QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options


We’re having a lot of fun with Bitty Blocks around here, and last week I started making Bitty Baskets. Paula did a nice job on last week’s tutorial, and her enthusiasm is contagious.

bittybaskets4 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Bitty Baskets from Quiltmaker

A number of people have commented about the smallness of the half-square triangles (also called triangle-squares; the two terms mean exactly the same thing). I wanted to share some options with you, and perhaps you’ll find they make the triangles easier to handle.

BBtrionaroll QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Triangles on a Roll

For the first few baskets I made, I used triangle paper called Triangles on a Roll. In fact I use paper to make triangle-squares of any size, all the time. It’s the most accurate method for me. I also use and like Thangles, paper, shown below.

8787 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Thangles triangle papers come in many sizes.

But in case you don’t want to use paper, I have another little trick that I absolutely love. You can use this any time you need half-square triangles for quilts. First I’m going to explain how it’s done, and then I’ll explain the math for those who are interested.

hsttrick1 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Start with 2 squares.

Begin with 2 squares. For 1″ finished triangle-squares, cut them 3-3/4″ x 3-3/4″ (that’s 3.75″). Please note: These photos use larger squares but the process is exactly the same.

hsttrick2 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Mark one of the squares 1/4″ out from the diagonal center in both directions.

On its wrong side, mark one square 1/4″ out from the diagonal center in both directions. I do this with a Quarter-Inch Seam Marker, but you can use any quilting ruler that’s long enough to cover the diagonal.

hsttrick3 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

The square is marked in both directions, 1/4″ out from each side of the diagonal center.

Place the squares right sides together.

hsttrick4 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Sew on all of the marked lines.

Sew on all of the marked lines.

hsttrick5 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Cut on the vertical and horizontal centers of the squares by lining up the ruler as shown.

Cut on the vertical and horizontal centers of the squares (in other words, cut down the middle, both ways) by lining up the ruler as shown. On 3-3/4″ squares (for 1″ finished triangle-squares), halfway across is 1-7/8″.

hsttrick6 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Make a second set of cuts between the lines of stitching as shown.

Make a second set of cuts between the lines of stitching as shown.

hsttrick7 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

This method yields 8 half-square triangles.

You’ll get 8 half-square triangles using this method.

hsttrick8 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Eight pretty little triangle-squares

Open up each one and press gently so as not to stretch.

hsttrick9 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

Trim off the little dog ears.

Trim off the tiny triangular “dog ears” and the triangle-squares are ready to use in your Bitty Blocks or any other project you choose.

How to Figure the Square Sizes: Understanding the Math

For those who are interested, it’s not difficult to determine what size to cut the squares for any half-square triangles you wish to make.

HSTs copy QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

You may already know the rule of 7/8″, i.e. in order to make two half-square triangles from two squares, you take the finished size and add 7/8″. If you’re making two HSTs to finish at 4″ as shown above, you cut two squares 4-7/8″, put them right sides together and sew 1/4″ out from both sides of the diagonal center. Cut between the lines of stitching and you have two HSTs that are now 4-1/2″, to finish at 4″ square. This method is shown above.

hsttrick6 300x251 QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

You’re just grouping more squares together!

What you’re doing with the trick I showed in photos further above is putting 4 of these squares together, 2 across and 2 down. So you have the size of the finished unit, times 2. And you must add the 7/8″ twice , which is 1-3/4″ (1.75″).

So if you’re making 1″ finished triangle-squares for Bitty Blocks, the math goes like this:

1″ + 1″ + 1.75″ = 3.75″

If you’re making 2″ finished triangle-squares, the math would be this:

2″ + 2″ + 1.75 = 5.75″

If you’re making 4″ finished triangle-squares, the math would be this:

4″ + 4″ + 1.75″ + 9.75″

In other words, multiply the finished size by 2 and add 1.75″.

Here’s a little chart with often-used sizes.

Finished size of HST     Size to cut the squares
1″                                               3.75″
1.5″                                            4.75″
2″                                               5.75″
2.5″                                           6.75″
3″                                              7.75″
4″                                              9.75″

Give it a try and see how it goes. I love this method for small patches especially, and I think you will, too. Send your questions and photos to editor@quiltmaker.com, or ask questions in the comments. Happy Stitching!

