Chaining by Hand – Lots of Photos

How’s that for a blog post title? Made me laugh out loud! But this is all about my method of chain piecing HSTs by hand. I know, I know — chain piecing is what machine piecers do. But I’ve found a way to chain piece by hand and I think it’s fabulous. This way I’m not dealing with stretchy bias edges. Those seams are stitched before the HSTs are cut apart.

HST 1wtmk

To begin with, using one of the shapes in the Inklingo Celtic Solstice collection (but this would work with any of the Inklingo triangles and there are lots and lots of them) I printed all my HSTs on both the fabrics I’m using. Then I cut them into squares like this. One side is my green/gold fabric.

HST 2wtmk

The other side is the yellow fabric. The solid lines are the eventual cutting lines while the dotted lines are the stitching lines.

HST 3wtmk

I lined them up, and using a #12 sharp as my pin, pinned through one of the intersections.

HST 4wtmk

Checked the back to make sure my pin was through the intersection on the yellow fabric.

HST 5wtmk

Then I made my flat knot at the beginning of the seam and began to stitch, just a thread above the stitching line.

HST 6wtmk

I checked on the back to make sure I was staying just above the stitching line and into the seam allowance on the yellow piece as well.

HST 7wtmk

I took a backstitch and using a simple running stitch, kept stitching just above the stitching line.

HST 8wtmk

Before I pull the needle through I always check on the back to make sure I’ve stayed just above the stitching line on the yellow fabric as well.

HST 9wtmk

Then I keep stitching to the end of the seam line, taking a backstitch after every four or five stitches. At the end of the seam, I make another flat knot.

HST 10wtmk

I always turn it over before pulling the needle and thread through, just to make sure the stitching is staying just a thread above the stitching line.

HST 11wtmk

And now the chaining by hand really begins. I haven’t cut the thread. What I have done is pin the end of the seam on the other HST and begun to take the first stitch on the second HST.

HST 12wtmk

But before I pull the thread through I turn it over and make sure that I’ve pinned it right through the intersection on the yellow piece and that my first stitch is going to be right at the beginning of the seam on the yellow piece.

HST 13wtmk

It is, so I pull the needle and thread through and make another flat knot. And here you can see that the thread is not broken between the two seams I’m sewing.

HST 14wtmk

So I carry on stitching just a thread above the stitching line all the way to the end of the second seam. But I’m not breaking my thread yet. I make another flat knot at the end of that second seam.

HST 15wtmk

And then I pick up a second pair of HSTs and pin the end of one seam and more chaining by hand is about to begin.

HST 16wtmk

I start stitching at the beginning of that second pair of HSTs with another flat knot. And repeat the whole process once more. If you click on this photo to enlarge it I think you can see that the thread between the four HSTs hasn’t been broken.

HSt 17wtmk

After I’ve stitched the four seams, I take my final flat knot and cut the thread. Then the magic happens. I cut on the cutting lines and cut right through those threads that were connecting the HST pairs. Because I’ve made  a flat knot at the beginning and end of each seam, I have no worries about the seams coming undone when I cut through that little connecting piece of thread.

HST 18wtmk

A few seconds later, the HSTs are cut apart, pressed and I have four perfect little HSTs. And, thanks to the perfect cutting lines I’ve got no dog ears to worry about — they’re all gone and my pieces are going to be very easy to stitch together into whatever blocks they are about to become.

HST 19wtmk

The backs look as good as the fronts. I haven’t graded these seams yet but will before I set them together.

And it took way, way, way less time to stitch those four HSTs than it did to even read this little tutorial. It is chaining by hand. And it’s fast. And I bet I can do 20 or 30 pairs of them in next to no time. So I get the benefits of chain piecing but I also get to piece by hand, which I find much more relaxing than machine piecing.

beaming xwtmk

“Beaming.” Seems the kitty teleporter has been warmed up and I have it on good authority that two more kitties are joining the festivities tomorrow. In the meantime, it looks like more decorations have been pulled out of the box and everyone is wearing a Santa hat!


Baxter and Jake hope you found this little tutorial as relaxing as they did. In fact, they appear to be sound asleep. They’re probably hoping I’ll leave a box of fabric pieces open for them to get at and are trying to lull me into a false sense of security by pretending to be asleep.

15 thoughts on “Chaining by Hand – Lots of Photos

  1. What an inspiring tutorial! You made my fingers “itch” to also do some chain piecing by hand :-). May I ask as to what thread you use? It looks very fine.


  2. Cathi, Your tutorial is so helpful. I have always love hand stitching but as I am aging I find it very hard to see well enough. What light source do you use? I find I must have lots of light but no glare. Many times I opt for machine stitching because can see it better and be more accurate. Thanks.


  3. I do this when I am piecing in the car – makes it much easier to control doesn’t it. And some people wonder why we do this by hand – it is just so easy to do – why not!


  4. That was great! You really have it all figured out and it works!
    I love all the little Santa hats on the cute decorating crew!
    The cats are resting up for their next plan of fabric attack.


  5. Baxter and Jake look SO cozy! But you’re right…. better make sure you have a lid on those fabric boxes. Love your chaining. You always figure out a way to make hand piecing work for everything, don’t you? And I love the Santa hats – even Cappy and Alien Cappy (does he have a name?) have one!


  6. Hi Cathi, that you for the tutorial on flat knots. I will now use them on any hand sewing I do. Have a very merry Christmas and good health and happiness to you all in the new year.


  7. Now that’s clever, especially for those tiny pieces! You could make a whole string of them for your Christmas tree. Baxter and Jake are resting up to deal with those extra alien kitties, are they?


  8. Pingback: All About Inklingo » Blog Archive » Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Mystery – Inklingo Clue 04

  9. Pingback: More Chaining by Hand | Quilt Obsession

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