Looking for quilt block inspirations? Half-square (1/2-square) and quarter-square (1/4-square) triangles are the foundation for many quilt designs. Today, I’ll show you how to make super-easy 1/2-square and 1/4-square triangle blocks the no-hassle way in my Sewing With Nancy series, which features my popular No-Hassle Triangles Gauge.
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. Here’s a sneak peek into this week’s Sewing With Nancy episode!
The Box Quilt (1898)
One of the more streamlined 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, reminding me of a pinwheel.
Instead of making all the 1/2-square triangles from the same fabrics, stitch together three different color combos. I call this block, Shadow Play, where the fabric choices create the impact.
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.
Square in a Square
When researching quilt block names, I 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 designed with all 1/2-square triangles.
May Basket is another frequently used name for a quilt block. I also found this block 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.
This block may or may not be an original arrangement of 1/2-square triangles. My guess is that it has been created before, but since I couldn’t find it in print, I boldly named it Nancy’s Spool.
How to Make 1/2-Square Triangles
During the TV episode, I share 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. (Next week, learn 1/4-square triangle tips!) There’s no hassle and no need to cut a single triangle! The measurements are printed on the No-Hassle Triangles Gauge that I designed for Clover.
- Reference the left side of the No-Hassle Triangles Gauge to select a 1/2-square block size.
- Cut crosswise strips of two fabrics—the size is printed on the No-Hassle Triangles Gauge. Cut strips into squares.
- Lay the 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.
- Mark a center diagonal line through gauge die cut openings.
- Stitch a scant 1/4″ from each side of the center marking.
- Cut along the center diagonal line.
- Presto, there are now two accurate 1/2-square triangles!
Some quilt block names have a long history; others are simply made up on the fly! I’ll let you decide the authenticity of this block named the 1/4-Square Dance! Regardless of what it’s called, it’s the perfect block to begin our no-hassle quilt block journey.
Boy’s Nonsense (1898)
This quilt block named, Boy’s Nonsense, was officially recorded and appears in print in 1898. The block appears to include rectangular strips. Not so, the design is a combination of 1/2- and 1/4-square triangles plus a plain center square.
It might be difficult to comprehend, but the next block, Silent Star, is almost identical to the last block, Boy’s Nonsense. The main difference in construction is the center block—all the other blocks are the same. This is the case where fabric choices totally change the design!
Simple in design, yet elegant, the Ohio Star quilt block has been in use since the early 1800s, with a spike in popularity in the 1930s. See how this 9-patch block can be made the no-hassle way in the 21st century.
Star of Hope (1980)
Now for your master’s degree in 1/4-square triangles! The Star of Hope combines a 1/2- and 1/4-square triangle; I call it a modified 1/4-square. Notice the three-color block of aqua, ivory and teal. Success comes by thinking this through and following the directions!
Card Trick (1979)
The Card Trick Quilt Block, like most magic, seems impossible to reproduce. What appears as a sleight of hand, is a very logical block to create once you see the elements. The Card Trick—I know you will not be fooled by the design!
How to Make 1/4-Square Triangles
There are several ways to make triangles; my preference is to use the No-Hassle Triangles Gauge. Reference the left side of the gauge for 1/2-square triangles and the right side for 1/4-square triangles.
- Depress and slide the guide to the size triangle you’d like to make. The guide will lock in place.
- Cut strips the size printed on the gauge. Then cut strips into squares. In this example, cut 6-1/4″ strips, then cut strips into 6-1/4″ squares.
- Stack two blocks.
- Mark the center diagonal line through the die-cut openings on the gauge.
- Stitch a scant 1/4″ from each side of center.
- Cut along the center; press.
- Stack two 1/2-square triangles, meeting opposite colors.
- Slide the gauge to the 1/2-square triangle marking on the left side. Double check that the block fits within the gauge perimeters.
- Mark the center diagonal line through die cut openings.
- Cut along the center marking; press.
- This time, you’ll have two accurate 1/4-square triangles! Using the No-Hassle Triangles Gauge guarantees that the sizes of the 1/2-square and 1/4-square triangles are compatible in a quilt design!
Watch No-Hassle Triangles (Part One and Part Two) on Sewing With Nancy online.
Her comment was, “I’m teaching my friends’ two young girls (7 and 10) to sew, and I had them use these seam guides, which worked very well for them. I have been sewing a long time, but still learn so much from Nancy. Thank you Nancy, for sharing with us.”
Her comment was, “Just when I thought I knew everything, here you are with more tips! You are awesome. What a wonderful resource this is.”
Bye for now,
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