*** Printer-friendly version coming soon ***

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
This entry was posted in Quilting 101, Scrap Squad and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to QM Bitty Baskets: You Have Options

  1. Pingback: FQS Staff Takes on a BOM Month 2! – blogdev.satellite.fm

  2. shirley Constable says:

    Have I missed the flying geese info. Can’t find it anywhere. Could you advise please.
    Love the blocks though

  3. Sandra Caulder says:

    Will you be coming out with a PDF for this or a printer version?

  4. vicki says:

    when is printer ready or . PDFs version coming?

  5. Ecarp says:

    Diana: Thanks for the great and clear tutorial and the wonderful chart. Will be very useful. Just crazy about these blocks.

  6. Karee says:

    Because I am not good with finding 7/8″… I just add 1″ (or 2″ depending on the qty) and then use my fabulous Bloc-loc HST rulers to get perfect HST (half-square triangles/triangle squares.)

  7. Eugenia from BC Canada says:

    Thank you so much for all of this! I was always nervous about doing pinwheels before I found the math for HSTs in one of my scrap quilt books so started a scrappy pinwheel quilt (to be a gift for my dearest girlfriend) using a similar method for 4 HSTs. This is so much easier for 8 at a time. I also have purchased and placed on hold a HST Ruler which will allow for easier cutting once I retrieve it from the store. I’ll have it done in no time now.

  8. MaryM in upstate New York says:

    This is fantastic! I think this method of HST-making is even easier than using paper !
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now I just have to get one of those add-a-quarter rulers…

  9. B from Canada says:

    Thank you so much for the tutorial for this method of making half-square triangles. I’ve seen this used a lot, but never slowed down to figure the math/method out.

    Ha, I guess I should have been more patient. I went to all the work of making the tutorial into a Wordpad file, including the photos, because I did not want to lose this information.

    I was going to comment that a pdf would have saved everyone time and effort, and then today I see that there is going to be a printer-friendly version “soon”. Oh, well, creating my own file made me slow down and really read the instructions.

    Thanks again for creating and posting this very helpful tutorial.

    B from Canada

    • Debby E says:

      I usually do the same thing B – and when I was ready to start copying & pasting I saw the note! Yaayyy! So excited for the PDF version! :)

  10. Barb Johnson says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! And thanks for including the explanation of the math involved. It’s always easier for me to understand things if I know why I’m doing them.
    And I’m sure I’m not the only one!

  11. Debby E says:

    Wow – great tutorial! I’m with Judy up at #1 – can you please do a printer friendly version – I want to keep it close by! Thanks for these Bitty Blocks – seeewwwww cute!!

  12. Judy says:

    I hate sewing 1/2 square triangles but I think you may have solved my problem. I like the great diagrams and explanation.
    Can you please add a printer friendly version as I like to print instructions to pin to my sewing room notice board.

  13. judy says:

    I signed up for the newsletter but am unable to find where to sign up for the blog, I am very interested ib the bom bitty blocks.

  14. Donna Amos says:

    These Bitty Block are so much fun! Thanks for this great article on HST, it is great. I, too, think Paula did a fantastic job on her article for this Bitty Block. Have already made several……so cute.

  15. Cheryl Avery says:

    NOW you tell me! I spent the weekend making all my bitsy basket blocks the old fashioned way! Had fun and they are so cute (and perfect). Now I am going to use this formula and make more, just for fun!

  16. Claire says:

    I’m using the 1.5 inch HST’s I have saved from other projects. It’s taking a bit longer because I have to find the matching background, but they are so much fun! The only HST’s I have to make are the baskets….10 down 10 to go….thanks for sharing your ‘how to’.

  17. Susan says:

    Great tutorial! I love the mini blocks. I just use 1 1/2″ strips and my easy angle ruler and they come out fine. Love these blocks!

    • Ecarp says:

      Great Susan: I just tried your method with the 1 1/2 strip and easy angle ruler. Works like a dream. Thanks for sharing.

  18. quiltfru says:

    Extremely good explanation. I always had a hard time figuring out that math. Thank you.

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