If you have ever been intimidated by the thought of sewing a 22.5 degree (think tall and skinny) triangle quilt, then I am here to tell you it is not as difficult as you might think.
Last Christmas I bought myself a 22.5 degree Creative Grids triangle ruler, thinking it would make for a quick and easy Christmas tree triangle quilt, and ever since I have been keen to take the ruler for a test drive.
I finally decided it would be a great way to use a Fat Eighth bundle of the new Tilda fabric that had been sent to me by Tilda Australia to promote the upcoming Plum Garden collection.
But once I had cut all the triangles – 34 patterned and 34 background triangles, I realised I wasn’t actually sure how to sew them together to achieve an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance, and maintain pretty points throughout the quilt.
So naturally, I Googled it!
And, I found NOTHING!! Well, at least nothing that was of any specific help to me!
There are a few people offering template patterns, and even some ‘tutorials’ that tell you to ‘sew the pieces together’ – but I didn’t come across any instruction that actually indicated how I should align my pieces when using a ruler. So trial and error became my new friends, and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts I realised what I was doing wrong!
What You Will Need to Make a Triangle Quilt:
The good news is, triangle quilts don’t need too many fancy notions – besides perhaps a 22.5 degree triangle ruler, you will most likely have all the basics in your general supply kit.
Here is a list of what I used:
- Sewing machine, thread, rotary cutter and cutting mat.
- Fat Eighth (9″ x 21″) pieces of fabric.
- Approx. 2.5yds (2m) background yardage.
- A 22.5 degree triangle ruler. I like the one from Creative Grids.
- A ruler with 1/4″ marks for measuring.
- Frixion heat erasable pen.
- Fine pins you can sew over, such as my favourite Karen Buckley Pins.
- And just a little bit of patience ;).
As a quilter, our natural tendency is to want to give ourselves a visual 1/4″ seam allowance – and this is what might trip you up.
By drawing a portion of the stitch line 1/4″ from the edge of your triangle with a Frixion pen, you are better able to gauge where your pieces need to line up – the tip of the line will intersect with the edge of the fabric.
As you can see from the image above and below, once you align the marked stitch line with the edge of the triangle below, you end up with the tiniest piece of overhang.
You do this for both the top and bottom, using pins to ease the triangle into place. The pins ARE necessary because triangles are cut on the fabric bias and have a tendency to stretch when they are handled – and we don’t want those edges to move!
The alignment may be clearer in the image below, where you can see the purple fabric peeking out from under the background triangle.
It is also important to press your seams open. If you don’t, you will find there is too much bulk at the top point of your triangle when it comes time to sew the next unit to the triangle side.
Here is what you will see once you have sewn two triangle units together and pressed the seam open…
And, once you have sewn the third triangle, your unit will look like this…
Assembling the Quilt
After I had pieced the units you see in the images above, and I had confidently worked out how to achieve the 1/4″ seam allowance required to make those perfect points, I focused on sewing together one background unit to one patterned unit, then sewing those units to each other to build slightly larger units, rather than trying to piece the triangles together side by side in rows.
This made the quilt easier to handle as it grew.
Here is an image of how you align the secondary units…
If you look closely at the image above you can see why alignment is not really intuitive! But as I said in the intro to this post – it is easier than you think. Drawing the seam allowance and pinning the pieces together is the secret – and one I am happy to share with you!
The ‘Perfect’ Triangle Quilt
I think I am going to call this triangle quilt, Standing Tall!
Jane Fonda once said, “I have a confidence about my life that comes from standing tall on my own two feet”. I like her sentiment!
Would you like to make your own Standing Tall quilt? Thanks to Ascot Lane Distributors, I am giving away 1 Creative Grids 22.5 degree triangle ruler to 1 lucky subscriber. All you need to do to enter is, share one of your own quilting secret (or not so secret) tips that makes your quilting life easier in the comments, AND be sure you are subscribed to my newsletter (sign up in the sidebar of this website).
Giveaway closes July 6, 2019. GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. The winner is comment #13 – Anorina, congratulations!!
I can’t wait to hear your tips :).
Looking for more great tips?
