Sunday, February 27, 2011

Half Square Triangles..... a tutorial....!

Have you recently popped over to Donna's blog, Chookyblue? She's started to work on her Civil War Chronicle quilt. So, I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to start mine.

Given that this quilt is pretty much a half square triangle quilt, I thought I would share with you a method I like to use for when I need a gazillion HST. I like to use what I call the Strip Method!

Let me begin by saying that I will always extra starch my fabrics when I'm working with a bias.

Whatever starch you like to use is entirely up to you. However, as of late, given that I seem to be going through starch like there's no tomorrow, I find Best Press to be a tad expensive.

Yes, it smells wonderful but it certainly requires a lot of squirts to get my fabric stabilized. Needless to say, I've been using it by the gallon.

Unfortunately, the Linit Starch, which allows me to dilute according to the level of crisp I want, is no longer available at my local grocery store! Sigh!

I will be looking into another starch that is less costly. I may even attempt to make my own as I want to stay away from aerosol sprays.

Let's talk math! ..... Please come back! lol

We all know the general rule for for HST - finished size + 7/8 = square cutting size. However, for the strip method the rule is - finished size + 1/2 = strip cutting size.

If my finished size for my HST is 2 inches, I will cut my strips 2 1/2 inches.

I will place my two fabric strips right side together and sew a quarter (1/4) inch away from the edge.

I sew on both sides of the strips. It creates sort of like a tube.

Press your sewn fabric strips flat.

There are a number of companies that make HST Square up ruler, however this is my favourite. I find it more versatile!

I use the Quilt in a Day - 6 1/2" Triangle Square ruler.

I like this ruler because it allows me to create HST in 1/8 increments as well as 1/16. Most other rulers I have seen only provide 1/4 or 1/2 inch increments.

Now, take your sewn fabric strip and lay it on your cutting board.

Line up the desired ruler marking size on your sewing line. In this case, I want 2 1/2 inches.

Your sewing line becomes the guide for the ruler position.

Take your rotary cutter and cut your HST.

It doesn't matter which side you like to start cutting first. I like to start with the right side and cut the left side last!

When you cut your second HST, you bring your fabric strip to the left and cut. Continue flip flopping your fabric strip until you either have the strip fully cut or the desired number of HST.

If you are accurate in your cutting, you can line up the ruler to the last cutting edge. Myself, I like to re-cut therefore, I leave a bit of fabric and cut both sides fresh.

This method uses the least amount of fabric!


You have a perfect half square triangle.

The strip method makes it so simple for those sawtooth borders! Of course it would not be an ideal method if you only need a couple of HST.

Can you guess where the bias is?

Hum.... provide me with the correct answer and I'll put your name in a draw for a prize! Deadline March 31, 2011.

I don't know about you, but I always need to square my HST. No matter how accurate I try to be, they always seem to come out wonky. The Strip method allows me to cut and square at the same time!

A word about the rule:  As your HST get bigger, you require smaller strips of fabric otherwise you are wasting fabric.  From 3 inch (unfinished) and above check the size you would need.  For instance, a 2.5" strip is sufficient to cut 3" HST.

Thanks for stopping by! Have fun making a gazillion half square triangles!


Vicki W said...

I was having bad reactions to something in commercial starch so I started making my own. It's really inexpensive and so simple. If anyone is interested, I have the recipe here:

Yvette said...

I am making this quilt too! Unfortunately, I already made the first two months. I sure wish I would have seen this post first. I think I have this ruler too! Next month!!

Appalachian Mercantile said...

Great job on the tutorial! Makes it look just as easy as it is!

julieQ said...

Thank you!! I have never done it this way...I will give it a try!!

sandra said...

Thanks for the great tutorial!

Cardygirl said...

Good tips re HST's. squaring them up feels like it takes forever sometimes! bias is not on the big seam!

Mad about Craft said...

Thank you for the tutorial, I will give it a go but I need to get the ruler.

Libby said...

