Welcome to Week 4 of the Voyage Quilt Sew Along! This week is all about a block that may feel new and intimidating to many quilters who have joined us on this journey. We’re talking all about half rectangle triangles!
Before we dive into this week’s best tips and tricks for making easy and accurate HRTs, I want to cheer you on! You can do this. As one of our Voyage quilt pals on Instagram said, “HRTs don’t HuRT!” With a little patience and concentration, you can breeze through this week, because we are only making 16 HRT blocks for the throw size.
This also means that if you weren’t able to complete the Herculean task of making 296 half square triangles during Week 3, you’ll have plenty of time to keep working on them this week. And by the start of Week 5 you’ll be ready to make your Voyage blocks!
For details on how this sew along works, check out the Voyage Quilt Sew Along introduction post here, and don’t forget to join me on Wednesday at 7:30pm Central for a live video on Instagram where I’ll go over all of these tips and answer as many questions as I can.
Voyage Quilt Sew Along Schedule
- Week 1, March 31: Pick fabric and gather supplies
- Week 2, April 7: Cut fabric
- Week 3, April 14: Make HSTs - video tutorial
- Week 4, April 21: Make HRTs and finish HST overflow if more time is needed - video tutorial
- Week 5, April 28: Chain piece blocks together - video tutorial
- Week 6, May 5: Assemble blocks
- Week 7, May 12: Sew blocks into rows to make the finished quilt top; discuss quilting ideas
Week 4 Assignment: Make Half Rectangle Triangles
This week’s assignment is to sew, press, and trim your Voyage quilt HRTs. You’ll learn that HRTs really don’t HuRT and make all of your half rectangle triangles with confidence. Read on to become a fearless HRT maker!
Most importantly, you'll see pictures of every single step of making your HRTs in this post, which means that while you're working, you can use this blog post as a guide. Stop before each step and make sure you've read the instructions and looked at these pictures, and that way your HRTs should turn out perfectly.
Tip #1: Make a Test Block
I know, this was our first tip last week. But it’s equally important this week! In fact, you may want to use scraps to make your HRT test block because if there are any mistakes, your HRT may not be usable. Don’t let that scare you! It just means that HRTs require a little more concentration than other blocks.
Before you make your test block, and before you read the rest of these tips, watch this video Suzy made showing you exactly how to make HRTs.
Tip #2: Follow the Diagrams and Read all Instructions
In our post about how to read a quilt pattern, we recommend reading the entire pattern before you start making any quilt. HRTs are a great example of why that's important. Half rectangle triangles are not as common as HSTs or other quilt blocks. Because they're practiced less often, they can cause some confusion.
You can eliminate that confusion by reading all the instructions and looking at the diagrams before starting. Having a road maps laid out for you will help!
Because rectangles have such different height and length dimensions, it's very important that you follow each instruction and diagram precisely to make your HRT correctly. The first HRT diagram is Figure 1, the very first one in the pattern! This is the most important diagram because if you don't follow it, your HRT will come out wrong (more on that in the next tip).
Figure 1 shows you how to slice your rectangles in half to prepare for making them into HRTs. Each rectangle should be cut the exact same way, with the right side up, and the cut moving from the lower right corner to the upper left corner. You can see an example in the picture above and on page 4 of your pattern.
The rest of your HRT diagrams and instructions are on page 6. You can use the pictures in this post as a guide to make sure your HRTs are made correctly, but this is not a replacement for the excellent instructions in the pattern, so make sure to read those. The diagrams on page 6 (Figures 7-11) are also very helpful!
Figure 7 shows how your triangles should be laid out before sewing them together, and Figure 8 shows how they should be overlapped before sewing with the background fabric on top and offset by a quarter inch at the top and bottom. You can see how that looks in the picture above.
Here's what your HRT should look like after you've sewn the seam, but before pressing and trimming. After you've sewn the two triangles together correctly, press open to the darker side. You can find my pressing tips here! Following these diagrams and orienting your cuts and triangles the correct way is very important. Read Tip #3 to find out why!
Tip #3: There is a Wrong Way to Make HRTs
Because HRTs are not symmetric, meaning if you fold your HRT in half the two sides will look different, it is possible to make them incorrectly. The picture above shows one correctly made HRT, exactly following all of the diagrams, instructions, and video for making HRTs in the Voyage quilt. It also shows an incorrectly made HRT.
The incorrect HRT is the result of slicing the rectangles backwards, going from the bottom left corner to the upper right corner, instead of following the instructions in Figure 1. The result is an HRT that you would have to turn upside down, with the right side facing down, to match the correct one. There is no way to turn this HRT and get it to match the correctly made HRT, so you would not be able to use it in the Voyage quilt.
Make sure that your fabric is always oriented the way it is shown in the pattern to avoid frustration!
