Half Square Triangles

The half square triangle is certainly one of the most used shapes in patchwork. Have you ever thought about how many different arrangements you can make by simply putting a light half square triangle next to a dark one and then arranging them in as many ways as possible?


half square triangle illustration (1)


Here are just a few examples that are in my book, The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.


Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns


Blocks from QA

With my interest in all things patchwork, imagine my delight when during my recent visit to the International Patchwork Festival in Sitges, Spain, I encountered 55 benches with decorative patchwork tile designs, all made with half square triangle tiles.




promenade 2

I was walking with my son, Sean, along the promenade that runs along the beach when I saw the first bench. I remarked on how neat that was. Then sixty steps later there was another one and another after sixty more steps.  Before long I realized that each bench was different, with a different design.

We walked for about a mile and a half and altogether I counted 55 benches, all made with half square tiles. Each dark triangle was paired with a light one to create a square and then those squares were arranged in a variety of ways—48  squares (96 half square triangles) along the back of each of the benches.

Some of the benches appeared to be newer than others. Each bench had decorative tiles on the sides that corresponded to the designs on the backs of the benches. The older benches had spaces for 10 squares (20 triangles) and the newer ones had spaces for 6 squares (12 triangles).

So far I have not been able to find any two benches exactly the same. Some had duplicate designs on the back of the bench, but maybe the colors were reversed or the design was upside down on one of them. Also I found benches with the same design on the back, but one was an older style with places for 10 squares on sides of the bench and the other was the newer style with a spot for only 6 squares. A few were the same design but with different colored tiles.


bench images 1


bench images 2

I only made the discovery of these benches on our last day in Sitges. I wish I had had time to study them more carefully. I photographed most all of them and show 30 of them here.

I would like to know the history about these benches, who came up with the idea, how old they are, etc. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Meanwhile, how many other arrangements can you come up with using the same configuration of 10 square tiles across and three down?