I hope you’re ready to dive right back into our Quilt Block Basics mini series! This week, we’re going to talk about Quarter Square Triangles (QSTs). So, what exactly is a QST?
A QST is made up of 4 triangles sewn together into a square. Those are Isoceles triangles for you math people out there. LOL!
You might have heard of this as an Hour Glass unit. Barbara Brackman, quilt historian extraordinaire, and Electric Quilt call it Four X. What other names have you heard this unit called?
I guess in a way, you could even consider it to be a type of a Four Patch, but calling it a QST helps to differentiate it from the classic Four Patch, below, which is made up of 4 squares.
Let’s look at some quilt blocks with QSTs! Some are old favorites and some may be new to you.
How to Make a Quarter Square Triangle
Layer 2 squares the same size, right sides together.
Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner.
Sew 1/4″ away from both sides of the line.
Cut on the drawn line and open each unit to make 2 HSTs. (What????? HSTs???? Wait — we’re not done yet!)
Layer the HSTs right sides together so that the light triangle is on top of the dark triangle and vice versa.
Draw a diagonal line from corner to opposite corner, perpendicular to the already-sewn seam.
Sew 1/4″ away from both sides of the line.
Cut on the drawn line and open each unit to make 2 Quarter Square Triangles!
You may have noticed that I didn’t include any measurements for cutting the squares. Well, that was intentional. Just like HSTs, there is a magic math formula to figure out the size of squares you need to cut based on what your desired finished size will be (no charts to lose!).
And the magic number for QSTs is…..drum roll please………1 1/4.
Yep, that’s it. Add an extra 1 1/4″ to your finished size and your QSTs to get the right size.
If you want 4″ finished QSTs — then cut your squares 5 1/4″.
Want 8″ finished QSTs? Then cut your squares 9 1/4″.
What about 1″ finished QSTs? Cut the squares 2 1/4″.
That’s it, folks. Isn’t quilt math delightful?
Seriously, I would have loved geometry way back when if my high school geometry teacher had taught me quilt math instead of writing proofs to prove a square was “squarular”. Sigh…….yes, I know — that’s not really a word, but in my humble opinion, it should be……..triangles are triangular and rectangles are rectangular so why aren’t squares squarular????
Okay, enough of that! Don’t get me started on the vagaries of the English language. LOL!
Instead, let’s look at some great Villa Rosa Designs Rose Card patterns that feature QSTs.
Before I dive right into HSTs, I want to show off my completed Helix quilt top. Yes, I finished it! I really like the finished top, although I wish my points had turned out better. What do you think?
I didn’t have enough background left to add side strips, but that was okay, it will be fine as long as I’m careful when I sew the binding on because I don’t want to cut off the triangle points.
Quilt Block Basics
Lately I’ve been feeling very creative — maybe the change in the weather? I’ve been churning out new quilt designs on my EQ8 (Electric Quilt) software and I will never have enough time to make them all, I’m afraid. While I was working on all these new designs, I started thinking about the smaller units that make up quilt blocks and I thought — AHA!!! That’s a great topic for the blog!
So, welcome to a new VRQ mini-series, all about the smaller units that make up our favorite quilt blocks.
The first unit I want to talk about is the Half Square Triangle.
Half Square Triangles (HSTs)
Half Square Triangles or HSTs are one of the most common building blocks for a pieced quilt block. Sometimes you see HSTs called Triangle Squares or Half Square Triangle squares or blocks. I like to keep things simple when I write instructions and I consistently use Half Square Triangles or HSTs.
You can find HSTs in simple blocks such as:
Or in more complex blocks like:
One of my most favorite things is playing around with the parts of my blocks to create new block designs when I’m designing. I like to change colors, switch lights and darks, and change the orientation of the units within a block in order to create something new and different. EQ8 makes this sew easy to do.
To show you what I mean, let’s play with the Mosaic # 17 block, which is all HSTs and gives us lots of room to play!
Let’s change the orientation of the HSTs:
Now let’s add another color in the mix:
Let’s try change the orientation, too:
Okay, okay, I’d better stop here or I’m going to lose my writing focus and create another stack of quilt designs I will never have time to make! LOL!
I think you can see how much fun it is to play with HSTs. Imagine what happens when you add other building block units with the HSTs………but that is a post for another day.
Half Square Triangle Assembly
There are many different ways to make HSTs — just check on YouTube, Pinterest, or your favorite quilting magazine.
I am going to show you my favorite method here — this is the method I use in my quilt instructions.
Layer 2 squares together, right sides together (RST).
Draw a diagonal line from 1 corner to the opposite corner.
Sew 1/4″ away from both sides of the drawn line.
Cut the HSTs apart on the drawn line. Open to make 2 HSTs.
I bet you noticed I didn’t use any dimensions for my fabric squares. That was intentional. As I’ve said many times, quilting is all about math (check out my ode to quilting and math HERE).
HSTs are no different! You can use this construction method to make any size HST. You just have to know a teeny tiny magical math secret!
To figure out how big to cut your squares, you need to add 7/8″ to your finished dimensions! Really, that’s all you need to remember. You don’t need to refer to a cutting chart, you just need to remember 7/8″. (Please note that 7/8″ may not work for all HST methods.)
Here are some examples:
I want my HST’s to finish at 3″, so I need to cut my squares 3 7/8″.
5″ finished? Cut 5 7/8″ squares.
12″ finished HSTs……….cut 12 7/8″ squares.
Easy peasy!YAY MATH!Thank you, Mrs. Hank (my high school math teacher)!
HST VRD Rose Card Patterns
We have a wonderful collection of HST pattern sin our VRD catalog. It’s a L O N G list, so hang in there until the end of the post.