If you already cut your fabric and accidentally cut all of your foreground and background rectangles the wrong way, you can still use those HRTs! Your HRTs will just be mirror versions of how they look in the pattern. The bigger issue is if you cut only some backwards and have some HRTs going in different directions. If that's the case, you may want to re-cut them.
Tip #4: Adjust Your Ruler
Trimming HRTs is different than trimming down most blocks. That's because of the angle across your HRT. For the Voyage quilt, Suzy recommends adjusting your ruler to help you trim them down correctly. And it works great! You can find instructions for that in Figures 9 and 10 on Page 6, and we will also go over them here.
I adjusted my ruler using washi tape, which is widely available and comes off easily without any residue. But you can use painter's tape or any other easy to remove tape to adjust your ruler. Place one length of tape on the 3.5" line at the top of your ruler, and one length of tape on the 9.5" line on the side of your ruler so the two pieces of tape are perpendicular. This will become the finished size of your trimmed HRT.
Using a permanent marker, make a small dot a quarter inch in from the top left and bottom right corners of your tape rectangle. You can see both the tape and dots in the picture above. These dots give you the quarter inch seam allowance you'll need at the ends of your HRTs.
Once your ruler is adjusted, you're ready to start trimming!
Tip #5: Work Slowly While Trimming
When you're making HRTs, consider your sewing space a no Netflix zone! These blocks require concentration and focus to make sure they are being trimmed correctly. Let's walk through the steps!
To start, line the seam of your HRT up so that it is touching each dot on the ruler. The HRT will be at a strange angle, and you can see that in the picture above. The two pictures below show what the seam of the HRT should look like aligned with the dots.
Make sure that you can see fabric underneath both sides of the tape. You may need to adjust where your ruler is laying on your HRT to make sure you can't see any part of the cutting mat near the tape lines.
Trim the two exposed sides of your HRT, as shown in the picture below.
Rotate your HRT and align the trimmed sides with the edges of your tape, as shown in the picture below.
Trim the last two sides, as you can see below.
Now you're done! You should have a neatly trimmed half rectangle triangle that has a quarter inch seam allowance on both sides.
Once you've made all 16 of your half rectangle triangles, you now have all the components of your Voyage quilt ready! Next week, we'll start making our blocks, and we have a quick and easy chain piecing technique that I can't wait to show you!
Do you have questions about cutting, supplies, fabric, or anything Voyage quilt related? There are multiple places for you to ask them!
Voyage Quilt Sew Along Book of the Week
Don’t tell the other books, but I think the Week 4 book is my favorite book of the week! This week’s book is a beautiful brand new children’s picture book called I Sang You Down from the Stars, written by Tasha Spillett-Sumner and illustrated by Michaela Goade.
I chose this book this week for three reasons. First, we are all so excited that Suzy has welcomed a new baby into her family! Second, Michaela Goade is one of my favorite illustrators. And third, a lot of the story is about a quilt!
Written and illustrated by Indigenous creators, I Sang You Down from the Stars is the story of a mother who gathers special gifts to give to her future baby, including a beautiful star quilt. As author Tasha Spillett-Sumner says in a special note at the end of the book, “I Sang You Down from the Stars shines a light on the traditional understanding of my Nation, the Inniniwak, and many other Indigenous peoples globally: that babies choose their parents. It shows the mindful preparation that is involved in getting ready to welcome a baby into a family and a community.”
This book is an excellent gift for any quilter who is expecting a baby or has a young child! I can’t wait to read it with my own daughter when she is older, and I hope she’ll be excited to see illustrations of people making a quilt in this book.
Prize & Sponsor
Our sponsor this week is a Suzy Quilts favorite - Trace Creek Quilting! Many of the quilts you’ve seen on the Suzy Quilts website or Instagram were quilted by Trace Creek Quilting, and they always do an outstanding job. This week, Trace Creek Quilting is giving away free long arming service for up to a queen size quilt!
Even if you aren't the lucky winner of this week's prize, Trace Creek Quilting also has a gift for all our Voyage Quilt Sew Along participants. If you send them your completed Voyage quilt made during this sew along, you’ll get 25% off long arm quilting. Thanks so much to Trace Creek Quilting!
How to Win
- Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post a picture of your HRTs, either in progress or completed. Use #VoyageQuiltSA in the caption. Make sure to use the correct hashtag! Remember that the quilt is called the Voyage Quilt, not the Voyager Quilt.
- You must have a public Instagram profile to participate.
- Each photo posted is an entry and you can enter as many times as you want in a single week. Once the week is over, those posts do not count in the next week's giveaway. Every week we start fresh.
- Your photo must be posted between 12:00 a.m. Central Time on Wednesday, April 21 and 1:00 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
- This prize is open in the United States only.
- The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.