Shattered Star Quilt Along – Week 3: Half Square Triangles 8-at-a-Time Tutorial

Shattered Star Quilt Along - Week 3: How to make half square triangles using the 8 at a time method | Shannon Fraser Designs #quilttutorial

Welcome back to the Shattered Star Quilt Along!

We’re officially entering Week 3 of the QAL and that means sewing time!!

So far, you’ve:

Keep these lessons in mind, as these foundational quilting techniques will serve you well throughout the rest of the Shattered Star quilt journey!

The next step we need to tackle is making our half square triangles (HSTs). My love for quilting started with HSTs, so it's no surprise they sneak their way into my designs on the regular.

The Shattered Star quilt pattern uses the 8-at-a-time method to make quick work of creating the HSTs. 

Green plate from Japan with freshly trimmed half square triangles | Shattered Star Quilt Along - Week 3: How to make HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #halfsquaretriangles #quilttutorial *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. 



Before you can start creating your HSTs, you’ll need a few basic tools and materials to get started, including:

2 squares of different coloured fabric of equal size. I’m using a combo of Little Town fabrics + AGF PURE Solids in mine.
*A marking tool – this is what I use (heads up there are some drawbacks), but a pencil or *Hera marker would work equally well. 
Pins (optional) – but if you’re just starting out, pinning reduces shifting which leads to more accurate outcomes. 
Sewing machine – I sew on a *Juki TL-2010Q and use a 2.0 stitch length when piecing. 
*Thread for piecing – this is my go-to 
*Rotating cutting mat (for trimming)  Read why I love this one here
*Ironing board or a wool mat - save 10% at The Felt Store (CDN & USA) with code: SHANNONFRASER10 (now until December 31, 2020)
*Tailor’s clapper – this is optional but works great if you prefer working without steam. 


Oliso mini project iron in purple pressing a half square triangle on top of a wool pressing mat | Shattered Star QAL Week 3 : HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #halfsquaretriangles #quilting


The 8-at-a-time method is an amazing technique to have in your quilty arsenal – especially when you need to make a ton of HSTs and FAST.

Let’s dive in.

Stack of freshly trimmed half square triangles for the holiday Shattered Star Quilt | Shattered Star QAL Week 3: How to make HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #halfsquaretriangles #howtoquilt


Start by marking diagonal lines from corner to corner on the back of one of your squares.

Place the squares right sides together (RST), making sure they’re lined up nicely.

Pin in place. This is optional, but it does help prevent the squares from shifting while you stitch. You can also opt to glue in place if you prefer working without pins. The larger my squares, the more I tend to pin.

Stitch a scant ¼” seam allowance (here are tips on how to get a scant ¼” SA) on either side of each drawn line, for a total of 4 stitched lines. If you’re making more than one set of 8-at-a-time HSTs, then you can totally chain piece them in batches (see the chain piecing tutorial for more). First stitch down one side on all of them, and then repeat on the remaining lines until all 4 lines have been stitched.

 Half square triangles being chain pieced using the 8-at-a-time method | Shattered Star Quilt Along Week 3: HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #tutorial #halfsquaretriangles


To cut your HSTs apart, start making 2 cuts down the center of the square. Without moving the block, cut along each of your diagonally drawn lines directly on your drawn lines.

This creates 8 HSTs.


When it comes time to pressing your HSTs, I want you to remember to be gentle. You’re working with a lot of bias edges at this point and they like to s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

Don’t pull on your fabric.

You want to start by setting seams. Place your hot iron on top of your stitches. This will help your stitches “sink” into your fabric and help make them “one”.

Don’t iron your HSTs – you want to press them. Go back to Lesson 2 for all my top pressing tips! 

Half Square Triangles in AGF PURE Solids with a tailors clapper, wool pressing mat and Oliso mini project iron | Shattered Star QAL Week 3: HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #hst #tutorial

I like to then finger press the seam to the side, before locking that seam in place with my hot iron. This approach helps reduce any pulling on the fibers.

The Shattered Star quilt pattern includes pressing directions to help your seams nest. You can always opt to press your seams open if you prefer having less bulky seams.


Your starting squares are purposely made a little larger to give you trimming wiggle room. The HSTs are the foundation of the pattern. Having them nice and square will help you piece them more easily and accurately.

There are several ways you can trim your HSTs.


I’ve already shared a tutorial on how to square up HSTs with an oversized ruler

This is super handy if you don’t want to bring too many rulers and notions into your sewing space. I used the above technique for years and it works like a charm. 

