Thursday, August 27, 2020

Reinventing the wheel (or at least the HRT)

I indulged in a few long afternoons of playing in EQ8 recently.  As usual, what I ended up with bears no resemblance to what I started with. This instance was rather extreme: I was thinking flowers and somehow ended up with a sailboat.  Go figure!

Patchwork quilt block of a sailboat in teal colours
This block design ended up in my Sailing School pattern.  
For a tutorial about HRT, go here.

After I drew it, I printed out the cut sizes the software suggested and happily started cutting and sewing, only to find that my sails were not turning out the size they should.  I suppose I could have winged it and fudged all the other block parts to make it all fit together, but I'm really not an improv kind of quilter.  I can appreciate a well-made improv quilt, but I don't particularly enjoy the process myself.  I like to know what to cut to what size to make things fit in a predetermined way.  So there.

This of course meant that I needed to figure out why things weren't working out. I double- and triple-checked my seam allowance.  I cut more fabric, checking my measurements.  Nope, still not working.  I finally figured out that my problem arose from having to guess how to line up the triangles when I sewed them together. I wasn't hitting the sweet spot.  I thought I knew where to align one piece relative to the seam allowance on the other. I was wrong, though it would have worked if the geometry of that long triangle hadn't messed up the works.

To make a long story short, in a HRT unit, if you want the diagonal seam to reach perfectly from corner to corner, you don't want the seam to be exactly on the diagonal of the unfinished unit.  I drew it out on paper to wrap my mind around it. The paper is cut to the unfinished size of the unit and the drawn rectangle inside is the finished size.  If you extend the line that runs diagonally from corner to corner in the finished size, you see that it does not actually cross the corners of the unfinished unit.

Well, that's a fine how-do-you-do! I know there are rulers out there that take all this into account.  In fact, I have one on my wall that would suit, except that it isn't large enough for the unit I needed.  Also, the quilt design I have in mind uses just a few boat blocks, and I'd hate to ask folks to buy a specialty ruler for just a few blocks.

I humphed and harrumphed and decided there must be  away to make these a little larger and cut down to size so alignment wouldn't be such a bother.  I took in ideas from various tutorials, and spent half the afternoon stirring them all together and finally came up with something that worked the way I wanted.  

2 Half-rectangle triangle unit in progress

I spent the rest of the afternoon figuring out the math to know what size rectangles to start with to end up with a given size.  It would be a pain to use trial and error every time I want a different sized unit.

There's a tutorial in the works to share the details.  In the meantime, tell me, have you used HRT in any projects?  If so, do you have any tips or trick to share?

UPDATE:  The tutorial is now available here!  


  1. I don't recall ever using HRT's, but I do think I have a special ruler buried in the closet somewhere for them. Your brain just amazes me every time you come up with something new. By the way, I like your sail boat a lot! ---"Love"

  2. I love that sailboat! Triangles can be tricky.

  3. I have used HRTs and eventually discovered that I had to offset my diagonal cut by 1/4" to have the seam line up to the corners. After measuring and drawing the diagonals many times for a quilt, I finally bought the HRT rulers. ~Jeanne

  4. I have been admiring HRT designs for a while but have not attempted any. I appreciate your sharing the tips!

    :) Linda

  5. Yes I have used HRT's, but I have trimmed them with my bloc lock ruler. I used the tutorial at Bonjour quilts for those projects. But recently bought the Creative Grids ruler and love that. But I get that you don't want to write a pattern that you have to buy a special ruler for. I love your idea to use HRT's for the cute sailboat!

  6. You lost me at the word geometry--lol! Starting with flowers and ending with boats made me laugh--sounds a little too close to home. Happy sewing!

  7. Great sailboat block! I have a Tri-Recs ruler that I've used for the few HRTs that I've made so far.

  8. The flowering sailboat is lovely! I think I did an HRT on a Jaquelynne Steves quilt. I believe it was offset somehow.... I'd have to go back and read the directions. She might have a tutorial so you don't have to reinvent the wheel....

  9. You're so persistent! I would have given up on sailboats and went back to flowers LONG before I had any chance of figuring out what you did! A tutorial would be amazing, but don't sell yourself short and give it away for free if you'd rather not. No one is gonna blame you for asking for compensation for your efforts. (Okay, some folks will, but you know the world just needs a few of those to remind us how kind most folks are!) I'm excited to see what the sailboat is a part of, though, too.

  10. That is a great sailboat!
    That is a shape I only use if a pattern calls for it and tells me exactly how to cut and line things up to achieve the desired results. I am a wimp and I admit it. :)

  11. Help Joanne! I'm not getting comments emailed to me either and have no idea how to fix it (even after Googling). I'm looking forward to your tutorial as I avoid HSR like the plague. Flowers to sailboats is quite the diversion.

  12. Been there with that problem and succumbed to rulers and paper piecing. I look forward to your tutorial. All the other ones I tried were inaccurate more often than not, or at least I was!

  13. Actually, no, I haven't made these! A friend of mine made an adorable scrappy vintagey looking quilt with lots of those lined up and I thought I would like to make one too, but then I thought that I might not be able to figure out how to make the HRT! And that was the end of that! (Not that I didn't have plenty of other things to work on). Sometimes, I just don't want to have to think about how to do something. I wonder why there aren't all kinds of tutorials for making them - like there are for HSTs?

  14. To get to the field of flowers, one must take the boat across the river. Just my imagination :-) One day I decided to make HRTs using the Triangle in a Square ruler (the tri-recs). Wasn't very happy with the result and don't ask me where those HRT blocks are now. So I am looking forward to your tutorial. I may make these boat blocks for RSC 2021.

  15. I am looking forward to this pattern or tutorial!


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