc ruler to help me keep my units square. You can see some great video from the Bloc-Loc site to better explain how to use their tools. 

If you're wanting to use directional prints for either of the following patchwork techniques you may want to check out my tutorial for controlling directional prints that was posted during the Sewcial Bee Sampler sew along. 

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Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the lighter fabric of your 6" squares.

Place a marked square right sides together with a same-size square. Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the drawn line. 

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Press to flatten. Cut apart on the line to make two Half-Square Triangle (HST) units. 

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Press open toward the dark print. I press my seams in one direction. Read more about pressing seams open on Maureen's blog post for the Ribbon Star block. Tip when pressing seams in one direction: Place the fabric you want to press toward face up on the ironing board. When you open to press the seam will automatically be pressed toward the desired fabric. 

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Trim units to 5" square. Since these HST units are oversized, the first trimming pass will cut off about an half an inch on the right side and top for a right hander. If you're left handed you will be trimming the left side and top. Notice the Bloc-Ruler is using the diagonal line to square the unit and the two sides not being trimmed on this first pass will still need squaring up as the 5'' marks of the ruler does not align with the outside edges.

Rotate the unit 180° and trim about 1/8" off the two remaining side to square to 5" square. Repeat on the remaining (untrimmed) HST unit. 

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Draw a diagonal line on each of the 5" squares. Pair a 5" square with a HST unit right sides together and the drawn line perpendicular to the seam line of the HST so the seams make an "X" (see first image below). 

Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the marked line. 

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Press to flatten (you can see the seam line orientation of the HST unit creates an "X" in the pressing photo).

Cut apart on the line. Open and press toward the large triangle. Makes two, mirror image Triple-Square Triangle (TST) units. Make a total of four. Note: Be sure to pay attention to orientation of the TST units when assembling your block! 

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Trim the TST units in the same manner as you did with the HST units, using the diagonal seam line as a guide and taking care that all the points stays sharp. Trim only about 1/8" or less off the sides to trim to 4-1/2" square. Make a total of four TST units. 


For my sampler quilt I'm using Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Elements solids. Using all solids is a personal challenge for this pattern designer and is not without it's own set of additional challenges. See my first week Community Sampler post for the inspiration behind my color palette. I've already made a few of the blocks for this sampler to work ahead and have found that I really need to bring my A-game for piecing because solids are very unforgiving and show every little missed point. Again, this is a good challenge even for a quilter that's been doing this awhile and I will need to take extra care in my stitching!


Thank you for making this sew along so special I love seeing all the blocks being posted. Please visit Maureen's blog and see the progress she's making on her sampler quilt, using her beautiful AGF fabrics Love Story collection. Be sure to use the #CommunitySampler hashtag when posting your blocks to Instagram and tag both my @sharonhollanddesigns and @maureencracknell so we don't miss any of your beautiful work!

Community Sampler Sponsors

Don't forget that this Friday's a Giveaway Friday on the Community Sampler sew along. Maureen and I will take turns hosting a giveaway each week where one of our generous sponsors will be featured and offering amazing prizes both here on our blogs and a second chance on Instagram. I will be hosting the giveaway this Friday and you'll be instructed how to enter at that time.

Happy sewing!

Sewcial Bee Sampler Block #3

Sewcial Bee Sampler Block #3

Hello, friends! It's Wednesday and that means a new block is available for the Sewcial Bee Sampler sew along co-hosted by myself and Maureen Cracknell. If you're just now joining us, welcome! Please take a moment to catch up by reviewing all my earlier posts, beginning with the January 30th, 2017 post The Start of Something Sewcial.

The rest of you, let's get sewing! Block #3 is called Flock. You'll enjoy it because we're reviewing the two different half-square triangle (HST) techniques we've learned about in blocks #1 and #2. You've got this, but if you'd like a refresher, follow these links to my tutorials: 8-at-a-time HST units and the traditional HST units (2-at-a-time). 

#3 Flock Sewcial Bee Sampler featuring Bountiful fabrics by Sharon Holland for Art Gallery Fabrics

#3 Flock Sewcial Bee Sampler featuring Bountiful fabrics by Sharon Holland for Art Gallery Fabrics

I've started a series of tutorials to accompany this sew along that covers very basic patchwork sewing skills. If you've missed the first installment and want to perfect your strip cutting and seam allowance sewing skills, pop over to my Perfect Patchwork post here.

