Monday, July 29, 2013

Star Surround Quilt-A-Long - Half Square Triangles

**  NOTE  - This post is part of a series of posts for the Star Surround Quilt-A-Long.  If you would like to join (and have a chance to win one of 4 of the $75.00 Gift Certificate grand prizes sponsored by The Intrepid Thread and Fat Quarter Shop ) you can find a list of the post links here :)  Here is the schedule

July 29 - Half Square Triangles
Aug 5 - Flying Geese
Aug 12 - Building Block Centers
Aug 19 - Building Block Surround
Aug 26 - Piecing Top and Grand Prize Linky
Sept 16 - Star Surround Parade and Grand Prize Winners

But before we get into this week's assignment let's get a winner from last weeks assignment!!  And may I say, Wow!!!!  I am blown away by how many of you are Quilting-A-Long with me.  Thank you so much!!!  Having such a big group sure makes it a whole lot of fun!!!

The Cutting Assignment winner who gets a Fantastic Gift Certificate to Christa Quilts is . . .
#46 - Quiltnpam!!! - Congrats :)


So here we are at July 29th.  Another month almost done and a new assignment.  This weeks assignment is your Half Square Triangles.   So, let's get to it :)


Half Square triangles are fun and fast and probably the most versatile building block in all of the piecing units you can make.  (At least in my opinion :)

Start by gathering all of your full inch squares.  (i.e. 16" block - 3" squares, 24" block - 4" squares, 32" block - 5" squares, 40" block - 6" squares or 48" block - 7" squares).  You will have squares of your print fabrics as well as your background fabrics.  Now, for each block you have in your quilt you will need to make the following pairs of squares.  (3) Fabric A / Background pairs, (3) Fabric B / Background pairs, and (2) Fabric A / Fabric B pairs.

Group the above pairs 8 pairs for the number of blocks you have in your layout and set them in piles as shown.  If you are doing the same layout, everyone of your piles will be the same.  If you are doing the scrappy layout, you have a few decisions to make.  For each block you need to assign a Fabric A and Fabric B.  (But don't worry about keeping track which is which, it isn't important) Each grouping of 2 fabrics will create the stars in the center of your blocks, so keep that in mind when choosing which fabrics you want together.  And you will have the same print fabric in 2 different piles, so don't stress when you put your first grouping together and have leftovers of each fabric :)

Now you are ready to start making your Half Square Triangles.  To save time, I like to do each of these steps in assembly line fashion, however, most of the pictures will just show one or two pair at a time being done.

On the wrong side of the print fabric square, using your ruler, draw a pen line diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.  On your two print fabric groupings, I like to draw the line on the darker print.  I like to draw all my lines for all my squares but still keep my pairs grouped in block sets.

Lay your print square on your background square (or your two print squares) with rights sides together.  Pin both sides adjacent to that drawn line, be sure to place them far enough out to leave room for your presser foot to stitch on by.  Depending on the size of the square will determine how many pins you want to use.  Stitch a seam 1/4" from EITHER side of the drawn line (the black lines represent your stitching lines :)

The easiest way to assembly line stitch is to chain stitch the 1/4" seam on the right hand side of the line first.  I liked to chain stitch these in block groupings, but feel free to do them how you like, 2 blocks at a time, 4 blocks at a time, all of them at once . . . just make sure you keep track of which squares go in which blocks.

Then clip the threads between the squares.  Now, go ahead stitch the 1/4" seam on the left hand side of your sets.  And now you have some super long square snakes :)  Clip the remaining threads between the squares and place your squares back in their block groupings.

Next, align your ruler along the drawn center line.  Cut your pieces apart along that drawn line, creating the 1/4" seam on both sets of triangles.  Once again, once you have cut, put your pieces back in block groupings.

Now Press.  Take care when pressing that the edges of your fabrics don't get creased, they tend to want to fold in on themselves.  As far as what way to press, this is a personal decision.  I like to press my background HST's to the print fabric.  My print/print HST's I like to press open as there is a lot of bulk coming together at the center of that star point.

