half square triangles on a quilt, how to sew triangles, border on quilt
Borders, Piecing Half-Square Trangles, Twirling Fans, Twirling Fans QAL

Borders: 1/2 square triangles!

If you have been following along as I show how to make the fan quilt (above), below are instructions for piecing the half-square triangle border. I love HST borders!

I will show you some different ways of piecing the triangles. You can choose the option that works best for you and your quilt.

The method you choose depends on the look you want.

for the border above, which includes half square triangles of all the same fabrics (orange and white), the best method is using pre-printed triangle paper (thangles, etc). Instructions below…

for the border above, which consists of scraps of many different fabrics, the best method is strip cutting and chain piecing (one of two methods, instructions below).

1. USING PRE-PRINTED TRIANGLES ON PAPER allows you to make tons of HST units quickly without cutting or sewing on bias edges of fabric. This method is best used when you are making all the units the same.

cut your fabric strips to the width specified on your triangle paper, I cut my fabric as wide as the paper strip plus a 1/2 inch. The length of the strips depends on how many HST squares you want to make. For example, my paper makes squares that will finish 1 1/2″ (2″ unfinished). Each row on the paper will result in 8 HST squares. Count the number of rows you need to sew to get enough HST units and cut each of your fabrics and your paper that size.

place the two fabrics on your table, right sides together with edges matched.
place the paper on top of the top fabric, right side facing up (toward you):

You should be looking at the wrong side of the top fabric and the right side/printed side of your triangle paper. Pin all three layers together.
Notice on the photo above that the paper has solid lines (for cutting AFTER you sew) and dotted lines for sewing on. The arrows indicate the direction to sew. If you follow those arrows, you should be able to sew a whole strip of triangles without lifting your presser foot.
After sewing on dotted lines. Use rotary cutter and ruler to cut the solid lines, both diagonal ones and straight/crosswise ones, as well as the very edge lines. Carefully remove the paper and press triangles open to make your squares.

2. STRIP CUTTING AND STRING PIECING allows you to make HST units with small cuts or scraps of fabric, lending scrappy variety to your finished border.
Decide the size of your  finished HST square and add one inch to determine the width of strips to cut. In this border, the finished square is 1 1/2″, so I am cutting 2 1/2″ strips (in whatever length I have. this is a good way to use scraps and leftover strips from other projects)

Cut 2 1/2″ strips from two fabrics.

Place the strips on your table, RIGHT SIDES FACING and matched.
Cut the strip into squares by cutting every 2 1/2″ along the length…

Option #1:
cut each of these squares in half diagonally, keep the two fabrics together….

When you have a little stack piled up, chain piece them by feeding one after another through your machine, stitch a quarter-inch along the bias (diagonal) edge. Open the triangles and press gently.

Option #2:
keep the squares in tact. Mark the center line diagonally across each square with a pen….

then use a quarter inch presser foot or mark the quarter inch on either side to sew your seams as shown above. cut along your marked center line to separate the triangles….

open the triangles and press gently. Measure the square and trim, if needed, to 2″.

2″ unfinished HST square

To piece your triangle border, measure your quilt as shown HERE, and determine how many HST squares you need and what size.
For example, for the first sides, if my quilt measures 51 1/2″, then I need to make 34 of the 1 1/2″ finished HST squares.
Sew your border pieces in sections (in pairs, then fours, then eights, etc). Measure your sections frequently for accuracy. Even a slight variation in seam allowance makes a big difference when it’s multiplied by 34! If you find you get slightly off, make up for it by increasing or decreasing the next seam by a hair to correct.
Believe me, having four seams out of 34 that are 3/16″ instead of 4/16″ will not be noticeable. Fudge a bit if needed. Nobody sews 34 pieces together and comes out perfect. you with me?

Make two strips of 34 for the first two (opposite) borders…(or whatever you need to fit the measurement of your quilt). Mark and sew the borders to your quilt and repeat for the remaining two sides.
The tutorial linked above on measuring also shows how to match, pin and sew your borders to the quilt.

Questions are welcomed and I love comments (as long as they are nice)!!

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2 thoughts on “Borders: 1/2 square triangles!

  1. Jacque says:

    Great tips, Sharon! HSTs are a great way to bust some of the scraps we build up (and then I swear they multiply in the bins at night). Thanks for a clear post with great photos!

  2. Zoe says:

    Your tutorials are awesome! I’ve been considering paper piecing and now I’m going to try it. By the way, your black lab is beautiful! Aren’t they the best? Love my girl!

I love comments! thanks for stopping by.