Monday, June 10, 2013

playing with HST's and a tutorial

last week, my mr. was away at scout camp for a few days. the first two days he was gone, i quilted like a lunatic. after getting a good quilting fix, i was able to back off a little and resume a more balanced, normal life. on day three of my quilting staycation, i went back and forth between mothering and working on my hst's for my diamond quilt. whilst at it, i took photos so i could share the method i use for individual hst blocks.

when making multiple hst's of the same fabric, i recommend using triangles on a roll (see how that works here). however, when you have precuts or are working with only one or two of each fabric, i like this method.

*note: there are photos of my actual life and kids interspersed with the how-to because that is how my sewing time is - always interrupted - and how i photograph it. sorry if it annoys.

 i was working with a charm pack of prints and a charm pack of solids. you can see them stacked to the left of the machine. first, i would pick up a print square and top it with a white solid square. you want to place right sides (RS) of the fabrics together and make your mark on the wrong side (WS). line your ruler up diagonally from one corner to the opposite one and draw a line with your choice of marking tool. this time i was using a fons and porter pencil. i've used just regular pencils before with success, too.

(because it doesn't really matter which side i use for the white solids, i just slapped it on there. maybe more expert sewers can tell the difference between the RS and WS of a solid like this, but i can't. and i did try.)

 closer look:  you now have a diagonal line from one corner to the next. it only matters which corners you select to connect if you want the triangles to appear a certain way when cut. you can determine what it will look like by folding the fabric along the line you're going to draw before actually marking. this comes into play with directional prints or ones you might want to fussy cut.

line up with the pencil line at your 1/4" inch mark and sew a seam 1/4" away from the line.

you now have a seam along one side of the pencil mark. if you are doing several hst's, then just chain piece them, one after another until all the blocks have one seam sewn. (this means once you are done with one block, sew a few stitches and then put the next block in and stitch without cutting threads between blocks. they will come out strung together, but not connected. see "bunting" photo below.)

snip your blocks apart in preparation for the next set of seams. i have found that if i don't snip and try to chain piece going the other direction while they are still connected that i have to stretch the blocks a bit to get them to separate enough that they aren't sewn together. this leads to fabric distortion. so i snip between the first set of seams before sewing the second.
turn the blocks around and sew another seam down the other side of the pencil mark, also 1/4" away from the pencil mark.

i got lucky that the kids played together for quite some time. they were pretending the baby was the queen (not a far stretch of the imagination) and they were all her servants. they set her up nicely in the balcony play area and waited on her hand and foot. they even dressed her in a tutu (only) and served her treats. too cute.

i did stop sewing whenever mom duty was called for. proof: the 5 yr old asked 3 different people to braid her horsey's hair and i finally did it for her since she was getting rejected left and right.

i worked my way through the rest of the charm pack, some 30 squares. i liked seeing it pile up behind the machine.
chain piecing is the best! love, love, love it.

the servants did eventually tire of waiting on her majesty (i think some sort of civil war broke out, actually) and she joined me in the sewing dining room. she gravitated to my technology, as usual.

much better "bunting" photo than that embarrassing one i took last time
when i finally finished all the day's squares and pulled them off the machine, oldest daughter said, "oh, that's cute! where are you going to put it?" she thought i'd made bunting so i guess i'm not the only one that gets that impression looking at chain piecing. i told her it wasn't bunting and she said i should make some.

you can see how the blocks are connected by the thread with just a bit of stitching in between each. such a time saver.

after all the seams are sown, i snip them apart and give each a quick press with the iron before cutting them apart. i'm an "only press when necessary" kind of gal and i do find this quick press worthwhile to flatten the block back out so the squares look nice after cutting.

elsewhere in the house was some cousin cupcake baking going on. there were good smells everywhere. lots of creativity. lovely afternoon.

back to the hst's how-to:
after pressing the squares, place on your cutting mat and line the ruler up along the pencil line. you should see your seam at the 1/4" mark under the ruler.

cut on down the pencil line.

you will end up with two triangles (like the piece on the right). press them open with the seam allowance toward the darker fabric, in this case toward the print.

then some more fun begins.

i already know what i'm doing with these triangles, but as i was pressing them open and setting them out to rest, i played with patterns you can make by various placements of the triangles. there seem to be limitless combinations with these babies.
here i made some rows . . .

and these are laid out in little diamonds.

the 5 yr old came over to admire and asked for her picture to be taken with the diamonds. of course, honey! but i can't show your pretty face on the blog. so i took two: one for her, one for you.

what do you like to do with hst's?

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