Introducing the HST Alphabet Quilt Block Sewing Pattern

by Angela Bowman February 17, 2015

I love to sew, I'm drawn to geometric design, and I like personalizing stuff.  So my first product is a sewing pattern for making letters out of half-square triangles (HST).  Makes total sense, right?

HST Alphabet by Angela Bowman Design

The HST Alphabet PDF sewing pattern is ready!  Go get your copy!

Get 20% off during launch week with discount code HSTLAUNCH.  Expires 2/23/15.

Pattern Features

It's geometric, drop-shadowy, and geeky cool for all your texty quilting needs.

This sewing pattern tells you how to sew fabric squares together to make 47 different quilt blocks of letters, numbers, and punctuation, each in two different sizes. Please note that this pattern only includes instructions for making quilt blocks, NOT a finished project such as a quilt.

After using this pattern to make the block(s) of your choice, have fun incorporating them into your sewing projects!

HST Alphabet by Angela Bowman Design

Each quilt block has an easy-to-follow assembly grid, made of only two shapes: a simple square and a half-square triangle (HST), which is a square formed of two right triangles. Each quilt block has a block map with a color legend key of 7 colors. Experiment with your own color combinations using the block maps as coloring pages!

HST Alphabet by Angela Bowman Design

The size of each block varies, as letters are inherently different sizes. The width varies significantly, while height varies not as much.

  • Small blocks range from 5" - 11" wide to 9.5" - 11" tall
  • Large blocks range from 11" - 25" wide to 21.5" - 25" tall

How do you like to press your seams: open or to the side?  This pattern works great either way.  It obviously works well for pressed-open seams, but if you're the press-to-the-side sort, each design will allow for nicely nested alternating seams.

The blocks look great in solids or prints.  For the pattern cover I used all solid fabrics in Kona Cotton by Robert Kaufman Fabrics: a variety of new 2014 colors, white, and various grays in the Silent Film palette.  Charm packs and layer cakes are perfect for this project!  Here's an A I made with some 5" charm pack prints along with some blue scraps from my stash.

I designed the blocks using a square grid, to allow for using up fabric scraps and pre-cuts, like the A block above.  However, if using the same fabric for all the white squares, feel free to cut appropriate-size rectangles rather than squares, and assemble in columns vs. rows.  No point in making your sewing more complicated than it has to be!

To learn more about the pattern, check out the product page: HST Alphabet.

Design Process

This design is the result of my fascination with how many cool patterns you can make with half-square triangles.  At first I designed an alphabet, but then added punctuation since I wanted a hashtag for sure.  Then I thought "how can I not add numbers, too?"  So, the final result, many many months later, is a collection of letters/punctuation/numbers.

I started by drawing each design on graph paper.  Tech-advanced, I know.  The first iteration was a grid made entirely of HSTs and a palette of 9 colors.  To simplify things, I changed the grid to include simple squares as well, with a color palette of 7.

Then I drew each individual design in the iPad app TouchDraw.  It seemed to work pretty well, but I wondered how on earth I was going to pull each of these designs into a pattern layout.  I mean, there's a ton of blocks (47), and I knew it would take me forever, especially since I don't have mad graphic design skills.  I asked myself if I wanted to spend my time learning how to use graphic design software or spend my time designing sewing patterns.  I opted for the latter and promptly hired my bud Lindsie of Design by Lindsie.  She handled the pattern layout for me and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I love what she's done, and I hope you will, too.

Once the initial version of the pattern was ready, I busily made blocks to test out the pattern.  I quickly learned my favorite way of making HSTs and shared these two tutorials:

Pattern Testing

Once I was pretty happy with the pattern, it was time to test it out for reals.  I gathered a small group of folks with a wide variety of sewing skills, representing a sample of customers. They sewed the project and gave me an honest evaluation of the pattern. Since my goal is to have a stellar product, I knew I had to be open to constructive feedback, good and bad.

Here are some responses to my pattern testing feedback survey:

What do you like the most about the pattern?

"The way the pattern was written!  I love the consistent layout, color boxes and open grid for personalized colors!  More pattern designers should do this, it is really helpful to have resources right there for changes."  ~ Karen

"It's so flexible!  Using this pattern you can make a letter block any size you like and be able to give the block depth with the addition of tonal fabrics.  Also, for a fairly new sewist, the instructions were really thorough - the text was clear and the pictorial was good.  I also liked the option for practising your own colour schemes.  Despite my often dodgy cutting out, my blocks ended the sizes stated in the pattern."  ~ Natalie

What do you like the least about the pattern?

"... I wanted more direction for how to figure prints into the pattern.  For example, I don't think I had enough contrast between my "background" colors and the ones used for shading."  ~ Michelle

"I wish I knew how much fabric I'd need for each letter.  As much as I love scrap busting, I really wanted to use specific fabrics from my stash and was too lazy to do the math to see if I had enough for each letter. :)"  ~ Vicki

Imagine telling your close friend about this pattern.  What would you say?

"Super fun and easy pattern to sew, just print the pages you need and sew! :)"  ~ Karen

"It's a really funky, modern, solid friendly alphabet.  I wouldn't ever just do the whole thing A-Z, but it's awesome for simple things like initials, important dates, short words, names, etc."  ~ Vicki

So!  I received some good comments as well as some suggestions for improvement.  I decided to revise the pattern by adding more wording about color values as well as a whole fabric requirements section at the end of the pattern for those making multiple blocks.

Now let's see what some of the testers made!

Jaclyn made the A large block and turned it into a personalized cape for her sweet daughter.

Cape made by Jaclyn

Vicki made 4 large blocks and stitched them together making a small quilt just in time for Valentines Day! XO

mini quilt made by Vicki

Apryl made a small C and turned it into a cleverly cute, colorful, and cheerful tote bag for a friend of hers.

Apryl made another block, turning this small G into a wall hanging for her sewing room.  G is for her last name Gardner.

Here's a test project I made, a tablerunner spelling #ISEW.  I made 5 small blocks and stitched them together with a bunch of colored HSTs.  Fun!


And here's a baby quilt I made out of a S large block.  It's one of my favorites.

Get the Pattern

Get 20% off during launch week with discount code HSTLAUNCH.  Expires 2/23/15.

Go get your copy of the HST Alphabet PDF sewing pattern!

I can't wait to see what you make!  Hashtag your Instagram pics #HSTAlphabet.

Angela Bowman
Angela Bowman


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