Man Sewing: String Quilt with Half Square Triangles Sewing Tutorial

Rob Appell

Man Sewing: String Quilt with Half Square Triangles Sewing Tutorial

Rob demonstrates how to make a HST (Half Square Triangle) string quilt using a Kaffe Collective Spots Kaleidoscope Fat Quarter Bundle by Kaffe Fassett for Rowan Fabrics and Designer Solids - Citrine Yardage by Free Spirit Fabrics.
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video transcript

I was lucky enough to win 2nd place at the Jenny Doan impersonation contest during the birthday bash recently, and this was my prize. I loved it so much even though everyone was trying to steal it from me. I said, Heck no! I’m taking it home for my studio and I’m coming back with this awesome quilt. There’s a lot going on within this quilt. Technically it is simply a half square triangle design but when you look at it very carefully it is a foundation string quilt or strip quilt. And I did it on foundation so I could piece it wonky. And not have a lot of ripple and then come back with some really fun free motion quilting that we’ll talk about at the end of today’s video. For this quilt, these are the supplies I used. This was a fat quarter bundle. Those of you new to quilting, fat quarters are not body parts, right? They’re a measure 18 inches by 22 inches. And then we also need a neutral. Mine is a Nuclear Neutral to play on the Kaffe Fassett fabric line. And I used about three yards because it’s in the entire quilt, not just the parts that you’re seeing. I will explain more as the foundation coming soon. I want to talk briefly about Kaffe Fassett as a designer. An incredibly talented but unique individual in my opinion. His colors are fantastic. But for me I was a little nervous working in this palette. So today’s quilt I actually used the bundle itself in its color order. So basically I took his recipe and I just expanded it so that I could work and learn from him. So thank you Kaffe for being an awesome designer. Thank you for letting me put my quilt together just like you designed your fabrics. Now with those fat quarters I open them up. We’re going to do this for each piece of fabric. I ironed the creases out. And then I went ahead and I need to make two inch strips by the 18 inches. And you’ll get ten out of every fat quarter that you have. I usually stack about five at a time so that while I’m cutting my two inch strips. And you know this is supposed to be a scrappy looking quilt. They don’t have to be perfectly accurate. We’re actually going to piece a few of these in kind of on the angle, kind of on the bias. So don’t worry if they’re not perfect as a matter of fact you’ll see here, even one of these I have the selvedges. If just kind of hung out with me. We’re just going to sew right past that. It won’t be a problem at all. So back to your instructions. I need you to make an entire, there’s 20 pieces in this stack. I need you to do all of this to two inches. And now we’re going to sub out our piles. We’re going to keep the colors in order but we’re going to start to break them down. So I’m going to go one, two, three, four. And these are going to represent four new entire families, ok? So keeping them in order we’re going to do that all the way through our stack. And somewhere in the stack I do remember that I have the, oop perfect timing. See how these polka dots themselves are going to come together. I never have the exact same fabrics touching. So what I’m going to do at this moment is I’m just going to trade. I’m just going to put that one here because I do want the color to stay as close to Kaffe’s palette organization as possible. And then that polka dot you’ll see each and every time. And we’ll just switch it each and every time as we build. So you’ll do this to all ten of your piles. And you might be thinking to yourself, gosh Rob, there might have been an easier way to organize this. But I’m teaching you today in the way I made the scrappy style quilt. And so yes there is an easier way to organize this but I’m not teaching that today. You’ll figure it out or not. Just do it my way. It’s fun. Ok so now you see that I have four new family groupings and again another reminder, you’re going to do it for all ten piles over here, ok? Follow me to the quilt real quick, I want to show you what’s going to happen. First of all, if you look, all of my seams are running parallel to the bias or the middle of the quilt block itself. Some of these lead the longest strip with orange. But then some of them lead the longest strip with the purple family. So in order to make that happen you’re going to simply take two of your piles and you’re going to call these the purple lead, right? Then the other family you’re going to restack another time, keeping the fabrics still in their color value or orders. But I’m making two new families that are going to lead with their oranges versus their purples. And it doesn’t matter which ones you do, they all work the same. So now in all of my stacks I’m going to have two orange leading, two purple leading and these will make four blocks for the quilt, ok? In order to make those blocks however we’re going to need some of that Nuclear Neutral so let’s just move a few of these out of the way. I’m going to show you how to build a block with one of these sets right now. Now Nuclear Neutral nice and easy but when you’re sewing and you want to be able to sew in every different direction, remember this is truly a string quilt on the foundation even though I’m using half square triangles for the design. The foundation enables us to be able to sew these strips on in any old order I want without having a ton of shifting within my strips. So in order to prep out that foundation what I did, ten inch squares of the neutral, if I didn’t already say ten inch squares. But then I also have taken and I’m hoping you can see that ok. And I’ve pressed a crease right into my square on the bias, on the diagonal like that. And then that’s going to be my seam line. So I want my, what am I trying to say, I want my strip on the bumpy side or the peak side. And it’s going to go right sides together. And then I’m going to slide down a little bit so I have about a half inch, inch long tail over there. Then I’m going to flip this over, only for this first one do we flip it over. Oops let me turn myself backwards. So I’m just going to readjust. Now that becomes our seam guide so that we have the first seam allowance looking like it goes directly down the center or the bias of that block. And I’m doing my best to give myself a quarter inch of the strip for my seam allowance but I will not be trimming anything as I go today. I’m just going to build right off of this foundation. And we’re going to stitch that in real easy, ok? Now, oh funny, I’ve left fabric all over at my ironing board. Give me one second here. I’m going to have to reorganize at least enough that I can get some pressing going on. That will make for a mess when I get home, ok? So now what we want to do, I’ve got that bad boy heating up. We’re going to take this part that we’re created. And we’re going to take and simply press this line so that now my right sides are showing upward. I’ve got a really nice seam on there. Everything looks nice and clean. And then