Working our way through the list of quilting lingo acronyms, Liz picks up with addressing two of the basic units that quilt blocks are made of. While there are many blocks that just use rectangles or squares in their composition, by adding triangles your blocks gain complexity without adding a lot of difficult piecing. Two items on our list are HSTs or half-square triangles and QSTs or quarter square triangles.
Making a half square triangle can be done multiple ways. Squares of different fabrics can be cut in half and then paired together and sewn together along the long edge to create a new square of two fabrics, one on each half with a diagonal seam: hence, a half-square triangle. In most cases multiple HSTs will be needed for a project, so making them in multiples is often easier. The most common technique is to pair two different squares together and mark a diagonal line on the top square and sew ¼” from the line on either side. When cut on the original center diagonal line and pressed open, they become identical half-square triangles. As with many quilting processes there are also ways to sew larger pieces of fabric with a specific path of stitching and cutting that can create eight at a time or even more using triangle paper.
When laying HSTs out in a block, the orientation of each unit can change how a block looks. The same block takes on a whole different design as in the Sarah’s Choice block. Color choice and layout make it look like two different patterns, but in reality, it’s the same block with different color combinations and orientations. By placing four HSTs together you can create a pinwheel as in the center of these two blocks. Most quilters would recognize the outer star points as flying geese units, but these, too, could also be made with HSTs.
Quarter square triangles are made by combining two HSTs together to create an hour-glass type block. These can be made with just two fabrics or more complex QSTs can be made with HSTs of different combinations, so each quarter is a different fabric. As you can imagine, just combining different fabrics can create a much more complex looking block!
Quilters play with many sub-units like the HSTs and QSTs to create complex looking blocks. Having a variety of these units made up to play with in new combinations can make a quilt unique and different with just the changing out of colors or rotating a block for a new look.