And now the fun part, trimming.  You will be trimming your blocks to 1/2" smaller than their original size.  (ie 16" block - 2 1/2", 24" block - 3 1/2", 32" block - 4 1/2", 40" block - 5 1/2" or 48" block - 6 1/2").   This example uses the 4 1/2" square.  Start by aligning the 45 degree line on your square ruler with the seam line on your half square triangle.  Make sure that the raw edges of the half square triangle are over the 4 1/2" line's on your ruler.  Trim the 2 sides along the edge of the ruler.  There won't be a whole lot to trim.

Now spin your block 180 degrees.  Once again, align the 45 degree line on your ruler with the seam line on your half square triangle.  Align the raw edges of the half square triangle under the ruler on the 4 1/2" lines on your ruler.  Trim the 2 sides along the edge of the ruler.

And you have perfectly square Half Square Triangles.

Now, I found the easiest way to do this was to press one block grouping and then lay all the pieces out on my mat to trim.  (I liked having a little break of pressing between each group of trimming to bring some feeling back into my finger :)  I trim the first two sides on all 16 HST's.

Then, I rotate them all 180 degrees, not worrying about all of the previous trims, they can be picked up later.  Now I trim the remaining 2 sides on all 16 HST's.  Now just shake them off, and stack them up in a block grouping.

You will have this lovely little pile of trimmings :)

And a stunning pile of Half Square Triangles!!!   And you are all done!!!  (Yes, your hand will be a little sore from all that trimming, but trust me, it will be totally worth it down the road.)  Oh, and in case you don't have a square ruler you can see the end of this tutorial on how to square up your HST's using a rectangle ruler.  It takes a second longer but still works :)

And that's it!!    And now you can enter to win the weekly prize :)

The Weekly Prizes are sponsored by the Green Fairy Quilts and a huge thanks goes to them for their support of the Star Surround Quilt-A-Long.

This weeks  prize is a Green Fairy Quilt pattern of your choice!!  Judi has so many amazing patterns to choose from, here are a few of my favorites!!


So what do you have to do for a chance to win your favorite pattern?  Simple . . . Just link up your HST's at the end of this post :)  You can link to a blog post or a flickr picture, or whatever.  Just make sure to link up by next Monday morning as I will be announcing a winner at the beginning of next weeks post :)

If you don't get your HST's done by next week you can still link it up :) (just not in time for the prize :)    The linky will remain open until the end of the Quilt-A-Long.  So if your out of town, or just had a busy week, no worries!!!  Just link up when you can :)

And don't forget to add your perfect HST's  to the Happy Quilting Quilt-A-Long Flickr group!!!  I can't wait to see them all ;)

So let's get sewing!!!  And if you have questions, don't hesitate to email me at  Have a Happy Quilting Day!!

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  1. Thank you for this QAL. And your tuts are excellent. I am stitching, stitching, stitching!

  2. I have a question. Will we have the same fabric a/b combination above in 2 different blocks? Or will we have 1 fabric a/b as above for one block and then for another block we have fabric a/c and fabric b/c?

    Thank you.

    1. The second one. You want to mix it up so you have different stars in each block

  3. The first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning was Yeah! Today's a clue day! This really is a fun way to get a quilt done!

  4. Melissa, I left you a note on Flicker in the cutting. I am a bit behind but want to catch up.

  5. Looking at the stack of squares to draw a line on and sew together... I changed my mind. I want to do one huge block, not 9 smaller blocks. Oh well. Better get sewing.

    For my first quilt along, I think I picked a good one. Thanks for doing this. :-D

  6. I saw you guys had flooding down there this weekend--I hope you guys weren't personally affected! Yuck!

  7. Congrats Quiltnpam :).

    Looking forward to doing this week's assignment :). Thanks Melissa :).

    Jenn from Mellycoddle :).

  8. Sounds like everyone is having fun!

  9. I am glad I choose the 16'' block pillow, my great grandmother's sewing machine does not like quarter inch seams lol, but I will fight it into submission. Still alot of fun learning how to make this : )

  10. Just finished my HST for the 1 block quilt - nice & achievable project and I am on time! Thanks for hosting!

  11. Just joined this quilt-a-long and got caught up on all my cutting plus uploaded a pic of my finished HST. Thanks for hosting such a fun project!

  12. eek! just got my pics up! hope im not too late :)

  13. I was on vacation last week so I am a week behind, but I wanted to share the photos with you still so you wouldn't think I quit the QAL.


Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I just love hearing from you!!
Have a Happy Quilting Day :)