Sunday, January 16, 2011

Anyone out there in blogland interested in a half-square triangle exchange?

I am organizing my very first block exchange. It is a little intimidating, but yet so very exciting all at the same time.
I have really wanted to participate in a half-square triangle block exchange for quite some time.
I talked to a few quilting friends at my guild last fall and they seemed to be interested, but nothing developed. I asked the local quilt shop owner, but once again, nothing developed. Ultimately, I figured that if I really wanted this half-square triangle exchange to come to fruition I would have to stop talking about it and start doing something about it. After all, it was me that really wanted this half-square triangle exchange to take place. If I do remember correctly, in my very first blog post, I did state that I wanted to be more accountable and ultimately more productive this year. I think this exchange will be a good step in that direction.
Therefore, I am organizing a local half-square triangle exchange.
I live in a small town and our guild has less than 30 members so trying to drum up interest has proven quite difficult. Let me put it this way, when your own mother makes an attempt to bail on you (after enthusiastically agreeing to participate just last month) the exchange's future is not looking very prosperous.

I really want this exchange to be successful, so I started thinking, where can I find interested quilters who love block exchanges. Of course, the internet!!! And where better than Blogland to get the word out there.
I have met so many wonderful quilters through different quilting forums, the internet has made my quilting community so much bigger and better. It is fabulous getting to know other like minded individuals, and the internet has provided me that opportunity.

Therefore, I would like to extend an invitation to any interested quilters in Blogland to join in my half-square triangle exchange. HST Exchange for short.
In honour of Valentine's Day we will be making Red and Cream 2 1/2" unfinished half square triangles using half-square triangle paper.

Normally, I use Brenda Henning's Triangulation 2.0 program to make my own half-square triangles and I highly recommend the program. It is the only way to ensure a large amount of accurate half-square triangles in a relatively small amount of time. In my quest for perfection in my own piecing I have spent far too much time unstitching. I have never had to unstitch my work when using this method. That alone is worth more than I can possibly convey in words. After all I believe that most quilters are far too busy to spend their precious time unstitching, we all prefer to spend our time being productive and enjoying our quilting. If quilting becomes a chore, it loses it's magic.
Here is a link to a video on youtube demonstrating Triangulations half-square triangle papers:

The Triangulations program I have does both half-square tiangles in sizes 1/2" to 7 1/2" and quarter-square triangles in sizes 3/4" to 7 1/2" in 1/8" increments.
However, I was on Brenda's website yesterday and saw that she has a new Triangulation 3.0 program available that includes flying geese along with the half-square and quarter-square triangles. Too cool, that Brenda is definitely one smart cookie!

Here is the link to the program on Brenda's website:

Since Triangulations it is a liscenced program I do not believe that I have the right to distribute her papers to the half-square triangle exchange participants; therefore, I will be drafting my own half-square triangle papers so that we will not break any copyright laws.

I stitched out a few test pages in order to write the directions for the HST exchange participants and would like to share a few of my own favourite tips & techniques for easy accurate results:
  1. I always use Magic Sizing to stabilize my fabrics especially after they have been washed!! If the fabric seems to have less body than usual I will also use a bit of starch to give it more body and stability.
  2. I always tear my fabric to ensure it is on grain then I use a quick spray of Magic Sizing and a burst of steam along with a quick press to stabilize the rippled edge.
  3. The actual required finished size of the 12 half-square triangles is 5 3/4"x8 5/8" but you definitely need to give yourself enough extra fabric in each direction to allow for proper alignment I cut pieces that were 6 1/4" x 9" with that I had very little waste. However, you can definitely be more generous with your cuts if that makes you more comfortable. 
  4. I tore my fabric into 9" strips then cut those strips into 6 1/4"x9" units 
  5. Because the outside edges of the triangle paper will be cut off and discarded I did not even cut off the torn edge of fabric
  6. Remember to put the light fabric against the paper, as that will assist you in pressing the units open later 
  7. I like to use really low tack (inexpensive) painter's tape to hold the fabric in place on the paper rather than pins. Pins distort, and the tape does not. I have tried using staples in the past and they work also, but the painter's tape is much easier to remove.
  8. A short stitch length of 1.5 on my sewing machine made easy paper perforation and paper removal.
  9. I sewed on the line using my stitch in the ditch foot (on my Bernina it is foot #5) or on my Janome I used my Accufeed stitch in the ditch foot.
  10. You can aggressively finger press the opening with your thumbnail or a wooden pressing tool. Do not iron with the paper on! The seam will be automatically pressed to the darker fabric if you placed the lighter fabric against the paper.
  11. Once the units are finger pressed open you can remove the papers by securely holding the seam allowance with your finger and thumb to stabilize the seam tug the paper off from the center so you do not dislodge the edge stitches.
  12. I give the units a press with my steam iron and a little magic Sizing to stabilize the raw edges.
I timed myself when I was sewing the triangle papers and it took less than 5 minutes to complete each page of 12 units, and I am by no means a speedy piecer. So you can see that this method makes quick work of turning out accurate half-square units.

Hope you find this information helpful,


1 comment:

  1. Hello Lisa, just checking you out via Elyte. Good luck with your new blog. I shall look forward to seeing what you get up to.