May 30, 2017

Week 12: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Half Square Triangles Block 3

Use Template A-6 to neatly make 64 Half-Square Triangle Squares

I started picking light and dark pairs of strips from my pre-cut 2-inch strips. At first I was cutting only one pair of triangles from each combination. Then I realized that Jen’s instructions would result in 2 of each combination. Selecting fabrics and cutting went much faster!

Look Ahead Tip!

Next week we are doing Flying Geese and will need both light and dark A-4 triangles  so while you have strips paired you might want to cut this combination:

Lay aside the A-4 triangles until next week.

Making the Block

Chain-piece the A6 pairs on the hypotenuse to make squares. Press toward the dark fabric. Naturally, cutting the triangles with the fabrics right sides together made the piecing both faster and more accurate.

Sewing 16 little 1-1/2 inch half square triangles (HSTs) together seemed less challenging than 64 so I arranged the pieced squares in 4 by 4 quarter-sections. Then I pieced each quarter using what I call “chain-linking”. It is chain-piecing, but it is more! It is linking the pieces in order and in proper orientation. The half square triangle units can only rotate one way and it is almost impossible to sew the wrong rows together.

 All squares should be right side up and in proper orientation.

1. Position the squares in column 4 right side down on the squares in column 3. Chain piece on the right edge. Make 4 or 5 stitches between each pair. Leave in machine.

2. Continue by placing all of the squares in column 2 right sides down on the squares in column 1. Continue chain-piecing from the top down.
3. At the ironing board press to one side and snip apart ONLY between the 4th and 5th pairs of squares.

4. Place the linked pairs back in position so that you can easily lift columns 3 & 4 and put them right sides together on top of columns 1 & 2. Chain-piece columns 2 and 3 together, from top to bottom. Don’t clip any threads.

5. Press seams in rows 1 & 3 in the same direction and rows 2 & 4 in the opposite direction.  This will create opposing seams and reduce bulk when you join the rows.

Rows 1 and 4 are easy to press, but the middle rows are awkward. If it is too awkward, leave a few more stitches between the rows on the next section. Working on the edge of the ironing board might help. My ironing board has a little “sleeve board” attachment that I don’t use for sleeves, but it worked great for this project.

Here all the rows are pressed with opposing seams, chain-linked and ready to be joined. It is so nice that they have no “dog-ears.”

It doesn’t matter which direction you press on the first quarter of the block, but on the adjoining quarters, you will want to refer to the direction of these seams on the edge of the unit and make sure that the edge that they will subsequently touch is opposing.

Here is one example of pressing directions that work great for these little pieces.

Of course, if you are an experienced “Chain-Linker” there is no reason not to do all 8 columns and all 8 rows in one giant Chain Link. Well, there is one reason. If you plan to do all 64 together, it will really help to have no interruptions. I don’t live that life!

Back to sewing…Rows 1 & 2 joined and rows 3 & 4 joined.

The 2 quarters on the bottom joined…

And finally the entire 12-inch finished block with all 128 little triangles! It’s so cute!

Looking Ahead

By this time next week, I’ll have added the sashing strips and checkerboards to my HST Block 3 as shown in part C of Section 5 (page 31) and I’ll also have parts A and B on page 31 ready to go!

Comments Please

Do you chain-link your blocks and quilts? What do you call it? Make a comment and you might win a From Marti Michell half-inch Pineapple Template Set just in time! Or if you already own one, your choice of one of our products of equal value.

UPDATE June 6, 2017

Today's the day we promised to pick a random name from the comments below to win a set of our new Starry Path templates.

The random picker chose kate, commenter #5!  

Kate, please send your snail mail info in an email to Patti via our "Contact Us" page on our website, (We don't put our email address in public places to prevent spammers from picking them up.) Thanks for reading the blog!

P.S. The contest is now closed. If we don't hear from Kate by June 12, we'll do another random draw and announce the new pick here.

[We'll use a random picker and post an update on this page to announce the winner, so leave a comment and be sure to check back on June 6, 2017 (June 7 in Australia) to see if your name is selected! The winner will have two weeks to contact us via our 800 number or by email. Our contact info is at  If we don't hear from the winner by June 12 (or 13 AU), we'll select a new name and update this post with that person's name -- so be sure to bookmark this page!  Good luck and thanks for making your blocks with our templates!]

Visit these other Long Time Gone Sew Along blogs, too, for tutorials, contests and other info:

Use the hash tag #LongTimeGoneSAL to share photos on Instagram.

Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell. Copyright 2016 by Jen Kingwell Designs. Available on the From Marti Michell website,


  1. Ilove chain linking my blocks - makes it go so much faster and I don't seem to lose as many pieces! :)

  2. I haven't tried chain linking this big of a piece before, but will on this block. You have been teaching me so much in this Sew Along. I LOVE using your templates!! I am so curious to see how you are quilting this quilt in sections. I really want to try that. I bought your book and Craftsy class. I would especially love to see the back.

  3. @flamingoquiltingMay 30, 2017 at 7:39 PM

    I'm a chain linker! Gets me in trouble sometimes.

  4. Love chainstitshing! Use it when pieceing all my blocks. When joining my blocks for the finished quilt I use it! Takes a bit of pratice when layering the blocks for easy pick up, but always in the correct sequence!

    1. A quilter after my own heart! I chain piece blocks into rows and chain the rows together, too. That little bit of setup time to get the blocks organized saves time overall -- time saved is time invested in making our next quilt!

  5. I have pretty much all your ruler sets but wanted to tell you I have found your methods for this quilt by far the easiest for making all the blocks in this quilt. thanks!

  6. I'm really enjoying your posts on this quilt along. I have quite a few of your template sets and grossly underuse them. Watching you talk through the process makes me see so many possibilities!

    I do chain-link blocks like this. I first did it on a 2.5" square scrap quilt (Scrap Vomit with Katie Jones) and found it really helped keep the proper squares where they belonged and in line. I've never thought about what it was called though. It may now be 'Chain-Link" forevermore. :-D

  7. When creating a block with so many pieces, chain piecing makes it go so much easier. The block doesn't feel like a chore, but a delight.

  8. I feel like a total newb; I had never heard of this before! I'm going to try it out this week. Thank you so much!

  9. I always chain piece. Why do you leave so much thread inbetween? I butt mine as close as I can. The thread acts as a pin and holds the seams perfectly in place for even more accurate piecing. When ironing - it helps to flip the top side to the bottom when you come to end of each row since its easier to press seams to the left. PS I had the hardest time finding your blog post - the link from instagram is your store.

    1. Hi Linda, I wanted more of the process to show in the photos so it would be more clear to people who haven't done chain piecing before. Thanks for mentioning the Instagram link; I'll check that out. :)

  10. Love chain piecing but your description of how to piece all those 1/2 square triangles is wonderful, they sure go together nicely. Love giveaways and I have a pineapple quilt in my future.

  11. I'm a firm believer in chain piecing. (Even when garment sewing!) I chain-link my blocks like you do, but have called it 'webbing' the blocks, since that's what it was called by the first person I saw doing it.
    I've really been enjoying your tutorials for this quilt. Thanks so much for all your work making everything so clear!

    1. "everything old is new again" -- what this method is called may depend on how long you've been sewing or quilting or what the designer calls it in a pattern, LOL We're glad to see that experienced quilters are still chain stitching and gratifying to know that new quilters are adopting this efficient way to sew. And glad to know these blog posts are useful to so many people! :)

  12. I'm a chain-piecer from way back! Even on small blocks, like the Farmer's Wife (where I used your templates), I'll lay out the pieces next to my sewing machine and just sew them in order. The only time I get pieces mixed up or oriented wrong is if I don't follow this process. And I do this when I'm assembling the blocks for the quilt top. That's where I got started with laying out and stacking them in position. I'm a big fan of your templates and have taken classes with you different times in Panama City!

  13. Sometimes I chain link, sometimes I don't. It depends on how scrappy my block is, or how anxious I am to see a completed block. On this one, I was so excited to see things pieced into little squares, and then bigger squares, that I didn't do it. Also, I was concerned that maybe I had too much of one color in one area, so I just did little squares, which I could easily shift to a new spot, if necessary, then put the whole together. I see now that I could easily have webbed those smaller squares, but I put my block together before I read your post!! I've always called it "webbing", probably because that's how I learned it.

  14. Chain piecing & your templates make the block go together easier.

  15. I chain piece when I can.

  16. Chain piece mostly everything. Love it for these blocks where there is a lot of repetition, but even your BOM patterns lend themselves to 'doing more than one thing' at a time when you go to the machine! Especially appreciate the layered and cut tip with the templates - keeps those edges aligned and the grain straight. Thanks for all the tips through this quilt process!

  17. I like chain piecing and chain -linking, helps to keep from losing pieces! I learned the method years ago but never really had a name for it. I like "Chain Linking"! I also love your templates!

  18. I chain piece as often as I can when practical. I do a lot of scrap quilts and find that chain piecing is the fastest and least time consuming method there is out there.