*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.

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.

**QUICK TIP: HIP TO BE SQUARE**

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.

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.

**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**.

**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.

**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!

It depends on how many I need! If it’s a few I make them like your sample or I use Deb Tucker’s trimming tool! If I need a bazillion, I love triangles on a roll! They are awesome! I make my project to fit them! I have also used the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s method! It is fast and easy but you do have a lot of bias edges, so starch, starch, starch!!!!!!

—Danette Roundy on June 2, 2014Laundry Basket Quilts makes half-square triangle papers (only in two sizes so far) and they are wonderfully accurate and easy to use. If you are using any other method, I strongly agree with Judy Martin that if you mark, cut and sew accurately in the first place, there will be no need for the extra step of trimming.

—Kaaren Biggs on June 2, 2014Inklingo!! Perfect every time, fast and no need to trim!!

—Lorraine on June 2, 2014I have yet to find my favorite way to make a half square triangle. They are the bane of my existence. I made a quilt for my niece when she was born with many pinwheel blocks and none of the points matched. It was a nightmare. And they were tiny squares; finished they measured at 3″. That was four years ago. I have made more half square triangles since then, but not very happily. And much bigger! Thankfully my niece loves her quilt, and I only have to see it when I visit.

—Denise on June 2, 2014My favorite method to make half square triangles is the old fashioned way. Place two squares of fabric right sides together. Draw a diagonal line on the top square. Sew 1/4 inch on each side of line, and cut on the line. I prefer to make my squares a little larger and trim them to the correct size. I use the Bloc Loc Ruler to trim them to size. It works perfect every time. Patterns go together so much better when the block is the perfect size. The ruler locks on the seam and doesn’t slide.

—Ruthie on June 2, 2014Hello,

I have a question – when did bias squares come to be known as half-square triangles? I’m an experienced quilter, but if I was a beginner, I think this would be pretty confusing. I was taught that a bias square was composed of two half-square triangles.

Just asking…

Cheryl

—Cheryl Barron on June 2, 2014Hi Cheryl,Wow, what a great question! I don’t know the answer, but maybe one of our readers does. Feel free to chime in if you know the answer!

~Cornelia

I also oversize the square….ie, 3″ finished block, I would cut the squares 4″ instead of 3 7/8″. After sewing a slight 1/4″ down both sides of a diagonal mark, I cut apart and leave the squares folded. Then I use Eleanor Burn’s half square triangle ruler. Line the ruler up on the sewing line and cut through both layers. One’s square comes out with the points in the corners exactly where they belong.

—Elaine West on June 2, 2014I like to use the layered squares or the triangle paper method. This way there is no waste and they are usually pretty accurate.

—Barbara on June 2, 2014I like drawing a line and sewing on 1/4″ on each side, chaining the squares, so they sew up quickly. I also line them up on my cutting mat on the diagonal line to several at a time–it’s so easy and fast.

—Robyn on June 2, 2014My favorite way is to use the Easy Angle Ruler. No marking with a pencil is necessary.

—Karen Long on June 2, 2014My quick and efficent way to make half square triangles is by taking 2 squares same size right sides together and sew quarter inch seam all the way around the outside edge and then cut corner to corner and you have 2 half square triangle squares depending on the size of your original block you can even cut four half square triangles from the starting squares. Good luck give it a try works every time for me. Norma from Ontario Canada

—Norma on June 2, 2014I make HST’s by any method, EXCEPT sewing two triangles together! There’s more efficient ways to get it done!

—Susan on June 2, 2014Evelyn Sloppy’s favorite way unless the pieces are very small then, Country Threads way

—Cindy Lanahan on June 2, 2014I don’t have a favorite way. But, I sure would like to make some of these in your blog.

—Jane on June 2, 2014I mark the center with two squares together, right sides together, and sew 1/4 seam on each side of the marked line. Then I cut on the marked line. I also use the triangle sometimes too.

—beth daniels on June 2, 2014I usually use layered squares but have used the others. If I need many of them I use triangle paper for accuracy. I use the flip method for flying geese etc. My least favourite is traditional due to the bias stretches if not careful. Martingale publishes the best quilt books. Thank you

—Sheila Ivany on June 2, 2014I just started using Jenny Doan at Missouri Star quilts’ method. Once you try this, you will never go back.

—Bridget on June 2, 2014My favorite method is a square on top of another square. You mark an x corner to corner. Sew both sides of the lines. Cut an asterisk and get 8 half square triangles.

