Projects Quilt Blocks

Epic HST Technique

As part of my goal to finish up some WIP’s, I broke out these blocks this week:


These are quilt blocks from several years ago that I had made for me in a quilting bee.  All the fabrics used are scraps from my stash-and I love these blocks.  By, the way, this is not a block I would recommend for a quilting bee!–All those HST’s–the dear ladies in my bee are so appreciated! =)

This block is an easy block to make though–if you don’t mind making lots of HST’s.  The block is 16″(if you use 2 1/2″ HST’s/patches–the HST’s will finish at 2″) and is constructed using 8 Block A’s:

Block #2

And 8 Block B’s:

Block #1

Arrange and sew together to make the 16″ block:

Star Block

I need to make a couple more blocks and I plan to add sashing that includes HST’s as well.  So, I was feeling a bit daunted by trimming up all those HST’s–it always takes so long.  I had a bunch of already made HST’s that just needed trimmed that I had received back from the ladies in my bee.


And, I thought, there has got to be a better way.  As luck would have it, I had just purchased a handy little 2 1/2″ square ruler on Saturday.

Square Ruler

And it hit me that, since I was making 2 1/2″ unfinished HST’s, I could use this ruler to trim up my HST’s much faster.  By cutting them *before* pressing them open I could cut the trimming time in half.


Just place, the diagonal line of the ruler onto the seam line of the HST and trim the 2 sides–so fast!

You can do this with any square ruler that has a diagonal line.  Now, I am sure you are thinking:  “well, that’s handy if you happen to have the right sized square ruler ~with~ a marked diagonal line”.  But here’s where it gets even handier.

Dry Erase

I remembered seeing on Pinterest where someone had used a dry erase marker to write on their washing machine(so they’d remember to line dry or check for stains on a certain garment) & I thought “Ha!–I can totally use that idea to make any size HST ruler”.  The ruler in the picture above is my 6 1/2″ x 18″ ruler.

Make your HST’s however you normally do but when you get to the trimming part, do not press them open.  Whatever size you want your HST’s to be before sewn into the project that is where you would draw your diagonal line on your ruler(use a fine point dry erase marker for accuracy).  For my example, you will notice I drew my line from 3 1/2″ to 3 1/2″–the HST will be 3 1/2″ *before* sewn into the quilt or 3″ once it’s sewn in.

Place the dry erase line onto the seam line(not the edge of the HST) and trim the two sides.


Press open and you will have a perfect HST in half the time!  And when you are finished, just wipe the dry erase line right off.  I think this is such a great way to trim HST’s and I am always all about saving time.  Hope this technique helps some of you out in your HST endeavors! =)

Comments (101)

  • What a great tip. Thank you. Nice looking blocks and I look forward to seeing them all put together.

  • I will definitely be trying this!

  • Great tip. If you don’t want to write on the ruler, E. Burns has a square up ruler that works fabulous for doing all sizes.

    • It’s so handy to be able to make your own ruler!–Rulers are expensive. =) Plus the dry erase marker comes right off–easy peasy!

  • I own a Quilt in a Day tool that is designed exactly for that technique. I’ve had it forever and I still use it all the time–a rare thing for me and speciality rulers. It’s called a 6 1/2 inch Triangle Square-up Ruler. It has those diagonal lines in 1/2 inch increments from 1 to 6 1/2 inches.

    (No association, just a really happy customer).

    • Thank you for the info.!–There are usually rulers for just about any kind of cutting that you want to do! If I can work around having to buy a special tool, I am all about it. =) I had never thought about cutting HST’s this way and the fact that I now can cut them quickly without any extra expense, using tools I already have, is perfect for me. =)

  • Great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • Love those scrappy blocks! I might have to give the a try as I love half square triangles and my scrap bag is getting close to overflowing again 🙂

    The advantage of your 2 1/2″ square ruler and trimming before you press open is that you can also cut off the “rabbit ears” at the same time you trim the two long sides. Saves even more time.

  • Those blocks are AWESOME! I love scrappy star blocks!

    I had seen that method of trimming before you press, just never did it.
    Will have to give it a try.


  • Brilllllliant!!! Thank you! 😉

  • What a great tip! I hate the “squaring up” step for 1/2 square triangles.

  • Thank you for this great tip! I will definitely try it.

  • Epic. Indeed! My least favorite part of quilting is squaring HSTs

  • But DON’T use a dry erase marker on your white washing machine! I thought it was such a great idea, too, until the marker wouldn’t come all the way off!

    • Try rubbing alcohol. It usually removes even permanent marker

  • Absolutely epic! I am really, really trying to love HST’s! I even made a pretty complex (for me) wall hanging just of HST’s! But the trimming is a pain! Great idea! Thanks!

  • What beautiful blocks! Thank you for a great tip for HST’s.

  • This is *so* epic! Genius! Thank you – I will be using this technique from now on!!

