Quarter-Square Triangle (QST) Tutorial

While waiting for enough dark clothes to prewash the additional brown fabric (at $1.50/load, one doesn’t do partial loads), I thought I’d write a tutorial. I’ve seen quite a few tutorials for Half-Square Triangles (HSTs), but I’ve not seen any for QSTs as I learned to make them. So I took photos.

Caution: Before you use this method, analyze your pattern to see if it will work for you because each pair of squares makes two opposite QST parts. It works fine for Hour glass type patterns, as below.

hour glass type

It does not work for star type which requires four QSTs going the same direction, with one exception–shown below.

Stars showing revcersal

The exception is to make half of the stars going each way when a plan allows for it. (BTW, I’d not use these colors for a star,but they are what I had prepared for London Roads, and they make the point.)  Note, you have to turn the large triangle as well as the smaller ones. Otherwise you get this hodge podge (or hotch potch, if you are from another part of the country) shown below.

wrong layout

The benefit of this method?  One of the two diagonal seams gets sewn before it is cut, lessening the potential for bias distortion.

OK, you have decided you can use this method.

Those of you familiar with making two HSTs from two squares will note similarities; however, there are three significant differences: the measurement, the first cut, and the trimming.

First difference, the measurement. Start out cutting the squares 1 3/8 inches larger than the desired FINISHED measurement. That allows an extra 1/8 wiggle room for squaring up later–cut 1 1/4 only if your quarter inch seams are perfect. (I’ve known some who scorned the wiggle room, but I felt better about my need to trim when Sally Collins–of Mastering Precision Piecing–also recommended the extra 1/8 inch.) My goal is 5-inch (finished) squares so I cut 6 3/8 inch squares.

Mark one diagonal line. A see through ruler helps to keep the line at the corners.

Stitch 1/4 inch on each side of the line.

(As aside here. I’ve seen this tool, Clearly Perfect Angles by NewLeaf, for stitching without marking; it would be quite a time saver. Has anyone tried it? What do you think?)

Second difference, the first cut.

QST first cut

Here you can see the drawn line and two seams. (My apologies for the reflection of my ceiling light–I’ll replace the photo when I get one without the circle!) Your first cut is perpendicular to the seam, as shown above .

The second cut is on the pencil line, shown below.

second cutIf you are feeling very brave, you can line up two at once or even stack two. I do mine individually. (BTW, the tape over the “Creative Grid” label is where I write my initials when I am sewing in a group and we might get rulers mixed up. I figure I already can’t see at that spot, so it is a good place for tape. I’m not hiding the label. I like the rulers.)

Next  press the seams. I press to the darker fabric so that I can nest the seam allowances and match the center seam when sewing the next seam. No harm in pressing open and securing the match whatever way is comfortable for you.

QSTs pressed

As I said at the beginning, half have the dark to the right and half to the left.

To make the hour glass square, take two that go the same direction and place them opposite each other. As below.

QST block

Seam and press. Now the square is ready to trim, the third difference from HST construction.

Note the diagonal marked on the square ruler.

diagonal on ruler

There are varieties of square ruler, and many have this line. You need it for this trim (as you do for HST trim).

Below is the positioning.

Ruler position for trimming

Whereas for the HST you need only have the diagonal on the seam and to be sure your piece extends beyond your desired measurement, for the QST you need to center the point where all four meet AND be sure the piece extends.

My goal for a finished square is 5 inches, so I will trim to 5 1/2 to allow for seams. Place the ruler so that the diagonal follows one seam line and the four corners show the 5 1/2 mark on the seam line (as above). The center falls at 2 3/4. You could just go by the math (half of the 5 1/2 you are cutting), but I like to check the corners too for an extra check.

Trim two sides. Turn, place the ruler on the other diagonal and trim the last two sides.

The QSTs are ready to assemble into whatever block/pattern you desire–mine will end up in the London Roads quilt, probably next week.

I’ll be linking with tips and tutorials on Tuesday. Button in sidebar.


Filed under quilting

Colors, Winning, and Stashing

I haven’t kept count so I can’t calculate the odds, but I’ve commented (and jumped through other hoops) on many a give-away. Well, blow me away, I finally won one! The give-away was at Susan’s Desertsky blog back in early May. Having more restraint than usual, I didn’t shop with my coupon till last week; I wanted to wait till I had an idea. And after my trip through eastern Washington on the way to Wisconsin, I had the beginnings of a color plan from the high desert.

