Monday, November 4, 2013

An Isosceles Puzzle - Tips for Making a Triangle Quilt

Isosceles on Point
 When I was asked to make my Isosceles on Point quilt, I was very helpfully pointed towards THIS tutorial/pattern.  This was the inspiration Larissa had found - which was very helpful indeed!  It was great to get an idea of what I was in for, however, it was  quite basic, and didn't really answer all the questions I had in this new triangle world I found myself in.  And it seems that I'm not alone.  A lot of you asked for tips and told me how scared you were of tackling triangles, so I took a bunch of photos throughout the process, and will hopefully make some resemblance of sense!

In terms of fabric yardage required, I can only tell you how much I used for a king single size.  I bought 1.25metres of each fabric, and when it was finished, I think I had about 20cm of each leftover.  The backing fabric was I think 5 yards.

The template that came in the above tutorial has a flat tip on the triangle.  Now this may make sense to some of you - but it had me stumped, and I could not for the life of me figure it out - no matter how much I googled and asked Yahoo!  So after sewing two rows of flat tipped triangles together, and noting that they were a big fat fail, I altered the shape myself.  It ended up being 5 3/4" across the bottom and 8" high.  If you print out the template from above link, you can trim it to the point!  To cut the triangles out, I cut rows of fabric 7.5" high by the width of the fabric.  Then use the template to top and tail your triangles.  I actually placed 6 layers of fabric on top of each other and cut through them all in one go - because I'm super impatient!

For the end half triangles, I cut half triangles as instructed.  BUT, if I were to do it again, I would just start and finish each row with a full triangle, and then once the quilt top was completely put together, trim it straight down each side.

Le Template trimmed.
Once I had a pile high of triangles, I then needed to figure out fabric placement.  I am still yet to have a design wall, so I was very lucky indeed to have a very organised customer/relative who had done all the hard work.  Ok, well, the first bit of hard work…..

Larissa drew up a grid of triangles, and proceeded to get her crayon on.  This was extremely helpful when it came to fabric placement.  And as you can see, I had to add an extra piece of paper and draw some more triangles.  Clearly I am not an artist in the drawing sense!  But it worked.  I used 7 different colours/hues in this quilt, but you really can use as many or as little as you wish.
Once you've got your fabric placement sorted, you need to panic get prepared to sew them together!  Make sure you have some time and patience.

Begin by taking your first 2 triangles.  Place them RST (right sides together) as shown in the photo below….
(I realise this is not the first two triangles together, but have no photo of  that!)  You want the tip of your triangle to be peeping out at the other end.
You want your little overhang to measure 1/4".  Because where that 1/4" point is, is where you start sewing your 1/4" seam.
With your 1/4" foot on your machine (or if you don't have one,  make sure you have a mark on your machine to follow) put the point of your triangle in.
This photo shows that each time you put your triangles in to sew, the needle should line up with where your overhang begins.
Sew all the way down the triangle, when you get about half way, put your needle down and get the other pointy end of your triangle and align it all together, making sure you again have a 1/4" of triangle peeking out at the end, like in the above photo.  Your stitching should end just like that.  I found it easiest to hold the little overhanging bit at the end so it didn't slip away!
This is what your triangles should look like at the end of each one.  You should have an "intersection" which forms a neat little triangle seam, with overhanging bits.
And once you've continued on adding triangles to your row, press all the seams to one side.  You will have rows of neat little triangles!
When you've got your required amount of rows completed, it's time to sew them together!  This is where some of the things I've noted earlier will come in to play……
Take two rows to be sewn together, and place them RST.  Remember which edge you will be sewing together - otherwise you will find that your fabric placement will be wrong - don't ask me how I know that……..
Get your first "intersection/point" of each row, and line them up.  The most accurate way I found, was to try and line up the points on the inside as pictured.
Once you have the points lined up, pop a pin in right at that point.  When you get to sewing it together, you will know to stop about an inch before that pin to make sure it all still lines up.
Don't worry if your points meeting up means that your top seams are out of whack.  The seams don't matter even half as much as the points!  Pin at EVERY. SINGLE. POINT/INTERSECTION.
When it comes to the actual sewing of the rows together,  where your points meet "should" be around 1/4".  However, do a little measure before you sew, then you can adjust your seam allowance accordingly.  I had to move my needle over one notch to the left, as my points were just over 1/4".

