Half Square Triangle. It’s a simple block, only. . . not. Even though there are only two pieces of fabric sewn together to make the block, they can be a little tricky because of one thing. Bias.
“What is bias?” you ask. It is anytime that fabric is cut in a diagonal direction. There is MUCH more stretch to the fabric on the bias and quilters must take care to avoid stretching the fabric- especially when sewing. This is what makes things wonky (which is a universally recognized and used quilting term!).
Why do we care? Well, every HST has at least one side that is cut on the bias, so they can be a little squirrelly to work with.
There are several ways to make HSTs and there are many posts explaining these methods in detail so I will just give you an overview of my favorites. I encourage you to go watch a few YouTube tutorials if you need more help.
Basic HSTs (Fig. 1)
Start with two squares, right sides together. Lightly draw a line across the square diagonally using a marking pen or pencil. Sew a ¼” seam on each side of the line. Cut on the line. Trim and press. Or press and trim. I use this mostly when I want to use a charm pack or when I am using directional fabric. If you have an Accuquilt you will be making this type of HST but if you sew carefully, you may not have to trim at all.
Four-At-A-Time HSTs (Fig. 2)
This technique uses no marking, so it is a fast method. You put two squares together with right sides facing and then sew ¼” from each edge. Cut diagonally both ways from the corners and *poof* you have four lovely HSTs.
Magic 8 HSTs (Fig. 3)
This technique starts with larger squares of fabrics because you will end up with 8 HSTs. You will draw diagonals both ways across the square sandwich (right sides together) and then sew ¼” seams on both sides of each diagonal. The cutting is where the magic happens. You will cut on the drawn diagonal lines, but also perpendicularly on the square going both ways.
The hardest part of making Magic 8 HSTs is the math. Quilting math is better than regular math, but still not my favoirite. I really like the chart that Rachel Rossi made on her blog about this method because she pads the numbers just a bit so that you actually have a bit of fabric to trim. No need for me to re-create the wheel- check it out!
If you are anything like me, you will be drawn to quilts with HSTs. I just love their simplicity and the complexity of the patterns they can make.