How to Piece Hourglass Squares - Beginner Quilt Piecing Tutorial

Hourglass Squares are a beautiful quilting unit of four tiny quarter squares. The piecing for this unit is very simple - it's basically like stitching Half Square Triangles twice! Let's learn how to piece it together in this new quilting tutorial:

We used a lot of Hourglass Squares in the Friendship Quilt Along and are piecing tons of tiny HGSs for Mini Block Monday!

Hourglass Squares are abbreviated HGS in my quilt patterns. While this isn't the only way you can piece this unit, I find it the easiest because you don't have to cut triangle shapes.


Just like my tutorial on Half Square Triangles, this method also maintains the grainline of the fabric so the edges of your finished half square triangles will be on grain. This is important because as you piece other shapes to your Hourglass Squares, they will be easier to piece because all the fabrics are square with the grainline of the fabric.

I also piece my units bigger so they can be cut down to the perfect size. Why piece this way? Because it's more accurate! Learn more about perfect piecing so every seam matches with my book: How to Piece Perfect Quilts.

Now that you know a bit about this piecing method, let's learn how to piece two Hourglass Squares together!

Step 1 - Stack two squares of fabric right sides together. Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner.


Step 2 - Take the stack of fabrics to your machine and stitch exactly 1/4 inch away from the marked line. Turn the stack and stitch 1/4 inch away from the other side of the marked line.


Step 3 - Cut the pieces apart along the marked diagonal line with a pair of sharp scissors.


Step 4 - Press the seam allowances open first with your fingertips. Be gentle because this is a bias seam and can easily stretch out of shape. Once the seam allowances are pressed open, press the half square triangle again with a hot, dry iron.


Step 5 - Stack and stitch again! Stack the units right sides together with the center seam perfectly matched in the center. Also make sure the fabrics are arranged opposing one another so they form a checkerboard design.


Step 6 - Mark a diagonal line again, perpendicular to the seam line. Does this feel familiar? It's exactly the same step we did before! This is how Hourglass Squares are basically double the steps of Half Square Triangles.


Step 7 - Stitch 1/4-inch to both sides of the marked line. I'm using orange thread again here just so you can see it. I'd normally use white or dark blue with these fabrics.


Step 8 - Cut the Hourglass Squares apart with sharp scissors.

How to Piece Hourglass Squares

Step 9 - Press the seam allowance open carefully, then trim the two resulting Hourglass Squares to the correct size. 

This is the final step, but it can be a bit tricky. First align the ruler so the 45-degree line is lined up with the diagonal seamline on the half square triangle.

Also line up the cut size of the unit, in this case 1 1/2 inches with the opposite diagonal seam as I'm indicating in the photo below:

Hourglass Squares Piecing Tutorial

Trim off a tiny bit of fabric on each side of the unit to cut it down to the correct size.

Hourglass Squares Piecing Tutorial

This method of piecing bigger than needed so you can trim perfectly accurately is my favorite way to make units perfectly every time.

Would you like more tips on piecing perfectly? Check out my book - How to Piece Perfect Quilts!

Making More Hourglass Squares

This method always results in two Hourglass Squares created for every two stack of squares you stitch. You can also mix up the colors by piecing two sets of Half Square Triangles, then piecing those together to make more interesting Hourglass Squares!

Now that you know how to create half square triangles very easily, here's a fun quilt block for you to test your new skills!

Get lots of practice piecing many interesting patchwork units with the Hidden Hearts Quilt Block from the Friendship Sampler Quilt!

Hourglass Square Patchwork Tutorial

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