  • Brilliant!! I think I’ll “cheat” and use a strip of painters tape. lol That is if I can’t find the highlighter tape I bought… who knows when.
    I do admit, like many, I have a ruler addiction.
    Thank you Corey… this will save me time and frustration!!!

  • Trimming BEFORE pressing?? Genius!

  • Wow – what a great idea. Just did a quilt and had to sliver trip a bunch of triangles. If I had only known – cuts the cutting time in half and no rotating a matt and ruler. Love it – thanks!

  • Brilliant!

  • Genius!

  • So smart!

  • Fabulous idea- thank you!

  • Thanks for the tips and can´t wait to see your quilt.Happy sewing!

  • You are a genius! I am definitely pinning this one so I don’t forget it!

  • This is brilliant!!!!!!!!!

  • Thank you SO much for this – I’m getting ready to do an entire HST quilt with an odd block size.

  • So excited as I think one of those blocks is from me! I loved the pattern so much I use the picture of the block as my Flickr icon! Can’t wait to see all your blocks put together.

    Oh, and yes, the tip is genius. It almost makes me want to set down my wine and try it out. Almost. It’ll keep to the weekend, right?

  • Great tip! Thanks!

  • Epic tip. Thanks for sharing.

  • Never ever again will I trim them after pressing! I love making 1/2 square triangles, and this will make it even better! 🙂

  • Absolutely brilliant idea!!

  • with your small ruler you even cut off the dog ears, clever.

  • You are a genius! but you make me feel really dumb

  • Love those A Ha moments, eh? 🙂

  • Love the idea! Thanks for the tip!

  • Les patch sont tres beau je veux voire plus Marie-Claire

  • Genius!!!!! Thank you 😀

  • Dear friend,
    excelente work!!!!!


    Maria Filomena

  • Great post! and I feel really smart now because I recently made my first jacobs ladder quilt for a friend ( she picked the pattern,not my usual style I prefer no pattern 🙂 ) I found the same annoying thing with all the half square triangles and after squaring up a heap thought how stupid am I to be opening them first and started trimming them before ironing too. I can’t remember how I lined them up though so will check if I do the ruler thing next time,so thanks for the tip 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, I never thought of this!!! THank you. I hate, hate, hate trimming hst’s. It’s sooo boring and tedious. lol. What a great idea 🙂

  • Funny, I was just thinking about trying to figure something like this out! I’m making pinwheels and have a lot of HST to trim and as I was pressing them open, I was wondering if it was possible to trim them before opening them up. Definitely going to go back and trim up some HST this way now!!

  • Thank you so much for this tip. I usually shy away from HST patterns because of the trimming. (I can’t seem to get them the correct size unless I make them bigger and then trim down.) I will definitely be using this technique now and will try it on an upcoming retreat I am taking. Will also share with everyone there. Again, thanks so much. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of genius that we all have and the light bulb goes on!! Happy quilting.

  • What a great block and a wonderful way to use up scraps. I would definitely use an Accuquilt on all those HST…I’m inspired to start cranking them out this afternoon ….this would be a great retreat project because of all the rote sewing! Thanks for sharing it!

  • Nifty idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • Corey, this is pure GENIUS! Why didn’t I ever think to do this?!? And your tip couldn’t be more timely – I’ve got a couple hundred scrap HSTs to trim and this will make it so easy. Thank you!

  • That is brilliant! I have so many projects languishing because I cannot stand the thought of trimming the HSTs! I’ll definitely give this a crack

  • Bazinga!!! I LOVE IT!!! Great ideas! Makes me wanna make some HSTs.
    Thanks for coming up with this!

  • Mind. Blown.

  • You have made my day. I’m the geek who saves the triangles cut from flying geese or mitered binding, sews them together and trims them to 1-1/2″ squares using a cardboard template. I’ve got skads of them hoping to make a little pinwheel quilt one day, and this tip will surely speed the process, genius!

  • OMG! How clever of you to figure this out! I have made tons of HST, using the method of sewing strips together or just sewing two triangles together a little bigger than needed and squaring up AFTER pressing. This is so much easier and faster. I will sew oversized triangles together now an use this method to square up. Thank you for sharing!

  • […] trimming my HST units, I had read this great tutorial by Little Miss Shabby. Only cut two sides! Since I don’t have a ruler the exact size of the […]

  • […] learning about THIS*, the HST size possibilities are […]

  • Shared your technique with image:

    Let me know if you’d like it removed. It’s such a time saver!

  • […] Mark the back of the light 3″ squares, and layer them with the colour 3″ squares, right sides together (RST). Stitch 1/4″ away from the marked line, on both sides. Trim to 2.5″ I’ve found a great tutorial for trimming HSTs that only requires 2 cuts instead of 4. It has saved me so much time lately, and I used it here too. You can find it here. […]

  • Hi! That block looks fantastic and I love HST triangles, no problem to sew tons of them so I’m very happy to see your great tip to trim them! Thanks! x Teje

  • This is what is so great about blogland! Such a great time and effort saver! Thank you so much for figuring this out AND sharing!

  • Brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

  • […] of HSTs leftover from other projects.  I’m sharing it with you gals in mind.  I found it HERE and it does make a pretty block.  Epic HST Technique for […]

  • I love this idea. Some friends and I were just making a whole bunch of them and it took so long to trim the 4 sides. I have been waiting to work on another project because I knew how long it would take, now I will try it out. Thanks so much.

  • If you don’t want to write on your ruler use narrow painter’s tape available at any DIY store.
    Peels off easily and leaves no residue

  • this is the greatest tip I have found in a long time. so accurate. my Jacob’s Ladder quilt will be finished in half the time now. thanks.

  • Great idea. Thanks for the tip.

  • brilliant, thanks

  • this is great!!!! I am offering an online class using modern techniques to make the Farmer’s Wife Sampler quilt. So many of those blocks are made from hst’s!!
    I will be sharing this method!! Good for you to come up with this!
    thank you!…and i’ll give credit where credit’s due! 🙂

  • […] & Tutorial:  Click Here to see this method demonstrated in detail.  You can even do this if you do not have the exact […]

  • […] was looking for something for hst and ran across this. Have you done this before? LMS | Epic HST Technique Lorie Reply With […]

  • I love this idea, but if you do happen to have the correct size ruler i.e the 2 1/2 inch for that size square…you can cut the dog ears off quite easily at the same time…for me it’s worth buying the ruler!

  • […] on your ruler. You can use a dry-erasable marker to mark this line on your ruler (great tip from here). You could also stick a piece of Glad Press-N-Seal (as suggested by Marjorie Rhine) and mark the […]

  • Brilliant !! Love this technique – also works for quarter square triangles. I drew my line, used my ruler’s diagonal line to line up with the perpendicular stitching line for the quarter squares. Came out perfectly, thanks

  • […] didn’t have a pattern for this quilt, but I talked about the quilt block construction on my blog awhile back.  The sashing has flying geese units sewn into it to add just a few more stars to the overall […]

  • […] posted it once LMS | Epic HST Technique Lorie Reply With […]

  • Genius!!

  • Thanks so much love new tips and hints as not been quilting long so these posts are a real help to me.

  • […] used this nifty trick for trimming HSTs  from Little Miss Shabby- saves so much […]

  • […] Trimming Half Square Triangles by Little Miss Shabby […]

  • Brilliant. 🙂

  • Why not line up the seam line with the drawn line and the ruler edge with one of the cut sides? That way there is only one side to cut. Does anyone see a downside to this?

  • awesome idea! Thank you!
    This will save me a ton of time as I am currently working on an HST project for my grandson!

  • I have a bag full of HST just waiting for this tip. Thank you. I have used a magic marker on my rulers, for accuracy, for quite some time. When you are doing a lot of cutting you get cross eyed after a while, this helps and the marks wipe off.

  • Just be careful not to place the marking on the rule on the block side or you will come up short…

  • works great. I used blue painters tape. Squared up hourglass block. Came out perfect.

  • I’m new at this…What is HST?

    • half square triangle

  • thankyou,thank you,thank you! Wonderful tip, I am fairly new quilter and love these special tips to save time and money!

  • thankyou,thank you,thank you! Wonderful tip, I am fairly new quilter and love these special tips to save time and cash!

  • Wondering about pressing with this HST Square Up method — I would think pressing the seams open works best with this technique. What has been your experience? Thanks for being so darn clever!

    • I press for whatever works best for the blocks I will be using them in. Sometimes that means pressing open, other times to one side–just depends on the project! You do have to be very careful when pressing so as not to distort the block at all since you won’t be trimming them after pressing.

  • […] Write on a ruler to trim HST’s quicker […]

  • Love this! Also love the fact I don’t have to purchase another tool! Would rather spend the $$ on fabric! Hahaha

  • […] of thought of trimming these the way she does. Check it out! It's near the bottom of the page. LMS | Epic HST Technique Sammi Jo @–>— "I must be royalty, I have quilts-in-waiting." […]

  • […] also tried out this technique, of trimming each HST before pressing them open. This made is vastly faster to trim and press all […]

  • If you have permanent marker on something (like a white board), just rub a dry erase marker over it and then use a towel to wipe off. Some of my teaching tricks pay off in real life!!

  • It sure makes sense to press,press, then square up.

  • Before opening your half square triangle flip the ruler 180˚ line up and trim the dog ears. Then open and press. Ta done!

  • I have never quilted HSTs, I don’t understand why they need trimming at all. I am obviously clueless, can someone please explain?

  • What a fabulous idea! I’ve been on a kick recently making hst. This technique would have been so helpful. I still have 3 more quilts to make requiring hst and you can bet I’ll be doing this.

  • This is just great! I have little bags of HST and this will save buying yet another ruler and so much time. Thanks!

  • Is there a picture of the finished quilt?

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