Now you just literally sew!  As you approach your intersections which have been pinned, make sure they are still lining up and that you don't have any "give" in your two triangles.  If you have to ease the fabrics together a little to ensure your points will still meet, then do it!
It was VERY hard to get a photo as I sewed across the intersection!  But you basically want your needle to run JUST across where the point of your intersection is - see photo below.
This is a great example of getting the row of stitching right across the tip/point of the triangle intersection!
And this one too!
When you manage to get the stitching really right, as in the previous two photos - this is what your points/intersections will look like on the right side - PERFECTO!
There WILL be times when you won't get it perfect - but hey - the points are still there…….  See photo below.
See - you still get the points, but there's just a little, little bit of space above and below each one.
Once I had all my rows sewn together, I trimmed off all the overhanging dog ears.  You don't have to do this, but I find it just takes away a little more bulk when you're quilting.

I also like to press my seams apart for the same reason.  
When you have it all pressed, you can feel very VERY proud of your hard work and ALL THOSE POINTS!! 
And one last photo.  I had a few peeps on Instagram ask me about my basting process when I posted this photo.  I have learnt that I can do it standing up, on my dining table (Ummmm, that sounds a little wrong, but you know what I mean!).  It saves my knees and my carpet (and again, sounds wrong).  Here's a quick explanation of how I do it….

I have quite a large dining table - it can fit 10 seats around it.  If I'm doing a quilt that is smaller in length than the table, then I place the backing wrong side up on the table top.  Making sure it is completely flattened out with no ripples etc in it, I get some thick sticky tape (cello tape) and tape the ends of the backing to the table.  I then lay the batting on top, ensuring I smooth out any ripples etc again on the backing.  I find that the batting smoothes out very easily!  Then it's time to put the quilt top on.  I fold the quilt top in half length ways, right sides together.  Then line up one end to where I want it to sit on the batting/backing.  Once I have it lined up on the end, and the sides, I place it down, and unfold over to the other end.  Again, time to smooth it all out and adjust it where necessary.

Once it's all smoothed out and where it should be, I start basting from the centre outwards, and when the whole table worth of quilt is basted, I unstick the tape from the ends, and from one side of the table, centrally, gently pull the quilt over to reveal the rest of the quilt that requires basting.  It's then a matter of smoothly that section out again.  Repeat for the other side.  And HELLO - quilt basted!

If you have a quilt that is too big to sticky tape down on your table top, it means it's usually heavy enough not to move around too much - like the triangle quilt.  It just takes a little more time to smooth out and make sure you won't have a bunched up backing!  I have to say - I haven't had any problems (yet) using this basting method!

So there you go my friends.  A sort of tutorial on how to make your own isosceles triangle quilt!  Now - go forth and triangulate?!!!?!


  1. It's a beautiful quilt. I've been toying with the idea of a triangle quilt for a while now, thanks for sharing all of your tips

  2. Midge, you legend! Hamish and Andy really should have asked for your autograph after all!

    Thanks so much for these incredibly helpful tips. In particular, the things that had me stumped were: to sew all the way to the end of the triangle or not, how to line up seams for sewing rows together, how to press all the rows. You have literally answered every question I had!

    One of the answers (sew with patience and lots of pins) I didn't like very much, haha, I was hoping for an easy, magic solution ;-)

    Kudos for taking so many photos! It's really hard to stop and use the camera when you're in the middle of doing something tricky.

  3. Thanks for all the great tips!! I will use them on a triangle quilt one day :)

  4. Thanks so much for this, it's a great guide and I would love to give those those triangles a go some time Your quilt looks fantastic :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing. I'll try them out one day :-)

  6. Awesome tips!! I will be pinning for future reference!

  7. Great tutorial! Thanks sew much for sharing!

  8. Enjoyed your tutorial, thank you. It was linked by Bonnie Hunter.

  9. Love this! Also love the colour combo on your quilt.

  10. In the end what is the size of this quilt


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