Here are my most popular tutorials right now…
- How To Make A Quilt Design Wall
- How to Pattern Match a Quilt Backing
- Accurate Strip Sets With A Jelly Roll
- How to Sew a Lined Zippered Pouch
- How to Sew an Envelope Pillowcase
Dianne Whittle says
Read the instructions before you start. I’ve made many errors because I haven’t read all the instructions because I’ve been too impatient to start.
Love the triangles!!
Because I don’t have wall space in my sewing room, I have covered pieces of Masonite with gridded interfacing to make a movable design wall. Works great!!
I use the rounded end of a Bobby pin to push my points out. So much easier to handle and manipulate the fabric to a fine point.
Use a vintage iron. The get hotter, no auto shutoff and the soleplate is nice and smooth.
After years of thinking I could “eyeball it”, I’m using a corner trimmer/cutter specific to the angle. Having flat tops on angled pieces makes such a difference in accuracy. Marti Michell has a great one! The time saved not redoing seams more than makes up for the time it takes to do your trimming.
Thank you for the tips! That ruler and your quilt looks amazing! I can only say, accurate cuts and accurate 1/4 inch seams are my best tips.
Would love to learn anything you wish to teach us! I love everything you do!! Thanks for sharing your talents! 😘
Katrina Leedy says
Just found your blog today. So excited to read all your tips and tricks. Thanks so much and I just signed up for the inside out SAL. Trying to decide on fabric now.
When using a new pattern, I make one ‘test’ block just to ensure all the instructions are correct!
melissa swagerty says
My best tip I’ve been using lately is starching my fabric before cutting. Helps me with better, more accurate cutting!
Thank you for the tip. This will make sewing triangles a lot easier and a lot more accurate. I use a dull seam ripper as a stiletto when I am sewing. The point holds the fabric in place better and is thin enough to take the fabric right up to the needle (slowly) if need be. Thanks!
Margaret Swan says
This is such a well written and well illustrated tutorial – thank you. My tip is that I get better results pressing with a hot dry iron and a spray bottle of (filtered) water than by using steam.
Cathy C says
Great quilt. Thanks for the tips. I like to use my Purple Thang for marking the perfect 1/4 inch seam. And I just bought a seam roller for pressing seams open when paper piecing – I’m really liking it!
Anorina Morris says
Thank you for the instructions. You’ve made it look super easy. I must admit that I’ve always been a little afraid of sewing triangles. My sewing tip is before starting quilting your quilt, spend a little bit time pre-winding a few bobbins so that they’re ready when you need them. Nothing worse than having to stop what you’re doing to wind a bobbin.
I think my tip is to not be afraid to try something new. There is nothing that cannot undone, and most little mistakes are not visible to anyone but me. Don’t let them paralyze you. AND, buy a little extra fabric just in case…..
LYNN M BONEBERG says
When cutting triangles use LOTS of starch, I find this helps quite a bit. Love this quilt, the fabric is amazing, and wow what a ruler! I could make quite a dent in my stash with that tool;)
Lovely quilt and great tips! Thank you. My best tip is to read blogs and look at pictures from other quilters; they are experts.
Janice Kohnke says
Love your quilting style!!! My tip that works well for me is when I am making tiny blocks I use a mini iron for pressing my blocks…..
I love your quilt and tips!! I have learned to constantly check my 1/4 inch seams. Just because you are using a 1/4 foot doesn’t mean you’re getting a 1/4 seam.
I have a book and write down all colours, measurements etc in it before I start. I then have a record of all of my quilts and something at my finger tips to go back to!
Melanie C says
Take the time to press your fabric well and use pins!
Your quilt is absolutely gorgeous!
Michelle swanson says
Always – Always – Always read all the instructions, then read them all again! Just like cutting – measure then measure again! Many times I get too impatient and forge ahead only to regret not reading instructions to the end…. Patience Grasshopper, Patience! The quilt is gorgeous I want to make one!!! Thank you for the continued inspiration!
I have just discovered Clover clips. In some cases these are much easier than pinning. Particularly when installing zippers.
Thanks for all the great tips. Can you share more about the ruler itself? How did you use it to cut the smaller size triangles?
My tip – probably a commonly known tip but here it is anyway. Prep blocks (mark and pin) and then chain stitch. Before sewing the first set, start sewing on a 1 1/2” scrap square. Then feed the block. This will help prevent the thread getting jammed in the thickness of the seams and help them stay flat and on point.
