How to make 1/2-square triangles the easy way by Nancy ZiemanOne of the easiest places to start quilting is with a 1/2-square triangle. Nancy Zieman shows how to create this traditional quilting staple without fussing with bias-cut edges. Make the block unit easily, “Nancy’s no-hassle way,” with this episode of Sewing With Nancy, which features step-by-step details for creating precision-made quilt blocks.

During the first episode on Sewing With Nancy, learn to create six different blocks, all made with 1/2-square triangles. During the second episode—next week’s feature—learn about 1/4-square triangles. Watch this Sewing With Nancy episode!

The Box Quilt (1898)

One of the more streamline quilt blocks to create from 1/2-square triangles is the Box Quilt. First illustrated in print in 1898, it’s created with eight 1/2-square triangle blocks and a square. The design has great movement, reminiscent of a pinwheel.

How to Make 1/2-square triangles by Nancy Zieman

Shadow Play

Instead of making all the 1/2-square triangles from the same fabrics, stitch together three different color combos. This block is called Shadow Play, where the fabric choices create the impact.

How to Make 1/2-square triangles by Nancy ZiemanGodey Design

Godey’s Lady’s Book was a monthly magazine published in Philadelphia between 1830 and 1876. Before the Civil War, it was the most widely circulated magazine in the United States. Sarah Josepha Hall was the editor of the magazine from 1837 to 1877; she also wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb. One of the designs featured in the magazine in 1858 was simply called, Godey Design.

How to Make 1/2-square triangles by Nancy Zieman

Square in a Square

When researching quilt block names, Nancy found literally dozens of quilt blocks named Square in a Square. With seemingly limitless geometric options with squares, no wonder it’s a common name. Regardless, it’s an attractive block all designed with 1/2-square triangles.

How to make 1/2-square triangles by Nancy Zieman

May Basket

May Basket is another frequently used name for a quilt block. This block is also named, Cactus Flower. Your fabric choice will dictate the name. This version combines two sizes of finished triangles: 3-1/2″ and 6-1/2″, giving the block a center focal point.

How to make 1/2-square triangles by Nancy Zieman

Nancy’s Spool

This block may or may not be an original arrangement of 1/2-square triangles. Our guess is that it has been created before, but since Nancy couldn’t find it in print, she named it Nancy’s Spool.

How to make 1/2-square triangles by Nancy Zieman

How to Make 1/2-Square Triangles

During the episode, Nancy shared how to easily make the above blocks as well as basic 2-1/2″, 3-1/2″, 4-1/2″, 5-1/2″ and 6-1/2″ half-square triangles. (Learn 1/4-square triangle tips in the next episode!) There’s no hassle and no need to cut a single triangle! The measurements are printed on the No-Hassle Triangles Gauge that Nancy designed for Clover.

Nancy Zieman No Hassle Triangles Gauge by Clover Needlecraft

Nancy Zieman No Hassle Triangles Gauge by Clover Left Side IMG_4158

Nancy Zieman No Hassle Triangles Gauge by Clover IMG_4203

  • Lay the No-Hassle Triangles Gauge onto squares to double-check the block size. If the block set is larger or smaller than the confines of the gauge, recut the blocks.

Nancy Zieman No Hassle Triangles Gauge by Clover IMG_4137

Nancy Zieman No Hassle Triangles Gauge by Clover IMG_4142

  • Stitch a scant 1/4″ from each side of the center marking.

Nancy Zieman No Hassle Triangles Gauge by Clover IMG_4144

  • Cut along the center diagonal line.

Nancy Zieman No-Hassle Triangle Gauge from Clover IMG_4988

  • Presto, there are now two accurate 1/2-square triangles!

Nancy Zieman No Hassle Triangles Gauge by Clover IMG_4152

Watch No-Hassle Triangles (Part One and Part Two) on The Best of Sewing With Nancy online.

The Best of Sewing With Nancy TV Show hosted by Nancy Zieman

Show us What You’re Making! We love to hear from you, so whether youve tried one of Nancy’s Sewing Patterns, or youre planning on stitching a project you’ve seen on Sewing With Nancy or on The Nancy Zieman Productions Blog, share your experiences and photos with us on Facebook or Instagram!

The randomly selected winner of random winner of Richard Zieman’s new book, Nancy Zieman the Rest of the Story—A Memoir of Faith, Family, and Friends. From the the October 17 Blog Post is Candice Crosetto.

Nancy Zieman the Rest of the Story - A Memoir of Faith Family and Friends

Her comment is: I am one of the fortunate ones to live in Washington, just a short way from Puyallup. I was at the original Sewing Expo (held in Tacoma at that time). My mother and I attend every year (she’s 86 now), would attend one of Nancy’s seminars, visit her booth, (when she had one) and loved the Friday Night shows with Nancy. We were there for Nancy’s last one. Her sense of humor was fabulous! She is missed.


Happy Quilting!

Team Nancy Zieman

Nancy Zieman Productions. LLC.


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