Big Fun Mystery Sew Along: Month Eight

April 17, 2021
We’re keeping things simple this month with some basic blocks made from half-square triangles. This will be the last month of block-based instructions for our Big Fun Mystery Sew Along, and then we’ll focus on how to pull together all the individual parts and pieces we’ve created. The blocks below could be a quick and easy way to fill empty spaces or add a border to your design. Scale them up or down as needed, and use them to add some basic (or bold) geometry to your mystery quilt.
If, like me, you have a bunch of blocks made, but no clear idea of how to combine them into a cohesive quilt, then, well, we can dive into that challenge together in the next couple of months. I definitely see a cohesion and unity to the blocks I’ve made when I lay them out or put them up on my design wall. There’s a similarity in scale, and the fabric colors and prints hold them together as well. I’m exited to start thinking about them more as a whole. 
In the coming two months or so we’ll provide guidance for thinking about what to add (and maybe what to take away); how to settle on a design direction; and how to fill in any gaps. If you already have a plan, that’s fantastic — you’re ahead of the game. Whether your design path is direct or meandering, we hope you can use one or more of this month’s HST-based blocks to continue the journey of your mystery quilt. And, as always, we hope you’re having fun and enjoying the process.
Looking for past months’ instructions? Here are links to all of the “back issues”:
Share your work and your process on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #chicagomqgsewalong and #BFMSAL. And/or use them to follow along and see what others are creating.

MONTH 8 BLOCKS: Variations with Half-Square Triangles

Four hourglass blocks (left); triangles variation #1 (center); triangles variation #2 (right)

Notes about the Hourglass blocks:

If you continue on from the Half Square Triangle (HST) blocks from Month Six you can create hourglass blocks. The instructions here start with 5-1/5” squares of fabric, but you can make them bigger or smaller. Starting with 5-1/2” squares, you end up with 4-1/2″ blocks (4” finished). If you’re a super precise sewer, these could be trimmed to 4-3/4″ unfinished, but trimming the blocks to 4-1/2” gives you some wiggle room. Bill likes to trim to 4-1/2″ using the rulers he has.

You could make an entire quilt from these blocks, but they also work well for borders.

Hourglass cutting instructions:

From Red fabric: Cut (1) 5.5”x5.5″ square
From White fabric: Cut (1) 5.5″x5.5″ square

Hourglass piecing instructions:

1. Mark a diagonal line on the wrong side of the lighter fabric square.

2. Stack the two squares and sew a seam ¼” from the marked line, repeat on the other side.  Press and and then cut along the drawn line.

3. Open up each HST, pressing the seams towards the dark fabric. Tip: If you start with the dark fabric on top, this happens without thinking about it.

4. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of one of the HST blocks perpendicular to the sewn seam. Then stack the two HSTs so the seams nest. and sew two seams 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line like before.

5. Sew two seams 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line like before. Press, cut along the drawn line and open the blocks. Now you can twirl or spin the seams. Depending on your stitch length and thread they may open up easily or you may have to use a seam ripper to unsew a stitch or two. Manipulate the seam allowances so they all “rotate” around the block in one direction and coax the center open like a flower. One will go clockwise, the other block will be counter clockwise.

5. Press the blocks well, using a bit of starch if needed, and square them up to 4-1/2″. Make more as needed.

Notes about the Triangles Variation blocks:
Each of these blocks are made of four half-square triangles. I made four sets of two-at-a-time HSTs, each in a different set of colors (all of them using a saturated foreground color with a neutral background. Then I combined each set of four as shown below to make the two variations.

I started with 6″ squares, then trimmed each HST to 5-1/5″. This results in 10″ finished blocks (10-1/2″ unfinished) when the four HSTs are pieced together. You can, of course, size them bigger or smaller according to what works for your design.

Become a new Chicago Modern Quilt Guild member

Photo: Triangles quilt by Erika Mulvenna