Monday, April 25, 2011

My Introduction to HSTs

Every quilter eventually has to face the versatile Half Square Triangle (HST) and, admittedly, I was looking forward to the encounter. As an avid reader of Red Pepper Quilts, I’ve fallen in love with HST quilt patterns of all sorts from the pinwheel to the zigzag because Rita has mastered the art. Let’s face it, these guys are a quilting necessity and I needed to add them to my tool box. So as I was designing a baby quilt for the little boy of an architect, I knew that zigzags were the way to go. Strong lines, bold colors, yet playful and fun. The HST had to be conquered.

I started out mostly using this simple tutorial showing the quick easy way to make HST. I have to say that I do think that this is the best way to make them and it seems that many people would agree with that. However, I was still unsure about what size to cut my squares and how to trim them up well. I wanted my finished squares to be 5.5” before piecing, so I started out cutting my squares to 6”, but after making a few found that when I went to trim, some of them were a bit lean. So I went up to 6.5” and found that though I had more scraps, and certainly bigger than the scraps featured in Rita’s scrap bowl, that the one inch extra is probably good for me for now. And hey, I’m new at this business! 

Anyways, after all of my HSTs were trimmed, I came across this brilliant tutorial by Jackie at Canton Village Quilt Works. Amazingly enough, this is exactly what I did (though I don’t have a perfect square tool) even down to the ironing after I stitched down the middle. Though, I did that not so much to set my stitches, but because I found the they got a little stretched out as I stitched. Is that normal? I tried to be careful because of the biases, but still, they got a tiny bit wonky and found that the steam helped them tighten up again.

So after much cutting, sewing, ironing, and trimming (and much back pain due to crouching over my dining room table to line up my ruler right) I have a lovely stack of half square triangle blocks. Ta-da!

Now I’m just praying these babies will line up okay once I get to joining them. Any advice on how to press them so I won’t get such bulky points, or is that to be expected?


  1. How strange that the woman at Canton Village spells her name the way I do. I don't often come upon that. I like that you used the word wonky. That's a favorite of mine. I love the colors of your fabrics--I will look forward to seeing it in progress!

  2. Thanks! But she totally doesn't. Typo! I guess I'm just too used to typing your name, Jacki! Will be posting about my progress tonight!

  3. So nice that you were able to use my tutorial. I really do enjoy that method. Even with the little stretching that you had you still can trim it down to the correct size. Wonderful HST's!!

  4. Ironing the seams in half instead of to one side will help reduce the bulk in the seams.