Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ways Round the Triangle!

I love half square triangles – I always have!

And in my pursuit of the method that would make triangles love me back – I have tried EVERY triangle method known to Quilters far and wide.

Except for THIS ONE!

In our Jamestown Landing class the other day, we had folks working with pairs of squares and a diagonal line, sewing either side of the line.  We had gals working with sheets of Thangles or Triangles on a Roll or printed pages of Triangulations ---Triangulations works especially great since you can print them in the size you need, and work from larger cuts of fabric like Fat Quarters ---great when you need a whole bunch of triangles from bigger chunks of  fabric.

Bonnie W was doing something I had never seen before, however!

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How many of you have seen the half-square triangle ruler by Creative Grids?  I have ---but I’ve never bought it because my easy angle ruler does the same thing, and this thing is plenty big, but it works for many.

However, Bonnie was using it in a way I’d never thought of, and this might come in handy for those of you who don’t like to sew the cut bias of triangle units.  Instead of using it to CUT the triangle pairs – she was using it as a guide to draw the cutting lines first, and then sewing on either side of that line with her 1/4” seam before cutting.

This allowed her to make good use of her 2 1/2” strips, just like using the easy angle ruler does for me, but she found it easier for her to sew because she prefers not to sew on bias edges.

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Here her lines are drawn ---she just drew a line wherever we’d normally be rotary cutting first.  A few pins in place and she was ready to sew!  It does the same thing as Thangles, but no paper to remove!

I got home and wondered if I could do the same thing with the Easy Angle ruler – it should work the same, shouldn’t it?

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I pulled out a couple of 2” strips ---that's one of the sizes I use the most.  The 2 1/2”  Creative Grids half-square triangle ruler wouldn’t be optimal for me, I need more variety in sizes.  That’s the one thing that kept me from buying it, I’d be limited to one size only.  And those rulers are NOT cheap!

I used the Easy Angle ruler much in the same way ----just as if I was rotary cutting. I just used a frixion pen instead of my rotary cutter!

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8 pairs of triangles ready to be sewn!

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I pulled out Barbie today --- feeling in the mood for “strawberry milkshake pink!” 

Here is the critical point of sewing with this method.  Your foot MUST be the correct 1/4”,   if not a bit scanter.  If you have a computerized machine that can needle over – even better, because if you are sewing with 2" strips like I am here,  your units need to measure 2” when cut and pressed, not 1 7/8”!

Because of this I took what was a 1/4” foot with a guide that came with my featherweight ---and I broke the guide off.  The guide was never accurate anyway, but the silver part of the foot gives me that 1/4” from the needle that I want.  The guide also didn’t like to run cross-country over the fabric without dragging, so I was happy just to have the guide gone.

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Here I am all sewn!

You can tell that I just trailed my tails between diagonal lines.  I think if I draw this in another manner, having the lines be zig zags instead of  parallel diagonals, the stitching would be more continuous.

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I just cut apart on the drawn lines and was ready to press.  The frixion pen lines disappear when touched by the heat of the iron.  And yes I know the argument about lines coming back in the freezer, but I’m not hashing that out here.  My quilts are washed many times over through the course of their lives, and that solves the problem.

The Pros I see to this method are ---no triangles sucked down the needle hole. The ability to work with strips cut on the half inch or full inch instead of having to add that pesky 7/8”.  Accuracy of the units AS LONG AS the seam width is where it needs to be to give me the unit size I desire.

Too scant a seam and my triangles will be too big.  Too fat of a seam and they will be too small.  Every 1/4” foot is different, so don’t trust them until you have tested them out.  Ever.

Cons?  Time.  It takes a lot of time to draw lines.  I have no trouble sewing a cut bias, so drawing lines first before sewing is redundant for me.  I love to “chain press”  so having to cut these apart into individual units and then pick up one unit at a time to press was time consuming and awkward. 

Still, all in all – I can see myself using this method in a few situations, and you might find it works for you too! 

There are morning chores going around over here in Quiltville, and early this afternoon – I’m hitting the road and heading Northward to Floyd, Virginia!

Have an awesome Sunday, everyone!


  1. Never enough from your perfect, wonderful tutorials

  2. I think, Bonnie, that one of the most important points you make is that different techniques are most useful in different situations.

