Thursday, April 07, 2016

Piecing April: Half Square Triangles

Aaaah, the good ol' HST. It's easy to put together into a variety of patterns either by itself or with other shapes. It's a quilting standby and rightly so, being that the right triangle is fine upstanding citizen of the Pythagorean realm. 

I'm doing a quilt for Miss Bu, since her elder sister's is closer to completion and if I don't get started, I won't finish hers before she goes off to college. 

Sure, it seems like I have a lot of time now, but I thought that about Iris' quilt, too. Best get busy on it. 
She's a shining star.
For Iris, I decided on a rainbow quilt. Iris means rainbow, hence rainbow quilt. For Phoebe, which means "bright and shining," I'm doing stars. There's a lot of potential for using different techniques using star-themed blocks and one of the simplest is the HST.

The simplest HST block is the pinwheel, which to me looks like the rays of a sun. It can also be used as a component in other blocks, so I thought I'd get a little practice in on this.

Before I show you the other ones, I feel it's necessary to pause for a public service announcement:

Bias distortion is real. If you or a friend has experienced bias distortion, don't despair. There is a solution. 

When you are cutting HSTs, the sides that form the right angle are often on the grain and the cross-grain. That is to say that those cuts run more or less parallel to the vertical and horizontal threads that compose the fabric. Therefore, the long side will be on the bias. The bias is stretchy and goes all wonky (that's a technical term) when you stitch it, meaning that your squares will go off-square.

What I want to have to solve this problem is a walking foot. I do not have a walking foot. I do, however, have junk mail. A bit of paper under the seam keeps the feed dogs from stretching the fabric out and tears away easily. It's not an ideal solution, but it's better than nothing. Tear-away stabilizer would work fine too, I imagine, but I didn't have any of that, either.

This is the friendship star, which is just a 9-patch using HSTs and plain ol' squares. It has a satisfying star shape and is easy to assemble. The whole square is mean to be 9", finished, so 9 1/2" unfinished. Each of the smaller squares, then, is 3" finished and 3 1/2" unfinished. For the HSTs, make a square that's the desired finished width plus 7/8, and cut it corner to corner to make a triangle the correct size.

You can fancy it up with fabric choice and by changing up what you're doing with the smaller squares. 
I'm fond of the wee little mini-9-patches. This brown one was a practice piece and will become something that is yet to be determined. They might be large potholders or a table runner or something else. The fabrics were a recent gift from a friend (Thanks, Robbie!) and I'm super tickled to start using them with some of my old stash. 

The last one (below) is my favorite of the whole batch and I'm infinitely pleased with how it turned out. 




There are more HST blocks to be had, but for next week, I'm going to do some more difficult geometry. There might even be trapezoids; you don't know what could happen!
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