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:

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

May 23, 2017

Week 11: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Half-Square Triangles Block 2

Use Template Set B, Pieces 8 and 12 for the squares and 13 for the Triangles (unless you cut them last week like I did).


Yes, if my Half Square Triangles, Block 2, looks familiar it is because the triangles were cut at the same time as HST Block 1, from the same 2-1/2 inch strips! If you haven’t already cut and chain pieced 28 HST pairs, do it now and press the seam allowances toward the dark.

Cut one B-8 square for the center and four B-12 squares

Arranging Pieces

As I followed the layout on page 18 something seemed amiss. I finally decided to rotate 2 HST units and I was much happier. Then I looked more carefully at the quilt picture and, sure enough, my new block arrangement matches the quilt. Take a look at the 1st square, 2nd row and last square 5th row on page 18 and in the quilt before you sew.


I was so fascinated with my thread supply, or lack thereof, that I failed to take a picture of the block before I started sewing.

Do you think I can join all of the pieces into pairs before I run out of thread? No? I don’t think so either, but let’s try. For the record, I managed to sew 7 pairs (approximately 18 inches).

I chain-pieced pairs vertically and pressed every other seam in opposite directions to create opposing seams.

Then I joined the pairs to make units of 4 HSTs or 2 HSTs and 2 squares. When I joined the pairs of pairs, I continued to make opposing seams by pressing the seams on one vertical row up and on the next row down. (I tried swirl pressing the four-patch units, but it conflicted with the opposing seams and just wasn’t worth it.)

Then I joined those units into three vertical rows 2 squares wide by 6 long. Finally I joined the vertical rows together. Here is my finished block with sashing strips and the single row of checkerboard attached.

I’m getting excited about putting more blocks together. I’ll go ahead and make a 3 x 10 checkerboard, combine it with a Bow Tie block and have Section 3 (page 28 in Jen's book) completed before next week.

If you need tips on strip piecing scrappy checkerboards, I included some quick techniques at the end of Week 8 on my blog (click here)

More About Half Square Triangles Block 1

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

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

May 16, 2017

Week 10: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Half Square Triangles Block 1

Use Template B-13 from Set B

Take advantage of this quick and easy block to both look ahead and catch up.  In the catch-up department, for some reason I still need to cut and make 2 Churn Dash blocks!

Looking Ahead and Making the Block Simultaneously

1. It looks like Jen used 35 different fabrics for her triangles and I want to do the same. When using templates, we always cut strips one dimension of the template first and then use the template for the final cut. (Yes, cut a strip even if you only want two triangles.) So, I needed 2-1/2 inch strips of both light neutrals and contrasting prints. I don’t need a lot of variety in the light neutrals so I cut strips from 7 or 8 different fabrics 2-1/2 inches wide and 10 – 12 inches long.

2. Now, what about the 35 contrasting fabrics? For efficiency, look ahead. Is there another place where we need 2-1/2 inch strips? Yes, next week in Half Square Triangles block 2, and again in the “60 degree” triangles.

What about the borders? You may remember that I’ve mentioned that I want varying widths on my three borders and 2-1/2 inches is the width for my middle border. On Jen’s borders, there are 10 or 11 strips on each 70 inch side. If I cut 35 2-1/2 inch wide strips between 10 and 18 inches long, I could accomplish four things!

    a. I could pair them with neutral strips and cut 2 B-13 Half Square Triangle sets. One set would be for this block and …
    b. I would have all the triangles I need cut for next week’s block, too.
    c. I would be close to having a full border cut.
    d. I can use at least some of the strips for the “60 degree” triangles.

If you are planning on making a 2-1/2 inch pieced binding like Jen did, you’ll probably want to cut a second strip while you have the fabric out.

3. I paired light and contrasting strips and stacked them 3 pairs high. Then I cut 2 pairs of B-13 triangles from each stack one for this week, one for nest week. Don’t skip cutting off the corners. Even with my nipped off corners, the bulk is noticeable.

4.  Next, I separated the strips and put the assorted colors aside. Since I don’t plan to put light fabrics in the border, I paired them again with new contrasting fabrics and repeated this process until I had 35 pairs of triangles.

