Tutorial: Trimming half-square-triangle squares

After telling you to trim squares made out of half square triangles when publishing star #4 of the Block of the Month I got some enquiries how to do this the best/easiest way.

In a perfect world you would sew the two triangles together along their long sides, press them and voilà – you would have a perfect square in the perfect size. In real life you are sewing together two bias sides which will make for some stretching and/or shifting even if your cutting is absolutely precise. So especially when you have a lot of these pieces in your block it’s always a good idea to trim them all to the correct and same size.

Here is how I do it:

Sew your triangles along the long side to get a square. Press, pressing the seam allowance open or to one side as you prefer.

Put your ruler on the square.
The 45° line of your ruler should line up with your seam line.
Make sure that your square fits nicely or exceeds the final measurements of your square (don’t forget the seam allowance!). I stitched this square for this demonstration so I made it a bit larger to show the extra fabric beyond the ruler. My final square should be 5 x 5.
Remember: My square is stitched a little larger. Your square might fit exactely or you might have just a few threads exceeding your ruler.

Cut away the exceeding fabric on two sides.

Turn your square, align the ruler

and cut away the fabric on the other two sides.

And here is the perfect square.

I hope this will help you to always get perfect half-square-triangle squares. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.


Valentine’s gift

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner so it’s really time to think about a gift for your loved one. How about making something different this time. Not a card, not a tag, but a cushion. A comfortable pillow, colorful and soft, big (65 x 65 cm / 26 x 26 inches) and with a broad floppy border, really easy and fast to sew.

Layer a piece of foundation fabric 28 x 28 inches (70 x 70 cm) with a thin piece of batting the same size. Put a piece of fabric 18 x 18 inches (45 x 45 cm) in your background color (here dark blue) in the middle of the batting. All measurements given include 1/4″ (0,75 cm) seam allowance

Sew border strips in 4 different colors around the background piece. The strips have a width of 1¾ inches (4,5 cm). Sew through all layers – sewing and quilting at the same time. Now sew border strips the color of the background around the piece. These strips are 3½ inches (9 cm) wide.

Make a template for the heart. Draw a square 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 cm) and draw the heart into this square – so you get the right size for the heart if you want to put 4 onto the pillow. Cut out your template and draw it 4 times to the paper side of fusible web, reversing 2 of them. Cut them out roughly. Iron the fusible to the backside of your chosen fabric and cut out the hearts. Fuse them to the background piece and appliqué them by machine, appliquéing and quilting at the same time.

If you want to have more quilting now it’s the time. I was satisfied with quilting around the color-border and the hearts.

Iron. Cut the foundation fabric and the batting to the size of the top.

Cut 2 pieces of background fabric for the back of the cushion 26 x 18 inches (65 x 45 cm). On one 26 inches (65 cm) side turn the edge ½ inch (1,5 cm) to the left side of the fabric, iron and turn another ½ inch (1,5 cm) and iron again. Machinstitch this seam. Do this on both backside pieces.

Layer top with right side up and the 2 pieces of the the backside left side up on top of it. Align the edges of the top and the backside pieces. The backside pieces will overlap in the middle – that’s where the seams are. Sew all around the outside of the pillow, backstitching at the beginning and the end. Turn the cushion right sides out, iron and sew once again in the ditch between the colored and the uni borderstrips.

Put a pillow 20 x 20 inches (50 x 50 cm) in the cover. Done!

I hope you like this idea for a gift. And it’s not only for Valentine’s Day. Think about Mother’s Day, birthdays, a gift for your son/daughter at college, …….. So why not sew some more cushions while you are at it. Have fun!

I’m linking this to Off the Wall Friday and to Can I get a Whoop Whoop?


A cover for your calendar

Are you a calendar nerd like I am? Every year beginning in October I spend a fair amount of time looking at calendars in shops and on the Internet. And each year I buy one or two new ones just because – nerd I told you! But I am always more interested in the interior of the calendar than in the look of the cover. Often they look rather plain on the outside.

So I decided that my calendar needs a cover showing my passion for fabrics. And especially for this cute fabric with colorful paw prints. This cover is so easy to do and just needs about half an hour. It’s a great way to give your calendar, your notebook, your sketchbook or a book you are giving as a present a new look. And you can even combine it with a corresponding bookmark.


And this is how to do it:

Measure the outside of your calender, don’t add any seam allowance at this point. Measure the complete width including backside, spine and frontside – a tape measure works best for this.

Add 1 inch (2 cm) to the width and to the height for seam allowance and cut 3 pieces with the seam allowance added from the chosen fabric. I did cut all three pieces from the paw print but you can use a contrasting color for the inside piece and/or the flaps.

If you want to make your cover softer cut a piece of batting in the same size.

Cut one piece of the fabric into two halves. My piece has a width of 28 cm (see measure tape in the first picture) and 2 cm of seam allowance which makes 30 cms. So I cut 2 pieces of 15 cms.

Fold each of these 2 cut pieces into half, right side out and iron them. These are your 2 flaps.

Lay out your piece of batting (if you use one). Lay the first piece of fabric (which is the outside of your cover) on the batting right side up. Lay the two flaps on the ends of the fabric and align the open ends with the end of the fabric (the scissors are just to show you where the flaps are positioned).

Put the last piece of fabric (which is the inside of the cover) on top, right side down. Pin all the layers together.

Sew around the cover leaving approximately 3 inches (8 cm) open in the middle of one of the long sides. Backstitch at the beginning and the end of the seam to secure the thread. Leave 10 inches (25 cm) of thread at the end of the seam.

Trim the batting almost to the seam and cut off the four corners. Be careful not to cut into the seam.

Carefully turn the right side of the cover out through the opening, iron and close the opening with hand stitches using the leftover thread.

Iron once more and put your calender, book, notebook or sketchbook into the new cover.


I’m linking this to “Off the Wall Friday”, “Whoop Whoop Party” and “Brag about your beauties”.