01 02 03 Fabric of My Life: Catching up...Talk about HSTs..and a quick tutorial too 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Catching up...Talk about HSTs..and a quick tutorial too

Hi everyone,
Trying to catch up with all my ambitious quilty plans and of course life is meddling in, happening as I go etc. etc. ... Ha, I am sure you know what I mean.
In the meantime, my darling daughter worked hard on finishing that quilt I showed you in the last post, and she did! She practiced a little some free motion quilting on a scrap-sandwich and than bravely jumped right in to quilt her quilt - I am so proud of her! Take a look:

I really love her choice of fabric for binding and she did such a great job (her first binding too!). Oh by the way, as I wasn't home when she was binding this quilt, she used my tutorial for guidance (yay!) - you can find it HERE

I laid her quilt down next to one of the first quilts I ever made, this scrappy Christmas throw, quilted oh-not-so-spectacularly at the time... What a difference between her first and my first! Did I mention I am so proud of her? He he, maybe few times... :)

Oh and the best part - she is already planning her next quilt! Hoorayy! :)

As for me, I am really playing catch-up this month, just because I want to do so much... But that's ok. Can't show you the January quilt just yet, but I am also working on several monthly fun things. 
First is Globetrotting Quilt-a-long with Pat Sloan
I haven't done a QAL or BOM in quite some time and this one just appealed to me. Blocks will be representing cities from all over the world - just fun!
Sew....I was picking and picking fabrics that I would use and nothing was quite clicking 'till it hit me - Globetrotting! DUH. I have fabrics from all over the world! My daughter travels for work and she was bringing me fabrics from wherever she went, Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh.... What could be better than using these!?

Light and dark gray fabric are American, and they will be a "mainstay" ones, used throughout the project and then all others are my beautiful, "globetrotting" fabrics that so far I didn't dare touch. I am so excited! On to making the first block, representing Washington DC! The piecing unit in this block is a Half-Square Triangle, good old HST! Here is where a somewhat tutorial part of this post comes in.

We all know how many different ways there are to make these favorite blocks, right? Gazillion! I figured I will show you mine - I love Thangles!! It is a paper product and yes, we also know there are many of those out there too. As I love trying new things, love learning new ways to make things and love exploring ever better ways to teach my students - I try everything. Despite that, Thangles remain my GO-TO way of making HSTs. So before I go into showing you how I do it, here is what I like and don't like and why I go to these little strips of paper:
Comparing Thangles with regular "lines on the back of fabric" method:
                                                             Thangles                                         regular
Cutting fabric                    strips in "common" sizes                         odd, (dreaded) 7/8" measuring
                                           (ex. 3 1/2" strip for 3" HST)
Drawing lines                    all done for you!                                      need to draw on the back
Squaring up after             no need, they are perfect size!                 my least favorite step!
Pressing                             paper is there for stability                       need to be careful of that bias!
                                            (so you can't mess up!)
Additional cost                 YES (but at $5/package of hundreds     not in money but yes in my time!
                                            it is SO worth it!)

Oh and let me just say - I am definitely NOT involved with Thangles company or anything like that, not an advertisement, just a tutorial of what I like.

OK, on to what I did here...

1. What was needed for this block are 3" finished HSTs. So I cut 3 1/2" strips (across the width of fabric) in needed colors (squares in this photo are to complete the block, not for HSTs)

2. Put two strips right sides together and pin the Thangles paper on the top. If you want to press towards the darker fabric later, make sure your lighter color strip is on the top (next to the paper). I use a whole length strip to pin Thangles, then cut them apart between papers (less cumbersome to sew)

3. You can see dashed lines and solid lines on the paper - dashed are for stitching, solid for cutting (just like always). Once I am ready to stitch (use a bit shorter stitch length!), I actually chain-piece two or three paper strips - stitch first dashed line of one, then continue on the other...

See what I mean? I like this because after I am done, I can cut my solid lines several at the time, like here:
Quickly cut threads in between:

Then cut he rest of the solid lines:
And a whole bunch of HSTs are done! But don't tear that paper just yet! It is helpful to keep it until you are finished with pressing - paper is a great stabilizer, so even if you are beginner you can't stretch your squares out of shape! Just turn them all so that fabric is on top (paper on the bottom), lift the top fabric and press! (see photos below)

Once all are pressed, you can clip that "dog ear" little triangle you got:
And pull the paper - this is easiest done by placing your thumb very close to the seam, in the middle, on the shorter side of paper and then quickly pulling the other (larger) part of the paper with your other hand - is just comes off! (that is where using the smaller stitch length on your machine helps A LOT! My regular is 2.5, here I use 1.5)

And that is IT!
So pulling the paper off is the extra step that this way of making HSTs requires but I preffer that to squaring up. I just don't like squaring up (but I do it in other cases of course, because it is important for accuracy!), and if I can substitute it with something else, I will. Hey, I can do this in front of a movie or while chatting with my hubby by the fireplace...works for me! :)

I didn't measure time very precisely but I know that to make ALL of the HSTs needed for this block (40 of them!) it took me approximately an hour - from cutting strips to laying out this block! Not bad, right?
Here is a partial layout of my Washington DC block - it is a big one (24") so you only see little more than a half here (light gray squares are the middle of the block)

Now where is the finished block, you may ask?
HA! That is where "catching-up" part comes with a vengeance... I am still to finish this one TONIGHT! Right under the buzzer, right? But that is just my life... :)
It is almost all sewn but not pressed, together with another fun thing I am doing every month - Aurifil Block of the Month! It is sort of a mystery - each month one of the Aurifil designers will present a block and tutorial for it. You can make a block but also participate in a fun drawing for a great prize (Aurifil thread, of course!) if you post the picture of your block on their Flickr album. If you pick one fabric of background and several fun prints to go with it - you will have enough blocks for a quilt at the end of the year. Here is what I picked:

I just LOVE these Oval Elements from Art Gallery Fabrics - had them for a while and finally cutting into it!
So stay tuned, pictures of all this coming soon - tomorrow! :)
Let me know if you joined any of these and how you like it, what fabric are you playing with and - how about Thangles? Do you use them too? Want to give them a try?
Have a wonderful Friday,


PS - I actually have to apologize for some of the photos here not being very good! Took them with iPad while I worked and...either I am not doing something right or iPad is not really taking pictures good enough for my liking...Will go back to my trusty camera next time!

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