If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably are aware of my “seat of the pants” style of measuring. When other teachers are coming up with the perfect mathematical formulas for getting things to fit – I’m trying to come up with an easier way. Most times accurately cutting and measuring are the way to go, but occasionally quicky techniques work just as well… or better.
This time I was inspired when my friend Mary emailed me asking:
“When you put a block on end, can you tell me if there is a formula to know how big to cut the set in triangles?
To add triangles in a row as in the image above, you simply need to cut squares the proper size and then cut these squares along one diagonal. Calculating the actual measurement for this is quite easy to do. When adding seam allowance to a square or rectangle quilters add 1/2″ (1/4″ seam allowance for each side). When cutting triangles there is an additional seam and, since it’s a diagonal one, 3/8″ needs to be added to the original 1/2″ (you don’t need to know the math – just trust me 😊).
So let’s assume the the blocks above were going to finish 6″. To cut a square that would yield two setting triangles, 7/8″ should be added to the finished size (1/2″ + 3/8″). Thus the square should be cut 6 7/8″. BUT WHO WANTS TO CUT 7/8″ INCREMENTS??? Instead we’ll add 1″, making it a 7″ square. This little bit of extra gives us some wiggle room and can easily be trimmed off when squaring up the row.
To make the “D” triangles above, you can cut 4 by adding 1 1/4″ to the finished size of your block and cutting this square on both diagonals.
Now… what if you want to cut setting triangles for a diagonal set quilt?
These triangles may be cut using the technique above so that they will fit precisely, but that leaves a bias edge around the entire quilt and I dislike the potential for stretching this creates. Also, I usually want the setting triangles around the outer edge of a quilt to be a little over-sized so the quilt blocks will “float”. This prevents the corners of the blocks from being cut off. Here are my “seat of the pants” measurements for quickly determining how to cut these triangles:
- Lay the cut quilt blocks point-to-point, using a ruler to align them properly. As you can see, these blocks are finishing 5 1/2″ (6″ unfinished):
In order to have a straight of grain edge around the quilt we will cut an oversized square of fabric and then cut it on both diagonals, yielding 4 triangles. To do this lay the ruler from point to point:
My measurement for the 5 1/2″ finished blocks is 8 1/2″. I added 1 1/2″ to this measurement and cut a 10″ square (yes – 1 1/2″ no matter the size of the blocks – again, just trust me). This will yield a good sized float which allows plenty of excess to square up the quilt top without cutting off block corners:
Each triangle can be placed between a pair of blocks when laying out the quilt:
Once all the triangles are cut the quilt may be laid out (I’m showing only a portion of my quilt for demonstration purposes):
The triangles are placed at the ends of the diagonal “rows” and sewn on with the right angle corner of the triangle even with the block. Once all the “rows” are stitched they may be sewn to each other:
Even thought this is only a portion of the finished quilt, you can see that there is more than 1/4″ of black around each red corner.
Once the quilt top is all together the corner triangles can be made by adding 1 1/2″ to the finished size of your blocks and cutting two squares at this measurement. They may each be cut on one diagonal, yielding all four corners.
The quilt top can now be squared up and borders added. In this quilt you can see a bit of purple float around each block:
Please notice in this detail shot that the block corners don’t all have the exact same amount of float – only God is perfect 😊. The upside is none of the corners were chopped off!
For those of you who are perfectly accurate when stitching – please use the precise measurements. For those of you who are off a little here and there, welcome to the club, and enjoy my hopefully helpful “seat of the pants” techniques.
And just a short note about another Wonderful Retreat!
I just returned from yet another weekend away with some dear quilting friends. Laura is such a blessing to me in so many ways, and her organizing of quilt retreats is just one of them. This time 7 of us gathered at the Tall Pines Quilt Retreat in Mukwonago, WI (click here for more information). Our visit was definitely snowier than this photo!
Laure and Hans have done a wonderful job of making this sprawling home the perfect spot for quilters – five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a very large sewing studio, made it a delightful place to stitch,
with wonderful friends,
and quite a bit of crazy fun!
Thank you ladies for a fantastic getaway!