So  a few color palette exercises later, and I was off to the Dakota Cabin site to order from their selection of Moda Bella Solids. No suspense, here are the fabrics I chose.

fabric selection

The top one, peach, appeared on several of my palette exercises; the other three just looked like what I thought I was seeing. I’ll have to keep shopping for the in-between values, but that will keep till I have a better idea of what I want to do.

Here are a couple more color palettes from my travel photos.

first palette

This one gave me a nice selection of the peachy hues. The darks are the inside of the train–not really part of the scene. But I almost always like at least a wee bit of dark, so I kept them.

I tried this one for more greens.

palette trying for greens

I see so much green here, so many tints, tones, and shades. Yet when I move the circle to try to capture one of them, the color is often a variation of brown/peach. I’m thinking I need a close up with a larger area of each green; otherwise it seems the color selected is some sort of composite.  At least I have a start. (I’ll just have to do a repeat trip. :-)    )

Back when I started to play with Palette Builder, I tried to remember who had led me to it. I’d saved the URL, but not the blogger who introduced me.  Today when I read this color inspiration post, I figured Kitty Wilkin of Night Quilter must have been my source. Palette Builder is a great toy, though I’d not rely on it fully for color decisions.

Linking with Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash


Filed under design, quilting

London Roads x 3 and an Oops

The sketch from several days ago has become three blocks. First the block like the one in my 1980s Sampler.

London Roads

15 1/2 x 15 1/2

This block amused me so much with its dead ends. And it may be named “London,” but it could be any city with one way streets.  I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has driven in a strange city and found  intersections of one way streets forcing me to go a different direction than I had intended.(I don’t recall the dead-end problem, though.) ETA: I do remember one time when I was an hour late because a freeway had been built in Baltimore. I was visiting after a few years; I had refused directions because I  “knew” how to get there; I could see the house across the freeway. I passed the same man mowing his lawn several times. He kept trying to tell me how to get across, but I kept missing one of the turns.

I found this block in copies I had made of an old catalog. In the 70s we didn’t have all the pattern books that are available now. We had books that taught how to draft patterns and The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt by Carrie Hall, who had set out to make a block from every pattern she knew. Between the two, I could make many blocks. I also had thumbnail size diagrams in catalogs I’d copied–one was dated 1900. But it was the only title page I had copied.  I copied pages from three different catalogs as blocks appealed to me. We could get photocopies at the library (no Kinkos yet) for a quarter per page,so at that rate, one skipped title pages. (That was before I was interested in quilt history.) I don’t remember if any of the companies of the catalogs were still in existence, but I doubt it. If the were, I think the quilters who shared them would have told how to order a new copy. Quilters kept old catalogs for reference. The “London Roads” block came from one of those dateless, titleless catalogs.

When I got Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, I looked to see if I could get more information. She listed two blocks named “London Roads,” but neither was exactly like mine. This one was close.


It had one less dead end than the one I’d made before.  Brackman identifies blocks by number, and this one is 1677b. Its source was the Ladies Art Company of St Louis. LAC numbered their blocks, and the numbers convey the dates patterns were available. This block was #238, which means it was in the 1895 catalog. Brackman identifies LAC as the first mail-order quilt pattern company, in business till the 70s.

Here is Brackman’s second London Roads.


This “London Roads” is attributed to “Nancy Page,” a syndicated quilter’s column  written by Florence LaGanke Harris from 1928-1940s. (The block also appeared in LAC as “Mosaic,” #336 in the 1897 catalog.) Brackman notes that “Page” gave it with an all over setting. One wonders if “Page” renamed “Mosaic,” reworked the old “London Roads,” missing the old joke and seeking to be more logical, or if she created what she thought was a new block that reminded her of traffic circles.

It is a two color block, but I added the third because I didn’t like the arrow completely disappearing into the background. Keeping the value the same seemed enough of a nod to tradition.

So those are the three blocks–I plan to make 8 from those three designs, alternating them with the building fabric; each block is 15 1/2 inchs square.

And the Oops.

Like you, I know that one should make one block before cutting everything. Although it is given as a way to test if a pattern is correct, it makes sense to do it when working from one’s own math (especially my math). But I was in a hurry and didn’t this time. So the three-bar square that forms the shafts of the arrows ended up 4 1/2 inches one way instead of 5 1/2 inches square. Since the shafts really needed to be centered, I added 1-inch strips to each side.  (I guess I could have trimmed everything and ended up with a 12-inch block. But I wanted 15.) So not only do I have to make a bunch of strips before I continue making blocks, I’ll have to buy more brown (or improvise).

Maybe the message is that I should be binding that other quilt.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday.


