Day Two: #keepcalmbrithop | My Favourite Thing

Hello and welcome to Day Two of the Keep Calm Brit Hop hosted by The Crafty Nomad.

There will be a new post every day for next couple of weeks (you can find all the posts so far in the link above) and it’s a great chance to ‘meet’ lots of new businesses.

Today I wanted to take the chance to talk about my favourite quilty thing. There are so many fabulous techniques, tools and trends in quilting you might think it would be hard for me to choose my absolute favourite but, while there are so many things I love about quilting and sewing, it’s easy for me. It always has been (and always will be) half square triangles!

half square triangle love

I wrote a blog post last year about the wonder that is HST and how versatile they are so I’m not going to repeat myself. Instead I’d like a share a few tips in case, shock horror, you don’t love half square triangles and perhaps needs a little persuasion to change your mind.


Favourite HST tools…

Most quilting techniques come with a whole host of tool recommendations so I’m going to try to keep this to a minimum; what I feel are the “must haves” to create the perfect half square triangle.

  1. cutting mat and rotary cutter…the best way to cut accurate fabric squares
  2. fabric pen…to mark the diagonal line when using the two from one prepping method (my fav) 
  3. square quilt ruler with a 45º marking…the 45º line is really helpful for accurate trimming
  4. pins…to hold your fabric squares together
  5. something to aid your pressing (my favs are my wool pressing mat or Flatter spray)…a crisply pressed HST makes it easier to get a neater overall look in your finished project

my favourite HST tools


Top Tips for the Perfect HST…

My top tips for the perfect half square triangle relate to trimming and pressing; these two things, like in many quilting techniques, are what give you a precise and crisp end result.

No matter which method you use to create your HSTs, I always thinks it best to make them a little bit bigger than you need and then trim them down. Although quilting cotton has no stretch it does have a bit of “give” which means it can become misshapen when it is pressed. By trimming down your HST you will, hopefully, trim off any of those “not so square” edges. And now we turn our thoughts to favourite tool number three…the square quilt ruler with a 45º marking. The more important bit is actually the 45º line. The best way to use this to trim a HST is to:
a) trim a little off all four edges
b) keep the 45º line lined up with the diagonal seam and make sure that diagonal seam also goes right into the corner of your square.

trimming half square triangles

For pressing there are lots of opinions (as always!) and I will say that I vary how I press my HST seams depending on the particular project. If I’m working on something which will end up with lots of potentially bulky seams than I’ll press the seams on the HSTs open. This helps to reduce the bulk but does make it more difficult to line up the HST points as accurately; it can be done but it takes a bit more care and practise. The project I’m working on at the moment only has a handful of quite large HSTs and will become a baby quilt so I’m pressing the seams to the side. This does make the seams bulkier, but as there aren’t too many this isn’t much of a problem, however it is easier to get a crisp finish on the points (important to me as this is a gift) and the pressed-to-the-side seams will be a little stronger when I quilt it which is good for something like a baby quilt that will be washing more often.

Another plus point to pressing HST seams to the side is that it gives you the option to “nest” the seams when you start to sew your patchwork project together. You have to plan ahead a little because you need to press the seams in different directions, when joining two HST units, so make them nest. Nesting the seams makes it much easier to match the triangles neatly and helps to give perfect points.

Perfect points on half square triangle units


Have I convinced you yet?

There really are so many uses for half square triangles; I’ve got a few design ideas for blocks or projects made entirely of HSTs on my blog post if you are feeling inspired. I know some people shudder at the thought of trying to get super accurate with their patchwork projects but I do think that half square triangles are relatively easy to get nice and precise if you follow the guidelines and take your time.

All my photos from this post are from various stages on creating this star block. It is the corner section from my free pattern Simple Star Quilt so if I’ve peaked your interest in HSTs this could be a great (and free!) project to try them out.

Simple Star quilt block

If you are in the market for a different sort of new pattern or project then I currently have 25% off all my PDF patterns; I’ve got patchwork quilt designs and some smaller English paper piecing projects.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post about half square triangles. If you are new to me then you can click at the end of this to see previous blog posts. To receive updates from me about new blog posts, pattern releases, quilt alongs and more, please sign up to my newsletter and follow me on Instagram.

Here is the full #KeepCalmBritHop line up:

Saturday, 28th March: Jo Westfoot | The Crafty Nomad

Sunday, 29th March: Amy Ball | Coffee Rings Studio

Monday, 30th March: Jo Hendy | Villavin Crafts & Retreats

Tuesday, 31st March: Nicola DoddCake Stand Quilts

Wednesday, 1st April: Rachel Concannon | Rachel’s Textiles Studio

Thursday, 2nd April: Lou Orth |  Lou Orth Designs

Friday, 3rd April: Sonia Spence | Fabric & Flowers

Saturday, 4th April: Fi | Pins & Needles Grayshott

Sunday, 5th April: Sarah Ashford | Sarah Ashford Studio

Monday, 6th April: Abigail | Cut&Alter

Tuesday, 7th April: Karen Lewis  | Karen Lewis Textiles

Wednesday, 8th April: Joanna KentCrafty Quilter

Thursday, 9th April: Jo AveryJo Avery Stitch

Friday, 10th April: Round Up Post | The Crafty Nomad

Check here to see what the Keep Calm Brit Hop is all about and all of the posts as they appear each day. Enjoy and stay safe!

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