Piecing triangles together can be incredibly stressful. How to press half square triangles? Do I trim half square triangles? That stress all ends today! I’ll show you just how easy and simple half square triangles can be.
Learn From My Half Square Triangle Mistakes
As a self-taught quilter, I am always on the lookout for the best and easiest way to make blocks. Can I trim these faster? Can I make more than one at a time? The trick, I’ve found, is to test everything and find the method that works best for you. Making Half Square triangles is the perfect example of test and retest.
Many years ago, when I first started quilting, I knew nothing. I didn’t even know there was such a large online quilting community let alone how to find them. So, I had to figure everything out on my own. Like, triangles. My first major triangle design was for a fundraiser project. The overall design required a total of 384 individual triangles. And, I cut every. single. one. Then stitched them all together one by one. We won’t talk about how badly my seams lined up.
Thankfully, I eventually discovered a simpler way to create easy, beautiful (and correctly aligned) Half Square Triangles with a more traditional method – using squares.
How to Make Half Square Triangles
First, you’ll need to know the appropriate size to cut your fabric squares. To find your exact size, add 7/8 inch to your finished square. For instance, if my finished Half Square Triangle block measures 4” x 4”, then I will need to cut my squares at 4 7/8” x 4 7/8”.
However, to help with getting that perfect trimmed Half Square Triangle block, I always round that number up to the nearest ¼ inch. For example: If my finished block size is 4 x 4, I add the 7/8”, which gives me a required 4 7/8” x 4 7/8”. I’m going to round that up to 5” x 5”. This little bit of extra allowance gives me more ‘wiggle room’ to trim my block at the end. See my Half Square Triangle cheat sheet chart below.
For this example, I’m going to use the 4” x 4” finished block. As discussed, I’ll need to cut my squares at 5″ x 5″. We’ll need to cut one square from each of our fabrics to be used for our finished Half Square Triangle blocks.
I find using the Square ruler helps the most with cutting squares as you can easily see and line up your seam allowances on the 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch.
I have my 2 cut 5” x 5” squares. On the Wrong side of one square, draw a line across the diagonal, as shown.
Now, place your two squares Right Sides Together (RST) so the drawn line is facing up.
Stitch 1/4 inch seam down either side of your diagonal line, as shown. If you don’t already have one, I suggest getting a 1/4 inch presser foot for your machine. For a small cost it will help tremendously in keeping those seams straight.
Now that you have your 1/4 inch seams stitched along either side of your line, cut ON your drawn line to create 2 separate pieces.
Press each seam toward the darker fabric side.
Remember how we cut our squares slightly bigger than required? Here is where that comes into play. To ‘square up’ your Half Square Triangles, simply line up your square ruler so the diagonal (45 degree) line is over your center seam and the outer edges of your Half Square Triangle slightly hang over your 4 1/2 inch lines and the outer edges of your square ruler, as shown. Trim (square up) the first two edges of your Half Square Triangle. *We are NOT using the cutting mat to line up our seams. We are ONLY using the the Ruler.
With the first two sides trimmed, flip your Half Square Triangle around so the diagonal (45 degree) line is directly over your seam and the cut edges are lined up on the 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch rule lines. Trim the remaining two outer edges.
You Did It!
That’s it! Now you have two beautiful Half Square Triangle blocks ready to add to your next quilt project. This Half Herringbone quilt is a perfect practice project for making and using Half Square Triangles.
For a quick reference, I’ve included a simple Half Square Triangle cheat sheet chart for you to use. This way, you won’t have to fuss with all that Half Square Triangle math.
As always, Hoppy Quilting!
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