Monday, 13 March 2017

Half Square Triangles (HST) - trying a couple of methods

After realising that a lot of my personal challenge with the traditional blocks in the NQC Quilt Block Challenge was to do with the volume and monotony of the precision trimming involved, I went in search of easier ways.

And where do I go for help with most things crafty? Pinterest of course!

I came across a blog post / tutorial that reduces the amount of trimming on each HST piece from four trimming cuts to just two. With up to 16 HST pieces per block, that's going from up to 64 individual trim cuts, to 32. Definitely worth a try.

The normal method - recommended in the early instructions for the Challenge

  1. Lay two contrasting squares of fabric on top of each other, right sides together.
  2. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner to corner.
  3. Stitch a scant 1/4 inch either side of the drawn line
  4. Cut on drawn line, between the 2 lines of stitching.
  5. Press open and trim.
Press the unfinished square open and line up the diagonal
on the ruler with the diagonal on the piece.
Trim all four sides.
Result = perfect HST piece

The 2-cut method

Follow steps 1-4 above, but from there the method changes.

The idea is that instead of pressing them open and then trimming all four sides you line up the diagonal line of the ruler with the stitching line, trim the two raw edges and then press them open.

Makes sense - its completely logical, there's no reason why it shouldn't result in perfect Half Square Triangles... except it didn't!
Diagonal on ruler lined up on stitching line
Ready to trim two sides only

The finished piece after pressing the 2-cut HST open

In addition to having little tails on the corners that still need to be trimmed off before stitching, somehow the finished piece did not end up square.

I still don't know how that happened! I was so careful to line up the ruler correctly, and I made sure it didn't move while cutting, but the finished piece speaks for itself.

The verdict

I have a hard enough time matching points and having block turn out the correct size without adding mis-sized and mis-shaped pieces into the mix.

It might take a little bit longer, but I'm resigned to sticking with the normal / 4-cut method.

I did come up with a little bit of a time and sanity saver though. I was in Spotlight the other day picking up some fabric for a last-minute gift (post about that coming soon) and I came across the cutest little cutting mat.

My new mini cutting mat 

The mini mat is 6x8 inches so it fits the unfinished HST pieces for the Challenge quilt nicely, but it's small enough to be able to spin around really easy on the bench without needing to shuffle around the sewing machine and all the other assorted bits and pieces I have surrounding me when I sew. (My larger cutting mats fit nicely in the available space with little room to spare - spinning them around mid-piece is just not an option.)

Now I don't have to reset my fabric and ruler each time I need to rotate it to trim each side of the HST piece, I just spin the whole cutting mat.

So after all that - a pinterest fail, but a semi-win with a practical new tool.


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