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Half Square Triangles: Love Em or Hate Em?

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by Lorna McMahon

Those of my friends who are keeping up with the ‘real time’ day to day affairs of Sew Fresh Quilts on Instagram, may have noticed some heavy duty (Half Square Triangle) HST action happening last week.

In 2013, I shared a tutorial for making HST here.  Back then I would trim before pressing.  Then trim the dog ears.  But now I tend to press my HST open and then trim each side.  I really like having the seam pressed open.  And appreciate one less step.

This WoW-E! quilt WIP is made from Kona Cotton Solids features Melon, Punch, Lemon, Daffodil, Green Tea, Asparagus, Sunny, Mango, Cypress, Ice Frappe, Coal, Black.  Snow for the background and Silver for the sashing.  The blocks finish at 9″ square.

At first, I had considered giving the blocks a two tone quality.  And white sashing.

WoW-E! quilt block layout with two tone and White

But in the end, I went with a single colour and grey (Coal) for the inside of the blocks to match the cornerstones.  Light grey (Kona Silver) was chosen for the sashing and borders.

WoW-E! quilt block layout with Grey and Silver

Using black for the inside and cornerstones would make some striking blocks, too!

WoW-E! quilt block layout with Black

My latest WIP required 360 HST for a 20 block layout.  Seems like a lot of HST.

Or is it just me?  How do you feel about making HST?
Do you Love Em or Hate Em?

Do you prefer to press to one side or open?
Have you ever used a Loc-Block ruler and what do you think of it?

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33 Responses

  1. HSTs are not my favorite to make, but when I do, I really like the Bloc-Loc ruler in combination with a rotating mat. I do not seem to be able to spin the block around with the Bloc-Loc like the video shows. I love your pattern! It is so happy and refreshing in all the color combos you marked up.

  2. amy says:

    Love em or hate em, hmmmm….I think love to piece them, love to press them, HATE to trim them, love how they look.So the loves win. Even if all I remember is the pressing :)ps, your quilt blocks look totally fab!!!!

  3. Hayley says:

    Ugh, I hate HSTs – although I love how they look and quilt blocks made with them. If I have to do loads with the same fabric I like to paper piece them. Brrrr, chop chop chop (that is me whirring with my machine and cutting along the lines). Always accurate. If I am doing a scrappier look or only need a few I use my bloc loc. I have to admit it has dramatically changed the way I feel about HSTs – but I'd still prefer it if someone trimmed them for me!

  4. dq says:

    I honestly don't like HSTs but they cannot be avoided.

  5. margaret says:

    I seem in the minority as I like to make them making them the way you do I enjoy but I do press the seams to one side as I find it easier to join them all together that way. I do have the easy angle and companion angel for making half and quarter square triangles, bought before i knew better but find them harder to do.The loc bock I saw at the festival of quilts earlier this year but they sold out, have heard lots of people praise it but they are not sale here in the UK except at the quilt show, so maybe i will but one next time I go

  6. I love making them. I've tried several methods and I like the method you shared and making them slightly bigger than needed then trimming them down with the Quilters Rule Square Block Lapboard. It too has a line that locks in the seams and can be used for up to a 12 inch HST. It's also sold without the gripping lock lines.

  7. Good work Lorna. I love the colors you are using, good choices. I find I am leaning more toward various shades of gray more that I used to and for the same reason. The dark brightens up the colors but is not as harsh as black. Great color choices as always!

  8. Farm Quilter says:

    I like everything about HSTs except trimming. I don't have any special ruler for trimming, so maybe that's why! I do like to press the seams open on them – less bulk when I'm quilting. Love your block – going to be an amazing quilt!

  9. Vicki in MN says:

    Great looking blocks I just love them and I think you did the right thing by putting the consistent dark in the center. I use the angler 2 to make my Half sq tri's and don't usually have to trim them. However I have lots of the cut off triangles from dozens of projects and I don't take the time to sew the second line. So I have them all stacked in a box or bag and last year I started sewing them and use my loc-block ruler to trim LOVE it!! I have the 2.5 and 4.5 Merry Christmas!

  10. Karen H says:

    I quite enjoy making HSTs but not the pressing is boring. I generally wait until I have a pile of them before pressing and then have an extended pressing session. I like to press the seams open because it reduces the bulk where they intersect.

