Friday, December 15, 2017

Skill Builder 2017-18 - HST Star blocks by Stephanie Baldwin

Moving on from the square and strip based blocks, we are now moving on to the Half-Square Triangle (or HST) based blocks! This month we will be exploring HST Star Blocks:

Summer Star quilt by Craft Paper Scissors

The HST block is incredibly simple to produce and is the basis of a huge variety of different designs. They can be used as a stand-alone block, such as Izzy's HST quilt:
HST Quilt by Izzy

Or to make up blocks that form a larger design:
Comma Comet by Janet Gannon

I really love HST star blocks... there is so much variety and flexibility in them. They can be simple or complex, imperfect or precise, and the result they give is somehow both whimsical and geometric. They lend themselves well to asymmetry, minimalism, scale, abstraction, alternative gridwork, improvisation, negative space, etc.

So! How do you make an HST block? Being such a basic component in many quilt designs, there are plenty of tutorials out there on the interwebs for you to use:

Blossom Heart Quilts - 2 and 4 HSTs at a time methods
Blossom Heart Quilts - HST strip method
Missouri Star Quilt Co - Magic 8 method (as part of an HST quilt tutorial)

Be aware that most of the methods for making HSTs involve sewing and cutting on the bias (diagonally across the grain of the fabric), which means that as you sew, cut and press the blocks they will be stretched or warped slightly out of shape. Now, if you're doing wonky stars or going for an improv/ruler-free look, then no worries! If you want straight lines and matching seams, then you will need to square up your HSTs before moving on to the next step of your pattern. In this case, I strongly recommend that you cut your squares slightly larger than you need them to be so that you have some wiggle room to trim down and square up the HSTs.

For example, to make a 12.5" block, I would cut my squares as follows:
2x2 block = four 7" squares
3x3 block = nine 5" squares
4x4 block = sixteen 4" squares

Once you have your HSTs done (squared or not), you can then move on to constructing your star block. You can follow a pattern or design it yourself... for these kinds of blocks I find a design board/wall to be especially helpful as it allows you to move blocks around and try different combinations.

Now, on to some examples to get your creative juices going. As we move along through these traditional blocks, there will be lots of opportunities to use multiple blocks at a time:

Star, Rail Fence and 9 patch block: 
Inverted Stars by crossquilt

There is a great Missouri Star Quilt Co tutorial on making Rail Fence Star blocks.

HST Star and Log Cabin: 
Log Cabin Star by Cluck Cluck Sew

Wonky stars (using improv): 
Wonky Stars by The Running Thimble

Fussy-cut Star by Freshly Pieced

Scrappy Rainbow Star by Happy Quilting

HST Stars are also great for creating secondary designs: 
Moroccan Lanterns by Freshly Pieced

HST Stars can be large scale... 
New Star Rising by Huntspatch Quilts

Or they can be small scale... 
Epic HST block by Coriander Quilts

And you can even play around with the positive and negative space: 
Positive and Negative stars by Gen X Quilters

This is, of course, just a small sample of the possibilities. If you'd like some more ideas, check out our Pinterest board:

Now it's your turn to create a modern take on the HST star block! We would love to see what you make, so please share your blocks on Facebook or Instagram, and feel free to tag us and/or use the hashtags: #mtlmqgskills  or  #mtlmqgskillbuilder

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