Turquoise and teal Half Square triangle freshly trimmed | Shattered Star QAL Week 3: HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #hst


But since I make a lot of quilts with HSTs, I’ve slowly started to try other rulers and notions. Here’s what I currently can’t live without when it comes to trimming my half square triangles:

Rulers – now there’s lots of options out there with so many of my quilty friends raving about the *Bloc-Loc rulers. My hesitancy with those is that you have to buy one for each size you want to make. That’s great in theory, but where am I going to store all those rulers? Not to mention, that’s a lot of money to plunk down just on rulers.

So, what’s a space challenged thrifty quilter to do? You grab *one of these!  You’ve got lots of options for HSTs ranging in size from 1” to 6” and you can opt to either trim before or after pressing your seams. The former means you only have 2 cuts to make instead of 4 – wahoooo! I bought the ruler a little over a year ago now and I’m really loving it.

*Rotating cutting mat – now, this has taken me awhile to find one that I absolutely love and that WORKS. Not all rotating mats rotate. Weird, I know. But, sadly, also very true. I did a lot of research before committing to this one and, so far, I don’t have a single complaint. Worth every penny! Read my full review here.  

*Rotary blade – a NEW one – I can’t stress the importance of having a fresh blade when trimming your HSTs. First, it will take so much pressure off your hand if the blade is nice and sharp. Moreover, it will slice through nice and easily the first time, limiting the need for extra cuts and avoids any fraying. 

Half square triangle being trimmed on a Martelli round about mat with an Olfa splash rotary cutter and Creative Grids 4 in 1 triangle ruler | Shattered Star QAL Week 3: HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #quilting #quilttutorial


Sometimes it helps to see things in action! I’ve pulled together a quick video walking you through the 8-at-a-time method outlined above, plus I show you how to trim them up for perfect HSTs every single time! Check it out:


Voila – you’ve now created 8 pristine half square triangles!


I’ve made a lot of HSTs over the years and here are my top tips for you:

  1. Take your time! Your patience will be paid off with the cutest and sharpest looking HSTs this quilty world has seen 😉
  2. Take breaks! Trimming can put a lot of strain on your hand, arm, shoulder and back – the latter is especially true if you’re not at a counter height cutting table. I like to break my HST trimming up into a few sessions. This helps keep the strain and boredom at bay!
  3. Be gentle! Your cute half square triangles are prone to stretching. So, handle with care.

Freshly trimmed half square triangles in art gallery fabric PURE Solids | Shattered Star Quilt Along Week 3: How to make HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #halfsquaretriangles #hsts


As I mentioned earlier, I love HSTs and I sneak them into a lot of my quilt patterns. If you’re looking to test drive your new HST skills, then check out these fun modern quilt patterns.


Blue ombre and yellow half square triangles featured in the Double Windmill Quilt | Shattered Star QAL Week 3: How to make HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #quilt

Pictured above is the Double Windmill quilt pattern.


This week's giveaway is sponsored by Oliso  and The Felt Store (CDN & USA).  


Oliso irons have been on my list of irons to test out for quite awhile. I mean they came out with the brilliant concept of irons with automatic lifting feet – so genius! Which is why I was thrilled when they agreed to be a sponsor. I’ve been playing around with their new *Mini Project Irons and for such a tiny thing they sure can heat up! Good news is you have a chance to win your very own in the new Turquoise colour!

Oliso Mini Project Iron for the Shattered Star Quilt Along Week 3 giveaway sponsor | Shannon Fraser Designs #iron #sewalong


You won’t get very far in your ironing session without a pressing surface. The Felt Store to the rescue! I reached out to them as I kept hearing great things about wool pressing mats from my quilty friends and found this locally sourced and Canadian made 17” x 17” version!

Wool pressing mat from The Felt Store for the Shattered Star Quilt Along Week 3 Giveaway sponsor | Shannon Fraser Designs #woolpressingmat

To enter the giveaway, you must: 

Week 3 giveaway is open to USA and CDN residents only. Sorry my international friends. 

How to make half square triangles using the 8-at-a-time method | Shattered Star Quilt Along Week 3: HSTs | Shannon Fraser Designs #tutorial #halfsquaretriangles

Now that you’re a HST lover like me, I’d love to know which tip was the most helpful to you. Share in the comments below 😊

Happy quilting!




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1 comment

  • I love hsts too.
    I started quilting making 9 patches and then making the “disappearing 9 patches”
    I made a lot of doll quilts. Then I got better at piecing.

    Rosemary B

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