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Half Square Triangles

ha_sqtri4.gif (1573 bytes)

ha_sqtri2.gif (1277 bytes)Fast & Easy Methods to Make HSTs 
Quilt Block Designs to Use Them


Half Square Triangles (HSTs) are one of the most common units for building quilt blocks. Only the square is seen more often. The possibilities are practically limitless. Yet many quilters shudder when they see quilt patterns which say "cut out 448 triangles and being careful of the bias cut edge sew them into 224 half square triangle units".

Thanks to the rotary cutter and some ingenious and thoughtful quilters we now have an interesting range of techniques for making half square triangles quickly and efficiently. I've searched the Web and found some excellent "how to" files on some great methods. I knew of two when I started, but found new ones I'd not heard of and other tips and variations in already known methods.

Methods for making Half Square Triangle Units

You can do it the "old fashioned" way of cutting out all the triangles and sewing them together to make a square. This works, but it's slow going and you are sewing two bias edges together which are easy to distort and stretch.

If you are making units in lots of different color pairings you will want to use one of the methods which allows you to mix up the fabric used.

The One Square Makes Two Units method is easy. I have an illustration of this as part of my Mystery Quilt #3 instructions here with a clear diagram of how to make two HSTs from one square. I've used this technique and you can make it even simpler and avoid having to do any marking on the squares by doing two things (1) iron a crease to mark the cutting line diagonally in the top square and (2) use a 1/4" presser foot to sew the two seams each 1/4" to the side of the crease. Then cut on the crease. You add 7/8" to the size of the square for this method (actually I just add one inch usually).

The One Rectangle Makes Four Units method is a variation on the above, but you can get 4 HSTs from one piece. These blocks by Sue Traudt show clearly how to do this:  Maple Leaf Block and Pieced Star Block.

Half Squares Rectangles - a new twist (and a great idea!) from Dawn's Pages illustrates three different approaches: the simple square + waste, the simple square = 2, and the innovative "Half Square Rectangle" approach. Check this one out!

Using a Grid for Multiple HSTs - This is the most popular technique for making a lot of HSTs with the same pair of fabrics. Variations include drawing the grid on one of the fabrics, sewing through a grid on paper which you draw yourself or print out on your computer, buying pre-printed rolls of paper with the grids pre-printed, tracing through a ruler with slits and probably a few more.  I found several sites with good tips and instructions on the Grid Technique:

Eight HST Blocks and Quilt Layouts from Susan:

The 8 blocks below all use only half square triangle units alone or in combination with square units. Click on each block to see the block in a plain uncolored version plus a sample layout of the block in a quilt top.

Blocks were prepared
using Electric Quilt program

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Friendship Star
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Broken Dishes
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Shoo Fly
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Clay's Choice
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Yankee Puzzle


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Susan Druding

For my other 
3 Free Mystery Quilt projects
full instructions are here online
 - see this Free Patterns Index

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