I love a good triangle quilt! My favorite tip is to pick up a pair of grippy gloves for quilting; your back and shoulders will thank you later. 😉
Your quilt is beautiful. Press those blocks and bulky seams open
Mary Freeman says
I love this quilt! I starch the fabric first. Also, I make a test block to be sure it will work out before I cut into my beautiful prints, With the seams, if they won’t stay flat, I use a tailors clapper to help set them. Thanks so much for the helpful tips!
I recently learned I’ve been measuring and cutting fabric incorrectly. The lines on the ruler are supposed to be up on the fabric. I used to have the ruler lines along side the fabric edge. What a difference this made in my accuracy!
Barbara Augustine says
For an easy label I like to use a 6” square, fold it into a triangle and press. When sewing on the binding place it in one corner of your quilt and it’s easily attached while putting on the binding. I usually make a stack of these to have ready when a quilt is ready for binding.
When sewing with jelly rolls I always use a lint roller on the jelly roll edges to remove as much lint/fabric fuzz as possible before I unroll the jelly roll. I also do this on the edges of a layer cake to remove excess lint. Doing this keeps my cutting area and sewing machine much cleaner.
Love this quilt will be adding it to my list and would love to win
Accurate 1/4 seam is worth the effort and time for the best quilt aasembly
shoshana vogel says
thank you for the tips!! you make it look easy. my best tip, if thats what you’d call it, is to remember that i’m doing this because i love to do it, the process is just as important as the finished product!!!
I have always avoided sewing triangles but try now after reading your tips. My tip is to read and reread the instructions. I have made quite a few mistakes after misreading the instructions.
My tip is more organizational. As I start collecting fabric for a quilt I put it all in a clear shoe box (my favorites are the men’s shoe box size from Container Store) along with pattern and any notions specific to the project. I label the end of the box and use all the same boxes so that they stack securely and neatly. That way I can browse what I want to work on next, easily find all the components and see that I either need something or that I have everything I need. This also makes it easy to put aside a project to work on something else if I need to (like a special gift I.e. a baby gift) and know where to pick up at when I return to the project. Some boxes hold ongoing project materials like Christmas ornament materials.
Deborah S says
What a beautiful quilt and marking the 1/4″ seam and pinning is such a simple fix! My tip is for your sewing machine and make it a habit that every time you finish a project (or in a somewhat routine fashion) to clean out your bobbin area and under sewing plate to get all those little fuzzies out. It makes for smoother, quieter sewing.
Whenever I am sewing I always have a magnet nearby, if I drop a pin then I can sweep the area with my magnet to find it quickly before my dog does. I do a lot of hand sewing in my bed and nobody wants to find a pin in their bed either. Thank you for a great tutorial and a lovely giveaway. x
Mary Jo Jones says
I loved this post and am planning on trying a quilt like yours. I learned that using a hammer to flatten a bulky seam really works! My great friend Bertha shared it with me. Thank you for the opportunity to win this ruler❤️
Trying to use up my project leftovers (scraps), I use the small pieces to make 4 patches and 2″ finished HSTs as leaders. Add some 4″ solids and they make great, quick baby quilts.
Susan S says
I love these very clear directions! I actually will use this today on a scrap quilt with traingle cut corners. My tip is to always re-check your cutting instructions before you cut. I learned this one the hard way!
Kathy Bankston says
My Quilting/Sewing tip would be to completely clear my workspace before beginning a new project…including “preflighting” my machine, getting all lint out, oiling it and replacing the sewing machine needle. That “new project mindset” coupled with careful prep of fabric & workstation goes a long way, especially when I also have a thorough grasp of necessary construction details. The last component to this “success recipe” would be the understanding that the project will progress at it’s own pace. If things get snarled up or wonky, I find I (and my project) fare much better if I just walk away. If I’m honest, prayer often enters at this point. By the time I have settled down, my brain is often ready to tell my hands how to fix any mistakes. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?
Love this quilt – and great tips, Samantha!
My tip is to press your fabric before cutting. Sometimes I get lazy and don’t press first, but it always makes a difference and makes cutting so much easier when I do!
I use a wool pressing mat and wooden clapper to achieve really flat blocks.
Love all the tips! I like to use a small mine iron so i can iron as i go.
