Salvaged Half Square Triangles

One of my favorite aspects of quilting is the historical need to recycle every last bit of our precious textiles.  I’m from New England, and have inherited a serious unwillingness to throw things away.  I don’t know if it is from my grandparents surviving the great depression and passing it on, or if I’m just crazy.  It could seriously go either way.

The majority of my quilts are not made from salvaged textiles.  I do enjoy working with denim here and there, and I have some silk projects that have been stalled for years.  That said, when I do purchase quilting fabric, I am loathe to part with even the smallest scrap.  I do have a lovely assortment of fabric folded onto comic book boards, but the majority of my treasures are scraps.  Itty bitty scraps, that I have to discipline myself into sorting by colors.  (The presorted scraps make a huge difference when taking on a new project.)

One thing I have been doing for years is saving the little bits from making half square triangles (HST), bindings, and anything else that requires snipping off corner bits.  This technique is not a new one, but it is one of my favorites.

Whenever I have a project that suggests drawing a diagonal line, stitching along it, then trimming away the excess with a 1/4″ seam allowance, I draw an extra line 1/2″ away.  I use my Fons & Porter ruler, which makes it so much easier.

This is a piece from my Picnic Plaid quilt.  I draw one line exactly on the diagonal, then another 1/2″ away, so that each piece will have a 1/4″ seam allowance.

img_2136 Pin carefully, lining up the corners. img_2137

I sew the longest line first, then the shorter line.  I typically chain piece, but not only for speed.  I also a aiming to save thread, and avoiding trimming endless thread tails.

Trim between the lines.


Press open.


Sometimes I trim up the blocks from one project all at once, and have lovely little HST’s in my bin.  More often I toss them into the bin unpressed, leaving it until I have an idea.


I don’t keep any that trim up smaller than 3/4″ square, though to be honest, those are probably too small, too.  But I keep them, because I never know.  Also, look at how cute it is!


I have a nebulous idea about whipping out a triangle quilt.  Perhaps like a sampler, with groups of like sized triangles making up different traditional blocks.  I’ll have to be feeling fairly masochistic to start trimming all of these little cuties up, though.

One thought on “Salvaged Half Square Triangles

  1. What an EXCELLENT idea! I have all my bitty triangles from my Picnic Plaid in a pile and I was just wondering what I would do with all of them. I wish I would have read this first! Either way, I am hoping to come up with a mini-corner scrap project soon. 🙂


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