Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Half Square Triangles Tutorial Part 1

I've decided to start a series of tutorials. The first series will be half square triangles (HSTs). There are so many ways to make them, each with positive and negative results. I'm going to try to post on a daily basis a different technique that can be used to make them. Hopefully, the tutorials will continue with quarter square triangles, half-square rectangles, and flying geese.

For now, let's get back to HSTs.  I've made so many in my years of quilting, using a variety of techniques.  Some techniques are very fast, some require the purchase of additional supplies (rulers, triangle papers, software, etc.)  I'll describe a technique, giving the pros and cons of the method and if available, post possible solutions.  You may want to try each method with me to test your preferences to a particular technique.

For the purposes of the tutorial, all triangles will finish at 3".  Additionally, I usually press my seams open as opposed to the dark side.  Why?  Because when the HSTs intersect, like in a pinwheel block, the center can be very dense.  When quilting, these dense areas can cause needle breaks.  On long arm machines, the seams can be so high that the area cannot be stitched because the pressure foot will bump into the dense area and deflect; meaning no quilting in that area.

The first method is:

Bias Triangles (Traditional)

This is the traditional method for making HSTs.  This technique is used most often with patterns that has templates.  In order to avoid the templates, quilters today would measure one short side and then cut a square to that size, slicing it in half.  This was very easy to do with the invention of rotary cutting products.  So, from two different fabrics, cut a square 7/8” bigger than the finished size.  For this tutorial, cut 2 squares 3-7/8".

 Cut each square in half diagonally and swap triangles as shown.

Sew the bias edges back together to make half-square triangles.

1.  No fabric waste as squares are cut to size needed for the block unit.
2.  Great technique to use when a small number of triangle squares are needed.
3.  If making a scrap quilt, you get the greatest variety of fabric combinations.

1.  You will be working with bias edges which may stretch.
2.  Dog ears may get jammed in opening on throat plate.
3.  Requires accurate 1/4" piecing for this method to be successful.  Sometimes, a scant 1/4" is better.
4.  This method is the the most tedious as you must be careful when handling.
5.  Dog ears need trimming from seam before adding the unit to the quilt.

1.  Starch fabrics before cutting.
2.  There are a couple of square techniques that will prevent handling bias edges.  The first square technique will be posted in Part 3.
3.  If you need a lot of HSTs, choose another method.
Tea in MO

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