Half Square triangle blocks are one of the basic elements of quilting. The design options are endless. At the bottom of this post is a link to a Half Square Triangles pinboard where you can get all kinds of half-square triangle inspiration.
For this tutorial I’ll be sharing the traditional “Broken Dishes” layout of half square triangle blocks. It’s such a simple pattern – perfect for showing off pretty fabric like the quilt above (more details here). It also works well for a simple, graphic design like this example using only solid fabrics.
The design works well when there’s some contrast between light and dark fabrics. You can see in my solids version of this quilt, that the contrast is more stark between light and dark. In the crib-size version I used a variety of prints as well as different colors for my ‘dark’ fabrics and I like the over-all scrappi-ness of the finished look. You don’t have to use ‘lights’ and ‘darks’ – just an overall random selection of fabrics would look equally great.
Fabric requirements for 40″ x 50″ crib quilt (prints quilt):
- 40 light’ 6″ x 6″ ‘squares
- 40 ‘dark’ 6″ x 6″ squares
- ⅜ yard fabric for binding
- 1 ⅝ yards for backing
- 42″ x 54″ batting
There’s no right or wrong – just different options. You could use a commercial collection – like I did on this one – or just pick out fabrics and colors that you like. This design is very forgiving and embraces a wide-variety of looks! So don’t over think your fabric – just go for it.
Let’s start with the crib quilt using the 6″ x 6″ squares:
I cut my squares from fat quarters. 7 light FQ’s and 7 dark FQ’s will give you a nice variety of fabrics. If you are cutting from FQ’s, you’ll get the best use of your fabric by cutting two 6″ x 18″ strip from the 18″ side of the FQ, and then cutting them into six 6″ x 6″ blocks.
You could also buy ⅙ yards of fabric (if your fabric store will cut ⅙ yards) for this quilt – 7 light fabrics and 7 dark fabrics. ⅙ of a yard is going to be 6″ x about 42″. Cut at least six 6″ x 6″ squares from each ⅙ yard. (You’ll have a little extra fabric left over.)
How to make Half Square Triangle Blocks: Match each light 6″ x 6″ square right sides together with a dark 6″ x 6″ square. Draw a diagonal line on the back of every light square.
Rotary cut directly on the drawn line to create two separate blocks.
Square up each block to 5 ½″ x 5 ½”. This step can seam a little tedious, but it makes a big difference when it’s time to assemble the blocks. Here is the traditional method to square up half-square triangle blocks (HST’s) but this is my favorite quick square-up method.
Press blocks flat with seam allowance toward the dark fabric on all blocks. (This will come in handy when you assemble your rows.) You will have 80 total HST blocks.
Starting with the first row, layout 8 HST blocks with dark triangles rotating like this. Repeat this layout direction for all odd rows (rows 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9). Press seams to the right on all odd rows.
Starting with the second row, layout 8 HST blocks with dark triangles rotating in this pattern. Repeat this layout direction for all even rows (rows 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10). Press seams to the left on all even rows.
(I recommend laying out the entire quilt before you start sewing blocks into rows so that you can play with colors and prints and get an overall picture of the finished quilt. Then pick up rows, keeping blocks in order, one at a time, and take to the machine to sew them together. Label each row (1, 2, 3, etc.) so that you can keep the rows in order once they are assembled.
Pin and sew rows together in order. By pressing the seam allowances in opposite directions on odd and even rows, your seams should but up against each other, helping your triangle points to match up.
Press row seams in one direction.
You could make twin size quilt with blocks this size (5″ x 5″ finished), if you like, using 238 squares 6″ x 6″ (119 light squares and 119 dark squares.)
However, I would recommend using 10″ x 10″ squares (which are easily found in pre-cuts) for a larger size quilt. This will simplify the number of squares you have to sew, piece, and square-up and the scale works well for a bigger quilt.
VERSION USING 10″ x 10″ squares:
Fabric requirements for a 54″ x 68″ lap-size quilt (solid orange and navy quilt):
- 24 ‘light’ 10″ x 10″ squares
- 24 ‘dark’ 10″ x 10″ squares
- ⅜ yard for binding
- 3 ¼ yards for backing
- 55″ x 72″ batting
Fabric requirements for a 68″ x 85″ twin-size quilt:
- 40 light 10″ x 10″ squares
- 40 dark 10″ x 10″ squares
- ⅝ yard binding
- 5 yards backing
- 72″ x 90″ batting
Use the same method for creating the half square triangles: matching up two squares, sewing on both sides of diagonal line, cutting into two units, etc. When squaring up, square up these blocks to 9″ x 9″ (8 ½″ x 8 ½″ finished).
For the 51″ x 68″ quilt (shown) sew the rows into 6 blocks across by 8 blocks down. Use the photo here for direction placement.
For the 68″ x 85″ quilt, lay out the 9″ x 9″ blocks 8 blocks across by 10 blocks down. Use the same placement guide as the 40″ x 54″ crib quilt.
Now that you know the basics for sewing half square triangle (HST) blocks, your design options are endless. I’m constantly updating this pin board with HST designs and layouts if you’re looking for inspiration.
If you’re looking for other simple baby quilt ideas check these out: