Welcome to Week Two - The HRT Week
Thank you everyone for joining along! We have over 50+ new Quilt Alongers since this started. Welcome everyone!
It was fun seeing everyone's pulls of fabric and so many beautiful faces on the #siennaburstqal hashtag.
Before we get into this week's things, let's touch base on a few ways to stay involved.
- Be sure you have signed up for the weekly newsletter.
- Make sure you are following the #siennaburstqal hashtag in Instagram and using the hashtag on your related posts. That's how you are entered into the weekly prizes and how other QAL-ers can find you!
- Grab a pattern at the discounted price if you haven't yet.
Week Two is all about cutting your fabric, mixing and matching your fabrics and learning the tricks to the half rectangle triangle (HRT).
Starch, Iron and Cut
- Starch will be your best friend during this QAL. Use your favorite kind or make the homemade version I talk about in the Week 1 Blogpost. I can't stress enough how vital using starch will be when cutting/sewing/trimming your HRT. I recommend starching your FQ or 1/4 yards before cutting them. Give them a good all-over spritz on one side, flip them over and press on the opposite side and let cool.
- Cut your fabrics according to the diagram in the pattern.
Mix and Match FQs or 1/4 yard Fabrics
Mixing and matching the blocks may be my favorite part of this quilt process. Some of you may like knowing that fabric A goes with Fabric B, etc, but really this is all about what you are drawn to. There is no right or wrong in this process for color combinations. All you need is to be sure that each block has different fabrics for each of the 4 main parts of the block: the HSTs, the outside HRTs, the "window bars" and the inside diamond HRTs.
Start with laying out all your HST pieces (large square) and then start adding the (4) outside HRT rectangles (not cut) that you think would be a fun addition to the "burst". Do that for all 16 blocks. Then I add in the "window bars" to each set. Be sure that none of your fabrics are the same. Finally, add in the (2) inside diamond HRT rectangles (not cut) to complete your blocks.
Now sometimes I go back through and look at each block individually and in the big picture. I move around pieces until I am happy with the overall vibe. But remember each block needs the following pieces and should all be different fabrics:
- (1) large HST square
- (4) rectangles - outside HRTs
- (2) long window bars and (2) short window bars
- (2) rectangles - inside diamond HRTs
Now from here, it is up to you how you want to go about cutting and dividing the background fabric. Some people love to work block by block. Some people love to starch, iron and cut all the background pieces all at once and then divide them into their blocks. My only bit of advice is, if you want to cut all at once and divide, be sure you can store the fabrics in a flat non-bent position. Once they are starched, they will hold the shape they are placed in pretty well. If they get all smushed around, you'll have to re-iron them before sewing.
THE HRT TUTORIAL
Before we start, KNOW, it has taken me months and multiple patterns to really hone my HRT sewing/trimming skills. Be patient with yourself. Even other very skilled pattern designers and quilters have struggled with these bad boys. Heck, I still mess them up on the regular. But, if you really slow down, are precise with your cuts, your sewing and follow my trimming guide, you'll be golden! Okay, let's tackle these little boogers!
My example uses 2 prints and 2 solids to make both Angle A and Angle B. My fabrics were starched, ironed and then cut. I highly highly highly suggest doing a couple tests tries on scrap fabric. Seam allowance, accurate cutting and careful handling really can affect how accurate the HRT turn out.
Each pair of fabric will yield two HRT in the same angle. We will end up with a total of 4 HRT, 2 Angle A and 2 Angle B.
I have stacked both fabrics from Angle A on top of each other. You can stack like this or you can cut single pieces. I find cutting 2 at a time speeds up the process just a bit but doesn't cause any shifting in the cut from too much fabric being cut at one time. You will want to make sure your 2.5" x 5" rectangles are lined up nicely and place your ruler (mine is a 6.5" square ruler) from top left to bottom right corners. This is angle A.
Now cut both fabrics along the diagonal angle with the ruler held firm. At this point, your pieces are now cut on the bias which means they can easily stretch and distort if handled roughly. I would NOT cut all of your HRT angles at one time unless you plan on sewing them all together. I would only cut as you go, block by block or chain piece several blocks at one time. This will help eliminate any possible distortion by them being bumped and moved around a lot.
Now you see, you have 2 cut pairs. Pair up your cuts to create your 2 HRT units. It doesn't matter if your solid is the bottom left piece or the top right piece. They are both the same angle, so that placement doesn't matter.
For Angle A you will flip the top right piece over onto the bottom left piece, right sides together. You will sew along the diagonal angle cut. For angle A you will want the bottom left piece to stick out ABOVE the top right piece by 1/4". That also means that the fabric point from the top right piece should extend beyond the bottom left piece of fabric by 1/4".
Here are two photos to show you how tip of the bottom left fabric is extending above the top right fabric by 1/4". I would suggest measuring out a few of your first HRT units to be sure you are getting an accurate 1/4" measurement. Once you feel comfortable, I think you can just eye ball the rest. That is what I do. Also, at this point you can pin these pieces together before sewing if you want. I just line up my several pieces next to my machine all matched up and then sew without pinning. It is personal preference.
Sew the two pieces together using a 1/4" seam allowance. Having an accurate 1/4" seam allowance will make or break this block. Also notice how the 1/4" seam allowance DOES NOT intersect perfectly with the top or bottom of the units. This is okay. You will be trimming these portions off soon.