5. Chain-piece the triangle pairs and press seams toward the darker triangle. Arrange in 5 rows of 7 as shown and join. Alternate from row to row the direction that you press the seams that join the squares to create perfect opposing seams for joining the rows.

I pressed the seams that joined the rows up. Some may choose to press that open, but I anticipate quilting in the ditch and do not want the open seam.

More Looking Ahead

If you have been following, you know I’ve already layered and quilted Section 4. I had finished piecing another set of 4 Pineapple blocks sometime ago and now with the HST Block 1 done, I’m only missing a row of 6 Peaky and Spike triangles to complete Section 1. I can’t stand not to finish! The instructions are on page 23 in the Long Time Gone book, called 60-degree triangles. They are really 53-1/2 degree triangles, but who's counting?

Using the Multiple Size Peaky and Spike – Product #8289

The 6 contrasting Spike triangles can be cut from the same 2-1/2 inch strips you just used for the HSTs. Don't forget to reposition the multi-size tool and trim off the corners for easy piecing. Instead of cutting 6 pairs of Peaky triangles, I chose to cut 7 neutral Spike triangles to alternate. It saves a lot of seams and I like the clean look better next to the HST block. Trim the neutral triangles to size on each end of the row.

On page 11 of the Peaky and Spike instruction booklet, we tell you how to join two Peaky triangles to make a rectangle, but until now we didn’t share joining 2 Spike triangles. We are sharing our future page 11 with you right now!

Excerpt, page 11:

The corners are engineered to fit perfectly when Peaky and Spike are sewn in the most common arrangement, as on page 2. The pieces fit together in other positions, shown below. but the corners do not align ideally. It just takes a little practice to create these units. For example, to make a rectangle out of two #97 triangles, cut both triangles in the same orientation and pay careful attention to matchpoints when sewing.

You can also sew Spike triangles together to make a wonderful Sawtooth border. End each strip with a Peaky triangle and use kite units for corner blocks.

Check Your Finished Block Sizes

Jen has included finished sizes for all of the units. They really aren’t suggested sizes! This jigsaw puzzle doesn’t fit together without accurate finished block sizes. If you choose to machine quilt in sections, this is a Cardinal Rule! Measure the edges that will be joined eventually. If they match before quilting and you quilt with the same density on both pieces, they will match when they are joined.

Just like section 4 shown in Week 5, I'm adding 8 inches in length and width to the batting and backing. I will position the pieced unit in the lower right corner so that all of the extra batting and backing extends at the top and left side of the quilt, as it is pictured on the inside cover of the Longtime Gone book.

Here is my Section 1 layered and ready to quilt. Just like Section 4, it has the extra batting and backing allowed for the borders to be added “Stitch and Flip.”

And here it is with the extra batting and backing rolled and pinned to be more convenient to handle when quilting.

For more information about machine quilting in sections, see my book Machine Quilting in Sections and my newest Craftsy Class by the same name.

More About Half Square Triangles Block 1

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

May 9, 2017

Week 9: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Log Cabin Blocks, or Chevrons

Use Log Cabin Ruler #8037 (3/4- and 1 1/2-inch finished strips).

Cut all strips to length and 1 1/4-inch wide.

If I could only make one quilt, it would have to be Log Cabin. It was the first full-size quilt I ever made and there are so many variations, I don’t think I would ever get bored. This is the second of the 3 variations Jen has included in Long Time Gone.

It made me happy when I saw that the strip widths were 1-1/4 inches cut because we have a Log Cabin Ruler (#8037) that cuts strips to length for the finished 3/4-inch strip – it is such a great width. It took me a few moments to realize Jen had used three different widths of strips in the Chevron Log Cabin. Then I calculated that I could make the 6-inch finished block I needed with the 1-1/2 inch (2-inch cut) corner square and six 3/4-inch (1-1/4 inch cut) strips on two sides and I was good to go!

My arrangement:

Log Cabin Ruler # 8037 1 1/2- and 3/4-inch finished strip widths

Jen did not select fabric to make blocks with the typical half light, half dark colors and I decided to follow her lead with a twist. I decided to try warm colors on one half and cool on the other.