  11. I don't mind making them but I really need to get that ruler as I have heard so many so they like it that I think it is one of those tools that makes the job easier. I love that quilt pattern and need to think about making it.

  12. SuzyMcQ says:

    Hi Lorna, I 'm a relative newbie, so I can't offer any sage HST advice. Is there a tutorial available for the Wow E quilt? I've searched and can't seem to locate one. Your color choices are so inspiring….new and fresh!

  13. So glad you like my latest design, Suzy! Here is a link to the pattern I have listed in my Etsy shop.

  14. Georgi says:

    Wow-E is the perfect name for this quilt! I'm torn between loving the dark grey and the black in the centers ~ they both look fab. I love making HSTs a lot more since I bought the Bloc-Loc ruler ~ makes trimming a breeze! Hoping to see a pattern for the Wow-E!

  15. Unknown says:

    Really love your blocks. I love Kona Coal and Pepper for a dark neutral. It is going to be a lovely quilt!

  16. mlisshouston says:

    I love the looks of HST's!! But I cannot say I love making them…I tolerate it, and when making lots make sure there is something good on tv to take my mind off how many I have to do!Are we going to get a pattern for Wow-E?

  17. ~Diana says:

    Love 'em…so much you can do with them, but…I have to make them bigger and cut them down to size…I'm just not accurate enough…I distort the size when I press (move the iron around too much) etc…

  18. You know, I have really come to appreciate HSTs. I do not love having to press and trim so many at once, though. What works for me is to make enough HSTs for a block or two, and then I piece the blocks. Having the back and forth of HST work and then the satisfaction of seeing the HSTs used keeps me way more motivated and happily sewing! 🙂

  19. Here is a link to the pattern I have listed in my Etsy shop.

  20. tubakk says:

    I love HSTs, and sew them on paper. Then I get 12 at a time, just perfect size, when I cut them out from the paper. I always press to one side.

  21. I like using HST, and I always cut them with my triangle ruler from the same strip as I would cut same sized squares (e.g. 2 1/2\” strip for 2\” finished HST). I iron them open usually (can depend on how they get used in the overall pattern), and they are so accurately cut that I don't need to trim them at all. Love your blocks!

  22. LA Paylor says:

    love em. They are so versatile. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

  23. Pam says:

    Love them! I usually make them by your method. I recently tried the easy angle method and love it! I am going to try the 8 at a time method to see if I like it. I usually press to one side. Love your star blocks and thank you for providing graphics for alternative colors!

  24. My Bloc_Loc Ruler and rotating mat are a life-changing combination. I press to the side because pressing open wouldn't work with the ruler.

  25. I press seams open and square them up. I have a block lock ruler and love it but find myself going back to the old method of pressing open as I like how flat they are when finished. Sometimes depends on the pattern and how many seams are meeting together whether I press open or over. Love the black in the Wow-e quilt but the grey is nice too.

  26. Carla says:

    I love them! So many different things to do with them. I press to one side ; )

  27. JanineMarie says:

    Luscious colors in this quilt! I press seams to the side because that was what I first learned–it's a habit (and back then I was using polyester batting that bearded a lot). But now that I'm machine quilting more and using cotton batting, I might rethink that practice to keep bulk down. It kind of depends though–sometimes l like an element to stand out, and then that determines how I press.

  28. I love half square triangles. They are so seay using the Easy Angle ruler or Fons and Porter half and quarter square rulers. It takes a bit of practice to cut accurately but you don't need to trim up the blocks. No waste! easy Peasy! Cutting hurts my arm! I press open most of the time. I do very tiny blocks and it really helps with the bulk. Your blocks look great with the gray centers!

  29. Susan says:

    HST's are okay to make, but when putting them together, I don't like the lump at the intersections of four of them together. Not to mention getting the points right! Maybe pressing open will help–the next time I'm inclined to make them!

  30. Sheila says:

    I don't mind doing HST'S and have different methods I have used and sometimes I press them open and sometimes I don't , depends on the mood and the number of seams in the block. Your blocks are gorgeous!!

  31. I think I hate them, but I'm trying to come around. I have made them in small amounts recently. I press seams open and then trim. I think the squaring up before attaching to each other or whatever is a key step in coming around to liking them.

  32. I love how they look but hate squaring them. Love this pattern, it's insanely beautiful!