Filed under design, quilting

Blocks, Binding, and a New Start–London Roads

It has been a while since I made lotto blocks for Sunshine (link in sidebar).  June’s colors are pink and green, and I had some.

lotto blocks

12 1/2 x 12 1/2

We turn in a pair of blocks, one goes to Sunshine charity quilts and one to the “pot.”  Every pair is an entry, so someone wins a bunch. Sometimes I get my block back that way. I always think I’ll experiment with interesting patterns, but I always end up in a hurry and do one of my default blocks, like this Friendship Star.This time the decision was helped by the amount of fabric. I used up the pink. It is about time. I used it in the 70s in a log cabin quilt (link here if you want to check it out). Almost vintage fabric.

And I made two heart hugs.

Heart hug blocks

6 1/2 x 6 1/2

it is a tradition in several guilds to make heart blocks for people who are sick or who have had a loss. This is my favorite heart pattern. The “bonus” triangles will become leaders and enders and eventually be a tiny pinwheel. I’ll save them for the mini sampler that I intend to make someday.

And Salt Water Taffy is now quilted, thanks to a friend with a longarm.

showing quilting

The flowing pantograph goes so well with the prints on the fabrics. And the binding is all ready to apply.

Binding made

No excuse to not get it finished, right? Wrong. Starting a new project is more fun than finishing an old one.

I’ve been sketching. And measuring. And calculating yardage needed.Sketch

A long time ago I made a sampler and included a block called London Roads (the upper center one in the sketch). Link here; the block is second row up and second from left. I was always amused by the implication of dead ends and one way streets going the wrong way and intended to return to it. I’ve since found two other versions of the block and plan this bunk quilt using all three. (I’ll be getting a head start on next summer’s guild push for bunk quilts.)

I’ve picked out the fabric.

Fabric pull

The print is a little small for the 15 x 15 squares that it will become; however, I liked the idea of buildings to go with the roads block. To be continued.

Linking with Let’s Bee Social and WIP Wednesday; always fun to check in on everyone’s progress.


Filed under design, quilting

Back in the Quiltmaking Groove–Waking up Butterfly Outtakes and Leaders-and-Enders

It takes a while to shift from vacation mode to ordinary life mode and on to quilting mode. What easier way to do the latter than to grab a project that is almost finished. Butterfly Outtake is a true example of “out of sight, out of mind.” It has been dormant since 2012-13. I don’t even remember why I put it away when it was so close to finished. (Previous posts: started here , progress here and here.)

I will admit to getting a push from Le Challenge, where the month’s theme was “single.” My first thought was “Single Girl”; I chuckle every time I see that comment on Double Wedding Ring. But I knew I didn’t have time to do a whole top. So I went for a single shape, right triangles. So linking with Le Challenge.

I thought I had had a plan, one more border to add and the top would be finished. So it wasn’t indecision that put it away. Maybe company. Or a project with a due date. At any rate, I’m glad I’d not finished it.  I no longer liked the border plan. I auditioned multiple fabrics before deciding on the two inner borders. I should have taken photos along the way, but I was too busy pulling, looking, and pulling some more. And I knew I didn’t have time to ask for and wait for advice.

So here is the finished top. The block is called Flock of Geese. The small HSTs are 1 1/4 inch.

Finished top

43 x 43

The pattern section ended up 21 x 21, and I want a baby quilt or lap quilt 42 x 42. I’d been concerned that a 10 inch border would overpower the 21 inch pattern part. I think that was why I’d not considered accent inner borders earlier. But the quilt seemed to want them.  All the fabrics had some bit of cranberry in the prints, so that one was easy. But what next?

I tried pinks and blues and greens that looked good with the Flock of Geese blocks; however, the overall look wasn’t right. I need to work on color theory–I can usually tell when something is not working, but don’t know enough to know what it needs to make it work. At any rate, I found the almost-tan batik, auditioned it and liked it. The paisley had been in the plan all along. I’m thinking the paisley reads more tan than I had realized, and that is why this combination works. The aqua in the upper left corner is what I’ll use for binding. I’ll need to piece a backing–fabric is only 42 inches wide, and some is lost in selvedge.

The HSTs were leaders and enders way back when. But I have current ones going too. However, sewing borders doesn’t make the pile grow much; here is all I produced this week.

Short stack of leaders and enders

Over the last couple of months, the pile has seen one more round, and most are pressed.


Those on the left have their fourth side sewn, need pressed; the middle stack needs the fourth side, and the right hand stack is pinned and waiting for the third side to be sewn. I am resisting a quick finish because if I did, I’d have to prepare a new leader and ender project. And for this one, once I get all four sides sewn, I’ll still need to be cutting triangles for each side. So this project will keep me out of trouble for quite a while. (Backward history begins here.) (I link back both for new viewers who may be interested in beginnings and for myself so I can find the various stage posts when I need them.)

Linking with Leaders and Enders on Tuesday. Check up on others’ progress.


Filed under design, quilting

Color Play Again

As I mentioned before, these photos are not art. :-) There is no way I can do composition with my camera from a moving train window.  But it was the color–mostly of the high dessert sage, but also grass and olive trees and pinkish ground–wet and dry terrainthat fascinated me, after all.  So I tried, using PlayCrafts’ palette builder 2.1.

Here the green of the wet area blended with the green of the dry area, perhaps because it was natural.  I remember a previous trip where the bright green of irrigated crops clashed. You can see I learned from comments on a previous post that I can add colors and force different colors than the program defaults to. AND I saw the box to click to get the list of Moda fabrics.

I’m happy with those capabilities. However, if I move the dot I lose the color it originally marked. Some I don’t mind losing. Others I do.  I’m thinking I’ll solve that with multiple color selections.  One reason I need to move the dot is that I saw a greater variety of greens and peaches and tans than I have been able to capture. However, on the photo they are so close together that I am getting fabrics for blends instead of varieties. That would be fine if I were doing a landscape.

I don’t plan a landscape, but something abstract. Actually I have no design to go with the colors yet. I don’t even know if I want to emphasize green or peach. So for the time being, off to try other photos, enlargements, and selections of colors.

If all else fails, I’ll work from memory.

Linking with Creative Goodness, where most people have progressed to actual sewing. You might like to explore and get some inspiration of your own.


Filed under design, quilting

Excursions With Logan

We took four excursions during my WI stay, three with Logan: Sherry-Butt houseBranches winery, Effigy Mounds, and Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

Although we got a few drops of rain on Sunday, it was mostly sunny. Logan patiently (relatively) waited while we sampled the local wines and bought one. Then he got to run and play. And work the crowd.

in the dandeions

With all those dandelions they should make dandelion wine, but it wasn’t one of the choices.  When the rain started he ran up to the patio where we were relaxing. There he greeted people at two tables repeatedly as only a two-year-old can. And he’d go to the door of the winery and wave at the customers waiting to taste.

at the winery

Maybe he is in training to be a salesman or politician. The rain didn’t last or get the grass too wet to play in so it was back to dandelions.

Memorial Day was rainy, but we had an inside back-up plan, the historic Sherry-Butt house.  Luckily it opened for the season on Memorial Day. Old furnishings and gadgets are fun to look at. On this tour we learned the origin of “sleep tight don’t let the bed bugs bite.”  Ropes instead of springs needed to be tight to provide a comfortable night’s sleep; mattresses made of straw could easily have bed bugs in them. I didn’t have my camera with me, but there are a few shots at the link as well as information about Jane of Vernon County. This didn’t seem to be a Logan thing, so he stayed home and napped.

Effigy Mounds are near (1 1/2 hour drive) in Iowa. I’ve had a fascination with the Mound Builder prehistoric culture since living in Ohio and seeing Serpent Mound. Most of the mounds are conical or rectangular; the animal shaped ones seem more special.  At Effigy most animal mounds are bears, but there are a couple birds. And lots of Conical, Linear and mixed. They are on the top of a ridge along the Mississippi–a memorial meant to last needs to be out of flood danger. So the trail began with a 400 foot elevation.  After that it leveled out.

logan in back pack

Traveling in style

This is the way to do elevation. And maybe the rest of the hike. Always be prepared.

At Little Bear mound

The photo is by the sign because otherwise it looks like more grass. One would have to be in a helicopter to really see the shape.  It is outlined with a couple rows of stones to help visualize the bear. We declared the 3-mile hike enough; to see more bears and the birds would have taken four more miles. The drive home was perfect for nap time.

The next Sunday was sunny, so we headed out to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. The land had been purchased for a dam that had been abandoned; it was turned into preservation/recreation land. We hiked on what had been old State Route 131. Nice and easy and level.

walking a level path

So Logan started out walking and exploring. Only at the end did he need the stroller.  It was not a loop, so we had to figure out when we were half tired.  After the walk, we ate a picnic.

Logan and sandwich

Nothing quite like PB and J. But it does make one thirsty.


In between excursions was more book reading, CD listening (favorite of the day was Simon and Garfunkel–Logan knows which is which, even in an old one where Simon has long hair and mustache), and library story times..

I’m home now after having enjoyed most of a 42 hour train ride.  My photos through train windows are not worth sharing; however, some will do for quilt color inspiration.

Soon to be returned to regular quilt programing.


Filed under family