what we’re going to go ahead and do is we’re not going to trim these tails off till the very end. But once this is built I can begin to just add on my next color, keeping that in the color order. So it’s going to go here, right sides together. It’s going to add on this way like you see here. And then the next one that I’m doing, I’m going to put again a straight quarter inch seam. Then I’ll start adding in angles. I’ll show you what that means here in a second. So we’re just going to sew this one really nice and fast. I am putting a little bit of pressure on that bottom piece of fabric, the strip itself because I want to make sure that it’s not rippling underneath on my foundation. Ok. Coming in nice like this. We’re going to press each one as we go. Ok. Now what we have happening here, isn’t that cool how that works? And look how flat everything is and everything is traveling beautifully through the machine. Now for this next strip, what I can do is I can start to cheat a little bit of an angle, not much more than a half of an inch, ¾ of an inch so on your wide side. Actually it becomes your narrow side because then you’ll run out of room as you get over here. You only have five strips per block to use, ok? So what I’m going to do is I’m going to set this kind of at an angle but again it’s right sides together. So I’m doing here and then after I did a few of these blocks I learned to keep shifting my fabric down so I have a very little scrap up here and I have a longer scrap down there because I’ve got some scrap tricks to teach you towards the end of the video as well. All kinds of material in here today for you. And I’m not just talking fabric if you know what I mean. So here we go, we’re going to sew this one on. I’m not worrying about backstitching or anything like that. I’m just going right through. And you can see that the pace of this starts to pick up incredibly. So I just got all my prep work done. Took my right shoe off, sat down at the machine a while and got a lot of these blocks done in a hurry. You can see that I’m starting to get an angle going on and last time I was wide up here so this next time I’m actually going to go wide on the other side down here. Cheating, not too much at the top end. Drop it on and again the reason we’re using the foundation is so I can sew any angles I want and not get a bunch of pucker in my blocks. Traditionally string quilts are done with just the smallest of scraps. And a lot of times you’ll get foundation and selvedge that shows up in there. And my goal was to use up this beautiful bundle but to make it look like it was a total scrap project at the end. Our last piece goes on, again not leaving too much up there because this long tail actually I told you I’ve got some tricks. The long tails I actually save for a binding later on. Now I should also mention at that top corner and I’m doing another straight seam now so that I maximize that last two inch strip. So that when I press it open I hopefully make it within a quarter inch or less of that outer seam allowance, right? So you can see now that I made it, covered up the block but we still need to trim it down. So let’s just take a moment and we can flip it over is the really the easiest way. Take your ruler Lay it right on, trusting your block hasn’t shifted. And again, I just want to point out, these small parts like this probably good for scraps for like a dog bed or something like that that you’re not going to really use them for, just filler. These kind of pieces here actually could be saved for, look at this. A fabric bowl or something fun. I’ve got some videos coming for you like that. And then these long strips I’m talking about, those are the ones that are used to make the actual binding on the quilt, ok? So make sure that you save all of your scraps but you’ll have to sort through them a little bit more later. Hey we love our sewing craft all the things we do including sorting through scraps, right? Now all of these little shorties on this side, those pretty much are just for the dog bed. So we’ll put them down there in the dog bed parts holder. And then we have a beautiful finished block just like that. Ok? A reminder this one is an orange leading block. Follow me to the quilt if you will please. I literally started the entire project, oh and I should point out today in the link down below we’ve got the diagram of the quilt broken out so you can see the individual blocks. And it’s built kind of exactly the way we’ve done it here. But I did the diagram myself so it’s a little bit remedial. I was practicing. It was fun. So any rate, I started on this diamond here with all four of my orange leading parts. You’re going to have an even numbers of all of these. So then I perimetered this with the orange leading. But look real close here, it’s an orange leading and an orange leading part. But then it comes into this small little triangle which was actually a purple leading part out here. So that’s why I want you to have even numbers of all of your blocks so that you can put them together. And you follow the recipe. There’s an intentional color shift down near the bottom of the quilt so it’s not always a solid color running through here. So not always purple running through the quilt. I like to put things in the quilt that are the unexpected so that as soon as you think you understand the rhythm of the quilt there’s a little something unique in there to inspire you to keep looking around including the machine quilting. So let’s take one last moment and talk about that. I started the quilting process, like all quilts, from the center. But what I did do is I had my feed dogs up and I did with my regular sewing foot, stitch in the ditch and it’s just up the center row. And I did zag there so I could come. I just kept following those center rows. And I did it on one side of the center strip and the other side of the center strip so that that did all of the basting and all of the quilting for all of the striped areas in the quilt itself. Now that left about a two inch gap between the edge and the quilting so that meant that this quilting in here, the quilting in the neutral could be fairly open. And it didn’t have to be real dense. So that the quilt draped appropriately because it’s all uniformly quilted. So just our regular big swirls but I just opened them up. I did them about four times the size I would normally do my swirls and my little doodle within the negative space out here. Matching thread because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and I, again wish I would have used a little purple or something like that for a little bit more pop. I am having so much fun creating these projects but I’m learning each step of the way. Maybe I’ll start even trusting myself a little bit more. Hey I’m asking all of you to trust yourselves. Learn to design as you go. Learn to play like I did with this project, right? I even told you as I was writing these instructions I realized there might have been more efficient ways to do this but I always teach the way I build myself because that’s what makes sense to me. And I know you’re loving the show. We love the comments below. And we’ll see you next time here at Man Sewing.

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