Half Square Triangles

These are the basic tools needed to make half square triangles. (You don’t need a gripper handle on your ruler, but it makes me feel a lot more secure cutting.

Half Square Triangle. It’s a simple block, only. . . not. Even though there are only two pieces of fabric sewn together to make the block, they can be a little tricky because of one thing. Bias.

“What is bias?” you ask. It is anytime that fabric is cut in a diagonal direction. There is MUCH more stretch to the fabric on the bias and quilters must take care to avoid stretching the fabric- especially when sewing.  This is what makes things wonky (which is a universally recognized and used quilting term!).

Why do we care? Well, every HST has at least one side that is cut on the bias, so they can be a little squirrelly to work with.

There are several ways to make HSTs and there are many posts explaining these methods in detail so I will just give you an overview of my favorites. I encourage you to go watch a few YouTube tutorials if you need more help.

The Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer by Kari Carr is the best HST tool I have found.

Basic HSTs (Fig. 1)

Start with two squares, right sides together. Lightly draw a line across the square diagonally using a marking pen or pencil.  Sew a ¼” seam on each side of the line. Cut on the line. Trim and press. Or press and trim. I use this mostly when I want to use a charm pack or when I am using directional fabric. If you have an Accuquilt you will be making this type of HST but if you sew carefully, you may not have to trim at all.

Four-At-A-Time HSTs (Fig. 2)

This technique uses no marking, so it is a fast method. You put two squares together with right sides facing and then sew ¼” from each edge. Cut diagonally both ways from the corners and *poof* you have four lovely HSTs.

A pile of HSTs ready to be trimmed.

Magic 8 HSTs (Fig. 3)

This technique starts with larger squares of fabrics because you will end up with 8 HSTs. You will draw diagonals both ways across the square sandwich (right sides together) and then sew ¼” seams on both sides of each diagonal. The cutting is where the magic happens. You will cut on the drawn diagonal lines, but also perpendicularly on the square going both ways.

This is what the Magic 8 looks like when it is cut into 8 pieces.

The hardest part of making Magic 8 HSTs is the math. Quilting math is better than regular math, but still not my favoirite. I really like the chart that Rachel Rossi made on her blog about this method because she pads the numbers just a bit so that you actually have a bit of fabric to trim. No need for me to re-create the wheel- check it out!

If you are anything like me, you will be drawn to quilts with HSTs. I just love their simplicity and the complexity of the patterns they can make.

Awesome Advent Calendars

Silent Night panels by Andover Fabrics.

I don’t know how 2019 has slipped away so quickly, but I’m happy to say that my Advent calendars were finished on time, shipped, and received before December 1!

I made one for each of my boy’s families. I made a set of cards with simple ideas to do each day and for the days that had something more unusual (like “feed the birds”) I included some bird seed.

I hope these will start new traditions with their families. 😍

The panels are not difficult to make. They have the instructions printed at the top and feature clearly marked cutting and ironing lines. Ironing the tiny pleats was probably the hardest part of the whole project.

Here’s the order that I did things. . .

  • I cut and ironed the strips of houses and topstitched the upper hem so that they wouldn’t unfold.
  • I ironed the teeny-tiny pleats and stitched the strips onto the background.
  • I sandwiched the top with a layer of 80/20 batting and the backing fabric and did some free-motion quilting in the areas not affected by the pockets. 
  • NOTE- some people have reversed the two previous steps and quilted the whole project before adding the pleated strips. That might work better. . . I’ll try it if I ever make them again!
  • I bound the edges and added button holes in the top corners so they could be hung with Command hooks.