Quick and Easy Half Square Triangle (HST) Hack

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

The other day (or like, two months ago) on QuiltCast, Amy and I were talking about shortcuts and tools we use in our studio. I mentioned blue painter’s tape, and how I use it for making Half Square Triangles (HST) quick and easy. WITHOUT MARKING. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t mark the back of my half square triangles. I’m a quilting rebel, what can I say. (By the way, have you been listening to QuiltCast? It’s a podcast for quilters that I’m doing with Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side. We’re getting some great feedback on it, and I’d love yours. Head on over and download it and let me know what you think? xoxo)


Anyway, I figured you’d want to see this awesome little hack, because hey, it saves me a ton of time…and who really loves marking the back of HSTs anyway? *crickets*

That’s what I thought.

So get yourself some blue painter’s tape, and let’s do this thing.

Mark one line right down the middle of the tape, and another line 1/4″ away on either side, for a total of 3 lines.

Put the tape on your extension table, lining up the middle line with your needle. Be sure not to place the tape over the feed dogs.

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

To sew a standard HST, line up the top corner with your needle and place under your presser foot. Align the other corner with the middle line.

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

Start sewing,

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

keeping the bottom corner on the middle line as you sew.

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

Sew all the way to the other corner…

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

set your seam, trim your excess,

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

press toward the dark, and VOILA!

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

To make 2 HSTs, simply align your top corner with your 1/4″ seam allowance (I use the edge of my patchwork foot) and the right or left line.

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut


half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

then rotate and repeat…

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

on the other side of the diagonal.

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

Cut between the two seams…

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

Set seams, press toward dark, trim up, and check it out! Two HSTs and NO marking!

Seriously people, it’s like magic. (However, it is not magic taking photos in the basement.)

On my table, the biggest HSTs I can do with this method is 3″ square–but for those of you lucky ducks who have a custom table where your machine is inset, you may be able to go even bigger. Just make sure your tape is straight out from the needle.

half square triangle quilting quilt tutorial shortcut

What do you think? Will you try my Half Square Triangle Hack? Do you have any fast and easy methods of your own? I’d love to hear them!

Also. YOU GUYS. New Patterns and a Black Friday coupon code coming tomorrow!! I’m crossing my fingers you love these new ones as much as I do.



| Filed under Quilting, Quilting Hack, Tutorial

88 thoughts on “Quick and Easy Half Square Triangle (HST) Hack

  1. All of the sudden I see a light at the end of the tunnel… and a bunch of quilt block fabric packets that may just see the light of day as well. Simple and perfect trick. :)

  2. Thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful idea! I flat refuse to mark these and have been known to eyeball it with success…most of the time. Lol But I need to develop patience and accuracy. This is perfect for stubborn people like me :)

    1. It’s my favorite way to make HSTs, hands down. I have done the eyeball thing, too, but I like that this is just a liiiiiittle more accurate. :)

  3. I have two other ways I do HSTs, also w/o marking. One is to take that square you have above (right sides together), cut it on the diagonal, and then just chain-sew the triangles, using my magnetic edge guide to sew straight. It really doesn’t take any more time than your method and I can sew very quickly but still precisely.

    The other is to take 2 long strips, right sides together, and sew all along both long sides. Then I cut squares from that strip, and chain-sew both unsewn sides of each square. That leaves me with 2 squares sewn completely together. I then cut that into an “x” and I have 4 HSTs. I can’t tell you exactly how to figure your size; I usually do the math and then add a bit — I like to have extra to trim it just right. Method 1 on this pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/262545853246612632/ shows that, except for it’s starting from a square for 4 HSTs and I usually need a bunch of the same HSTs at once so I go with strips.

    There are a lot of different HST methods out there, and I think there’s probably no such thing as the “best” one, just ones that work best for each of us in certain situations. I love seeing them all.

  4. OMG this is so brilliant, why didn’t I think of this?!! Thanks, I’ve been marking with pencil for so long… This is so much easier — whew!

  5. This is terrific…I’m afraid my eyes would put the tape on wonky, any helpful hints there, anyone. I like this idea….or going back to marking the center. You take a chance of losing any integrity on the bias by stitching the two seams before cutting. Otherwise, you would almost have to press the diagonal in place and sew….nah….

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  8. C’mon! So many neat little tricks, but soo many little children to take care of! I will get my chance, I will!! This is a game changer.

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  10. This is a great idea. However, this is the way l do it. Take two pieces of fabric right sides together. Sew 1/4 inch all the way around. Then cut it diagonally one way and then diagonally the other way. Leaves you with four hst. Another easy way.

    1. How do you know how big to make the first 2 fabrics . To get the size you want when you cut it. I hope you can understand what I am saying, lol

  11. Brilliant! Thanks sew much! I have never used a triangle in my quilting, because they would never line up correctly. Tried your way and got it! YAY!!!

  12. I love this idea!! Im new at this…the Only problem I have is trying to figure out how much bigger to cut the squares so when the triangles are cut they arent too small…

  13. Genius, thanks God there are some very clever sewers that
    make our sewing days easier.
    I’m out to the swing machine,

  14. This looks almost too good to be true. What’s the math needed to tell you what size squares to start out with to end up with the right size blocks?

    1. There is a chart somewhere on Pinterest. I found two. And I’m making a laminated copy to keep handy til I get it memorized. Cant wait to try this method !! The squaring of the tape line to the needle might be tricky for me. I’ll let you know !!

  15. i willldefinitely give this a try, thank you.
    Question.. Still can’t quite get the size right when making shortcut 2HSTs. What length do you add on to get actual size required please

  16. Très ingénieux et simple à utiliser. Et j’aime votre “voilà “. Je vais lire tout votre blog . Merci !

  17. love your hst idea, wil definitely give it a try. I can feel me likening hst more. Thanks so much. Corky

  18. I like this idea much better than the plastic pre-made one. I do have a question. How would you do an HST on a square that is larger and covers the entire blue tape so that is not visible?

  19. Whoop! Now that IS something that’s going to go down on my machine for certain! Where has this been ’til now, where have I been ’til now.?! *sobs*
    Thanks a heap, better late than never hey? #toptip :-) Wonder if the podcasts are still going, as I realize this reply is a few years ‘later on’… ;-) Happy days!

  20. After three attempts at getting the lines just right on my blue tape, I finally got it figured out. Only to realize it won’t work with my 10″ layer cake fabric squares. Duh! ;)

    I have saved my tape to try this with smaller squares some day soon. Thanks for the tip!

  21. I have been doing something similar for years but this is the best yet.

    I am off to the hardware store to get some 1 1/2 inch tape. Thanks a lot.

  22. I’ve tried all these methods and a few others and still come up with HSTs that need to be straightened up. Ugh. It just takes forever. Now I avoid patterns that require them though they are used in so many things I just wish they weren’t such a pain.

  23. I will be putting my HST ruler away and look forward to trying this method. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Thank you so much for this trick, April! I found it on accident right as I was starting to mark HSTs for a signature quilt. I can’t believe how much time you’re saving me. Thank you!!!

  25. What I do is fold one square in half and iron it. Place it on top of the other one right sides together. Then I line my 1/4 foot on one side and sew then turn and do the same on the other side of the ironed line. No marking of any kind.

  26. If you are going to line up the diagonal and iron it, you might as well be marking it. No saving in time, which is what the hack is all about.

  27. I tried this great tip! Works so much easier than marking. To make several HSTs, I have also used the strip method where you put right sides of fabrics together, sew both edges, then cut on diagonal which works too. I haven’t used that method in a long time so i could have missed a step, but you get the idea. Thanks for your ingenious tip!

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