Cutting the Fabrics

1. For matching corner squares, cut a strip 2-inch wide and at least 8-1/2 inches long. Cut into four 2-inch squares with the A square on the wide side of the ruler.

2. Looking at my chart for strips used in the entire quilt (posted with block 3), I see that this is the only block in the quilt that uses 1-1/4 inch strips. Because I wanted variety I cut a strip 10 or 12 inches long from 10 or 12 warm fabrics and 10 or 12 cool fabrics.

3. Cut strips to length. The beauty of cutting strips to length is that every piece that you add confirms that the block is still the right size and your ¼” seam is accurate. The smaller the strips, the more important it is to know you have an accurate seam allowance.

The first piece on each block is 2 inches long, or “b” on the narrow side of the #8037 ruler.
Cut 4. Mine were warm fabrics. From then until the last strip, you will need 4 of each value (8 total) of c, d, e, f, and g…just move up the ruler. You will only need 1 “h” per block. Mine was a cool fabric.

Making the Blocks

Chain piece all 4 blocks.

Work in alphabetical order to add strips. Press away from the corner square.

When I put my set of blocks on the design wall, I was slightly disappointed. The diagonal bands of warm and cool strips were not as distinct as I wanted and because they are lacking neutrals, they are a little “heavy” or dense looking.

It didn’t take long for me to decide on a solution.
1.  I’m not making them over! They will be almost in the middle of the quilt, so the “heavy issue” won’t ruin the balance of the quilt.
2.  But, I still wanted a better diagonal look. As soon as I put up high contrast A-6 half-square triangles to replace the multi-colored corner squares, I felt I got it. I was willing to make that change to get a stronger diagonal look. (Click the photo for a larger view.)

Join the Blocks

Follow the arrangement in the book to join the blocks. I did that and went ahead and added a sashing  strip to one side. Then I noticed that I worked clockwise on my Chevron blocks and Jen worked counter-clockwise. Oh well!

Looking Ahead

You may have noticed on my strip chart included in Week 3 (Crosses of the UK) that I said I was thinking about 3 different width borders that would equal 5-1/2 inches finished width instead of the three 1-1/4 inch borders that equal 3 3/4 inches.

I haven’t decided yet, but I’m ready to start quilting by the section. Section 4 has been on my design wall beckoning for a couple of weeks now. It measures 14-1/2 by 27-1/2 inches wide. I’m going to add 8 inches to both dimensions and cut batting and backing 22-1/2 by 35-1/2 inches. When I layer, I’ll let an inch of batting and backing extend on the top and right side of Section 4 and the remainder on the left and bottom.

After I have pinned  Section 4 in place, I’ll roll up and secure the extra batting and backing to make a nice package for quilting. Later, after the sections are joined, I’ll add the borders stitch and flip so that I quilt as I add the borders.

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,

May 2, 2017

Week 8: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Courthouse Steps

Courthouse Steps is a classic variation of Log Cabin blocks. It starts with a center square, but instead of rotating around the square, you add strips with matching lengths and values to opposite sides of the center square, rotate 90° and do it again. The first set of strips and the last set of strips are unique lengths. All of the other lengths will have both one dark set of two pieces and one light set.

To create better separation between the blocks and the sashing strips that surround them, I chose to reverse the positions of light and dark strips. In other words, my shortest strips are light and the longest are dark. (Click on the illustrations for larger views.)

Like any Log Cabin block or derivative, there are three ways to come out with near perfect blocks.

1. Cut strips on the lengthwise grain, parallel to the selvages. Lengthwise grain of fabric is firm, not stretchy like crosswise grain.

2. Cut the strips to length. Jen gives you the exact lengths needed for each set of strips.

3. Sew an accurate ¼-inch seam.

Cutting for 6 Courthouse Steps Blocks

I already had a food storage container full of 1-inch strips cut on lengthwise grain because I have followed my own advice and cut extra strips every time I was cutting for other blocks. Happily, the From Marti Michell 1/2-inch Log Cabin Ruler #8227 has all the proper lengths for the Courthouse Steps blocks. We identify them both by length and letters in alphabetical order and there are no additional measurement lines to confuse your eyes.

