I am delighted at all the enthusiasm and positive reactions to the announced Quilt-Along. I know that some of you are already waiting with sharpened rotary cutter for things to kick off – so this is it! Today is the day: we’re starting off with the modern triangle quilt.
A brief reminder:
In the coming months, we will be sewing together this fairly large quilt in small, manageable steps. Each month I will present a special triangle to sew. Sometimes you need to do more of the same, we’ll start with very simple ones and build up our skills to more difficult blocks.. The instructions are manageable even for beginners. Each monthly project can be completed in roughly 2 and 4 hours Cutting out the many plain triangles (without the extras) and assembling the quilt will be much more time-consuming. But even then, the tasks can be divided up somewhat: The simple triangles can be cut a bit at a time, and then you can expect a longer period of about 3 months for assembly. So this is actually quite manageable, even for quilters who work or are otherwise fairly busy.
There is also a raffle
for participants who complete their quilt top. The terms and conditions for participation as well as details about the prizes can be found in our previous article.
A word in advance about printing the templates
The templates are PDF documents and can be opened and printed out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. When doing so, it is important to make sure that you are printing them out with the correct 1:1 scale.
What you will need:
A list of the required materials is included in the previous article. Apart from that, you will need the usual sewing supplies. We will be sewing in inches. If you haven’t sewn in inches before: it’s simply a matter of habit. An inch ruler can be read just as easily as a centimeter ruler, and you will most likely find it less complicated because it uses larger units of measurement. Also you will need an inch presser foot.
A tip for cutting out triangles: I will provide you with a paper pattern as a template for each one. You will also be able to print this out so that you will have a reference on hand for how large the cut out triangles should be. However, I would recommend that you use/procure a 60° ruler (see illustration) for the set of required triangles. Of course, you can also simply cut out the materials using the 60° corner of the normal ruler – but that isn’t really pleasant when there is such a large quantity to cut and it also always entails the risk of inconsistencies.
Methods to work are as different as we are. There are those well-controlled planners who, from the very start, determine how the journey will proceed down to the last detail. For these quilters there is the blank layout, available for download here, where you can determine and enter your materials (the white triangles will be filled in with fabric prints and accent colors; the gray color stands for the background material).
Then there are the spontaneous naturals who make decisions on the go, like what color they will choose for the next block and where it should go. This approach is, of course, just as feasible – our Quilt-Along also offers enough leeway to deliberate and decide spontaneously.
To wash before cutting or not?
I am not a big fan of washing fabrics before cutting them. I don’t like when they come out of the machine crumpled and frayed, so that I have to painstakingly iron them once more before I can even begin cutting. However, I like when the fabrics have at least the opportunity to shrink a little before quilting. I would handle it like this: I would lay the finished sewn quilt top in a tub filled with cold water for a few hours, then wring it out well and let it dry over a drying rack. That’s my method.
In any case, this is what I recommend when cutting out triangles:
Spray with starch and iron the fabrics before cutting. This way they will be somewhat stiff (don’t worry, the stiffness comes out when worked with or when washed). With this certain stiffness, they can be cut as easily as paper. And since triangles have two sides on the bias that are easy to stretch, the stiffness of the spray starch has a positive effect.
Prepare your ruler:
Print out the paper template and adhere it under your ruler using a glue stick (it should be easy to wash out later). This way you won’t accidentally misread the measurements and can consistently cut the correct sizes.
The precise planner will probably count how many triangles (without extras) per color are needed, then cut them out, and set them aside until they are finally sewn together.
The spontaneous natural probably sews the blocks and then cuts additional triangles out of the leftover fabrics that they then arbitrarily distribute in the layout. If that’s the case, here’s my tip: The material specifications refer to 10 printed fabrics at 25 cm x fabric width. Please save half of this fabric width, i.e. a piece of approx. 25 cm x 55 cm for these simple triangles!
The best method for cutting out the plain triangles from the 25 cm strips is as follows: Divide the 25 cm fabric into two strips, each with a width of 4 3/4″ (note: don’t divide up the entire fabric width, just one piece so that you can cut out 10 triangles; you know why – we need the rest for the special triangles) and then cut out the triangles with zigzag cuts. This is the most efficient method with regard to time and material waste. If you take a close look at the graphic (also see the illustration of the ruler above), you will see that the tips of the triangles are cut off. There is a reason for this: You don’t need the entire tip in the seam allowance. It’s rather superfluous and forms unnecessary “bulk”. You only need ¼” above the actual seam. So we can leave these parts off, and the strips for the triangles can be slightly smaller, as if we had left the sharp tips. Also trimming the lower tips will be of help when sewing everything together, as you will see later on.
