Making half-square triangles? Never skip this step (+ sale!)

Detail from 40 Fabulous Quick-Cut Quilts
Look—half-square triangles surrounded by half-square triangles!

How many ways can you make a half-square triangle? Quilters have dreamed up loads of techniques for stitching this humble little unit. Some methods focus on simplicity, while others focus on accuracy. But it’s no wonder that there are so many homages to this simple building block: it’s the workhorse behind oodles of patterns.

Half-square triangle quilt-block patterns
From a basic Pinwheel block (left) to dramatic Framed Squares (right), half-square triangles are an important part of many patchwork puzzles.

There’s one important step in making half-square triangles that’s essential to success: squaring up your units. Skip this step and you may find yourself with a maddening mass of mismatched points! Here’s a simple way to quickly get the job done.

To trim half-square triangles to the correct finished size, use a square ruler with a 45° diagonal guide (like the Bias Square® ruler below). Place the diagonal line of the ruler on the diagonal seam of the unit and trim the two sides as shown.Bias Square by Nancy J. Martin

Try a variety of half-square triangle techniques by making quilts from the books below.

Evelyn Sloppy’s favorite method: layered squares

Start with two oversized squares to produce two half-square triangles at a time—a real timesaver.

From 40 Fabulous Quick-Cut Quilts
“It’s a Guy Thing”

See this quilt + 39 more in 40 Fabulous Quick-Cut Quilts.

Ilene Bartos’ favorite method: sew and flip

Ilene features no less than NINE ways to make half-square triangles in her book Maple Leaf Quilts. The benefit of using the sew-and-flip technique? You can eliminate cutting and sewing triangles altogether.

From Maple Leaf Quilts
Scrappy Leaves”

See this quilt + 11 more in Maple Leaf Quilts.

Country Threads’ favorite method: tried-and-true traditional

The original half-square triangle technique goes waaay back, and it’s what Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene, the design duo known as Country Threads, rely on in their bestseller Quilts from Aunt Amy. The technique is a favorite of scrap quilters because it’s an easy way to use up small pieces.

From Quilts from Aunt Amy
“Flying Bats”

See this quilt + 19 more in Quilts from Aunt Amy.

What’s your favorite way to make half-square triangles? Share what works for you in the comments!

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