# Welcome to Back Quilt Lab –

# Half-Square-Triangles Edition!

**The Premise:**

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 was as possible? And with that, the idea of Quilt Labwas 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.

**This Week:**

Last week, we explored the basics of making HST blocks using two single triangles. We’ll have three posts this week, each addressing a different way to make HSTs. Today, let’s explore the good, better, and best ways to make HSTs Two-at-a-Time from two squares.

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. 🙂

**The Good Method: Two Squares … and the Dreaded Pencil!**

To make two HSTs at once, start with two squares and a pencil …

#### The Math:

From each of two prints, cut a square that is 7/8″ larger than the finished size of your block. This will yield the materials to put together 2 – HST blocks.

**1.5″ + .875″ = 2.375″**

#### The Method:

With a pencil or water-soluble fabric pen, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the light square. Place the two squares right-sides-together and sew a scant ¼” seam along both sides of the pencil line. Cut the unit in half along the pencil line and press seams as desired.

#### The Time: 1’05” per Block, as follows:

**Cutting Time, Part 1:**0’34” to cut two squares ÷ 2 blocks at a time = 0’17”**Line-Drawing Time:**0’10” to draw one line ÷ 2 blocks at a time = 0’5″**Sewing Time:**0’27” to sew two lines ÷ 2 blocks at a time = 0’13.5″**Cutting Time, Part 2:**0’7″ to cut the unit in half ÷ 2 blocks at a time = 0’3.5″**Pressing Time:**0’14” per block**Trimming Time:**0’12” per block to trim dog ears

#### The Report Card:

Using this method, **making 1,500 HST blocks would take approximately 27 hours and 5 minutes**.

**The Cost: **No additional cost, assuming that you have a pencil on hand.

**The Waste:** Negligible – trimmed dog ears and possible a bit of scrap left over at the end of each strip

**The Pros:**

- Faster than the two triangle method.
- All the test blocks finished right on their target size of 2″ (unfinished)

**The Cons:**

- Using the EZ Angle ruler would still save you almost 11 hours …
- Drawing 1,500 pencil lines on the wrong sides of squares would drive anyone insane
- Uses that messy 1/8th inch calculation – harder to see those markings on the ruler = more likelihood of inaccurate cutting … and 1/8th increment scraps aren’t as readily usable
- Did I mention how irritating drawing all those lines would be?

**The Best Method: Two Squares … and NO PENCILS!**

Rather than drawing a pencil on each and every one of the squares, this method uses the *Quilt In A Day* *Sew Straight* machine guide placed on the throat of your sewing machine to sew un-marked diagonal lines, allowing you to skip the pencil step.

The alternative to using a pre-marked guide is to very carefully place the edge of a piece of painter’s tape *exactly* in line with your needle, and using this as your guideline.

#### The Math:

From each of two prints, cut a square that is 7/8″ larger than the finished size of your block. This will yield the materials to put together 2 – HST blocks.

**1.5″ + .875″ = 2.375″**

#### The Method:

Place the two squares right-sides-together and align the tip of the square with the ¼” seam line and stitch. Turn the block around and stitch on the opposing side, again aligning the tip of the square with the opposite ¼” seam line.

#### The Time: 1’00” per Block, as follows:

**Cutting Time, Part 1:**0’34” to cut two squares ÷ 2 blocks at a time = 0’17”**Sewing Time:**0’27” to sew two lines ÷ 2 blocks at a time = 0’13.5″**Cutting Time, Part 2:**0’7″ to cut the unit in half ÷ 2 blocks at a time = 0’3.5″**Pressing Time:**0’14” per block**Trimming Time:**0’12” per block to trim dog ears

#### The Report Card:

Using this method, **making 1,500 HST blocks would take approximately 25 Hours**

**The Cost: A one-time cost of about $8.95 to purchase the ruler.**

**The Waste:** Negligible – trimmed dog ears and possible a bit of scrap left over at the end of each strip

**The Pros:**

- No Pencils!!!
- Faster than the two triangle method.
- All the test blocks finished right on their target size of 2″ (unfinished)
- The Sew Straight guide can be used on other projects to sew mitered corners, bias seams for bindings, and for sewing diagonal lines on pieced blocks, like the sew+flip+trim method for making Flying Geese and other blocks

**The Cons:**

- Using the EZ Angle ruler would still save you almost 9 hours …
- Uses that messy 1/8th inch calculation – harder to see those markings on the ruler = more likelihood of inaccurate cutting … and 1/8th increment scraps aren’t as readily usable.
- The Sew Straight guide covers up my bobbin door, so I’ll have to remove it every single time I want to reload –
*however,*the stick-’ems used to hold it in place are washable and reusable, plus they don’t leave any sticky residue, so this is more of a slight irritation …

So, to sum up what we’ve found out so far:

- Two Triangles + EZ Angle Ruler = 17 hours 55 minutes
- Two at a Time + A Guide = 25 hours
- Two at at Time = 27 Hours 5 minutes
- Two Triangles = 31 hours 40 minutes

It’s still tough to beat that EZ Angle Ruler because it eliminates a great deal of cutting. We’ll see how that method holds up later on this week while talking about make 4 or 8 HSTs at a time.