Saturday, January 20, 2018

Scrappy HST (Half Square Triangles)

I am working on a quilt based on the Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial for the Pecking Order quilt. When I saw her make it with a white background, I immediately wondered what it would look like with a black background.

And what do you know...soon after that, I came into a lot of black scraps. (Seriously, we bought 300 yards at work to make some hoods, and I got all the cut offs. Lots of rectangles about 15" x 8".) So I figured I would give the quilt a try. (I talked about starting it in this post.)

I cut lots of squares from bright fabrics and sewed them to the corners of 5" black squares. At the right you can see a bit of the layout - I had to test that the layout in my head worked in real life and that it would be conducive to assembling the whole top. (And, check!)

I decided to take the quilt one step further and do a pieced border of stars as well. Finished size 5". (So lots of little pieces.)

These small border stars will be made with hundreds of HST (half square triangles).
I had a few done (above), but pulled it out the other day to work on some more. I needed the final piece to be 1.75". I make HSTs by sewing on both sides of the diagonal and getting two blocks out of two squares. (This means you never have to cut out triangles-thank goodness.)

Usually you cut two squares of different fabrics to place together and sew, but once I had the black squares cut, I realized I didn't have to cut the contrasting fabric to size. As long as I sewed along the line marked on the black square, it would come out right. I was going to be trimming all of the blocks after they were sewn anyway so why cut them twice?

The black squares were cut at 2.25" (because you're sewing on both sides of centre, it has to be bigger than the final size you want (1.75" in this case)). I had some 2.5" scrap squares and just put them together with the black ones.
But I also had weird scrap shapes and I just put the black squares on top of them too. As long as the scrap was the same size or bigger than the black square, it was good to go. (See top row, third from left; bottom row, first and third from left.)

At one point I had a fabric I wanted to use, but it didn't cover the entire black square. No problem...just line up a straight edge with the diagonal line and sew that side.
"Top side" when sewing. The centre diagonal line is marked
with a ceramic pencil. The other two lines are stitching lines.
For the other side, just grab another small scrap and line up a straight edge with the diagonal on the other side.
"Bottom side" of the same square. It will be cut apart
where the two fabrics meet anyway.
Maybe everyone everywhere has been doing this already, but I haven't seen it. I found it so freeing to just grab scraps to match with a black square and still get good results.

Once they're all cut in half, it was time to press them. Look, I'm using my new travel iron:
It's so cute! The small size is nice for working on the smaller pieces. (It may also be nice for larger pieces so that it doesn't mess up seam allowances in areas I'm not trying to iron, but I haven't tried it yet.)

Final step is the trimming. This is why some people don't like this method. The idea is that you make them slightly oversized and cut them to the correct size. It's a "cheater" way to get an accurate piece. (And by "cheater", I mean clever.)

Trimming scraps is no harder than if you had sewn two squares together.

1. Lay the HST so that the diagonal line is parallel to the 45 degree line on your ruler.
2. Line up the ruler so that the 45 degree line is on the seam and the full measurement of your final square (1.75") is on fabric.
3. Trim the right side and top:
4. Rotate the piece 180 degrees so the cut sides are now on the bottom and left side:
5. Line up your ruler so the 45 degree line is on the seam and the lines of your final measurement line up with the bottom and left side.
6. Trim the right side and top:
And you have a 1.75" HST ready for the next step.

And then repeat 255 more times.

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