I’m a beginner so my only piece of advice is to sew slowly.
Cindy Webb says
I’m so excited to try this triangle quilt! Thanks for the tutorial! My sewing machine is old, so the best way I have found to get an accurate seam is to measure and mark it on the plate with painters tape.
Mary Ann Blum says
As you come to a stopping point on your project, always finish with the part you don’t like doing. Ex: if you don’t like threading needles, thread a bunch of needles then quit. It makes “starting up” easier.
I’m always on a tight budget, so I like to use cone thread to sew…. or maybe that should be thread on a cone….anyways, to make the cone sit on my machine, so it will unspool smoothly, I insert an empty thread spool inside the cone then it will sit on the extra spool pin on my machine.
Claire Linn says
I love a quarter inch foot with a guide on my Janome. But I always use a scant 1/4 inch seam by adjusting the needle to the right to make it just a little narrower! Works a treat!
Stacey Martin says
My “secret”, which isnt a total secret is Elmer’s glue. I use it when I sew on binding. First I sew the binding to the back. Then I flip to the front and use Elmer’s glue to hold the binding perfectly on the sewing line I just made. When I do this, I can literally get an almost perfect match on the seams, front to back. However, I do like throwing on one of my fancy stitches to the binding from the front because it adds whimsy and it covers any “hick-ups” you might have made on a not so perfect straight line of stitching too! 👍Oh, the Elmer’s glue tip….apply and use your iron to set it. You can do this with applique and much more. It is washable, so once you wash your fabric…wa la…gone and no worries of it ever coming back!! 😁
Deb Newton says
A couple of golden rules: always press fabric before making accurate cuts, check your 1/4″ foot is actually a scant 1/4″ and not a generous 1/4″. Plus take your Netflix friendly tablet to the sewing room but not your “helpful” pet parrot. Works for me.
Barb N says
Something that has saved my neck time and time again is to place two inexpensive plastic door stops beneath each side of the back of my sewing machine. This simple act tilts the sewing machine forward just enough so I don’t have to crane my neck to stretch over the top of the stitches to see what’s going on. No tense body posture this way, leaving me to be a happy camper, er rather, happy sewist!
Linda Shulist says
I like to use painter’s tape to use as a guide when quilting straight lines. Can use it over and over again, nothing to erase, just pull up and press down and keep quilting.
My tip is to be systematic and then obsessive about the system when laying pieces out in order to keep them in the right places.
Sewing over pins without hitting them is possible if you slow down when you’re coming to a pin.
Carol Kuse says
My tip is to hang my rulers. This I learned from my husband who was a glass cutter for fifty years. This keeps them straight and true. His rulers were 125″ long.
Becky McKenzie says
I use a cookie sheet to keep all of my cut pieces together for a project. they are lightweight and the sides are just high enough to keep everything together but shallow enough to slide into a drawer or under my bed when I need to tidy up.
Christine Sherman says
This is beautiful, thanks for sharing!
I don’t have any tips not already mentioned. I love my rotating mat for trimming HST’s, a time saver for me 🙂
Your work is exquisite and your tutorials exceptional. Thank you for sharing. My go-to secret “tip” feels similar to what you promoted in this tutorial about triangles: research (i.e. google) “HOW TO (….do whatever it is)” and if there’s little or nothing out there for help, take it one tiny step at a time a work through it. Persevere through trial and error. I believe that’s how our foremothers (i.e. mostly mothers, but MANY great forefathers were in there too) figured out HOW TO accomplish the hundreds (maybe thousands) of techniques in the quilting industry today. And through it all, be encouraged and SHARE, as you do to help others!
And lastly….I love your pix of the finished quilt. Its gorgeous! Thank you for sharing!
Holly Ardoin says
Thanks for the tutorial and Giveaway. Great quilts come with patience and practice. Enjoy the process of creativity and your techniques will be refined with time.
Kristin J says
My favorite “secret” is triangles on a roll paper for HST! That paper is the best!
Lisa R. says
I’ll share my most recently learned tip. Crazy, but you can use dental floss to match points when sewing rows together. And it certainly would come in handy here for making the Standing Tall quilt. Here’s the link to the YouTube where I learned this handy secret: https://youtu.be/YBbkoYOEecI