Half Square Triangles: Four at a Time

Half Square Triangles: Four at a Time

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Half Square Triangles (HSTs) are the most basic of quilt blocks. It is one of those buildings blocks in quilting. Once you master this one, it opens up a whole new world of blocks to make. I’m just guessing here based on my own experience, but it is probably one of the first quilt blocks attempted after a 4-patch. 

There are many, many ways to make an HST. They can be made 1 at a time, 2 at a time, 4 at a time, 8 at a time, on a roll, with the perfect HST paper method, etc. Today, I’m going to focus on the 4 at a time method because it is the method I used to make HSTs in my two latest quilt patterns (Eternally Yours and Square Burst). 

The upside to this method is that it makes 4 HST at a time. The downside is that it yields units with bias edges which make the blocks more prone to stretching and distortion. But, don’t let that scare you. That is nothing a little starch and light handling can’t solve. 

The Basics

An HST is two right triangles of contrasting colors/fabrics in a square. Because the final result is a square, these can be made in any size needed. The handy reference sheet includes a chart with common sizes and the math formula if you want to calculate your own. 

The Method

To get started, you need your two contrasting fabric squares, a rotary cutter, and pins (if you use them).

How to make 4 at a time HST - an easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

 

Take your squares and place them right sides together. You can pin them in place if you would like, but I find that I don’t need to.

How to make 4 at a time HST - an easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

Sew a 1/4” seam down one edge. Tip: I like to chain piece these by sewing the first edge of all units at a time.

How to make 4 at a time HST - an easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

Sew a 1/4” seam down the second edge. I like to sew the opposite side next. I have found that it helps prevent the top square from shifting. (I should have used a contrasting thread that was easier to see, but I didn't think about it until this very moment.)

How to make 4 at a time HST - an easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

Continue sewing a 1/4” seam around the remaining edges. 

How to make 4 at a time HST - an easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

I sew all the way to the edges so my seams overlap at the corners. This is a non-issue once you cut it apart.

How to make 4 at a time HST - an easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

When all 4 sides have been sewn together, it’s time to head to the cutting table. If you have a rotating cutting mat, it is especially helpful in this step. Line up your ruler from corner to corner and make a cut. 

How to make 4 at a time HST - an easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

Before moving the pieces, rotate your mat (or carefully rotate the squares) to make another cut from the opposite corners like shown.

Line up your ruler from corner to corner and make a cut.

You now have 4 HST units!

4 at a time HST tutorial - easy to follow with lots of pictures - by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

Press seams open or the side - whichever you prefer - but be careful to lift the iron in an up and down motion to prevent distortion of the blocks. 

4 at a time HST tutorial - easy to follow with lots of pictures - by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

They come out a little bit to allow you to trim them down to the appropriate size. 

4 at a time HST tutorial - easy to follow with lots of pictures - by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

That’s it! You’re finished! 

4 at a time HST tutorial - easy to follow with lots of pictures - by Julie of Running Stitch Quilts

Anything Else?

Yep, I have a few final thoughts for you:

  • Chain piece your blocks to get more done quickly! 
  • Bias edges are stretchy! If handled roughly, these units can get wonky quickly. To combat this, handle your pieces gently, press in an up/down motion (don't push the iron over the seams), and starch your fabrics before cutting into them to give them a bit more stability. 

Now What?

Download your reference guide, grab some fabric from your stash, and get sewing!

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