I love using starch on my fabrics. I buy Sta-Flo at WalMart - like the brand you use, it can be diluted to whatever crispness you prefer. Also you can get a powder starch from Lehmans Non-Electric catalog online. I LOVE shopping there *s* Happy pressing!

Ruth said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I'm going to try it.

Thimbleanna said...

Haha -- that bias is all around your outside edges! Wow -- this looks like a fantastic method. I used to always use the easy angle and I loved that method, although each set of triangles had to be sewn after they were cut. They I moved to the big grid method, but those always have to be squared up -- what a LOT of work. This method looks perfect -- THANK YOU for sharing!!!

Pam said...

I am working on the first Civil War quilt right now --- getting ready to do block 7 - so I am totally going to try this method! I think the Fons and Porter ruler that I have will work although it just has the 1/2 inch markings. Thanks so much for the tip! The bias is along the outside edges.

I am off to a weekend retreat to sew - sew - sew! And maybe drink a little wine :))

~Kristie said...

I'd be afraid to use this method - especially having ALL sides on the bias... would have to starch the fabric to death... Still, it's a neat concept. :)

Sew Create It - Jane said...

great tutorial!

If anyone is worried about the bias could cut your original strips on the bias...then the grain would be the same as a more traditional HST.

Chookyblue...... said...

think I need a new ruler......great tutorial.........also found a few other rulers which one is the best..........

Teresa said...

bias on the outside edges :(

I do like the method though, wonder how hard it would be to cut the strips on the bias so the finished outside edges would be on the straight of grain?

Thanks for sharing the tutorial - I had not seen this method before.

Quiltsmiles said...

Hi Carole,
Great tut! I'll be stopping by on Saturday.
As for your bias, if you started with a straight of grain strips then the bias will be on the edges of your HST, BUT if you started with "bias strips" then the bias is the sewn seam in the middle of your HST. LOL


PS: I have that ruler for squaring up my HST units and love it too. It's a must!

Unknown said...

Wow, this is great!!!

deece said...

The bias is on the outside edges, hence the need to starch the heck out of the fabric. :)

The suggestion of cutting the strips on the bias is a good one. Starch is still probably a good idea.

But, this is a fast, easy method and I like it. :)

lorrwill said...

I did this last night with no starch (just being very mindful of my bias edges) and got extremely accurate results.

Unknown said...

I go to the General Dollar and buy regular starch for cooking. Last time I only paid 1.25/box. I take a quart pyrex measuring cup and add about 1.5 to 2 tbls of starch, stir with wisk. Microwave for 3 min on high,stoping to stir about every min. Then it can be diluted with warm water for my consistancy. To make it smell so good. I buy the cheapest Bath and Body works splash, I like lavender, and pour about 2tbls with the mixture. Very cheap and smells good.

DonaleeK said...

This looks great... thanks!

Unknown said...

Hi Carol,
I'm sure you know this by now, but you can buy liquid starch by the half-gallon, and by mistake I ordered 6 by mistake! Here's the link:

I love that you can adjust the degree of stiffness. I'll be surprised if I ever get through it all, but it's great.

Unknown said...

My quilt guild is doing a Lady of the Lake block of the month challenge. The half square triangles have been driving me crazy so I was looking for a quicker, easier way to do them. I don't have the Triangle Square up Ruler, so I'm doing a bit more work, but it still cuts out at least 3 steps from how I was doing it.

I also thought having the bias on the edges would make my strips of HST turn out wonky, but so far they are coming out straighter then when the bias is in the middle of the square. I did not starch either. I think I'm going to have to get one of those square up rulers now.

Mary said...

Best Press is simply Vodka and distilled water with some lavender oil. I use about 1 part vodka to 2 parts distilled water and a few drops of lavender essential oil. (Potato starch) . Thanks for the triangle tip!

Celina desde Uruguay said...

Gracias por tan didáctico el tutorial

Jayne said...

I love my starch! Great tutorial on making HST's and so many great tips! Thank you for sharing your process!

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