Just so you know, there's always several ways to accomplish the same end result in patchwork piecing and quilting. The methods I give you are my go-to methods and have served me well over the years. I'm not saying this is the absolute and only way to do things--this is just how I prefer to sew my patchwork quilts. 

Perfect Patchwork

Pressing and Pinning

A question I'm asked a lot is do I wash my fabrics before I sew with them? The answer from me is, NO. Again, this is a personal preference. I like to sew with fabric that still has the mill sizing finish on it. I feel the fabric is easier to handle and work with in a crisper state. Yes, I could pre-wash and then starch--but why go through that extra work?

Second big question is about pressing seams to one side or pressing them open. If you'd have asked me this question 6 months ago I would have gasped in horror at the very thought of pressing patchwork seams open. But, this fall as I was sewing a quilt for my Utility Style quilt book, (in print later this year) I had a scrap quilt project that I just HAD TO press the seams open for it to work. This was the first quilt I ever, ever had done that way and was pleasantly surprised how it really helped make this particular quilt go together so nicely. 

I've since been using a hybrid of pressing seams to one side and pressing seams open. If you put a little thought into the construction of each section of your block and how they fit together like a puzzle, you can get into a bit of a rhythm when piecing and start to instinctively know when to fold them (press to one side) and when to hold them (press open). 

Let's Practice on the #3 Block

1. Always start cutting and sewing with wrinkle-free fabric. When piecing you'll want to press not iron. Pressing is the motion of picking the iron up and putting it down rather than sliding it across the surface. Use the correct setting for the type of material and keep the iron clean. When pressing a unit or block press the seam from the back first to set the seam then open the unit or block and press the piece open. Press as you piece so the block stays true to size. I do not recommend using a steam iron. Steam could distort the shape of pieces by loosing the weave. I inevitably burn my fingers from the steam and it just messes up my iron no matter what, it's not been my friend.  

2. To press the seams for the #3 Flock block like I've done, press the seams on all the HST units open. Trim the dog ear corners to reduce bulk.

3. After sewing the 2 small HST units together, press the seams to one side so they can be nested when joining the two rows of two small HST units. I find when joining sections like this the nested seams are invaluable for locking the seams in place. Nesting seams before sewing means the seam allowances of each unit are going in the opposite direction. After joining the small HST units, this now becomes a section of the block; press the seams open on all sections.

Pressing tip: When the pressing direction is important, place the fabric to be pressed toward face up when pressing and opening. This trick will save time and result in the seams being pressed in the direction of the face-up fabric.

Pinning tip: I always pin when nesting seams and joining sections. Pinning helps to keep pieces and units from shifting when sewing. Pin seam allowances on a diagonal from right to left as shown, locking the seams in place. Do not sew over pins. Instead, stitch up to the diagonally placed pin, catching the leading seam allowance. With the needle in the down position, stop and remove the pin before proceeding.

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4. Join the 2 large HST units and 2 HST sections into 2 rows of 2 units/sections each. Press seams to one side for nesting. Pin, stitch, and press the seams open.

5. When adding the frames, I press after each frame is added toward the frame strip because it will have the least amount of bulk in that direction.

Once my entire block is pieced and if I feel it needs to be flatter, I have a spritz bottle of regular tap water. The water, reactivates the mill sizing that will now act like starch (without the mess to your ironing board and iron). Your block is now (hopefully, a square) and if the pieces have been cut on the straight-of-grain, the straight-of-grain outside edges of the block will help to keep the shape of the square. I lightly mist my block and give it a good pressing with a hot iron (be sure to use the appropriate setting for your fabric). Remember, do not iron, this will distort and pull the block out of shape. Instead, press with an up and down motion and the block will remain true to size. If you'd prefer to use a steam iron, this would be the time to use it to make your block nice and flat instead of the spray bottle technique. 

I've enjoyed watching your blocks as you post them to Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtag #SewcialBeeSampler when you post and tag @maureencracknell and myself @sharonhollanddesigns so we can see all your hard work. Any public IG account posting that uses the official hashtag will automatically be entered into the hashtag pool for our weekly giveaway drawings. 

This Friday, February 17th, 2017 is my turn to host the weekly giveaway. I'll have a new post introducing you to this week's sponsor Sharon McConnell of Color Girl Quilts and all the details on how to enter on Friday. 

P.S. I love you sew! Photo by Sharon Holland

P.S. I love you sew! Photo by Sharon Holland