Thursday, November 17, 2011

To Piece or Not to Piece, that is the question....

This is what 1,080 half square triangles (size 2.5") look like all joined into a quilt top.

It's 60" x 72" and I'm so pleased with the block layout. Standing directly in front of it, the diamonds and zig-zags are predominant and the four-petal flower or four-leaf clover design are rather pretty, I think. If you tilt your head on an angle you really see the crosses, or Xs and Os, like hastily penned hugs and kisses at the bottom of letters - the old fashioned kind written by hand.

I'd like to try adding a pieced border, a scrappy zig-zag, to see if I like the effect.  It may turn out that I prefer a simple border treatment in the end, but I'm going to fold this away for a while and make a few scrappy zigs and zags to audition next to it.  I only need about 130 of them and I still have lots of scraps of the same fabrics I used to make all the HSTs.  The box is half full of 2.5" x 4.5" bricks, so I have lots of bits already cut to size that I can immediately start piecing with to experiment.

What I learned from making this all-HST quilt top:
1.  Pre-washed fabric made this top possible. (I prefer to piece with unwashed, but these are really old stash, from the days when I pre-washed everything, and I think that using unwashed would have made the seams bulky and stiff beyond my patience to deal with them).  That said, I've made blocks using bonus HSTs from unwashed fabrics and persevered.
2.  Be prepared to re-press HST seams in the opposite direction to make it less bulky (or press all your seams open from the start.)  If you know what pattern you are making, try putting a block together to see how many HST need to be pressed towards the light fabric and how many to the dark and keep them separate as you make them.
3.  Break the block design down into four patches (if you can) and twirl the seams.  This ensures all joining will work like a dream, even if you turn all your patches around and go with an alternate design at the last minute.  This, of course, assumes that you always twirl in the same direction.
4.  You can live dangerously and join your HSTs into 4-patch components before trimming (assuming they are close to the end size) if you line up your sewing at the diagonal HST seams, and then at the two patch seams, not from the fabric corners.  That will reduce your trimming time to 1/4 the effort and time.
5.  Use a hot iron with steam (or spritzing from a water spray bottle) when pressing seams, especially when they are bulky.  Be sure to let your HSTs, 4 patches, or block components cool down and dry completely before doing any trimming.  I often let them sit overnight.
6.  Do not store different size HSTs in the same box if you want to save yourself heart-ache when you run out of the size you need and the remainder are smaller.  At least if they were bigger, I could have trimmed them down instead of having to make more.
7.  When you keep hearing  a soft pucka-pucka-pucka-thunk-thunk-pucka change your needle, it's grown dull.  Can't believe how beautifully a new needle sews threw multiple fabric layers in the block corners!  When did you last change your needle?


  1. Awesome! Thanks for sharing your hints. I just changed my needle today in preparation for Bonnie's mystery starting tomorrow.

  2. It could be the needle, but when mine started making that sound in my FMQ class Tuesday changing the needle didn't help. I stopped by my friendly dealership on my way home--the bobbin casing just needed a drop of oil. For 30 years I had a Viking--you don't oil them. Who knew? No more
    pucka-pucka-pucka. BTW, you interpret sewing machine sounds really well--do you think there is a future in that?

  3. That is one fabulous top--You deserve a medal--or chocolate--take your pick!!

  4. That. Is. AMAZING! Congratulations.