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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  1. That sounds like a great time with your sister! I love the HST quilt - and thanks for the tips on making them. Your square in a square blocks with the crumb centers are also wonderful! I've been making lots of crumb blocks lately, but haven't decided what to do with them - I love your idea. How big are your blocks?

  2. Both of the quilt tops are looking wonderful! How fun to have a retreat with just the two of you.

  3. Thank you for that advice. I knew to put the same fabric in each quarter to help the colors be balanced, but I like the way you deliberately placed them so they follow the line - it really shows off the pattern beautifully.

  4. You must have had so much fun together!! The HST quilt will bring back great memories.
    kakingsbury at verizon dot net

  5. Both quilts are AWESOME!! Looks like you two had a wonderful retreat. SEW jealous!!

  6. Hi Janice, it sounds like you had a great time with your sister. You are both so lucky to have quilting in common! Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a lovely quilt. And something fun to work on together. Getting away like that is JUST what I need. :) Renting a cabin or something and just sewing away with friends or family....sounds perfect.

  8. Great progress here! Love what your doing with your crumb blocks. Thanks for sharing with Moving it Forward!

  9. Great tips, Janice! I'm glad you had so much fun on your Sisters' Retreat :)

  10. Wow...that's a lot of HSTs. It looks amazing. And it sounds like you had a great retreat.

  11. Sounds like that was a wonderful retreat!! Thanks for the tips. They are so helpful for a quilt like that. Making a quilt layout look random is definitely hard work. It looks beautiful. (I like your quilt, too!)

  12. Loved today's post - great looking quilts - thanks for the tips. I had 4 sisters but none of them sewed (but they knitted) and my friends don't quilt. That's why I love reading what bloggers get up to and find some great idea's :)

  13. That quilt is going on my some day list!!! Great idea about the not so random layout.

  14. Hi Janice! I just love this post. I love that you and Carla had a great time together. That truly is priceless. Beautiful quilt top that is coming together thanks to the two of you working together. Carla will always think of those fun times and laughs as she finishes it, quilts it and then enjoys it. Oodles of love and laughter in that piece - another priceless thing. Great tips you shared as well. I never mind making HSTs too big - I'd much rather trim them down a bit than have any frustration with them. ~smile~ Roseanne

  15. Great post Janice, and wonderful tips too. It all makes sense and your wonderful HST quilt is a great example. You are so lucky to have a sister who shares your hobby, my sister can’t sew on a button! Never mind, I’m still lucky because I have you!

  16. Sounds like you guys had a great time! So many HSTs!

  17. What a fun summer excursion with your sister. Both quilts are looking great!

  18. Great, well thought out tips. Thanks, Janice. So glad you two had such a wonderful time together. You are lucky to both be quilters!

  19. I’d love to know how you quilted it!

    1. Hello anonymous. This is my sister's quilt and she hasn't quilted it yet. I'm not sure what her plan will be. :D


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