Monday, April 7, 2008

The saga of the half-square triangle

also - I love Sewing with Nancy.

Ok, most of the time Sewing with Nancy is a joke. Her techniques are great, but the actual garments she works on are dated at best, but usually really really tacky. Anyway on Saturday or Sunday (they all blur together since I've been sick) I was watching PBS and Nancy was reviewing a basic quilting technique - the half square triangle.

There are (at least) two ways to cut out a triangle shape for quilting. One is to use a template and cut several triangles and sew them each together. I'll actually be using that method for another quilt I've been thinking of. But when you cut out a triangle one of the sides is, by definition, cut on the bias, which makes it more likely to stretch & fray while handling.

So an alternate method is to make two triangles out of two squares - the half square triangle. I've heard about this, and knew this was the best way to go for my Trash to Treasure quilt, but haven't been able to wrap my little brain around it. Nancy's instructions however were extremely clear and she showed off a little notion - the half-square-triangle ruler. Basically you put the two squares together, lay the ruler down from corner to corner and draw a line on each and down the middle. This highlights where to sew both seems and where to cut them apart to make sure you've got two identically sized triangle blocks with a nice 1/4 inch seam on both.

Anyway I had cut out all the squares for this quilt, and separated them out as lights & darks. I was all ready to start marking them up... but I decided what I really needed was a half-square-triangle ruler like Nancy's. Nevermind that I have three different quilting rules already... I wanted a half-square-triangle ruler!

So on one of my quests out of the house on Saturday (primarily to get won-ton soup & chloraseptic throat spray) I went to Michaels to see if they would have one. Nope... and the Mill End Store next door to Michaels was closed. So I went back the next day to the Mill End Store, and they didn' t have one either. Finally today, even though I called in sick to work (my voice is pretty much gone, I can croak a few words but it hurts and I figured I would do better to just stay home and do what little work I could via email - anyway) I drove all the way out to Fabric Depot (I really need to move closer!) where for $2.99 (less 30%) my quest ended.

Now I'm matching up blocks, pinning them, and marking them with my handy-dandy half-square-triangle ruler. But ugh! This quilt is going to take aproximately 700 billion years! Maybe not... but I've got to mark & pin the squares then sew & sew again, then snip, and that's just to get the blocks. Blocks into rows, rows together into the top, then the quilting & binding. I guess I have to accept that this will not be a quick & dirty quilt.... because really, there's no such thing. Slow and steady.

I'm going to bed!


Bezzie said...

Now I have to know if you watch Eleanor Burns? Hee hee. Birthing Quilts.

jovaliquilts said...

I've seen those little rulers but never knew what they were for! I usually just draw the center line and use it like an edge and sew 1/4" on either side. Did you know you can also draw a big grid on the fabric and sew a zillion of these at a time with a continuous line, then cut them apart after stitching?

Magatha said...

Congratualtions on getting through a mention of Nancy without a disparaging remark about Nancy's 'smirk'/stoke damaged face.
I cannot tell you the times I've read nasty comments about that woman's face. I love to pick on people as much as the next a**hole but man, how funny is a stroke? (pretty funny when it doesn't happen to you. BTW, I am an asshat for even bringing it up.)
I am sorry your are still sick. It were a nasty bunch of viruses this year.

Rebel said...

bezzie - I'm not sure if I have or not. I watch all those craft shows on the weekend. I have seen Burns' books though - and thought of you!

jovial - that would have been really useful information *before* I cut out all the blocks. ;) Good to know for next time though.

Mags - I'm usually far too distracted by the bedazzled sweatshirt to 'classy jacket' ( to notice her face. =P

Olga said...

Oh man, you need to back away from the cutting table. Haven't you figured out yet that its the FABRIC thats making you sick?????Come back to the YARN for HEALING....

Libby said...

You are using my preferred method for half square triangles - but yeah, there's like a gazillion others. Who knew there were so many ways to accomplish the same thing? My mom has some special HST ruler that allows her to use strips cut on the 1/2" rather than 7/8"...but I could never figure it out.

Exuberant Color said...

No triangle quilt is a fast quilt, but they are so satisfying when they are done.

Michael5000 said...

You crack me up.