Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fast HSTs

We quilters do love all parts of the process of quilt-making, certainly, but some parts are more tedious than others. About a week ago, I shared a fast way of doing flying geese units. Today, I will share my fast way of doing half-square triangles - HSTs, for short.

As you know, I am making the quilt called Elizabeth in Carrie Nelson's book, Spice of Life Quilts. It is actually a goal that Sharon P. and I are working on together as we begin 2017.

Above, are all the parts prepped for making my Delectable Mountain blocks. I spent most of yesterday accomplishing this. And I broke it down into steps. Making 24 Delectable Mountain blocks is not an overly daunting task until you realize that you need 144 HSTs for those 24 blocks, so that was my first step. Ugh. That does become tedious. Let me share my method of making this task as streamlined as possible.

I cut out the light and dark squares according to the pattern instructions. I also marked the diagonal line on the back of the light squares and matched a light and dark together for sewing. The stack above has been stitched on either side of the diagonal line. There's no speedy way of doing this, I admit. I do chain piece them, but I only do 10 or 12 at a time, so that I don't have a long tangled mess to slow me down.

After they are sewn, I space them out on the cutting mat like this picture shows. This will make cutting them apart faster than doing one at a time.

I work my way across the squares, lining up my ruler on the pencil marks, cutting each unit. It becomes an assembly line after the first few are done.

Before you know it all the cutting is done and you have your neat triangles ready to take to the ironing board. Notice how I have stacked them. If they are all going the same way, then I save a few seconds with fiddling and turning individual triangles. I want to lay them on the ironing board in the direction that I will be pressing.

 Pardon my stained ironing board cover, but I think you can distinguish the units. I place the triangles dark side up because I want the seam allowance to be on the dark side. (Press toward the dark, we know, right?) I set each seam with a press and then go back and begin pressing each HST open. I am careful in this process not to stretch the bias. I want a crisp seam across the middle, but I don't iron the dickens out of it. This is another assembly line operation. I work my way across the ironing board and pick up each HST so that they are all facing the same direction.

After prepping all 144 HSTs, I sewed them together like you see above. That was another assembly line. I made the large HSTs that form the body of the block using the exact same method. Now all the parts are ready for at last making those Delectable Mountain blocks - 24 little units on the top left; 24 units on the top right; 24 big units for the body.

After classes today, I think I will come straight to the sewing machine and churn these blocks out.

PS: I've linked up to Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts. Have a look around at what other quilters have been working on.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


  1. Have you ever made 8 HSTs at one time? There's an excellent tutorial over at Sew'n Wild Oaks quilting blog in the Virtual Classroom. The tutorial is excellent, and this has become my preferred method of making HSTs (as long as I need multiples of the same colors).

  2. love how your quilt is progressing. it is going to be very pretty


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