Avoiding Half Square Triangles

Half square triangles are an important design element in many quilts. The split value and diagonal line allow a variety of dynamic designs.

This is a Half Square Triangle (HST)

One of my quilt groups has been discussing HSTs because some of us love them and some have limited tolerance for them. It matters because we regularly do block exchanges.

One member recently sent a picture of a beautiful depression block quilt, and that got the discussion going again. A depression block quilt is made entirely of HSTs!

This is a typical block from a Depression Quilt


This is a traditional Depression Block Quilt made entirely with HSTs

Not being much of a rule-follower, I got to speculating about how we might make this quilt using strips instead of HSTs. (Yes, I get that the original idea was to use up small scraps, but what if you just wanted the overall effect without all those HSTs?) My friend Mary B encouraged me to develop this idea, so here we go.

I did a number of experiments with Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8), which produced all the illustrations for this post.  I learned that the most important element in the success of this quilt is contrast between the values (rather than the colors) of the fabrics. (All the illustrations use Fossil Fern fabrics from the EQ8 fabric library.)

I first tried drawing a block that used strips of lights and darks in place of the rows of triangles. This would simplify construction significantly.

Here’s the block:

Depression block effect without the HSTs

And here’s the quilt:

Then I tried a traditional Courthouse Steps block set on point to mimic the depression block effect.

Here’s the block:

And here’s the quilt:

Finally, I changed up the color arrangement in the traditional Courthouse Steps block to provide more variation.

Here’s the block:

And the quilt:

So! I’m not sure my variations are a good substitute for the traditional Depression Block quilt, but it was fun and I do like the quilts. What do you think, Mary B? 

14 thoughts on “Avoiding Half Square Triangles

  1. Love this variation on the half square triangle pattern but especially love the QR code ideas. I am a retired nurse who spent a lot of time in health departments advocating condom use. Thanks for this creative idea!

  2. I do like the new ideas…and the quilts are interesting, and certainly easier than all those HST’s. I am glad you are enjoying your makeshift studio, and your creative juices are flowing. I can see a new swap block idea in the works. Thanks for running with my suggestion…it feels like fun and some future excitement for when we can meet in person…and the fossil fabrics were a great choice. Nicely done!

  3. I (again) think you are very clever. Your design emulates the HST one so closely that one could ask: Why bother with the fiddly business of making those triangles and then making sure that you don’t lose the points in the stitching? Asked and answered — provided that you have the luxury of strips of fabric that you can use.
    Thanks for another great post.
    I had to look up Depression Quilt and was gratified to find that I had correctly guessed that these were made during the Great Depression when fabric was in short supply.

  4. Interesting post! It’s fun to see the variations one can come up with using EQ8, isn’t it? Personally, I still like the look of HSTs, but as I don’t enjoy making them, I don’t often use them in my quilts.

  5. Interesting! I also learned a new tern ” Depression Era Blocks”. I really didn’t know which blocks came out at that time therefore unfamiliar with Depression Era blocks or quilts.

Leave a Reply to Sharon Starr Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.