Welcome to Back Quilt Lab –
I have a new quilt pattern in the works that uses somewhere around 1,500 – 1 ½” Half-Square-Triangle Blocks (aka HSTs). Yes, that’s a ton of tiny blocks … and thinking about it made me wonder: what is the fastest, most accurate and cost-effective way to make these blocks with as little waste as possible? And with that, the idea of Quilt Lab was born!
For this month’s segment, we’re going to explore the myriad ways to make HSTs, the math behind each method, the time it would take to make 1,500 units, and the extra cost and/or fabric waste with each method. While we won’t cover each and every single method for making this fun little blocks, I think we’ll hit the majority of the main categories.
Two weeks ago, we explored the basics of making HST blocks using two single triangles and in the last week or so, we’ve talked about methods for making 2 HSTs and 4 HSTs at once method – so today we’re exploring the 8 HSTs at once method. When I have a lot of blocks to make, this is usually my go-to method, so I’m curious to see how it stands up against the previously undefeated EZ Angle ruler method!
We are not taking into account the time it takes to cut yardage into strips, since everyone has different methods and speeds for strip cutting, and some people are using scraps – there are just too many variables to include this in our calculations. Please note: There are no affiliate links in this post – we have purchased all the tools used in our Quilt Lab experiments and are providing our honest, unaltered opinions. 🙂
HSTs – Eight at a Time
I’m a visual person, so it’s helpful to me to actually see these techniques in addition to reading about them. McCalls Quilting has a great video exploring today’s topic: 8 HSTs at once. You can watch it here.
The math for this method is much easier than yesterday’s method! Simply take the finished size of your HST, add 7/8″ for seam allowances, and multiply by 2 to get the size of the two squares you’ll need to cut. For example,
1.5″ + .875″ = 2.375″
2.375″ x 2 = 4.75″
On the wrong side of the lighter print square, draw a diagonal line in each direction – remember, if you hate using that pencil, you can always use the guide we talked about in the 2 HSTs at once post! Pin the two squares right-sides-together and stitch a scant ¼” seam along each side of both lines.
Cut the unit into quarters, horizontally and vertically. Cut each of the four resulting squares in half, diagonally, and press all blocks as desired.
The Time: 50.25″ per Block with a pencil or 48.75″ with no pencil and a stitching guide, as follows:
- Cutting Time, Part 1: 0’29” to cut a square from each print = 3.75″ per block
- Line Drawing Time: 0’12” to draw two lines = 1.5″ per block
- Sewing Time: 0’55” to sew eight lines = 7″ per block
- Cutting Time, Part 2: 1’26” = 11″ per block
- Pressing Time: 0’14” per block
- Trimming Time: 0’13” per block
The Report Card:
Using this method, making 1,500 HST blocks would take approximately 20 hours and 56 minutes, if you used the pencil to draw the lines -OR- 20 hours and 19 minutes with the stitching guide.
The Cost: No additional cost ($8.95 to purchase the stitching guide).
The Waste: Negligible – trimmed dog ears and possible a bit of scrap left over at the end of each strip
- A quick way to make multiple blocks at once using the same prints.
- Blocks were fairly accurate at a smaller size, but might loose accuracy at a larger size.
So, to sum up what we’ve found out so far:
- Two Triangles + EZ Angle Ruler = 17 hours 55 minutes
- Eight at a Time: 20 Hours 19 minutes
- Two at a Time + A Guide = 25 hours
- Four at at Time: 25 hours 25 minutes
- Two at at Time = 27 Hours 5 minutes
- Two Triangles = 31 hours 40 minutes
The EZ Angle Ruler method is still in first place – are you surprised? I have to admit that I am! I’m even more curious to see how our special HST tools measure up in our next post. See you then!