Sunday, August 25, 2019

Tips for a Great Half Square Triangle (HST) Quilt!

Isn't this GREAT???   My sister, Carla, sewed all these blocks while I did most of the grunt work of trimming and pressing.  This all took place at a sister's quilt retreat (just my sis and me) in the mountains of northern Idaho.  It was such a WONDERFUL time.  We got up whenever we felt like it, got dressed whenever we felt like it, (or not) and left the house whenever we felt like it.  Here is one of our little side trips . . .

Beautiful scenery . . .

Amazing antiques . . .

Cute outdoor eating places, 
this one for breakfast and a great little Italian place for dinner!

But MOSTLY lots and lots of sewing!

Yes, I did work on my own project as well but I couldn't stay focused on it.  I was working on adding solids to my crumb blocks that I made with vintage fabrics.  Here is how far I got on that.  What I really wanted to do was see how far we could get with Carla's quilt!

By the end of our stay, we had sewn and placed all  360 blocks and she got 1/2 the rows sewn to each other.  10 to go!  I have some tips about making one of these that we learned along the way. 

FIRST tip is definitely do not  make your HST's (half square triangles) one at a time.  Use a tutorial that allows you to create 8 HST's at once.  Carla's squares measure 5 inches trimmed and using the 8 at a time method, you start with 11 inch squares to make the 8 HST's.

These are the two reasons why I say use the 8 at a time method.

1.   It takes forever making HST's one at a time!  This will cut down your block making time.
2.   Making them in groups of 8 helps out in the design layout immensely.  I'll explain that in a bit.

I wrote a tutorial on the 8 at a time method here.  I included the math on how to figure out different sizes.  It has saved me oodles of time.  Note:  After you do the math to figure what size squares to start with, you may find that you can reduce the size a little bit to prevent waste from the trimming.  But it's definitely better to have HST's slightly too big and trim than not big enough.

TIP #2  Even colors that you normally wouldn't put together will look great in a quilt like this as long as you make sure the HST's are high contrast.   Here is a perfect example.  I think the pink floral is cute but the combo with this weird checker zig zag is icky to my eyes.   In this case, the colors don't matter so much as the fact that they are definitely high contrast of dark and light.  When you step back and look at the entire quilt, you no longer see the individual fabrics but rather the pattern created by the arrangement of the darks and lights.

Can you see the ugly blocks?  If you look hard you can find them, but they don't stick out like you think they might.

TIP #3  If you make your HST's in groups of four or eight, start in the middle and design your way outward.  You can create just a little bit of order in the what appears to be a chaos by putting the same squares in each quarter of the quilt.  In fact, in a few cases, we deliberately used the same dark fabric paired with various lights to create a definite line.  You can see this with the 12 black background floral triangles near the middle and again with those same black background HST's a little further out ward with four of each on each side of the design.   There was a lot more thought that went into the layout of this quilt than it seems.  I know it looks random, but it isn't.  If you study it, you can begin to see what decisions were made.  Each quarter of the quilt are repeats of the other quarters or as close as we could get.  So that is why it helps to make your HST's in groups of four or eight.

Hope my tips gave you something to consider and maybe you'll try your own HST quilt someday!

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