Hi! This week, I decided to talk about bias seams, specifically when making half-square triangle (HST) squares and flying geese. Learning to make these units will open up a whole range of quilt blocks if you are a beginner. Whether you are new to quilting or a seasoned sewer, it’s always a great time for tips on making these units.
Straight seams and Bias Seams
If you are new to quilting, you have probably worked mostly with straight seams and not seams on the bias. To start, I’ll explain what the bias of fabric is. Bias of the fabric is at a 45 degree angle from the selvages of a piece of fabric.
On the bias fabric is the least stable and there is more stretch. That’s why it’s important to stitch your HST or flying geese units correctly the first time so you do not have to do any “unsewing”. If you have to pick out a seam on the bias, there is more of a chance that you will distort and stretch the fabric, ruining the piece. Not to say you can not ever pick out one of these seams, you just need to be super, super careful because it’s on the bias.
Here is the simplest explanation of the two types of seams. A straight seam is right there in the description: straight. Putting two units together and sewing straight on the lengthwise or crosswise grain. For example, two squares stitched together:
A bias seam is when you join two pieces of fabric matching the bias cut sides:
Making Half-Square Triangle (HST) Squares
So now that you know the difference between straight seams and bias seams, lets make some HSTs!
The most common method makes two HSTs at a time and uses two squares cut 7/8″ larger than the finished measurement (the measurement without seam allowance) of your HST. For example, for a 2″ HST, you would cut each of the squares 2 7/8″.
Next, draw a line diagonally on the wrong side of one of the squares, place the squares right sides together and then sew a scant 1/4″ on each side of the drawn line.
Then, you cut the unit apart on the drawn line and press the two parts open for two HSTs!
Making Flying Geese
Flying geese are another unit that has you sewing a bias seam. The most common method is using a rectangle and two squares. For example, for a 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″ flying geese unit, you start with a 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″ rectangle and two 2 1/2 x 2 1/2″ squares.
To start, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the squares. Lay a square face down on the rectangle, stitch on the line and then trim the excess seam allowance. Press open.
Repeat the step on the other side of the rectangle for a finished flying geese unit.
Blocks to Make
Now that you know how to make these units, here’s some simple blocks to make for a quilt project.
Using flying geese in blocks:
Using HSTs in blocks:
Here’s some blocks where I have combined flying geese and HST units:
And those are just a few of the examples. There are many, many more combinations that will make stunning blocks.
So, that’s it for this week. If you are a beginner, I hope you learned something. If you are an experienced quilter, I hope you weren’t too bored. LOL! Next week, I plan on covering ways to make multiples of the HSTs and flying geese units so you can make a lot at once. Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for my quilt pattern Posey Patch.
You’ll get a lot of HST practice making this quilt! The drawing will be on Monday, October 5th. **We have a winner! Congrats, Linda Dunton!**
This is a beautiful quilt. I have mostly avoided HST but I might give it a try after reading this post
Karen H says
Nice quilt- great way to use up my scraps!!
Jody C says
Great little tutorial for beginners like me. Thank you!
Barbara Thompson says
There are so very many patterns using these 1 or the other or both of these 2 basic units !!! My next one is Kaffe Fassett Artisan Big Diamonds with half square triangles, made 2 at a time using your instructions. Thanks- happy quilting everyone!
Barbara Hammons says
I love both of these squares, sometimes mine turn out great, other times I struggle.
Karen C says
I love the quilt. i have a lot of bonus half square triangles that would work with that quilt. thanks for the chance to win
Joan C says
Thank you for the tips! I’m trying to improve my techniques and piecing – so this is a big help for me!
Thanks for refresher on making Hst & a chance to win.
Janet W says
Good info on grain and bias. I think a lot of the problems are not with the sewing as much as they are with the pressing of bias seams. I would love it if you would create a tutorial on that.
Great tutorial, love your different displays of half square triangles .
Vickie Nelson says
Great quilt, would love to with the pattern
Kathleen Silvon says
Beautiful design! Always good to refresh our skills. Thank you.
Linda Dunton says
Beautiful pattern and wonderful tips
Patrice Camron says
Thank you for the tutorial. Great exercise for all skill levels.
Valerie Lutzko says
What a lovely quilt! Loved the detailed lesson on half square triangles ❤️ Look forward to the next lesson thank you!
That was a great refresher! Thank you.
Love the tutorial and examples. Thx
Linda M Cooper says
I can’t wait to see ways to do multiple flying geese. They are my favorite patch.
Marsha Yoder says
Always nice to get tips! Thanks!
Kristi Booth says
I like stars and like how the centers are made in these.
I LOVE flying geese. Does anyone know if the “gadget” that fits under your pressing foot (so one doesn’t need to draw lines) REALLY works? If so, it would be a huge help!
I have one that sticks on the presser foot. I LOVE it better than the one that you put on the bed of the machine. I sew straighter than ever before and without lines. !! I happen to have two presser feet and leave the device on one so I don’t have to stick and unstick
I actually just have a piece of tape positioned on my throat plate that guides me if I want to stitch without drawing lines. There’s also this product called Sew Straight by Quilt in a Day:
Mary Barr says
I can never get to much instruction on Flying Geese. Thank you.
Lill Helming says
Love this quilt and would like to make it!
Janet Klosinski says
Thank you. I loved your explanation of flying geese. I have tried flying geese before using a different method, but haven’t been happy with the results. I am planning to try your method soon.
Cindy – I’m not familiar with this. Can you post a pic/link? Thanks for your help. Dee
Nancy Austin says
I love this post. I am a seasoned quilter, and I was just going to start a throw with all HST. These great tips reminded me of troubles I have encountered in the past, and reminded me of the method I was most accurate with. Many thanks.