—Quilting Tangent on June 2, 2014I am working on a quilt block that has 12 HST, 4 of one fabric and 8 of another. I cut a square twice the size of the HST PLUS 1 inch. A 3 1/2″ HST starts with 8″ squares. Place right sides together. Draw both diagonals and sew 1/4″ on each side of each diagonal. (Just like the old-fashioned way.)You get a big X. Cut on both diagonals to get 4 large triangles and then cut each in half from the point of the triangle to the oppposite side. Results in 8 HST. You can oversize just by making your original squares larger. I find that the larger squares are easier to work with when I am sewing the lines next to the diagonals.

—Pat C. on June 2, 2014I also like the oversized squares with the diagnal line with a 1/4 inch seam on each side of the line cut in half and square up. It seems to work better for me. But I am open to other ideas.

—Tina on June 2, 2014I love using Sally Schneider’s ‘GIZMO’ tool to make half square triangles. Using this tool, you start with a rectangle measuring the size of your unfinished block (i.e. 2 1/2″) by one inch larger (i.e. 3 1/2″). Makes perfect ones every time!

—Diane on June 2, 2014I have used all three techniques. I will oversize if I have enough fabric to spare. Cut the triangles if needing them to be very scrappy. And sometimes squaring them up when I become a little careless in sewing. That’s the great thing about sewing and quilting there’s no wrong way if it gets the job done. Some are just easier or quicker.

—Rita Scott on June 2, 2014Many years ago, I learned the bias square method used by Nancy Martin. She used the method in many of her books to make her quilts. They were always accurate and I had no problem hand quilting in the ditch numerous quilts for her books.

—Alvina Nelson on June 2, 2014I have trouble making perfect triangles, and bias edges shift when I sew. So, my triangles use either Ms. Sloppy’s method or paper piecing.

—Lynne on June 2, 2014Ever since I began using Laundry Basket Quilts hst square paper, I have never gone back to the labor intensive “draw a line and sew a quarter inch away blah blah blah” method. These papers give you a perfect hst with no time-wasting trimming involved. Another one I like to use is a computer program called Triangulations by Brenda Henning’s Bear Paw Productions where all you have to do is look up the finished size you want and print out what you want. It works with regular copy paper. It’s the best thing I’ve ever used.

—vickie on June 2, 2014I use the over sized square with the line drawn down the center and stitched on both sides, then trimmed to the correct size. Some people think it takes too long but for me it is the most accurate way.

—connie b on June 2, 2014I’m Team Evelyn Sloppy and like to cut my squares larger so I can get two half square triangles with no waste.

If you’re interested in making Flying Geese with no waste, Google ‘Fast, easy and accurate Flying Geese from squares’!! It makes a tricky job super easy

—Kayt Deans on June 2, 2014Just finished making a bunch of them using Dixie Bradbury’s template techniques – always come out accurate with NO trimming!! http://www.templatetechniques.com

—Bea K on June 2, 2014If I can, I use my Accucult cutter. The trimmed triangles go together quickly and accurately. But you need a pricey die for each size triangle you want to cut.

—Sandy on June 2, 2014Otherwise I usually cut pairs of squares and draw the line down the center. If I have large numbers of identical triangles I’ll draft a grid on the back of the lighter fabric that includes the diagonals.

Sometimes I use Thangles. It all depends on how scrappy I want the triangles, how many I need, etc.

But you can never know too many ways to make HSTs; flexibility makes for better and easier quilting.

I like to use the method of squaring up fabric and cutting the over sized triangle, stich them together then cut into two.

—Dot on June 2, 2014I cut the triangle and sew 1/4″.

—Linda Christianson on June 4, 2014I use the tried and true. When I learn how to do something, I keep practicing until I get it “right”. This was how I was taught and it is the most comfortable because it’s been tried and tested.

—Dana C on June 5, 2014I have used Laundry Basket Quilts hst paper and Brenda Henning’s Triangulations Computer Program as well as marking the fabric and then sewing a fourth of an inch on each side but I prefer using the paper.

—Elaine H. on June 6, 2014Instead of cutting actual size squares for making HSTs, I cut my squares slightly bigger then I use the Bloc_Loc ruler to make the HST squares perfect! I also use “Triangles in a Roll” and the Bloc_Loc ruler to make fasts and accurate units.

—Crazy Cuban on June 6, 2014I use http://www.quiltime.com HST sheets for accuracy and getting done quicker. Lady of the Lake is a fun pattern to do and depending on the size of your middle HST, determines how many smaller HST will surround it. I can get 84 finished 2 inch HST on two Fat Quarters: one for design and one for background.

I use my stash of Thangles for one or two HST, but when they’re gone…no more.

Keep smiling,

—Lynnita Shipman on June 9, 2014I’ve bought the halfsquare triangle paper on rolls, but I haven’t tried them yet. Lately I’ve been practising sewing 1/4″ from the diagonal but I still don’t get it perfect.

—Inger Martinson on June 10, 2014