LaRueSews-Quilts - Tricky Triangles

Hi there, all of you Ann the Gran readers.  Welcome back to LaRueSews-quilts.  This is a bright and sunny day in east central, Alabama.  It is, however a bit chilly outside.  But I guess that’s better than cold, cloudy and rainy.

I have said before, and I’d like to say again that I am not an expert.  I am not a quilting teacher, though I have taught a few classes.  My purpose here is to tell you about the knowledge I have of quilting.  You may take or leave whatever you wish.  There are no quilt police, so do it your way.  But it is good to have some basic knowledge from someone who has learned from years of trial and error.  You will make mistakes, just as in ME.  But you will learn from every mistake you make.  Just a thought here. . .it wouldn’t hurt to keep a notebook of mistakes so you will remember how to fix the disasters, no matter how large or small.

There is a rather major/minor area that I haven’t talked about yet that some of you would probably like to try. But since I have never been good with triangles, I’ll just tell you what I know.  Triangles, half triangle, and quarter triangles involve math and a good general knowledge of rotary cutting.  It’s a good idea to either take a class, join a guild where basic quilting is taught or buy a really good book.  I have steered clear of triangles, most of the time, unless the cutting instructions leave no question at all about how to do them. Or, if the instructions include templates for cutting the triangles.

I will see if I can take you through some basic knowledge of triangles.  The most used shape in quilting is the square, with triangles a close second.  Triangles can be cut in two ways.  The most common is cutting half-square triangles.   This triangle is made by cutting a square one time, on the diagonal, from one corner, to the opposing corner.  This triangle has two short sides, or legs, that are cut on the straight grain.


Half Square Triangles

The second triangle method is called the quarter-square triangle.  They are cut quickly, by cutting a square twice, in opposing diagonals, yielding four triangles.  This triangle is used when the straight grain side of the triangle is on the edge of the quilt.  Since the straight grain is on the long side of the triangle, the edge does not stretch as with a triangle that is cut on the bias.

Cut Quarter Square

Quarter Square Triangles

The basic measurement for cutting triangles is as follows.  Cutting a square-the finished measurement, plus ½ inch.  Cutting a half-square triangle-finished size plus 7/8 inch.  Cutting the quarter square triangle- finished measurement plus 1 1/4 inch.

All -In-One Quilter’s Reference Tool, by C & T Publishing is one of my favorite references for most of the quilting techniques that I use and many others.  A method for sewing and cutting many half square triangles is shown on page 44 of this book.  It can be a quick and handy way to making triangles for block that require half square triangles. Precise marking, sewing and cutting are essential to their success.  If you are a quilter, this book is invaluable.  I probably use this book more than any other book that I own.

As with any other piecing method, pressing is important.  Press with a dry iron, especially triangles.  Since triangles have bias edges, they are prone to stretching and distortion.  Steam pressing the seams of triangles makes the stretch permanent, and thus may distort the finished seam.  Press the seam toward the darker fabric.  Don’t press the seams open.  When all seams are pressed toward the darker fabric, it is much more likely that the block, when assembled, will have less bulking on seams at the connecting points.

 If the seams are pressed open, it is easier for the seam to pop open at the seam with stress.  Also, if seams are pressed open, it leaves a weaker space that can allow the batting in a finished seam to migrate through the seam line.

Migration happens when the batting fibers between the layers of a quilt come through the weave of the fabric, or through the seam lines.  On a quilt with dark fabrics, this migration will show as unsightly “pilling” on the surface of the quilt fabric.  This has happened to one of my favorite quilts.  Here, I show the quilt itself and then a close-up of the pilling on this quilt.  This probably happens somewhat on all quilts, but it shows up the most on dark colors.  It can be avoided by using black batting in quilts that are dark all over, but would show us as gray on light or pastel colors.  I have never used black batting, however.

Pilling on Dark


I want you all to know that I have been doing some ME.  I read Pat’s blog about Free Standing Lace.  FSL has always intrigued me and I really enjoyed her giving us lots of ideas about how to do FSL successfully.  I made this angel before Christmas.  I enjoyed her so much that I didn’t pack her away with the other Christmas stuff.

FSL Angel

Does anyone have anyone have any particular request for new subjects on quilting?  I’m still going to talk about borders, layering, quilting and finishing before I get into other things related to quilting. I hope this finds you all well and turning an impatient eye toward the end of winter, that is, SPRING.

Stitches to you,

Quilter's Jargon

Shapes in quilting
half square triangles
quarter square triangles

Quilt Police-Someone who tells you that you can't do it that way

pressing-using an iron to set the seams when making quilt blocks and quilts

pilling-migration of batting fibers through surface fabric

Comments (13) -

musiclady56 2/7/2009 11:05:38 AM

beautiful angel!  Where did you get the design?

LeRue-I never could be so exact as you do with your cutting.  I just have a crooked eye or something. . .

