Sewing half-square triangle units can be a tricky issue for most of us. Yesterday I tried a product for making them that I’ve resisted up to this point.

Just as rotary cutting was coming into it’s own in the mid-80’s, new techniques abounded and many were geared toward making half-square triangle units. We used one method that involved drawing a grid on the wrong side of the lighter of the two fabrics intended for the half-square triangle unit. It wasn’t actually new and had been used with scissors prior to the rotary cutter.

We used to draw grids on our fabric by hand and then sew on the lines to either side of the center line.

Working on the wrong side of the lightest fabric, using a ruler and pencil, draw a grid that produces the number of half-square triangle units you need. Layer and pin the two fabrics right sides together. Sew on the lines to either side of the center line, cut the units apart and press them.

The technique was effective but drawing the grids was cumbersome and time consuming. It was loaded with ‘opportunities’ for trouble if the fabric or ruler slipped, the pencil point was too fat, the squares weren’t drawn truly square, or any number of other pitfalls.

Fast forward a couple of decades to the recent past and the concept has been revived. Rather than draw our own lines, several companies produce preprinted papers. Pin the papers onto the fabric to provide the necessary sewing and cutting lines, eliminating the need to drawn them by hand. They also ensure accuracy and consistency and save a lot of time. Yesterday I tried one called Star Singles.

Star Singles packaging

The Star Single papers are printed in convenient size squares. Each paper produces a total of eight finished half-square triangle units. They make them for a number of different finished size half-square triangle units. Use the number of papers needed to make the number of half-square triangle units called for in your project.

Pre-printed paper grid.

Pre-printed paper grid.

For my project I needed 16 half-square triangle units in a medium color and 8 in a dark color, both paired with the same background fabric. I cut 2 medium squares, 1 dark square, and 3 background squares. They recommend cutting the squares a bit larger than the paper size so I cut 6 1/2″ squares of each fabric.

Cut squares of fabric a tad larger than the paper square.

Cut squares of fabric a tad larger than the paper square.

To begin, I paired my fabrics, right sides together and pinned a paper to the top of each pair.

My pairs of fabric are pinned and ready to sew!

My pairs of fabric are pinned and ready to sew!

Now, it’s time to sew. Set your stitch length to about 15-20 stitches per inch so the paper will score and tear away easily later. The dotted lines on the papers are the sewing lines. The lines are marked with arrows and numbers pointing out where to start and the sewing direction. If you follow the arrows and numbers as indicated on the papers, you’ll sew one continuous line. Boy does that make this easy!

Locate the starting point on the edge of the paper at line 1.

Locate the starting point on the edge of the paper at line 1.

 

Start sewing on the edge at the beginning of line 1.

Start sewing on the edge at the beginning of line 1.

 

Stop with needle down in the big black dot.

Sew to the opposite corner and stop with needle down in the big black dot.

 

Lift your presser foot, pivot the paper and begin stitching the next line.

Lift your presser foot, pivot the paper and begin stitching to the next line.

 

Sew to the end of the sewing line.

Continue pivoting and stitching on the lines to the end of the sewing line back where you started.

 

Trim the excess from around the paper.

Trim the excess from around the paper.

 

Cut the units apart on the solid lines.

Cut the units apart on the solid lines.

 

By using a short stitch length, the paper scored and tore away easily.

By using a short stitch length, the paper scores and tears away easily.

 

The end result is eight finished ready to press half-square triangle units. I'll be pressing four to the light and four to the dark.

The end result is eight finished, ready-to-press half-square triangle units. I’ll be pressing four to the light and four to the dark.

 

Finally press your half-square triangle units. Trim off the dog ears if you want. I did and found the squares measured precisely the size they were meant to be.

When trimming dog ears I saw how perfectly sized these units were.

Look how perfectly sized these half-square triangle units are at 2 1/2″!

 

How cool is this? I don’t often use specialty products but I may just change my mind on this one.

Leave me a comment and tell me what products like this, if any, you use or have used and what you thought of them. I’m curious to see what you think!

 

Best Stitches!

 

Donna