    If I need four HSTs I'm not going to use the same method I'd use when I need 1,000 HSTs.

    And, of course, different techniques work best for different quilters.

    One tip I have is that if you're using a new-to-you technique, test it first. For instance, that 1/4" foot almost certainly won't give you a perfectly-sized HST the first time. Each quilter needs to figure out where her 1/4" foot needs to fall for her perfect size.


  3. Thanks for testing this out and reporting back in such detail. As with most of these techniques, it all comes down to that pesky quarter-inch, doesn't it? And as Dorothy mentions, most people will want a different method for making four HSTs than for making a thousand! I don't like drawing lines, either. I have tried not drawing the lines, especially if the squares are small, and just eyeballing my way across the squares. I may just try your default method because it sure sounds faster than mine.

  4. I'll have to try this out because I don't sew bias well. This could make a bunch of jelly roll patterns possible for me.

  5. Thanks for the tutorial and for being such an awesome teacher!! I appreciate you in so many ways.

    Enjoy Floyd!! My husband and I spent the night there recently while traveling the parkway. It is a sweet little town with lots of friendly people and an awesome quilt shop! We were lucky enough to be there when they had a quilt display at their local arts center. Loved Mickey G's, an Italian restaurant in town.

    Have fun!! :)

  6. As I read your post, I had one of those "Now why didn't I think of that" moments! It seemed so obvious when I read it, but coming up with the idea in the first place is the real trick. Heading off to my sewing room to try it now... Thanks!

  7. Wonderful detail, good critique....but IMHO, Inklingo is still the best way to go!! There is a variety of sizes available, lines to sew on, lines to cut and custom sizes to fit the number of triangles needed. No need to fuss with achieving the perfect 1/4"...it is already done for you! Perfect every time! This has been so freeing in my quilting life that I have to share whenever possible! :-))

  8. eureka moment! thanks for the tip

  9. I use the triangulation papers for one or 1,000 HST. Every time. They're very simple and very accurate. Every time. No need to be concerned about that 1/4" seam. It's right there on the paper. Use a smaller stitch, press the paper, remove. Perfect for me because I don't care to draw a line on fabric as I'm not that great at it.

    One of our Daughters does her HSTs the way Bonnie showed. But she can draw a line better than I can. LOL!

  10. Like you I have no problem having a stack of triangles to sew on the bias to make a HSTs by the dozens. However, for instance making a 6inch block for our sew along, this could be a nice way to make a group of tiny ones for one block. I can't imagine doing it this way.... say a couple of hundred of them for a mystery :0) no way!

    Safe travels and Happy Sewing

  11. Thanks for showing this method. I may never actually use it, but I think it is good to know there is more than one way to accomplish a project.

  12. I used Thangles before you introduced me to the Easy Angle (thank you, BTW) but I could see this method would be perfect for those really little HST of 1" and 1 1/2". Thanks!

  13. Thanks for the instruction, I can see that it could be helpful when you only need a few. I like the lack of waste too. But I can see where it would not be useful if you are doing a lot of them. I don't have that triangle measure But Ihave a lot of others. i'm going to check and see if one I have will work. I went on a I like it I'm buying it mode for different rulers! and then find that I go back to the same one or two.

    Sorry I couldn't do quilt cam last night. Hope to catch you at it another time.

  14. Great tutorial on HSTs. I agree that this method would probably work best when you need a few tiny HSTs. I've used the triangles on a roll and thangles in the past and I love the accuracy, but tearing off the papers is a pain. Rather spend my time sewing. I should check out Inklingo because you'd get accuracy without paper. I'm wondering how time consuming the fabric prep and printing would be when using that method.

  15. BTW, who keeps their quilts in the freezer so those lines can come back?? Okay, I'm just being onary-but-still.....

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  17. I started using the easy angle after reading about it on your blog. I did have some problems with bias stretching at first. But, I started ironing all my fabric before I cut it, with non-aerosol Niagra liquid starch. It's made a world of difference in my piecing accuracy.

  18. I know it takes a while longer, but I prefer to oversize my HSTs a bit, then square to accurate size. JMHO Di in TN


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