Quilt Designer Karen Walker demonstrates the best method of quilting half square triangles for use in tons of quilt patterns.
Half square triangles are kind of amazing. This might sound silly to someone that has never worked with them before, but you can literally design countless different variations of quilt blocks with this one very simple technique.
Before getting into the actual method, let’s make one thing clear- half square triangles are actually squares (some folks even call them “triangle squares”).
In order to produce them, you need two squares of contrasting colors, which you sew together, then cut apart. So when someone says you need an HST, they mean you need an HST unit, which is a square made up of two triangles.
To create her “Birds in the Air” block, quilter Karen Walker uses the Magic 8 and Half Square Triangle techniques.
For this particular pattern, 12 HSTs are needed, so she gets eight from the Magic 8 method, and four from this beginner-friendly method, which yields two each time you follow these instructions.
You can also just use this method six times to create the 12 1-1/2″ HST units needed for this block. For efficiency, consider chain piecing them, if you’re quite comfortable with your sewing skills.
To make two half square triangles:
- Face two squares of the same dimensions right sides together.
- On the wrong side of one, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.
- Sew parallel seams 1/4″ from the center on both sides of the diagonal.
- Cut across the diagonal line.
- Press each square open and trim using a square ruler for precision.
This is just one of those methods you can use to create incredible quilts on your home sewing machine.
You will also need six 1-7/8″ squares (cut diagonally into 12 small triangles) as well as two 3-7/8″ squares (cut diagonally into 4 large triangles) in alternative colors for contrast.
To piece this block, stitch together the HSTs in a row with a small triangle at the end. Then stitch the rows together, one atop the next.
Finally, stitch the large triangles to the HST/small triangle units for four large squares, which you should also stitch together in rows.
Have you experimented with the various block compositions that can be created with HSTs? Let us know in the comments section!