Perfecting Half-Square Triangles

At the retreat this past week, I spent some time working on a scrap quilt that I started last year.

The design has LOTS and LOTS of Half-Square triangles and I was looking for a way to make them quickly and accurately!!

My first decision was to use two squares of fabric, sew a line on the diagonal and then discard the other portion of the squares.

I know that technically this wastes fabric but it made use of the 2.5-inch squares that I had already cut and it meant that I didn’t have to do any trimming!!

I started out drawing a line on one of the squares and sewing along that line but that took WAY too long!!

To circumvent the process, I decided to mark the sewing line on my machine using painter’s tape……

I started out with the needle squarely in the corner of the squares…..

I then carefully stitched, making sure that the opposite point followed along the tape edge….

I normally use BOTH hands to guide the squares but one hand had to hold the camera steady!!

Note that I ended with the needle square in the corner!!

The next step was to iron the dark triangle over…..

Trim off the excess fabric…..

And then press it flat!!

Now, I know that there are tools designed for this very purpose…..

…..but it was nice to use something as simple as a piece of tape!!!

And, I LOVE how the quilt is looking now…..

Take a ride in the mystery machine….

The Mystery Machine is on the prowl again with the next clue in the Macaron Mystery from Meadow Mist Designs.

This is our first month of sewing and, like many mystery quilts, it starts with half-square triangles!!

While doing last year’s mystery, I learned the trick of ironing the half-square triangles before they are cut apart. I first wrote about it in this post.

The problem that I have had with this technique is that when I start to cut the triangles apart, the folded fabric gets in the way…..

When Cheryl was showing the technique again, she made a simple comment to TURN THE BLOCK OVER and make the cut…..

Oh….that makes more sense!!

But you say “what if the fabric gets folded under”?


Okay….new plan….. turn it upside down, run my fingers down the center of the two seams to make sure that the fabrics are laying flat…..

NOW I can safely make the cut!!!

I used the “Bloc-Loc” ruler to square up the blocks, leaving a small pile of snippet cuttings….

Now came the fun part….. laying out the blocks and trying to IMAGINE how they might go together….

I love how these look, especially the swirls that show up at various points…..

So it is back in the box to wait for another month and another clue……

I can’t wait to use that peppermint-colored fabric!!!

Another tool in my Quilter’s Toolbox

As I said in my last post, this month was the second installment of the “Morewood Mystery” presented by Meadow Mist Designs, and this month centered around making Half-Square Triangles in two different sizes.

Cheryl, the moderator of the mystery gave some amazing suggestions for how to easily trim these HST’s using a Rotating Cutting Mat and the Bloc-Loc ruler. Check out my video to see these latest tools that I have added to my Quilter’s Toolbox…..

Continuing with Morewood Mystery

Last month I posted about joining the Morewood Mystery Quilt presented by Meadow Mist Designs. We are currently in the first sewing step, making Half-Square Triangles. The administrator of the mystery presented a wonderful video with suggestions about how to make these blocks faster and easier.

But first I had to MAKE the squares and decided to “up my game” a bit when drawing the lines prior to sewing. Previously I would just put the fabric on the cutting mat and trace the line but often the fabric would slip and slide around so that the line wasn’t straight and didn’t fall perfectly in the corners. This time, I pulled out my sandpaper board and used it to hold the fabric in place……

It worked perfectly!!

Once the squares were sewn, I turned to the first of the video suggestions…… a way to press the blocks so that the corners don’t slide out of square.

I normally cut the blocks apart first and then press them but Cheryl suggested that a majority of the pressing should be done BEFORE the center line was cut.

Press one side first……

Turn it around and press the other side so that it is pre-folded and looks like this…..

Now you cut along the marked line…..

When you get ready to do the final pressing, the piece is already “Pre-pressed” and ready to go!!

I felt like it made a huge difference in how the squares turned out and it will definitely help with the trimming process but I will talk about that tomorrow!!

So my HST’s are now ready to go and I will wait NOT-so patiently for the next clue!!!

Pathagoras was one smart cookie…..

According to Wikipedia, Pathagoras of Samos was an ancient Greek Philosopher who lived from 570BC to 495 BC. Under Occupation, it lists Philosopher, Teacher and Mathematician……quite the trifecta!!! But this third occupation is the one that puts him squarely in the middle of a blog devoted to quilting!!!

Cast your mind back to my Color Wheel quilt that was started about this time last year. I dutifully appliqued all of the circles on and then things came to a grinding halt with studio renovation, tax season and, dare I say it, CORONA!!!!

This was the last post that I made about this quilt and it ended up with the idea of continuing the quilt by putting it on point and adding triangles to each corner. This was my final idea about how to proceed……

So today was the day to figure out what size the triangles would need to be and THAT is where Pathagoras comes in. As part of his discoveries, he found the Pathagorean Theorem, based on this diagram……

….which I don’t REALLY understand, but I did understand the formula where a and b equal to the sides of the triangle and c is the hypotenuse of the triangle……

Since I always loved Algebra, I was pretty sure that I could figure this out!!! Normally, I would have just used trial and error and then cut off any extra along the sides but this time I needed to have things a bit more precise.

The first thing that I did was to lay out the top as it stands right now and figure out exactly where the next border would be added on. I used my Laser Square Up to draw in some basic lines…..

And then measured to see how long each side would be. I found that the hypotenuse of the triangle was 59.5 so now I had to calculate the sides. I started with the formula and did the math…..

…finding that my square needed to be 42 inches. I then drew a 42 inch square on paper, divided it across the diagonal and, voila….it measured 59.5 inches…..


Since I am wanting to have circle made from the 4 triangle corners, I now needed to get the circle drafted. Since my triangle was only 1/2 of the square in the corner, I needed to complete the square to draft the circle. Of course, I had ALREADY cut the square apart and discarded the unused portion so I moved to the floor and “drew” out the other half of the square with painter’s tape……

….making sure that the diagonal was 59.5 inches.

The final set was to attach a pencil and cord that was the correct length……

….and draw the circle…..

These photos don’t look square but I promise that they are!!!

So, now I have a precise size template to use to cut the fabrics and can move on to the more exciting designing!!!

That is TOO much math for one day!!!

Let’s go do something else!!!