My Best Advice on Using Half-Square Triangles in Borders

I could call this a rule, but that would be silly, wouldn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the advice: when using half-square triangles as your border blocks, try them multiple ways before choosing.

Why? Because setting them with different line and value orientation changes the appearance significantly. It’s worth taking the few minutes to audition variations.ย This simple illustration gives 4 different ways to arrange them.

Here are some examples from a little quilt I made in 2014. They aren’t sewn together yet, hence the wonky look on some of the pictures.

There are still other ways to try these, too. Other than the first one, they all have the dark value close to the center. Try them with the light side against the center for a different look. Also, they aren’t shown with changing orientation, similar to the right side of the illustration at the top of the page. In other words, there are at least eight ways to use them, and that assumes that you pattern them the same on all four sides.

Here are some examples from my quilts. First, Marquetry. Note that two of the borders use HST, but with different arrangement.

Another one is Bird On Point. Closest to the center, the HST run around in one direction. In the middle blue-and-blue border, they’re positioned differently to create movement in the other direction.

And one more, Black Sheep Manor. This also has HST in two borders. In the one around the center block, the triangles “spray” outward symmetrically. In the middle border, they have changing orientation for value and line.

I could go on, but I’ll bet you get the point. ๐Ÿ™‚


19 thoughts on “My Best Advice on Using Half-Square Triangles in Borders

  1. snarkyquilter

    For my money, HSTs are the most versatile quilt building block there is. As you nicely show, they can be combined so many ways. Of course, I tend to use them more in the non-border parts, though I can show you a great example of awful HSTs in my first quilt. (Points? what are those?)

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I think points are overrated. No. Not really. But I don’t think they’re necessary. Recent quilt of mine, Black Sheep Manor — one of the borders is HST. And I had made them earlier for something else. They were slightly too big and I needed to trim. So I did, without paying attention to where the diagonal was. Just cut the edges off. Not many sharp points there. But the overall effect is STILL THERE! So. I think we worry too much about that sometimes.

      And yes, you can do almost everything with HST. Who wouldn’t want to use them? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. katechiconi

    I can’t move far from the satisfaction I get from symmetry, and find I get profoundly uncomfortable with more than just a little imbalance. I’m sure that says something not altogether good about me, but it works for me and I enjoy the results! I’ll always go for the mirror image arrangement of HSTs. Not, now I think of it, that I use them very much. I wonder why. I’ll think about that.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      As a designer you know that symmetry comes in more than one flavor. All of the arrangements above are symmetrical, but they aren’t all radial. I encourage you to audition something different, even if you end up deciding to revert to your preferred way. It wouldn’t hurt! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    Thanks for this artistic tip.
    I think the rule is: Have fun trying different placement of HST.
    Sometimes people need โ€œpermissionโ€ to try new things in quilting,especially when they are beginners.


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