Now once you have sewn your HRT units together, you will press the seams open. Gently press down, these units are small so the whole foot of the iron should fit on top. Do not push or move the iron around as it can distort the unit. In the photo above, you can see the unit is about 1/8" - 1/4" wider than 2" and roughly 4.5" long now.
Time to Trim
You will trim every single HRT unit to 2" x 3.5".
I trim all of my pieces with my 6.5" square ruler. It has 1/4" dots all along the edges which is super helpful.
The first thing to do is line up your HRT on your cutting mat so the unit is evenly spaced over a 2" gap. In the photo above, you can see that the unit is slightly over the 3" mark (at the bottom of the photo) and then I obviously cut a small part off at the 5" mark (bottom of the photo). Or if you are someone who loves just looking at the ruler, you can tell that the unit was just slightly larger than the 2" space of the ruler.
Now once the unit is lined up, go ahead and trim the right side along whatever 2" marker you are using.
Next, you will rotate your HRT and trim the un-trimmed side. You can see that the first trimmed side lines up perfectly with the 3" mark on my cutting mat and my 2" mark on my ruler.
Now you have a 2" wide unit and it's time to trim the length down to 3.5".
Start by placing your ruler in the upper left corner, aligning the edge of the ruler with the edge of the HRT as shown above.
Slide the ruler down the HRT until the 1/4" dot lines up perfectly with the diagonal angle. My dot is a little faded but you can see it still (look up and to the left of the 6 marker on my ruler). This 1/4" guide is what will make sewing your units together so much easier as your sewn 1/4" seam allowance will make a perfect point.
Being sure to keep your ruler steady and the 1/4" black dot on your diagonal, trim the excess fabric off above the ruler.
Now rotate your HRT unit so your trimmed side is on the bottom and your untrimmed side is on the top. Your unit should now be 2" x roughly 4" and it needs to be 2" x 3.5".
Place the ruler on the top left corner again, lining up the ruler with the edge of the HRT.
Again slide the ruler down the edge of the HRT until the 1/4" black dot in directly on top of the diagonal line. Now, before trimming the excess, be sure your unit will measure 3.5" long. You can see the black dot on the diagonal above AND if you look at the bottom of the ruler, you see that the unit will be 3.5" long.
Once its confirmed your unit will be 3.5" long, trim the excess above. And if you take a look at the bottom right corner, you will see the 1/4" black dot is just slightly off of the diagonal line. I mean, that must be like 1/24" or something extremely small. If I had shifted my unit just a little bit to the left, I bet that dot would be perfectly on the diagonal. Just know, there is a lot of tiny give and take with these units.
And now you have one trimmed HRT unit! You can see it measures 2" x 3.5".
Angle B is basically exactly the same as Angle A except how you lay the cut fabrics on top of each other before sewing. I will show you this process a bit faster but still with photos.
My two Angle B fabrics, 2.5" x 5", starched, ironed and cut.
Stack the two fabrics on top of each other and place your ruler from the bottom left to the top right of the fabrics. This is Angle B.
Cut the fabrics along the angle.
Pair up your fabrics to make these 2 HRTs.
Now for Angle B, you will flip the bottom right fabric on top of the top left fabric, right sides together. The bottom right fabric will not stick out ABOVE the bottom right fabric by 1/4" and the top left fabric will stick out BELOW the bottom right fabric by 1/4".
Above is a detail shot to see that the very tip of the bottom right fabric is exactly 1/4" above the top left fabric. Remember, measure out your first few until you are comfortable and then feel free to eye ball the rest.
Sew 1/4" seam allowance along the diagonal line. Remember, the 1/4" seam will not perfectly intersect with where the fabrics meet. This is okay because they will be trimmed off.
Press the seams open, being sure to not push or distort the fabric. Just firmly press down on the seam.
Trim the unit down on the sides evenly to 2" wide.
Now lining up your ruler along the ride side of the unit, start at the top and slide your ruler down until the 1/4" dot is directly on the diagonal line.
Holding steady, trim the excess fabric off above the ruler.
Flip the HRT unit so the trimmed side is on the bottom and the untrimmed is at the top. Line up your ruler again and side it down along the right side until the 1/4" mark is above the diagonal line.
After confirming the unit will be 3.5" long (look at my ruler above), you can trim off the excess fabric above the ruler.
Now you have a 2" x 3.5" finished HRT for Angle B.
You have now 2 Angle A HRT and 2 Angle B HRT. Congrats!!
- Starch and iron your fabrics before cutting them.
- Precise cuts are essential to getting accurate HRT.
- Do a couple test HRTs with scraps to be sure you are sewing an accurate 1/4" seam allowance.
- Be patient with yourself.
I WILL BE DOING AN INSTAGRAM LIVE ON TUESDAY MARCH 14TH AT 9:30 AM PST. I will save this live to my highlights once it's done so you can watch it yourself. During the live, I will answer any questions people have, hopefully give more clarification if needed and I can demo a HRT for you guys. I know these units can be a bit frustrating for some but I promise once you get the hang of them, it will be a breeze.
FQ fabric: Blueberry Park 3 by Karen Lewis Textiles (ships in May)
Background fabric: Kona White
I have all of my FQs starched, iron, cut and mixed and matched.