Saturday, November 5, 2011

Half-Square Triangle and Flippy Squares Tutorial!

There are all kinds of great tutorials out there about quick-piecing half-square triangles (HSTs).  Most involve sandwiching two squares of fabric, drawing a ling down one diagonal, sewing 1/4" on either side, then cutting the two HSTs apart on that drawn line.  That's how I normally do mine - or did.  Now I'll be doing it my friend Pam's way!!!  Here's what she's got for us!

Actually, let me back up a little.  Just to be clear ... there are TONS of quilt blocks and borders that use HSTs - they make up the block or part of the block. Look at this part of a Bear's Paw block on one of my quilts:

DSCN2530 part of Bear's Paw block

See how the "points" are actually little squares made up of two triangles? Like this:

DSCN2532 Half Square Triangles

In the center of the block above, you should see that it's really a square... made of HSTs.  That's what we're after!  I made that years ago, when I was in my "miniature quilts phase".  Those "squares" are just shy of an inch across.  Yes.  I may well have been crazy, thanks for asking.  Oh, how I wish I'd known Pam's technique for making those babies!  Let's get to it!

(Pam's photos used with permission!)

First, take two fabric squares and line them up, right sides together.  Now get some masking tape!

Cut two small pieces and tape to your sewing machine bed.  (Take care not to tape over the feed dogs.)  Have them meet exactly where your needle comes down!  Measure and mark exactly 1/4" to either side of where the tape meets.

In her example, Pam used 4" squares of fabric.  No need to mark that diagonal line!  All you have to do is line one corner of your fabric squares up with the line you drew down the left-hand piece of masking tape.  The other corner corresponds with "the last nick in the quilting foot".  (Pam sews on a Bernina and is using a #37 foot.)

How long have I been sewing HSTs and never thought of this?!?  And never noticed that the corner would line up with that little notch?!?!   Ha!  OK... moving right along...

Pam said to "just trust your judgement for a few mm's [millimeters - Pam's from South Africa ] until the corner is in line with the marked line. On smaller squares you do not have this problem." Keep going ...

... and see how they line up? Love it!

Now Pam says, "Turn your square around and do it again or carry on chain piecing with a new square."

All that's left is to cut apart on the diagonal (just line your ruler up with the corners!) and you have two perfect HSTs!

I use flippy squares a lot. They are such an integral part of my quilting repertoire that they are second nature to me. I used them a lot during construction of the Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt -- check the Cotton Boll block at this link. It's basically marking a small square of fabric on the diagonal and sewing it to the corner of a larger square or rectangle so you get a triangle. (Scroll down in this post in the Quiltville blog until you see "Flippy Corners" - same-oh, same-oh.) Pam has a way for us to tackle flippy squares without marking the center diagonal, too!!!

Here's another of my minis; this one was made using flippy squares:

DSCN2529 Flippy Squares

Those dark triangles were actually squares (flippy squares) in the construction phase.

DSCN2528 Flippy Squares

I love using this method - it's so easy ... and now Pam makes it even faster and easier!  Here's how she does it!

"Line your corner up with the centre mark on the tape," says Pam --

Keep sewing ...

"Now doesn't that beat having to draw lots of lines????" YES!!!

I can't wait to try this out.  Love the idea - especially when you're doing a lot of HSTs and/or flippy squares, all that marking can really be a drag.

Pam, thank you so much!  Your photos and descriptions make the process so very clear!  Easy, quick and accurate - just perfect!

Thanks to Pam - and thank you for reading!


  1. You lost me after "sandwiching" but it was interesting to see anyway!

  2. I had no idea what you meant... until the last picture made it all perfectly clear. There's a reason I don't do sewing :)


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