I find it somewhat pointless to list how many plain triangles I’ve cut from which fabrics. In the end, this is not a traditional quilt where you have to rigidly follow a block pattern. Instead, it is a modern layout that allows for personal design choices. For this reason, I am simply mentioning that we have cut out a total of approximately 100 simple triangles from the printed fabrics, which comes out to approx. 10 triangles per fabric print that you can surely get from the half of the fabric’s width.
We have cut out 17 triangles from the solid accent fabric.
And one more note about cutting fabrics economically
I have to confess that I am Swabian (Swabinans are people of a southern region of Germany, who are comparable to Scots in their frugal ambitions), which means it is in my nature to be frugal, at least when it comes to cutting fabrics. This also has an effect on my material specifications. As a result, I often get completely different reactions. The same list of materials in Germany or Europe, where fabrics are quiet expensive, leads to reactions such as: “When I was done I still had a lot of fabric left over. Could you not have calculated that more precisely?” right up to a reaction that I often get from my American customers, whose fabrics are mostly half of our price: “Why not simply buy a good amount or extra? You will use it anyway” (they prefer having a generous amount of material available for use, and whatever is left over will ultimately be used somehow).
In this triangle Quilt-Along, the materials are calculated using the Swabian method. If scraps result from the cutting of a larger shape, I will always use them in blocks that are made up of smaller shapes. Even small strips will be used in the blocks and we will need them for appliqué stars or circles – so please don’t hastily throw anything away. You can dispose of everything when we’re completely done.
And if you know that you would like to have extra material for cutting, then simply buy a slightly larger piece of fabric or an additional Fat Quarter, so that you are not disappointed at the end if something is missing.
Now we get to our first extra block.
Triangle no. 1
I will explain this block so that even those beginners who have never sewn patchwork before and perhaps come from the tailoring side of sewing will have no problems with this step:
Print out the block below and cut two triangles from the fabric referring to the illustration. A tip for being thrifty when using these materials: Divide a rectangle into two triangles and use the second one for an additional block.
Lay both fabric triangles right sides onto each other. Fold the paper on the dotted line (print is inside, blank is outside) and set it on the triangle as shown in the photo.
Now open the folded paper (please be careful that it doesn’t shift), pin it to the triangles, and sew along the dotted line.
You can trim back the seam allowance of this seam to ¼”. After that, open up and press the fabrics. Finally, cut the triangle out through all the layers along the indicated edge of the seam allowance and tear off the paper (completely, of course).
(Dear sewers new to patchwork – you have just sewn the foundation paper piecing technique).
What I really love about such a quilt-along is that you can so much learn from other participants (even I, yes!) and benefit from their ideas or methods to tackle the task.
Of course there is more than one method to sew this block no.1 and honestly – the experienced quilters don’t need any foundation-paper-piecing here (it was more meant for the beginners or those, who haven’t the 60° ruler handy). So it happened that one comment of a German participant brought out the super-frugal Swabian of me (watch out!). Now I came up with the following:
From 8 different prints cut 3 ¾” x 25 cm (nearly 10“) (don’t be confused about mixed measurements, the 25 cm stand for the piece of your yardage). Join the rectangles on their long side to get a strip set. Cut crosswise in halves (you now have two strip sets, each about 12,5 cm or nearly 5” width). Join both strip sets on their short side to get one long strip set of 16 rectangles. Press seams open.
Now place your ruler so that the centre line is on the seam and the bottom line of the needed triangle size matches the bottom edge of the strip. Cut out the triangle, turn ruler, cut another one and so on. You will get 16 triangles out of that strip set. Keep the remaining scraps for later blocks. (Goodness, that was kind of frugal, wasn’t it? Are you proud of me, my Scottish quilt buddies???)
Now, was that easy, or was that easy?
As for the rest, you can piece together interesting combinations in layout with this block, such as
Previous entries in the BERNINA Triangle Quilt-Along