A Better Hour Glass Block

A friend asked me to go to her house this past week for a quilting lesson.  She is in a BOM (Block of the Month) club with our local quilt store, Scrappy Quilter.  She had her fabrics all laid out, cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter, and pattern book.  All was good.  She said she was really struggling and ripping out more than she was sewing so I had to see what the problem was.  Well, I tell you what.  It wasn’t all her.

The first step on this month’s block had her make an hourglass block by cutting two larger squares into eight triangles and then sewing them all back together on the bias.  ACK!!  The odds of getting a nice finish using this method is down around zero. Three seams must be sewn and everything has to be just exactly right.

I’m in the middle of a BOM myself and had to make some hour glass blocks for the most recent installment.  However, the method in my pattern had me put two of the large squares – a print and a solid – RST (Right Sides Together) and draw a diagonal line down the middle point-to-point.  Then I sewed ¼” away down each side of the line.

You cut on the line to create two HSTs (Half Square Triangles) so the HST is half print and half solid.  Open them up and finger press.  

Pin the blocks together, RST, and nest the seams so that they sandwich nice and tight. You want color on the top on one side and on the bottom on the other. They must be nested in opposite directions for this to work. Mark the center line on the other diagonal and sew down both sides of the line as before.  Then cut on the line.

The result is not only the same, it is BETTER!  You get a perfect center of the hourglass every time, your block isn’t all stretched out, and you still have hair left in your head when you’re finished! Oh, and no ripping involved!

If you ever come across a pattern that calls for the first method, stop.  Life is hard enough as it is and this crazy hobby is supposed to be fun.   No change of fabric cutting measurement is required to do this alternate method.  My friend was ecstatic at how pretty hers turned out and she thanked me profusely.  Totally not necessary my friend.  🙂

Do you have any favorite block short cuts? Let me know in a comment below!

Power Tools With Thread

Sewing nerd who is absolutely determined to perfect this insanely fun hobby.

4 Responses

    • I used Eleanor Burns’ QIAD FG rulers to make that ginormous Crown Royal quilt. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. They saved my sanity! Have you tried the Bloc Loc FG rulers yet? At Scrappy’s 20% off sale the other day I almost grabbed one but it was $25 regular price! I think I’ll stick to Eleanor’s rulers for that price.

  1. For Flying Geese, use Eleanor Burns rulers – she has 3 that provide different sizes of flying geese and will save you from pulling your hair out. They are not expensive. I deviate from her “draw a line in the middle” and then sew 1/4″ on each side etc stuff..

    When I make HST’s I add 1/8″ of an inch to the recommended cutting size and then just cut on the diagonal and sew them together – sometimes using a scant quarter of an inch. When making QST’s one must add more to the cutting! Happy Stitching. I remember when I first started piecing in 2004! What a lesson I had to teach myself!

  2. Patricia Hadder says:

    Thanks for the tip on the Hour Glass Block.

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