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Make accurate half square triangles and quarter square triangles by Guidelines4Quilting

Questions 1: What kind of triangles are Half & Quarter Square Triangles? Click here for the answer.

1. Isosceles Triangles
2. Right Triangles
3. Right Isosceles Triangles
4. Equilateral triangles

Question 2: Half and Quarter Square Triangles are identical in shape. How can you tell them apart from each other when you see them in blocks like these? Click here for the answer.

HST and QST

Question 3: How much seam allowance do you need to add to the finished size to make accurate Half and Quarter Square Triangles? Click here for the answer.

 
 

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Question 1: What kind of triangles are Half & Quarter Square Triangles?

1. Isosceles Triangles
2. Right Triangles
3. Right Isosceles Triangles
4. Equilateral triangles

Answer: Right Isosceles Triangles

Actually answers 1, 2 and 3 are all correct. Both Half and Quarter Square Triangles have two equal sides and two equal angles making them Isosceles Triangles. But they also both have one right (90°) angle making them Right Triangles. So the most complete definition is that they are both Right Isosceles Triangles.

HSt-QST

Go Back to the Questions.

Question 2: Half and Quarter Square Triangles are identical in shape. How can you tell them apart from each other when you see them in blocks like these?

Answer: Watch the animation below first and read on.

 

If you answered the first two questions correctly, you know that there is no difference between Half and Quarter Square Triangles in geometry, so how can you tell them apart in blocks like these?

HST and QST

Half and Quarter Square Triangle Combinations - Guidelines4Quilting

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What does work for blocks like these, and the most common answer given is by which way the grain line of the fabric runs.

Fabric Grain

This is a great answer because it works for almost any block or unit in quilting.

We all know that in quilting you never want a bias edge that can stretch out of shape on the outside of a block or unit. We always start by first squaring up our fabric, so that we cut our strips on the straight grain.

 

 

Half and Quarter Square Triangles - Guidelines4Quilting

 

Knowing this makes it so much easier to tell Half & Quarter Square Triangles apart.

When you look at each individual patch with triangles in it, if the short sides of the triangle are on the outside, it is a Half Square Triangles. And if the long side is on the outside, it is a Quarter Square Triangles.

4 part Patch

 

Now you can even tell them apart in trickier blocks and units.

    1. Grain Line - HST QST- Guidelines4QuiltingFlying Geese unit: You want the grain line of the finished unit to run straight up and down and side to side. You see the short sides of the two yellow triangles on the outside, so they are Half Square Triangles.The long side of the pink triangle is on the outside, so it's a Quarter Square Triangle. You can watch an animation explaining this by clicking here.

    2. Brave New World block: You see one large triangle and two smaller ones. But, if you ignore the difference in size, you can see that the short sides of all the triangles are on the outside, so they must all be Half Square Triangles.

    3. Square-in-a-Square unit: An interesting thing about this unit is that the center square is on point, meaning that the grain line is running diagonally. If left that way, it is going to stretch out of shape. Surrounding it with Half Square Triangles solves the problem because their short sides: the straight grain line, is now on the outside of the unit and that prevents the finished unit from stretching out of shape.. Yay!

 

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About Quilt Blocks on Point:

So now that you've got all the right triangles in all the right places so there are no bias edges on the outside of your block. Let's rotate them all 45 degrees and set them on point. Now all the bias edges are running straight up and down and side to side!

It's triangles to the rescue again. We always use Side and Corner Setting Triangles when we set blocks on point. When you look at the Corner Setting Triangles, you see that their short edges are on the outside so they are Half Square Triangles. The long edges of the Side Setting Triangles are on the outside so they are Quarter Square Triangles.

Side and Corner Setting Triangles - Guidelines4Quilting

The bottom line is that now the outside edges of you finished quilt top is "set" with the grain line running straight up and down and side to side, so your quilt will hold its shape.

Go Back to the Questions.

Question 3: How much seam allowance do you need to add to the finished size to make accurate Half and Quarter Square Triangles?

Answer: 0.854" for HSTs and 1.207" for QSTs

Almost every one answered 7/8" for Half Square Triangles and 1 ¼" for Quarter Square Triangles, which is correct. But what most quilters don't know today is those numbers are actually rounded up. So while it's true that every pattern and every instruction book today adds 7/8" and 1 ¼", that's because rulers only have lines every 1/8".

Everyone knows that the end result is to have an extra ¼" around each piece.

Seam Allowance Story by Guidelines4Quilting

When you cut a square in half to make two Half Square Triangles, you create two more edges that also have to have an extra ¼" for the seam allowance. If you do the math, to get an exact 1/4" around all six edges of two Half Square Triangles, the precise answer is 0.854".

And for an exact ¼" around all twelve edges of four Quarter Square Triangles the exact answer is 1.207". Since you can't find those lines on a ruler, they get rounded up to 7/8" (0.875") for Half Square Triangles and 1 ¼" (1.25") for Quarter Square Triangles.

Seam Allowance Story by Guidelines4Quilting

If you have an old rotary cutting instruction book from the early 1980's, it will most likely tell you that the numbers for triangles have been rounded up. They used to recommend lining up a little short of the line when making triangles and you'll even find a few quilters today that recommend adding 1 3/16" for Quarter Square Triangles, which is a little closer to 1.207". But most quilters today have never even heard that the numbers are off a little so they just think that they aren't cutting them accurately.

Seam Allowance Story by Guidelines4Quilting

That's one reason the different brands of paper templates that have you sew on the lines and then tear the paper away work better. You do have the extra step of tearing the paper out, but they eliminate the built-in error you get when using a quilt ruler alone.

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Guidelines4Quilting's solution is our unique Seam Allowance Additions™ that attach to the edge of the Guidelines ruler.

Seam Allownace Additions by Guidelines4Quilting

Cut sizes - Guidelines4Quilting

Not only do they add the exact amounts, but they also make it so you only need to know the finished sizes of the pieces you want to make.

FSQ by Guidelines4Quilting

Click here to see how you can make pieces, units and blocks any size you want,

Using our color-coded breakdown chart that shows Squares in Purple, Half Square Triangles in Green, and Quarter Square Triangles in Red. Download

Guidelines4Quilting free downloads

Seam Allowance Additions Manual Page 8

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