Why Quarter Square Triangle blocks get wonky

I have to admit, I’ve had to massage my brain a little more than I would have wanted this week as the hot summer weather begs me to step outside and enjoy outdoor activities. I tend a small garden right outside my front door, and I haven’t finished settling it the way I planned to since May – this too is a work in progress. But as there are several steps in quilting to finish a quilt, so too are there several steps in gardening. Patience is a virtue for those creative souls who endeavor in beautiful things.

For a couple of weeks now, mom and I had been looking at many books, magazines and websites for ideas on quilting patterns for the baby quilts we’d like to have finished by end of July (stop laughing). In two, it’s double the determination and focus! As I always say, quilting, and as in all of the needle arts, isn’t ever a race, but in this case we’re trying to finish these two quilts in time for baby’s arrival.

I had mom choose the pattern this time and she’s fallen in love with the following quilt block from the creative and very practical book 500 quilt blocks by Lynne Goldsworthy and Kerry Green.

‘500 quilt blocks’ book holds a lot of quilt block possibilities including their variations.

Mom’s chosen quilt block involving Quarter Square Triangles

Having never made Quarter Square Triangles I thought it best to try it using scrap fabrics and work out the kinks from there. If making Half Square Triangles isn’t hard surely making QST should be just as easy.

Using scrap fabric I made my first Quarter Square Triangle. The points match up but the top of the square is a little…off.

A variation of the checkerboard quilt block, this is a 10″ quilt block with a lot more interest, using QSTs.

This quick sample of the quilt block is also a great way to see color-work before it gets sewn up.

The points matched up nicely, but some of my squares aren’t precise squares? I found an excellent Quarter Square Triangles tutorial from Elaine Theriault’s blog post that helped me sort out a little of my newbie mystery. Here are a couple of things I learned about my first samples of QST:

  1. Don’t rush QSTs. This one I realized on my own, as I felt rushed when I was cutting the squares, just something in the air.
  2. Press the HST on the right side to avoid any tuck along the seam! I pressed on the wrong side.
  3. Make sure the ends are well pressed too – will definitely try this as well.
  4. I didn’t start with a 1¼ʺ extra in my square and this would have been useful for squaring up the square in the end including ½ʺ for seams.

We also need to decide which fabric to use for the squares and which should be used for making the QSTs. More thoughts on this next week, with squared up QSTs. Wish me luck!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: A precise Quarter Square Triangle block makes an impeccable quilt

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Jeannie Zimmerman November 8, 2017 - 12:54 pm
Good tips. I love HST quilts and rarely have problems... unless I work too late into the dinner prep time and feel rushed. Thanks for the good tips
Pauline July 17, 2016 - 3:50 pm
Very good article - I also liked the attached tutorial. It seems so simple that to make a QST you just need to sew 4 triangles together but it absolutely is not - not if you want a true square in the end. Adding a little extra to trim down is a good idea, and pressing seems to be really important too. Thanks Pauline
carol n July 13, 2016 - 10:52 am
Very helpful, thanks
Pam July 13, 2016 - 9:11 am
Thanks for the tips! I have a lot of scraps that I've been turning into HST's and some of them look better than others. I will take your advice!
Linda Cartwright July 13, 2016 - 8:12 am
I always have problems with my QST's. I will keep trying, and take my time.
Sarah c July 12, 2016 - 11:04 pm
Great tips thanks for sharing them
Liz Granberg July 12, 2016 - 8:36 pm
QST's are one of the units my beginning quilting students struggle with regularly. My own solution is as you mentioned--slow down, oversize so I can trim down, make sure they are pressed well, and more. Lots of little things that can make these units easier. I look forward to the rest of your series on QST's! I'm also posting to enter for the TruCut give-away. I've been eyeing this system for myself and my young granddaughter. Jordyn is double-jointed, so has trouble keeping the rotary cutter straight with the ruler. This system seems to be a perfect solution as she improves her rotary cutting skills.
Monica July 12, 2016 - 12:56 pm
I love wonky blocks.
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