Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fun with Triangles

Triangles are one way to add movement to a quilt and I've used them frequently in my quilts.  Sometimes it's just adding lots of little triangles in the border in scrappy fabrics.  Over the years I've tried several different methods and definitely have a couple that are my favorites.  I tend to like things precise.  As a result I lean towards sewing things bigger and trimming down. 

For making lots of small triangles in scrappy fabrics, my favorite is a method called bias strip triangles.  There are lots of you-tube videos out there so I won't explain in detail here, but the basic ideas is you cut bias strips and sew them together.  Then cut out the triangles from that new strippy fabric.  It is fabulous for lots and lots of little triangles, all perfectly square and no burned fingers from pressing little tiny pieces.   The only downside I've found with this method is figuring out exactly how much fabric you need for the number of HST wanted and how wide to cut the strips.  The math gets a little complicated.  Someone should write an Excel program to calculate that.  Hmmmm.  Anyway,  I used this method for the half square triangles in the saw tooth border for the quilt below.  This quilt is for the twin cousin whose brother received the attic window quilt shown in an earlier post, thus the more muted colors than my normal choices.
Friendship Star

Most of the time when using triangles in novelty quilts, I need to add a corner to a novelty square as in a snowball block or the heart quilt shown previously.   Early on in this quilting journey I used the method of cutting a square of background fabric and drawing a line across corner to corner.  Then you sew on the line, and if you are really diligent, you sew again 1/2" away from the sewn line, creating an extra bonus triangle to cut away.  That bonus triangle is generally very small.  And you have lots of them that you get to open up and press.  And probably trim because you didn't sew exactly 1/2" away.  I used this method for many many quilts.   Here are several quilts where I used the bonus triangles as saw-tooth borders.  Another is the Leaning Orange Stars posted earlier.

Trellis Novelty
Twisting Squares - idea from Lynn on (latterby1)
There are a couple things I don't like with this method.  First it uses up a lot of background fabric.  Yes, you get bonus HST, but I was getting over-run by the things (more on that later).  And I got tired of sewing that extra line every time, though I felt obligated.  Plus I found I wasn't good at drawing that line corner to corner.  When I folded the fabric over to see if I had sewn the triangle correctly, I discovered that my corners didn't meet a good part of the time and the block was no longer square.  Now I had to re-sew (yuck) or else live with it and hope it didn't mess up the construction of the block down the road. 

A couple of years ago I discovered a nifty ruler at a quilt show demo.  It's called a Perfect Corner Ruler.  Again there are on-line demos so I'll just explain briefly.  The big different is you draw the diagonal sewing line (using the ruler) directly on your base fabric.  You then add an oversized triangle of the background fabric large enough to fold over and cover the background fabric.  The size to cut is shown in a little table printed on the ruler.  You then trim the block to size after folding the sewn triangle over, so it is "perfect". I know my obsessive side is showing here.  And yes, you still have 1 cut triangle left over from the novelty fabric, but I'm using a lot less background fabric.  I know there are lots of different ways to accomplish the same things and everyone has their preferences.  But I'm sold on this ruler.  I haven't done the square thing since I discovered it.

And speaking of over-run by tiny HSTs, here is my attempt to tame them.  The idea was from a quilting magazine subscription flyer, so I'm not sure who to credit.  I don't know that I'll ever give this one away just because it took so long to piece and I don't think anyone else would ever appreciate the effort.  I still have baggies full of purple and dotted white, orange and dotted white, yellow and blue TOT, and orange and novelty.  Let me know if you are interested!
Triangle Madness


  1. Dee, what are the dimensions of your "Triangle Madness" quilt?

    (When I look at some of your photos I sometimes wonder about the sizes of them but this time I just gotta ask.)

    1. Each HST is 1" finished & the squares are 3" finished. The overall quilt is 36" x 42". I want to make it larger, but for right now all the little HST I have are the wrong colors (as mentioned above). Or else there isn't enough contrast to work in this layout. I did recently cut a bunch of white triangles too small for another quilt, so I could make some more from them. Since I'm trimming the HST, even sewing little ones isn't too bad. I don't like the pressing though. I line about 20 of them up on my cutting board and trim production style so it goes pretty fast; trim 2 sides on all, then flip and trim the other two sides. It does look pretty neat.

    2. Oh, and typically I make these about 3' x 4'. I have that size marked on my design wall as a reference. For toddlers I like to make them a bit bigger, but I like that size and aspect most of the time.

  2. Aha! Gotcha! You agree that it looks pretty neat. I think it looks dazzling.

    Neat enough to enter in a quilt show? I think that other quilters would love to go "oooooooo" and "aaaah" over this beauty. Enter it in the "Scrap Quilt" category (which usually requires 75 different fabrics and has no size requirements) just for the excitement of having it in a show.

  3. wow...that triangle madness quilt is amazing!!! id keep it too! :) love all your i-spy quilts! :)

  4. This is WOW! Just breathtaking girl! Triangle madness just blows me away! :0