Saturday, August 25, 2012

Streak of Lightning QAL -- Cutting & Making HSTs

Basically, a Streak of Lightning quilt has overall up & down zigzags. They can be achieved in many ways -- log cabins, flying geese, even squares set on point. Our inspiration quilt is made with 9-patch blocks made up of half-square triangles (HSTs, from here on).

I had been quilting for more than 10 years before I learned the "magic number" you need to add for cutting when you know what size you want finished squares to be. This is probably taught in Quilting 101, but, being largely self-taught, I didn't know it. If you want your HST to finish at 4 inches, you add 0.875 (or 7/8) inch: so a 4.875 inch square, cut in half diagonally & sewn to another triangle, will give you an unfinished square of 4.5 inches, a finished square of 4 inches. (I usually cut a full inch larger, since cutting at the 7/8 line isn't the easiest. Then I trim the block down to the unfinished size.)

For this project though, I wanted to keep the cutting simple, so I am making easy cuts: the Laura Ashley dresses I cut at 4.5 inches. Let's see, that means they will finish to 3.625 (3 5/8) inches. As a separate (& experimental) project, I cut my Elvis fabrics to 3.5 inch squares. They will finish to 2.625 (2 5/8) inches. (Kind of small, I think.)

tiny elvis lightning

Sujata has written an excellent  post  about how to assemble & lay out the blocks. The interesting thing about this block is its asymmetry -- set it in one way & you can continue the zigzag, either in fabric print or fabric value, flip it around & you bring the zigzags to a halt. So much fun!

continuous lightning

interupted lightning

As for making your HSTs -- whatever is familiar is probably best. There are lots of ways for mass-producing HSTs, but I prefer old-school: two right triangles that I sew together along the hypotenuse. Then, because I love super flat patchwork, I press the seams open. In this case, this is useful to reduce bulk where all those seams are coming together.

lightning back

And how many blocks should you make? I don't know! I don't know how many I am going to make! I don't know how big my quilt will be! I'm thinking biggish -- double bed or maybe even queen size. But I'm pretty sure I will have blocks & cut fabric left over. The very good news is that HMQG has decided that our fall charity will be to make wheelchair-sized lap robes to donate to nursing homes. These blocks, backed with fleece or flannel, will make cozy & cheery lap covers for some seniors -- a project near to my heart!


O'Quilts said...

wonderful...I do not feel so alone:)

Rachaeldaisy said...

Great post!! I make HSTs by putting 2 squares facing together. draw a line down the middle then sew 1/4 inch each side of the line. then cut them down the diagonal center , this gives you two HSTs. Keeping it as a square help not stretch the bias. I tried another method that I've seen on the net, in which you have bigger squares, sew around the straight edges then cross cut twice on the diagonals and this gives 4 HSTs. BUT that method leaves bias edges around the HST which didn't suit me. I've spoken to others who like this method and are able to work without stretching the edges. Love the Elvis fabric!

Helen said...

I cut my squares 3 1/2" , sew the diagonals, then trim to 3". I end up with 2 1/2" finished squares. This is easier for me and my quilt will be lap or nap sized. I want to try pressing seams open now. Thanks for the tip!

Nifty Quilts said...

Well, I took the easy route, and cut my triangles with my Accuquilt Go Baby. Then just chain-pieced them together. I love chain-piecing. So mindless. Your charity quilt cause sounds like a good one.

Sujata Shah said...

Great post on HSTs!
It took me a long time to start liking them when I started sewing. Love them now!