Making Half Square Triangles

by Judy Tucker

Half Square triangles compose diamond blocks for a Christmas quilt

Half Square triangles compose diamond blocks for a Christmas quilt

A year ago at our Proper Bostonian Quilt Guild Show a lady at the Bits 'n Pieces booth demonstrated an interesting way to make half square triangles (abbreviated HST).  She explained that you put 2 squares of fabric right sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam around all 4 sides of the squares.  Then cut the squares on the diagonal twice.  Press open the 4 sections and there are 4 HSTs!   

That looked like so much fun so I purchased a stack of 5 inch charm squares.  It was really easy to zip around the 4 sides of each pair of squares and then cut it apart.  4 HSTs in a snap.

But there is a catch.  All 4 sides of HSTs made this way are on the bias of the fabric.  So that means they can stretch and warp if the blocks aren't handled carefully.  (And even if they are)!  If you look at the finished blocks above you can see there is a bit of laxity which is most apparent in the light blocks.

Even though it is so easy to make the HST by this method, I probably will stick to the more traditional way to make HSTs.  You can read about other technique I use to make HSTs in my post on July 7, 2014. 

The method I discussed in July only makes 2 HSTs at a time but the sides of the finished square are on the straight of the grain of the fabric so the blocks are much more stable and not as prone to stretching.

I'm glad I tried the "sew around the square" method of HSTs.  It's fun to try out new techniques.  And you never know if you'll like a new method for piecing a block until you use it!