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How to Make Easy Half Square Triangles

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INSIDE: How to Make Easy Half Square Triangles

If you are new to quilting or want to learn more about quilting you need to know about the Half Square Triangle, commonly referred to as the HST. An HST is one of the most basic quilting blocks and can be used to create very complex quilts.

From this technique alone, a ton of designs can be created like Chevrons, Flying Geese, Herringbone, and ZigZag Path.

How to Make Easy Half Square Triangles

How to Make Easy Half Square Triangles

When I was somewhat new to quilting I decided to go with the half square triangle for the basis of a quilt for one of my grandsons. I had a limited supply of fat quarters and knew that I would have to use them wisely in order to have enough to make a quilt.

I have to be honest here, I learned about half square triangles (HST) when I took this class at QuiltCon2015. Even though the class was about color value, I really grasped the concept of HSTs and how they are a quilt design staple.

Before you can begin designing a quilt with HSTs you need to know how to correctly cut them.


Cutting HSTs:

There are several different ways to cut and sew HSTs. I’m only going to show you one of the simplest methods, cutting two at a time. Eventually, I’ll introduce some of the other ways to create HSTs.

To create an HST you start with a light and a dark fabric. The greater the contrast the better the design will show up. For these instructions I am working with 6.5″ x 6.5″ squares (which is pretty standard for HSTs).

One thing to note: For the two at a time method, you can make your HST’s any size. Once you know the size of the HST’s you’ll be using in your design, cut the two squares 1″ larger than the finished size you’ll be using. For example, if you need your HSTs to be 5 1/2″ each, cut your squares 6 1/2″ each.

Diagram 1.

Place a light and a dark fabric square right sides together.

Diagram 2.

Use a pencil or water soluble marker, draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner. Personally, I prefer a pencil, but this will ultimately depend on the fabric you’re using.

Diagram 3.

On both sides of the diagonal line, stitch a scant 1/4″ seam. See How to Sew the Perfect Quilting Seam Allowance for more details.

Diagram 4.

Using a quilter’s ruler and rotary cutter, cut along the pencil line.

Did you know that Half Square Triangles are one of the most basic quilting blocks and can be used to create very complex blocks. From this technique alone a ton of designs can be created like Chevrons, Flying Geese, Herringbone, and ZigZag Path. This tutorial will explain to you about half-square triangles and how easy they are to make designs.
Diagram 5. & 6.

Once separated and unfolded, you will have two HSTs that each have a light and dark value triangle.

When you open your two HSTs you will notice two little triangular pieces or dog ears in opposite corners.

Did you know that Half Square Triangles are one of the most basic quilting blocks and can be used to create very complex blocks. From this technique alone a ton of designs can be created like Chevrons, Flying Geese, Herringbone, and ZigZag Path. This tutorial will explain to you about half-square triangles and how easy they are to make designs.

Trimming the HST

Trim the HST down to the correct size using a square quilting ruler. (affiliate) Use a rotary cutter and quilter’s ruler to cut these away. Place the diagonal line on the ruler across the quilt block and then line it up to the size your want. Trim using a rotary cutter and mat.

Did you know that Half Square Triangles are one of the most basic quilting blocks and can be used to create very complex blocks. From this technique alone a ton of designs can be created like Chevrons, Flying Geese, Herringbone, and ZigZag Path. This tutorial will explain to you about half-square triangles and how easy they are to make designs.

You can see that this ruler allows you to cut several different sized HSTs just by flipping the ruler over. It’s my go-to ruler for all things HST.


Laying out the design

Once you have all of your HSTs trimmed it’s now time to create a design. Since there are so many different designs I could use, I’m demonstrating using the classic Pinwheel quilt block.

Notice in Diagram 6. when two of the HSTs are sewn together it creates a block with the pattern in Diagram 7. When you connect the two pieces in Diagram 7 together it creates a larger Pinwheel block. (see Diagram 8.)

Did you know that Half Square Triangles are one of the most basic quilting blocks and can be used to create very complex blocks. From this technique alone a ton of designs can be created like Chevrons, Flying Geese, Herringbone, and ZigZag Path. This tutorial will explain to you about half-square triangles and how easy they are to make designs.
Diagram 8. 

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Once your blocks are finished it’s time to start creating your design. You can learn more about creating and sizing pinwheels with the Creative Live Class: Pinwheels. Note: The instructor Cheryl Arkison is the one who taught this to me at QuiltCon.

Did you know that Half Square Triangles are one of the most basic quilting blocks and can be used to create very complex blocks. From this technique alone a ton of designs can be created like Chevrons, Flying Geese, Herringbone, and ZigZag Path. This tutorial will explain to you about half-square triangles and how easy they are to make designs.


Turning HSTs into a Quilt:

After cutting out all of your HSTs it’s time to create a design. This can be done by tacking some quilt batting to the wall and laying out the Pinwheel blocks until you’ve created a design you prefer.

Did you know that Half Square Triangles are one of the most basic quilting blocks and can be used to create very complex blocks. From this technique alone a ton of designs can be created like Chevrons, Flying Geese, Herringbone, and ZigZag Path. This tutorial will explain to you about half-square triangles and how easy they are to make designs.

In my mind, the possibilities are endless. Because the Pinwheel design is four-patch, you could create blocks made up of four smaller pinwheels. There really is no limit to what you can make!


You can learn a lot about quilt design by playing with HST’s. The biggest takeaway will likely be color value. In order to create the true light/dark affect with HSTs be sure you have enough contrast between lighter and darker value fabrics.

Isn’t it true with any art form we embrace; it’s never about making something perfect, but always about the process.

Here’s a fun bit of homework. Go to Pinterest and type “HST Designs” in the search box. You will be amazed at all of the the beautiful designs that can be created using half square triangles.


P.S. If you love this post, please share it on Pinterest and Facebook. It would mean the world to me.

How to Make Easy Half Square Triangles

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