HST Program, April 2020

Hello, Quilties, 
Sharon Leahy here, sending you smiles and peaceful greetings, from my home to yours, getting ready for a “digital” presentation of this month’s CSnS program  – “the fun and frisky Half Square Triangle.”  

I love the HST because it makes pinwheels and stars and fun wiggly shapes in quilts.   (And it’s the “second easiest” quilt block to make – the “rail fence” is easier, but definitely not as much fun as the HST.)   

Tonight, I hope to get you so excited about HST’s, that you’ll have fun making a pile of HST’s to play with – and feel good making a big dent in your scrap pile.   You can make whole quilts from them, or use them in borders, or use them to make a center medallion – or pinwheels, or diamonds – there are so many fun things you can do with HST’s (and those “extra” HST’s that come from snowballing blocks.)

How to make HST’s:

The traditional way to make HST’s is using two squares of fabric, making two HST’s at a time, four HST’s at a time, or eight HST’s at a time, depending on what size squares you use and how you sew and cut the squares.  

At the end of this program, you’ll find links explaining how to make HST’s in lots of ways, and if you have questions, email me so we can chat about it – it’s fun and easy, I promise!     (I pretty much only do fun and easy nowdays!!!)   

Another way to make HST’s is really useful for making a lot of HST’s that all need to match, is by using two large pieces of fabric, fat quarters, yards, however large you need to make the number of HST’s that you need …  You need to be slow and mindful of the cutting apart – so draw the “sewing lines” in one color of pencil, and the “cutting lines” in a different color.  

And, you can make HST’s with a Strip Tube Ruler – where you sew both long sides of the two strips together, and then cut out the triangles, which open out into HST’s.   There’s a link for that at the end too. There are lots of patterns for strip tube ruler play.

But for dealing with scraps, I’m talking serious scraps here, like what’s left over from fussy cutting, or weird angles and little scraps.   The way I make HST’s from those scraps is to roughly cut out as many triangles as I can from the scrap, and pile them up til I’m in the mood to sit down and sew them up.   

I sew those rough cut triangles onto long strips of white fabric – my favorite background.   I keep white strips in 2-1/2”, 3”, and 3-1/2” width, and sew the triangle scraps on whichever strip they fit.   

I sew them face down onto the strip, and I pin another triangle to the other side of the strip, so I can get the spacing in between the triangles tight enough to conserve fabric, but apart enough to cut apart later.  

When I get a strip filled, I rough cut them apart, and press the triangles open, and then do a final trim to the largest size I can get for the HST from that scrap. 

Here’s a pic of what that kind of strip looks like getting sewn together:  one side has been sewn, and now I’ll flip it and sew down the other side.

You can see there are scraps from lots of different fabrics…. It usually takes a month or so for me to work up a pile of triangle scraps to sew onto strips.    

Rough cutting the HST’s from strip.
Ironing the rough cut HST’s open before trimming.

SUPER IMPORTANT!!!   Trimming the rough HST down to size – be sure to have the ruler’s diagonal line ON the seam line.   Be sure to have the “bottom” of the HST size (here, the 2-1/2” corner) ON the seam line. Slide the ruler up or down until the whole size you want fits within the fabric; trim TWO sides.  Rotate the HST and place the “bottom” measurement (2-1/2” on the exact corner you’ve just trimmed, and then trim the remaining two sides.  You now have an absolutely perfect HST.     

You can always cut a larger HST down to a smaller size if you have to – a 4” HST down to 3-1/2” for instance, if you decide you need that one more HST in that particular color – so I make the largest scrap HST’s I can, to half-inch or full inch sizes, and store them in baggies by color til I’m ready to play with them.    My favorite sizes are 2-1/2”, 3”, 4”, 4-1/2”, which I “stock” with white backgrounds, so they all have a common background fabric and look good together. I also have a pile of 1-1/2” HST’s, mostly from snowballing blocks, and those are great for small borders.

The green and black HST border came from left-overs from snowballing block corners.   The HST’s sat around in a baggie for quite a while, (like, years) and then one day, they were absolutely perfect for this daffodil quilt I was finishing up.   

There’s such a feeling of satisfaction in making a pile of 1-1/2” HST’s work on a quilt!!!!   (and only another quilter understands that feeling!!! smiles!!!)

Notes on pressing bias edges:    I have to admit, I don’t worry about bias edges, and never think about the straight of grain … I just Best Press and iron all my fabrics before cutting,  so the fabric is stiffer and very flat. My “ironing board” is a piece of plywood with one layer of batting and one layer of the silver heat-reflecting ironing board cloth over it, so there’s no “give” under the iron to warp the bias fabric edges.   

Here’s an all-triangle quilt, about 50” square, and the center area consists of ninety (yes, that’s 90)  three-inch HST’s.

OK, we made it to playtime!

Let’s get to the fun stuff!  Playing with a pile of HST’s!

There are lots of blocks which rely on HST’s to build them.  For a block like this, you could try making each one of those orange and white HST’s 10” across, that would give you a 60” by 60” quilt, just building this one gorgeous block … I made the “flying geese” with two HST’s each.

I like making my HST’s just slightly larger than needed so I can trim them to the exact size.   

Here are some designs to think about for your pile of scrap HST’s:

The third one, on the right above, started the same as the top one, but had some HST’s turned in different directions, to show how interesting it gets, once you start playing with the direction of the HST’s in your layout.  I usually start with a basic layout, and then start turning some of the HST’s to see what pattern shows up.

I hope those ideas inspire you!   And here’s some show and tell:

Above – you can see some of my stash of blue and white HST’s on the design wall (which is just building insulation foam covered with muslin)

Corner detail for quilt on the design wall – I added the small sashing cornerstone HST to complete the corners on the border approximately 45″ square.

6″ HSTs – queen size.

detail … I just used a 6-1/2” square ruler to cut the fabric squares for the HST’s – pulled all my favorite yellows and pinks and cut a square or two out of each one…

HST pinwheels

The border HST’s are all left over 1-1/2” HST’s from snowballing corners on other blocks.    I LOVE the pink bunnies!!!    

And, from tiny HST’s to very large HST’s:

Those center HST’s were made with 10” fabric squares … one big star quilt block makes a whole lap quilt.   There’s a link Missouri Star Quilt Co “Big Easy Star” below.   


one last, lovely, traditional block:

Thanks for hanging out with me for this “online” CSn’S April program!    

Happy quilting!


Missouri Star Quilt Co – Big Easy Star pattern https://youtu.be/Tkm3nCferp4

My Pinterest collection of HST layouts – includes charts to tell you what size squares to start with for HST’s, to get particular size HST’s … I always add 1/4” to whatever size square they tell me to start with, so I can trim down to make them perfect, as I’m not the best at sewing 1/4” seams!!!    https://www.pinterest.com/artsyoldbabe/quilt-blocks-half-square-triangles/

HST’s – 2 at a time   https://youtu.be/kR7ozoMsne4

HST’s – 4 at a time   https://youtu.be/6M-ws-ESEiE

HST’s – 8 at a time   https://youtu.be/Vb6vxkkWC-c

HST blocks – this one is fun to watch – https://youtu.be/nNKzt6cAYK0
Strip Tube Ruler HST’s – https://youtu.be/u3k85E3lzfU

4 thoughts on “HST Program, April 2020

  1. Loved all the half square triangles. Bet you had fun. Also loved the phot of you with the wine! But where are the kitties/

  2. You are so terrribly inspiring!!! Makes me want to dash off and play with HSTs, love all of them by the way but that last is really sweet.

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