Friday, December 2, 2016

big HST ideas

any of you longtime bloggers out there ever think of renaming your blog? i toy with the idea on occasion. the original name of this blog no longer really fits my sewing, especially since i moved my sewing space out of my bawthroom. but splishing and splashing (or only getting to dabble my fingers in the waters randomly) does sort of fit the way i get to play with my stash these days, and renaming or rebranding oneself on the internet isn't always the smartest nor easiest move. however, if i were to rename this space, i think hst quilts, which would stand for hydeeann sewed these quilts, would do nicely. it would be a play on words that nods to my love of the classic and endlessly adaptable hst shape. for now, this stays a splishing and splashing stash zone.

and a place where i will continue playing with the hst on many different levels.

like this big star quilt i dreamed up and immediately put into practice earlier this week, before i fell too ill to complete it. because despite all my best intentions and personal vows to complete what needs to be completed, i can not force myself to do any more fmq until i take a break and get some itchy ideas out of my system! i just simply can't. so i did this one little big thing on tuesday.

i've been wanting to play with solids in a big, bold, modern kind of way, and in a funky color palette, for quite a while now. something along the lines of this inspiring design:

somehow, the other night i got obsessed with the idea of making one large star out of hsts that would be really fast and a bit of fun for me before i got back to the grindstone of the quilts that i absolutely need to finish soon. (we won't even mention names because this topic has been way overdone here. you know who they are.) i consulted the hst handbook Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle: Foolproof Patterns and Simple Techniques from Basic Blocks by jeni baker to get an idea of scale and see if she had a pattern similar to what i was imagining.

there was one pattern that featured 17" blocks, which was larger than i wanted. but it gave me a few tips on dealing with the large size, and i was off to the sketchbook to make my own design. a basic 8-point star, composed of 12" finished blocks felt right. i didn't want a mammoth-sized quilt, just one i could whip out really easily and be done with. maybe one that would be good for handquilting when i felt like some handwork over the holidays. but i also don't like square quilts. (i don't know why, but the ratio just feels off to me, like it's going to be too short to cover someone's feet, no matter how large it is. just one of my weirdness-es.) so a 48" square center with some top and bottom rows of smaller hsts to stretch it out seemed right. i wanted some space for my colors to shine, so i added in a small neutral border around the center star to give it some breathing room from the hst rows. can you see how simple and fast this was going to be?

the very next morning, after my pilates class, without going home to shower or change (because i might get sidetracked by a child needing something or some such nonsense), i went to the fabric store for some solids. the color palette i had in mind was inspired by some quilters i follow on instagram:

i like the way these ladies have mixed deep tones with lighter and brighter ones, and wanted to play with some warm orange and golden colors against navy blues, with a dash of really light pink thrown in for some real contrast. in the end, i realized this color palette is rather a mash-up of what i've been working on this year: navy and orange from the wonky quilt for s1, and golden and pink tones from my triangle quilt. interesting how that worked out.

at the store, i pulled a pile of colors from the kona solids line up, knowing i had at least two more navy blue ranges at home (leftovers from my sons' quilts). then i took a photo of my bolt selections because solids don't come with marked selvages! i had the bottom bolt turned around, but i do happen to know that's curry, the color i used for the backing on my golden-and-rosy triangle quilt. with butterscotch, i was trying to add in a bit of tan neutral that was in the same range as the curry color. it looked great in the store. at home, it looks almost identical. oh, well. i'm learning as i go. i also selected two more light neutral colors, but didn't photograph the names. i don't see this being a problem since i was going for a mix of creams for my neutrals and there are several. anything would work if i needed more for the neutral sections.

so here's the sketch and the colors i purchased in half-yard increments. (the other navies i was using, cadet and windsor, are not included in the photo.) colors left to right: 3 cream neutrals, including champagne, storm, butterscotch, curry, peach (which i think is a pink, not a peach color), kumquat, and tomato.

i came home, after a quick stop at the bakery on the same side of town as the fabric store, and began pressing everything right away.

to make 12" finished hst blocks, i needed 12.5" unfinished blocks. so i cut 13" squares to make the hsts from. these would be just slightly oversized, to allow for trimming and increased accuracy.

cutting a 13" block turned out to be really simple with my mat and 2 - 6"x24" rulers. i lined the fabric up on the mat and just used the lines to make sure there was 1" between the rulers to get a 13" cut. i know some people (like mother louise, who taught me to quilt!) disapprove of cutting with the mat measurements, and for reasonable cause. but ever since i saw camille roskelley do it in a craftsy class, i have adopted the method and love it. please forgive me, louise. i don't find my accuracy compromised as of yet.

then i turned the rulers the opposing direction in the same manner and made the cuts needed to produce the 13" square. luckily for me, i plan to use 6" finished hst blocks for my top and bottom borders, which will perfectly utilize the apporximately 7" leftovers from my cuts. i do love when things work out so neatly like this.

because i wouldn't be pairing each set of colors the same way each time, i couldn't use the double hst making method, but had to cut each square on the diagonal (bias edges!) and sew the pairs together from there. i made four blocks by pairing colors with colors, going for contrast in my pairings, and 8 blocks by pairing a color with a neutral. i could have made my corner squares from square blocks or hsts, and chose the latter for more added subtle interest in the quilt top.

once i had my squares all cut, i began playing with the star's center configuration. it was at this point that i realized i needed another color to make things even. sigh. i had 7 colors but really needed 8 so i could use each one twice: once in the center and once in the star points. trying to balance everything by using one color more than once was more thinking than i wanted to do, so adding in a color was the only way to go.

i was definitely not going back to the store and all the plausible solids i had on hand were sized too small to make the proper sized cut. there was one greenish/ochre color i really liked with the rest, but it was too small. so i had to adjust my color palette a bit and add in a very light blue, which i wasn't too excited about. but in the end, it works nicely and i've gotten used to it.

then i had to decide on the configuration of the center blocks:


all in one direction

after looking at each, i chose the pinwheel.

then i squared off each block. this is where having a ruler the exact size of my block and a rotating mat came in handy.
the blocks were only very slightly oversized once pressed open.

i aligned the seam of the two triangles with the diagonal line crossing the ruler, all the way across. this will produce the most accuracy when sewing the blocks together.

because there was a little wiggle room, i could also ensure that the ruler fit within the block all the way around. then i just sliced off the tiny bits outside the lines to get my perfect 12.5" squares.

after 4 hours of pressing, sewing, and trimming, i had the main square portion of the top completed. that kind of depressed me. i thought i should have been able to complete 16 large hsts more quickly. but i just have to live with not being faster than that. if it had been a lazy weekend day, i could likely have gotten the rest done. but it wasn't that sort of day and i had to move on to family responsibilities. so my play time came to an end.

i also expected to be able to quickly finish the remainder of the top in the next day or two, but was laid low with some nasty chest congestion and cough-inducing virus the very next morning. so stay tuned to see where this goes! i'm well enough now to post about it. maybe i can finish it soon after all.

and then i will definitely be back to finishing something before the year is up.
i do hope.

and the next color combo i'm dreaming of playing with, probably in some form of hst or other?

this, by the brilliant suzy quilts:


  1. This looks like it will be amazing! I've always used the lines on my mat for cutting. I taught myself to use the mat 20 years ago and using the lines on it just seemed to make sense :)


a kind word is always appreciated. thank you for your visit.