Apr 7, 2014

Cutting corners: Tips for extra Half Square Triangles

How many times have you finished putting a block together and ended up with scraps?  Well, it's not uncommon to cut off 90 degree corners and discard the extra pieces of fabric.

Somehow, this didn't feel right, so I decided to start experimenting with corners...  The result is tiny Half-square triangles, or HST, that can be used for another project.

For example, in making the flying geese to the left, I ended up with the HST to the right...

This is possible ANY time you are joining two pieces of fabric with a 90 degree corner and sew a 45 degree seam. Sounds weird, huh?  Just bear with me and let me show you what I'm talking about with pictures.

In the one below, you can see the joining of strips of fabric to form a quilt binding. Notice how the two ends of the strips are on top of each other, forming a corner.

The instructions for binding call for a diagonal seam from the inner to the outer corner. Pay close attention to the pic above; you will see a pencil line marking a diagonal line (which would be the 45 degree seam line).  

Just sew right on top of this line. This is the first step.

If this post was about making binding, instructions would call for cutting the corners to the right of the seam, leaving 1/4 inch of fabric.

But if you want an extra HST, don't cut the fabric off! Instead, sew a second seam about a 1/2 inch from the original seam on the area that would have been cut off in the first place.

You will end with corners that have two seams, like so:

In the following picture, the two seams are highlighted in BLUE.

The next step is cutting on the YELLOW line...

... so you will have the original unit (in this picture, the fabric to the left) and an extra HST that would have been discarded. Press open.

The result is an extra bunch of little half square triangles that would have made it right to the trash can to never be seen again! 

Now, we need to make sure they form a nice square. Remember that these are extra pieces that result from a completely optional step; they generally tend to be tiny.

I chose to cut these units to form a 1 3/4 square to be on the safe side; the size of the square will vary depending on the original corners you had.

Just make sure that the 45 degree line in your ruler is right on top of the seam - this is VERY important; this step will guarantee that the points line up when you sew all the pieces together.

Here is the same step, just with a different color of fabric; I thought this would make it easier to see in a picture.

Now that all your HST are squared up, you're ready to let your crafty bone loose and play with the arrangements!

How about a little diamond?

Or random placement with the seams facing the same direction?

If you have more, you can even get 4 little diamonds, so cute!

 Or even chevrons; just make sure you have enough HSTs...  :)

I am really developing a weak spot for this arrangement, more uniform, but so crisp and modern!

There are many other units that you can obtain extra HST from. They don't even have to be completely even, because of the squaring up...

How about you? Can you think of any blocks that can yield an extra unit from a rescued "almost scrap?" Please add your comments and share pictures!  Sharing is the best way for everyone to learn and explore more crafty ideas.

Thanks for stopping by and stay blessed!  :) 

Post Post... Does this even exist?

This Double Star is made with flying geese, 
perfect for getting extra HST!

Let's not forget about Strong Tower. Beautiful block and 16 extra HST!

A new piece joins the Extra HSQ gallore... Peppy yields a lot of them and I couldn't leave the scrapps alone! The center piece and some of the HST that ended up in the improv areas came from that little extra seam.