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