I've had a hankering to make a HST (half square trieangle) quilt for a while now...partly because there are so many gorgeous quilts around that inspire me, and partly because I think it's a good thing to remind myself of the importance of accurate piecing every now and again, and HSTs keep you honest!
The other night, I grabbed 2 charm packs, and started cutting. And it occurred to me that someone might appreciate if I shared the method I use to make HSTs en masse. I first saw this method at a quilt retreat in Wellington, NZ (way back at the turn of the century, haha) and though I've racked my brain I can't be sure who it was that showed me. I just know I was amazed then, and am still pretty tickled - it's a shortcut that seems somehow like a magic trick. But with fabric!
Using 5" charm squares, 2 charm squares will yield 4 3" HST blocks (or 3 1/4" if you're very careful). I used 2 charm packs (Sandy Gervais' Giddy) and now have a grand total of 168 blocks. So, lets get started:
Step 1: take 2 fabric squares, right sides together. (I've offset them here so you can see them, though of course, you'll want to line the edges up)
Step 2: sew around all 4 sides of the fabric - I have marked the stitching lines in fabric pen here just to make it more obvious: you just start at one corner, and stitch 1/4" away from the edge all the way around, pivoting the fabric at each corner with your needle down.This creates a fabric parcel, that is sealed on all sides.
At this point I like to add a little spray starch and press the sewn fabric parcels well - the addition of starch now makes for much easier cutting and sizing up later!
Step 3: Take a fabric parcel, and line your ruler up with the diagonal corners. (It's helpful here to also line up your stitching line or the edge of the fabric with some of the markers on the ruler) Cut the fabric right through, corner to corner.
Step 4: Now line the ruler up corner to corner on the opposing diagonal (sometimes moving yourself or rotating the block make this easier. 20 cuts in I remembered I had a rotating cutting mat. Duh!) Cut through.
Step 5: ta da! You're done - all you need to do now is press them open, and trim them up if need be. Voila!!! How easy is that?!?
Confession: I spent 2 hours last night trimming these little blocks and I got through just over half. Trimming is one of my least fabourite things - but necessary here. It drives me a little batty. And Law and Order may or may not have required more of my attention during this period!