Friday, December 11, 2015

How to Make 168 HSTs Seem Like Only 84

When I finally decided upon the borders for my daughter's grad quilt this past week, I found the number of HSTs required to surround the quilt centre for the design was, gulp, 168.

That number can be rather daunting, because it requires a fair amount of work per HST:  cutting the squares, drawing a diagonal line from point to opposite point, sewing a scant 1/4" on either side of that line, and THEN... You need to cut on the drawn line, press the two triangle units open, and finally square each one to the required size.  This method yields two HSTs, and it is the one I had to use since I needed the HSTs in a certain colour order, so I couldn't use the no-waste method to make flying geese.

However, I have simplified some of the process, and thought I would share it with you today.  Any tip that saves time means I can get more done, right?!

Sew your two squares (mine are 3 7/8" so they end up 3.5" unfinished) together on either side of the drawn line.  Oh, how I love my Hera marker for drawing said line!  After sewing, layer two HST units, so 4 squares, on top of each other, so the stitching lines lie directly on top of each other.
I pulled back the top HST unit so you can see how I line up the stitching lines.
Cut apart on the drawn line, and presto! You will have four HSTs ready to press.  This may not seem like that big of a deal, but if you only have to cut apart 84 times as opposed to 168, those seconds do add up.  Wait, there's another timesaver yet too:

After you press these babies, they do need to be squared up, and have the little dog ears removed.  Think about it: cut on the diagonal to separate the two HSTs, then trim on all four sides of each HST to have same-size HSTs; that's a lot of cutting!  What if you could trim two at once?

What I do, is align one HST pressed unit atop another, right sides together, butting up the diagonal pressed seams.  If you press them to one side, this is a snap, as you can wiggle them and feel them nest together with your fingers.
Note how the diagonal seams abut. Also note (at the bottom left) how the dog ears oppose each other.
Now lay your ruler with the 45 degree angle along that diagonal seam and trim to the required size as you would with just one HST.  Mine are 3.5".  Voilà! You have two trimmed HSTs!

As of last night all 168 are done, and one of the four borders is all sewn together, and if I may say so myself, I got a rather big bubble of excitement and ooh! ahh! when I stepped back to look.

If you haven't already done so, here are two things you might want to check out:
1.  Craftsy.  There are some amazing scores (I have another post on mine ready to go) and, as Cynthia of Quilting is More Fun Than Housework pointed out, if you buy a kit, you don't have to make that pattern; you can use the fabric, which is usually a real bargain, for whatever other project(s) you want!  If you click through to Craftsy's website on the button on my sidebar, and purchase something, I do get a small commission for your purchase, as I am an affiliate.  If you would like to become an affiliate, shoot me an email, and I can tell you how to do that! It's very easy, and then you can spread the word!

2.  The huge giveaway going on at Sew Mama Sew until Sunday.  I did not jump in this time; just too much going on this month.  There are a plethora of sites to explore and freebies to be had!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict because I am doing a happy dance that those HSTs are DONE, and that I can share with you a time-saving method.
This post is also featured here on Totally Tutorials!


  1. That's a lot of HSTs....yikes. But glad you found a quick way to get them done. Keep going -- you'll have a finished top soon.

  2. Wow, that is a lot of HSTs and your tips are very handy. Pressing to the side seems like it would be key for stacking and squaring the HSTs. Congrats!

  3. Great tips Sandra. I use my hera marker for marking my HSTs too. I find I can stack them and Mark a bunch at once.

  4. So many HST's, I don't envy you. Great tips though thank you

  5. 168? That's a crazy amount of HST's. I had never thought about cutting two at once, it all seems so clear now :)

  6. That's a great idea. And the trimming is a good help too. I've used the 'sew all around the square' method to make four half square triangles at the same time too [I know that a 71/4" square of background and feature fabric put right sides together and then sewn 1/4" from the edge all around and then cut diagonally both ways works well, just have to make adjustments if you want a 21/2" result].

  7. Every little bit of time sure can add up! Thanks for sharing that tip :-)

  8. WHAT?! No pic of the quilt?! You exhaust me. What am I killing myself for, reading through this post?
    Oh wait......I read every post. :p


  9. Cool tips! I hope you remembered that you only need to make half as many squares as you need HSTs - a mistake I've made many a time!

  10. This is a good idea but someday invest in Bloc-Loc rulers. It will change your life with HST's.

  11. Good tips! I love making HST and this will definitely speed up the trimming (my least favorite part of the process).

  12. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing your tip.

  13. How clever!! I've sliced two at a time in the past but never thought of lining them up to square off like that - thank you for sharing your wisdom!!


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