Triangle Technique

The other night I caught a new episode of Love of Quilting and Jo Morton was a guest again. She was showing another technique for making half square triangles. I first became aware of Jo last year when I watched a previous episode of Love of Quilting.

Jo Morton is a fabric designer, writer and quilt designer. She has a website, where she sells, apparently, self-published, books, and a blog. She is also a designer for Andover Fabrics and has a large number of collections and projects on their site.

Based on what I saw Marianne and Jo do on the show, I tried the technique and was pleased with the results.

I got in touch with Jo, who was very quick about getting back to me, and asked whether she had technique sheets or sections in her books discussing the scalability of her techniques. She said that the market is geared towards projects and she didn’t have technique sheets. Too bad. I had trouble with her Flying Geese technique, but found the half square triangle (HST ) technique to be one of the best I have seen. It is straightforward, there is a minimum of dealing with bias and the squares magically appear all at once.

Since she didn’t have technique sheets, searched the web.  I found a similar one posted on Wet Canvas. The Wet Canvas tutorial does a good job of showing the different ways of using the half square triangles. Most of the techniques were the square method (like what I describe below, but with one square making 2 HSTs, rather than a larger square making 8 HSTs) like the p.s. i quilt tutorial. I am also interested in the Quilt in a Day method and this tutorial talks about that. B’s Modern Quilting has the fish tutorial method.

I started with 5″ squares, which is the size they used on the show. The 5″ squares make 8 HSTs. I thought this would be a great way to use charm packs.

2 5
2 5
Draw an X
Draw an X
Put 2 squares together
Put 2 squares together

First, I drew an X, corner to corner, on the lighter square. Then I put the 2 squares right sides together and pressed them. If I had wanted to pin I would have pinned far away from any of the lines. I walked on the wild side and didn’t use pins.

Next, I sewed on each side of the lines, 1/4″ away from each line

Measure 2.5
Measure 2.5

After sewing, I measured 2.5″ from the side of the square.

Cut in a + Configuration
Cut in a + Configuration

Cut the square in a plus configuration 2.5″ (middle of the X). I think you could cut on the pencil lines, but you have to cut in a plus configuration at some point and it seems to make sense to cut in the plus configuration first.

Cut in +, then X
Cut in +, then X

After you cut the plus, you will have four squares, each with a line drawn diagonally across the middle. Cut the squares in half diagonally. You can use the line as a guide. It is more important to line your ruler up corner to corner.

HSTs from 5
HSTs from 5

The result is 8 2″ half square triangles. The above are actually a thread or two larger than 2″, which leaves the perfect opportunity for trimming to make them an absolutely perfect 2″.


Trim the squares to 2″. Trim on all four sides. Don’t be tempted to trim just on two sides. Line the 45 degree angle line on your ruler up with the diagonal seam line on your HST and trim on all four sides.

Beautiful HSTs
Beautiful HSTs

Now you have 8 beautiful HSTs. The bias edges shouldn’t be scary for you on the regular method, but this method makes HSTs much easier. I think this would be a fabulous method to make a lot of HSTs in a short amount of time. It is similar to a tutorial that p.s. i quilt posted, but times 4. I am planning to try out different sized beginning squares to see what sized HSTs I come up with.

I talked over the math with my DH and came up with a chart showing the different sizes you can make with this technique.

AQ HST Size Chart


  1. Jo Morton website
  2. Jo Morton blog
  3. Jo Morton on Andover
  4. Wet Canvas tutorial
  5. Carole’s Quilting Adventures tutorial
  6. B’s Modern Quilting Fish Tutorial
  7. p.s. i quilt HST tutorial

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

25 thoughts on “Triangle Technique”

  1. Cool. This technique would be fabulous when making a design like Jewel Box, where you need a lot of HSTs. Even if you were doing a scrappy design you could use this technique because you could scatter the units all over the quilt so they didn’t end up all next to one another. Thanks to DH for the help with chart!

    1. I like using pins, but gave the pieces a little press to help them stick together and didn’t need pins after one seam. I would probably use them for larger HSTs.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I too, saw her on the Fons and Porter show “Love of Quilting” and it made so much sense I thought I could remember the technique. After looking it up on their website, it wasn’t available yet. Then I found your site. Just exactly what I needed to know and the chart too! Thank you so much!!!! I really appreciate it. I am new to quilting and really am happy to have found your tutorial. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Julie, thanks for reading and commenting! I often sit with a piece of paper and rewind and look at the technique again and again until I think I have it. Check out Piecemeal quilts as well. They are doing a really great Skillbuilder tutorial.

  3. This is the method I use when I want to make a lot of triangles for myself out of FQ or yardage. I make different size triangles and have a spread sheet with some of the numbers I need to figure out the size triangle I will get…. not gotten very far on the math aspect yet.

    If I am giving the triangles away in an exchange I use Thangles for jelly rolls and Edyta Sitar’s papers for FQ cuts.

    When I use my scraps I use the two squares sewn 1/4 inch away from the diagonal then cut down the diagonal. Works good for me as a leader and ender project… I get a lot of triangles made from this method. I just have to determine value placement in advance.

    I have several triangle projects in production now… but these are long term projects.


  4. Hello. Thank you very much for the tutorial. I just made my first set using your method. I wanted to mention that I used the chart with the intention of making
    4.5 inch unfinished half-square triangle units. According to the chart I should start with 9 inch squares, however, I wanted to give myself ample room for trimming to an accurate size, so I used 9.5 inch squares. However, the units produced are only 4.25 inches. This size will work fine for me on this project, but I wanted to call your attention to this discrepancy. Thanks again for the tutorial!

  5. Jaye, Since I am using straggles of the blue background fabric for my DP, I am using this technique to get a scrappy pinwheel border. Thanks so much!!!

  6. After making a few, I decided the pinwheels are too, static looking for the mixed up nature of the blocks. I am going for a flying geese border, scrappy geese, I’ll keep you posted!

  7. This will be really useful when you need to make a heap of HST’s. And I love the patterns you can make with HST’s, so many design possibilities. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, you have to make 8 at a time, but sometimes I will use it even when I only need four or something, then I have a few extras laying around for random projects.

  8. Oh my god! This is really informative post, I had a big fun when reading this post. This is very helpful for me, I really appreciate the clear directions and pictures. Thanks for sharing it here.

  9. I finally found your tutorial, yay! I will so hse it for my Sarah Fielke BOM project where I will need to make 24 stars, it will make it a breeze. I used this method before, just wasn’t sure about the sizes. As it turns out, I will also need to use 5″ squares 🙂

  10. Jaye, if a person doesn’t make the + cuts, only the x cuts, would the units be FG? Four of them, right? (I’ll try in a bit when I can get to my studio, just playing an intellectual challenge!)

Comments are closed.