Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Half Square Triangles using Biggie Size Triangle Buddy

Do we need another half square triangle tutorial? Probably not. This will be my new go-to method for HSTs, and I hope some of you find it useful.

Bonnie and I are calling this the Biggie Size Triangle Buddy.

In this business, there is never one right way to do something. (Unless you ask the quilt police!) My goal has always been to find the method that works best for me. For 20+ years, I've been making HSTs this way: cut 2 squares 1" larger than the desired finished size, draw a diagonal, stitch 1/4" away from the line on both sides, cut apart on the line, press and trim to the correct unfinished size. It works and is forgiving, but it can take forever to trim all the blocks to the right size and you are left with this colorful mess.

This new method is inspired by Bonnie Hunter's Triangle Buddies. She uses triangle buddies to make little HSTs from the bonus triangles left over from piecing other units. I thought I'd try to make full size HSTs the same way. It worked like a charm!

In my example, I want to make HSTs from charm squares that will finish at 4".  With seam allowances added, the unfinished size will be 4.5", so I need to cut a triangle template that size.  Cut a 4.5" square, then cut across the diagonal. This template is your triangle buddy.
 I cut a cardboard template from leftover charm packaging. If you are not as cheap frugal as I am, you can cut your template from template plastic. 
(Don't panic. I only use this old rotary cutter for paper and cardboard.)

On the wrong side of one 5" fabric square, lay the template in one corner and mark the diagonal. 

Flip and mark the opposite diagonal.
(I used a new Frixion pen. It erases with the heat of an iron!)

Layer right sides together with another square.  

Stitch on both lines. 

Cut apart. You have two options here. 
1. Make one cut down the middle and end up with about 3/8" seam allowances. 
2. If that extra 1/8" bothers you, make two cuts, 1/4" away from each seam line. 

 Press open and you have two perfect HSTs and you didn't have to stitch a perfect 1/4" seam or cut 4-7/8" squares! (If the dog ears bug you, snip them off.)

Just to compare, in the other method, you would draw one line across the diagonal,

stitch 1/4" away from the line on both sides,

and trim off 1/8" from two sides.
Not having to trim off that little sliver is worth it for me!
So what do you think about Biggie Size Triangle Buddies?


Ruth said...

Brilliant! You are one smart cookie!

Anonymous said...

Great illustrations. Thanks for your time to post such clear instructions. I am marking freezer paper and ironing 4 layers together before I cut my 4-1/2" guide.

Joyce said...

This is very similar to the way I make my hst....very accurate....super easy....thanks for the post!

Debbie said...

hmmm. I will try this.

Goldogmom said...

I'm just about to start a HST quilt. I've cut out the squares and was just going to start putting them together to mark the line, to then sew 1/4" away as you descirbed. I think your way may be easier. I'll have to think about it as once I start one way, I have to follow through for the whole quilt so the pieces come out the same.

Just a thought, if we make the template to have a 1/4" seam, we have enough left on the outside to true up the squares.

Thanks for sharing this idea.

Kathy ... aka Nana said...

Oh my - perfect! I'm bookmarking this for the next time I need HSTs!!

AddieNCE said...

Great idea! I think I will give this a try if I ever work with such big triangels...

Pam said...

Woo Hoo, HSTs figure large in my quilting but I loath all the trimming, this is the way forward.

Peg H said...

A friend alerted me to this great tutorial. AWESOME - thank you! It's got me slapping my forehead, saying, "Well DUH! Why didn't *I* think of that?!?" :-)

Teri said...

What a great I just have to remember to use it....I'll have to write it on a post it note and put on my bulletin board....thanks....

paulette said...


Elaine/Muddling Through said...

I think you are a genius! Don't you love it when something like this finally floats up in your brain? I do!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to try it. Thank you!

eva said...

i've seen many ways to make HST's, but haven't heard of the triangle buddies...... and i like it, i will try this out!!

JoyfullyOrangeDeborah said...

Great way to use those fq cardboard squares AND save the hassle of the old way. I haven't become proficient at HSTs so I'm definitely trying thus out in multiple sizes. Thanks for sharing & God bless you!

Tam said...

Gosh I learned this 20 yrs ago doing a Jacob's Ladder quilt. Good to see it here. I would have never finished that quilt if not for this. I think at the time I did a 9x18" section at a time. Thanks for sharing.