Tips for Half-Square Triangle Piecing

Half square triangle piecing
If you’re tired of following someone else’s patterns and are ready to get creative with your quilt designs, half-square triangles are the perfect way to start. Using these simple two-piece blocks, you can create hundreds of different quilt top designs, from simple pinwheels to intricate portraits. Half-square triangles are the most versatile of all the basic quilt blocks. Using chain piecing methods, you can create dozens of basic blocks per hour, giving you the raw materials for creating your own artisan quilt tops.

What Are Half-Square Triangles?

This odd name describes a basic quilt block made up of two triangles, one light and one dark, sewn together so they create a square with a diagonal line from corner to corner. They give visual excitement to quilts because of the angles they create when pieced together in rows. This versatile design can make up any number of shapes on the quilt top, depending on which way you place the light and dark halves of the block.

Simple Half-Square Triangle Piecing

Traditional quilters used to cut out individual triangles to sew together, but you’ll save a lot of time using speed-piecing techniques. Here’s an easy way to do it: 1. Cut out squares of light and dark fabrics and pair them up, right sides together. 2. Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other on the wrong side of the light material. 3. Sew ¼ inch away from this line, with one seam on each side. 4. Cut along this marked line, then open up each sewn triangle to find a perfect half-square triangle.
Steps for a Half Square Triangle
If you’d like to try a different method, check out this article for a detailed explanation.

Simple Quilt Top Patterns

This block is so versatile it’s almost impossible to make the same quilt top twice, and why would you want to? With this many possibilities, it’s hard to decide which one you want to make first. Some of the simplest patterns you can make are perfect for beginners, or for when you want to make a simple quilt as a gift. (Baby quilts, anyone?) Simple doesn’t always have to look plain though. Here are some ideas to spice up your designs:
  • Bright pinwheels on a white or black background can take on many feelings, depending on the fabrics
  • Twist and turn the colored fabrics to create a multitude of star patterns
  • Entire tops of half-square triangle rows can look elegant and modern when you show off beautiful fabrics
  • Use this block to imitate the dozens of patterns usually made with log cabin blocks (it’s the same basic visual design, just much simpler to make)
Half-square triangles are probably the most useful block a quilt designer can use. Get a pad of graph paper and some colored pencils and let your imagination soar. You’ll be surprised by the intricate designs you can make with one simple block. Have something to add? Leave a comment or connect with us on Facebook.

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18 Responses to “Tips for Half-Square Triangle Piecing”

  1. Ruthe Barnett

    I love working with half squares for my quilting projects. I find them very beautiful with a great sense of accomplishment when making blankets, and designs for hanging holiday completed projects. My family and friends are always complimenting me.

  2. Carol McDonald

    Like your explanation of sewing and quilting techniques.

  3. Janet epley

    Good morning

  4. Pat Anderson

    Volunteer at the Shelburne Museum in VT and have been engaging children for the past 4 summers by offering them 4 or more half-square triangles to arrange. first changing my white square to a blue one, and then making a pinwheel. Then we look around to see what antique quilts also have half-square triangles. Much more fun for them than most museums!!!

  5. carol garcia

    thank you for being so patient when you are asked repeatedly how to calculate the size square you need to cut to make a HST....that was exactly my question, to which i now know the answer, repeatedly....this is an amazing and rapid manner to make a bunch of HST, thanks againg...

  6. Linda McCoy

    If your pattern calls for you to cut a 3 7/8 square to cut in half for the triangles then how much bigger do you cut the square to do the half square triangles your way?

  7. Nancy

    I am ready to quilt my 1st star quilt have you any tips in the sandwich it together it is a double bed size and it will be quilted by machine heirloom wadding patterned back please can you help me thanks

  8. gayle


  9. Ricki Chichester

    I'm no expert quilter, but I can't stand the thought of piecing fabric that has not been ironed. I see it all the time, but it really bothers me. Anyone else feel this way?

  10. Jane Payn

    I upgraded my membership to premium, but I never seem to get anything different, and certainly shall not renew my membership if things don't change.