I hope you are having a great week — mine is just zooming by, hard to believe it’s Thursday already. Hopefully, you tuned in last week to our Designer Spotlight Interview with Sewl Sister’s Shankari Paradee, our newest designer here at Villa Rosa Designs. If not, you can find it HERE.
WOW! The weather has suddenly turned HOT HOT HOT here in northwestern Pennsylvania! WHEW! Typical July weather, I know, but I am never quite ready for super hot and humid. I live in a lovely green valley in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, but heat still happens.
We’ve been having some very dry weather for the last couple weeks, though. Luckily we had a couple rainy days earlier in the week, which really helped all the plants and crops, but with the heat, everything is starting to droop again. I hope we get some more rain soon. I’ve been watering my little container garden, but the peppers look terrible and the cucumbers aren’t growing very fast. Argh! Rain, rain, rain………
The VRD Rose Queen, Head Elf, Grand Poobah, AKA “The Boss,” Pat, asked me if I would do a tutorial for Rose Card pattern, Daring Spirit.
The corner Star Blocks can be baffling and she gets a lot of questions about how to assemble them. I hope this helps!
You can buy the Daring Spirit Rose Card pattern HERE.
Daring Spirit Tutorial
This is such a great pattern! Of course it works well with ANY patriotic panel, but you could use just about any panel as long as you use coordinating fabrics. Maybe sometime, we’ll play around with other options besides patriotic, but for now, let’s focus on how to make the quilt.
On to the tutorial!
The first thing you need to do is choose your panel and your coordinating fabrics.
Time to cut everything out. You don’t need to cut your panel to a specific size, but you should square it up and make sure all 4 sides are cut straight. Don’t skimp on this step. You might notice that your panel is skewed and doesn’t seem to be square. This is a very common problem with printed panels! What you need to do is pull the panel on both diagonals. Really. Hold each opposite corner in your hands and tug several times, pretty firmly. Repeat for the opposite diagonal. This should help your panel to straighten up! Repeat if you need to. Once you’ve gotten this step done, go ahead and trim the edges straight.
Okay, let’s measure our panel. Write down the length and the width, you’ll need these measurements later.
Time to cut our strips and squares, following the instructions.
Now let’s sew our side strips together and then sew them to the sides our panel.
There are 2 options here:
1. The pattern instructions call for you to make 4 sets of strips, then trim 2 sets to the length and 2 sets to the width. This works just fine.
2. But, I actually prefer cutting all the strips to the right length and width first (see the measurements you wrote down above). For me, this just makes more sense and I have found that the strips don’t get as curvy and wonky like they do when I try to sew long strips together and then cut them to size later. Also, the less you handle your cut pieces, the straighter they will stay.
Same result, different routes.
Anyway, here’s what the panel looks like with the side strips sewn on.
Yay! Time to make the corner Star blocks. I really like how these blocks are constructed — they are super clever and go together really well. Did you notice these stars are really Nine Patch blocks in disguise?!?
Layer a white and blue square right sides together (RST) with the edges lined up. Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner. Pin if you like, I don’t. I use a Frixion pens and a 1″ wide ruler to do this step. I do it right at my sewing machine on my acrylic extension table.
Sew 1/4″ away from both sides of the drawn line. I draw a diagonal line on a pair of squares and then sew it on both sides of the line, then I repeat for however many squares I need to. It doesn’t seem to save time to draw all the diagonal lines before you sew them as the layers are going to shift on your way to your sewing machine, unless you use pins to hold them together.
Time to cut the squares apart on the drawn line to make 2 HSTs (half square triangles) or Triangle Squares. Cut all the squares apart on the drawn line.
Let’s press our HSTs open with the seam towards the blue fabric. Do you set your seams? This just means pressing your seams with the block closed before you press them with the block open. I was taught that it sets the stitches in the fabric which makes your seams nicer. I don’t know why it works, but it simply does. Don’t forget to take the time to trim off all the little ears that stick out beyond the corners. Don’t skip this step, because if you leave them there, they will skew your seams.
I think the next step is really cool! Layer a red square RST on a blue/white HST. Draw a diagonal line from corner to opposite corner (white to blue, NOT in the same direction as the seam for the HST, but across it).
Here’s where a lot of folks might get a little confused — this time, SEW ON THE LINE. We are making a “flippy corner,” not a HST.
I don’t know if you get direction-challenged like I do sometimes when quilting, but to keep myself from sewing on the wrong end or messing up my placement, I make a sample in order to see how I need to layer things and feed them into my machine. I have found that being left-handed sometimes makes it hard for me to manage directionality.
Moving on……once you have all your “flippy corners” sewn onto your HSTs, time to cut away the waste on the “flippy corners,” 1/4″ away from your sewing line.
We’re in the homestretch now! Go ahead and press your “flippy corner” HSTs. Set your seams, then press the seam allowance to the red.
That wasn’t too bad, was it????
Let’s sew our corner Star blocks together now, just like a Nine Patch block! I like to lay out my blocks on a small felt board (made from a flannel fat quarter, a firm piece of cardboard, and duct tape to hold the flannel taut). That way, I can sew the block together right at my sewing machine. Since I’m such a “Lazy Quilter” (this is what a lot of my pals call me, anyway), I actually layered all four of my blocks on my flannel board and I’ll just sew all 4 blocks together. Then I’ll press them after I sew them together.
And here are my four corner Star blocks all sewn and pressed. Aren’t they really pretty???
Now let’s finish putting the Daring Spirit quilt together.
Refer to the panel width measurement you wrote down earlier. Sew your top and bottom strips together and cut to this measurement. Now sew your Star blocks to each end of your strip sets. Make 2 — one for the top and one for the bottom. Press your strips carefully.
Sew your strips to the top and bottom of your quilt.
Quilt top DONE!
Now, quilt it. Bind it. And don’t forget your label!