I decided on matching orange centers. I had decided on matching periwinkle blue centers for the Pineapple blocks when I started them and liked that degree of consistency in my scrappy quilt, so why not be consistent again?

My 1-inch strips from other cutting projects were assorted lengths so it took a little extra thought to maximize the efficiency of cutting. I cleared a little space and positioned sticky notes on my cutting table. We are making 6 blocks so I need 12 pieces of each value and length. Each sticky note identified the length needed and the letter on my ruler for that length. (Use the lengths listed in small type on page 15 in Jen Kingwell's book for the lengths needed, not the big numbers on each piece in the illustration on that page.) Some people will write the sizes on small paper plates for a project like this and then they can stack them and the project is more mobile. (Click images for larger view.)

Each set of pre-cut 1-inch strips I had was different— a different number of fabrics, different lengths, etc. To maximize the available fabric, cut the longest pieces needed first. You can almost always cut one of the shorter pieces from what is left. As I cut and sorted, I would write the number of layers in the stack on the sticky note. When I had 12 pieces I knew I did not need to cut any more strips that length. In no time I had cut to length all of the strips needed and was ready to sew!

Oops! Then I realized we are making 9 blocks, not 6, and I did it again for 3 more blocks! 😊

Sewing the Blocks

It was so easy to chain piece the blocks. Chain-piece the first cut-to-length strips to one side of the center square. Leave them attached and sew pre-cut strips to the opposite side. Press away from the center, cut the units apart and do it again in the opposite value.

Generally I put the strip being added to the block on the bottom so the seam allowances I’m crossing are visible and I can make sure they are not getting twisted. However with such narrow strips, my presser foot was just a little too wide and I kept hitting the previous seam allowance and slightly distorting the seam I was stitching. So, I put the new strip on top and no problem. Do whatever works for you, but remember, it may be different with different strip widths.

Join the blocks into three sets of three as shown. On the center block reverse the direction of the last  seam allowances so they go toward the center. You will reduce the bulk and have nice opposing seam allowances when joining the blocks.

And here they are! (Click on the images for larger views.)

And here is a picture of one of my favorite Courthouse Steps quilts that is included in our Log Cabin ABCs book. It is made with 1-inch finished strips.

Looking Ahead to Checkerboards

I promised to share some tips on making scrappy checkerboard units. Strip techniques are obvious, but strip techniques usually equate with a large number of strips and a limited number of fabrics. Scrappy strip techniques require a little modification. Mainly shorter strip sets and more of them!!!

All but one of the Checkerboards are 2, 3 or 4 pieces wide, and most are 3.  So I start by joining short strips of contrasting fabrics to long strips of my neutral. Typically, I want around 5-inch constrasting strips. I can get three Checkerboard units from each, but I had a bunch of end cuts from my Churn Dash blocks in the piece photographed so I worked with them.

Press toward the darker fabrics. No matter how you arrange them later, that is the best direction. Now you have many options. You can, from left to right in the photo below:

1. Cut them into 1-1/2 inch segments and join for Checkerboard strips that are 2 squares wide. (Eventually you need around 150 pairs.) I like doing several smaller groups instead of all at once, so I get more variety as I add fabrics.

2. Or I add contrasting strips. Press toward the dark and cut into 1-1/2 inch segments 3 squares wide with contrast on the outside.

3. Or I join the segments to another neutral strip and cut into segments that are 1-1/2 inches by 3 squares with the light squares on the outside. Shown at the top of #2 and #3 is a Checkerboard made with units from both strip sets. The seams oppose each other for "automatic pinning" because the seams were already pressed toward the darker fabrics.

4. Or I join 2-square segments end to end to make rows for Checkerboards that are 4 squares wide. Why not practice on the Checkerboard for Section 2 on page 27? If you're loving it, go ahead and make the Checkerboards on page 28 for Section 3. Those will be the next 2 sections you can easily finish.

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,