Monday, 8 May 2017

Lots and Lots of Half Square Triangles - Trying the 'Magic 8" Method

The two NQC Quilt Block Challenge quilts I've been working on have seen me making lots and lots of Half Square Triangles (HSTs) over the past couple of months.

For the main blocks I used a traditional two-at-a-time method of making the HSTs. But I wanted to use lots of smaller HST blocks for the sashing and border on the blue/grey yellow version of the quilt.

The volume of HSTs I had in mind for the additional parts of the quilt meant that I either needed to spend weeks sewing, cutting and ironing blocks, or I needed to find another way to get them done more efficiently.

As always Pinterest came to the rescue and I decided to give the "Magic 8" method of making HSTs a go.

The premise of the Magic 8 method is that you start with two larger squares of fabric, but unlike the traditional method where you sew two lines and cut once across the diagonal of the square, with the Magic 8 you sew 4 lines and make 4 cuts resulting in 8 HST pieces.

I've put together a series of pics below to show how I got tonnes of 2.5 inch (2 inch finished size) HST blocks made reasonably quickly.

(Different sized finished blocks are easy to achieve with just a different starting square size - a simple google or Pinterest search for magic 8 triangles will come up with lots of tables and formulas to help you work out what size to start with for your desired finished size)

Start with two 6 inch squares of fabric (1x feature fabric and 1x background fabric).

Lay them right sides together and draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner.

If you need more than 8 HSTs, get them all prepped at once. 
Sew a scant 1/4 inch either side of both diagonal lines that you've drawn (that's 4 lines of stitching)

If you're making bulk lots of HSTs, chain piecing is a good option here.

(Chain piecing just means not cutting the thread between each piece - you end up with a 'chain' of fabric pieces that can be easily separated without the need to trim lots of threads) 

Cut from corner to corner along the drawn diagonal lines.

Try not to move the cut pieces around on the cutting surface.

Now cut the square in half from straight edge to straight edge.

You should end up with 8 individual pieces
You now have piles of small triangles ready to be pressed and trimmed.
If you've made a bulk lot like I did now is the time to prepare your beverage of choice, set yourself up with a movie or TV series, drag out the iron and press, press, press! (a little bit of starch at this point won't hurt either)
Once they are all pressed, its time to go back to the cutting mat and trim all those lovely pressed HST blocks nice and square and all the same size. In my case that's 2.5 inch squares.
All done!

Definitely faster to sew and cut lots of HSTs at one time, but still requires lots and lots of ironing and trimming. Unfortunately I still haven't found a way around those things that works for me yet so if you have any ideas for that I'd love to hear them.

Until next time.


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