I also have a couple of books that I rely on heavily.  I got one here:  Machine Embroidery with Confidence:">   I do review it frequently and get ideas from there.  

That is a terrific angel.  I have it but cannot recall where I got it.  I could not have done any of the FSL in 3D without the correct glue!


Do you have any ideas on how to make quilts with all the embroidery designs now availible? I would like to see some thing other that just squares and stitching in the ditch. How can I get something on the backs so they aren't so plain? Thank you for  your easy to understand pictures and articles.



Once again you have a great blog. I love your instructions & photos. You make everything sound so easy, but you still leave me with a deep appreciation for all the hard work that goes into quilting.

When you get thru the basics, I'd like to learn about design incorporating ME blocks, how to decide how large the blocks should be, and how to determine how wide the strips between blocks & borders should be. Once you know that, how to figure out how much material to purchase.

Your angel turned out beautiful! I have the same pattern but have not attempted it yet. Now that I know what glue to purchase, maybe I'll give it a shot! The pattern is from Embroidery Library.


Oh, my goodness, ladies, I just found a Bonanza.  Rosie, and Vivian's questions first.  I typed this into Google  "Quilts+machine embroidered patterns", then I found this on the search page.">

There is a bunch of stuff about quilt with Me designs.  You'll love it.  On the rest of the Google search, there are many other web sites, but I only looked at Soft Espressions.  Take a look.

Wow, you all can ask some "trick" questions.  

Y'all liked my angel better than the quilting stuff  ;o)  I guess that's OK, this IS an ME web site, after all.  She came from  Check under angels.

Pat, your eye isn't crooked, maybe just a little "lazy"...   ;o)  Actually,  it doesn't take any more concentration than whipping out a few ME designs with 97 color changes per design.  You could do it if you let yourself.  I told you in the blog that I don't do triangles that much, but I know enough to tell you all how.  

Yep, I did the angel without the correct glue.  But I have it now.  We went to Michael's in Montgomery today and I got TWO bottles, so I can lose one and have one to replace it.  After all Michael's is two hours away.

Friends, I just got interupted for a little while, I'll come back later and finish answering all of you.

Stitches . .


serenemachine2 2/7/2009 11:13:24 PM

LaRue, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I am making my first attempt at quilting with a scrap quilt, basic 9x9 squares of different cotton flannel.  What I would like addressed, is all the different jargons for fabric, like jelly rolls, layer cakes????  What are these for and how would you use them???  Thanks.  Maureen

patriciagstalder 2/7/2009 11:14:38 PM

There is an angel design like this on


Thank you for writing.  The angel came from


I also have the book you mentioned, Machine Embroidery with Confidence.  You are right it's a great book, the first one I bought after I got my machine.  I also have a couple other ME books, but don't recall the names.  I need to look them over again.


I don't understand ''something on the backs".  Do you mean back of the ME or back of the quilt?  In a future blog, I will go into some of the things I have seen for quilt backings.  It's a good idea for future subject.  Keep them comeing.  I want to be here as long as possible.  Also, for other ideas for ME quilts, look at the Google search I mentioned in my last comment.

Rosie,  I love  ''deep appreciation''.  Fortunately other people who sew understand the time and effort involved in all of our work.  .  I am often asked if I sell my work.  I always say I don't, because my time and work are too valuable to give away and that is what people expect when they want you to "sell" your work.  I was once offered $5 for a piece of art that I had done in in a college art class.  It was a Seamstress' Collage.  I said "No, thank you, I'd rather give it to someone"


Block size and sashing will be coming up soon.  That is part of how you put a quilt together.  Thanks for the idea.  Keep me blogging.   ;o)

About how much fabric to buy, find a good pattern you like and go by the requirements that come with the pattern.  Also, there is a special calculator that is made for quilters.  It is: Calculated Industries, Quilter's FabriCalc Quilt Design and Fabric Estimating Calculator.  It would be a great item for ATG to have in it's shopping area.  I'll see what I can do.  It will calulate everything you need for a quilt from start to finish.  I'll tell more about it next time and see if ATG will get it.


Hey, you started with a difficult fabric.  Flannel is a bit on the tricky side for a beginner.  I hope you washed it first.  In the future it's a good idea to wash and dry flannel at least a couple times, before you start.  I've heard that it shrinks a little the first time or two.  Not sure, I haven't tried it.  Also, be sure to clean your machine of lint.  It's really linty.

Jelly rolls, and layer cakes. . .you might Google those words and add +definition.  Like this-quilting jelly rolls+definition.  See what you come up with for the time being.  When I get time, I'll research it a little more and let all of you know.  I know basically what they are, but I can't, at the moment, give you a good explanation of their use.  I will add an announcement to my page to tell you,  check back in a few days.


I haven't seen the angel on that site, thanks for telling us, and thanks for reading and commenting.

Thank you all so much for staying with LaRueSews.  Quilting is dear part of my life and I love to share the things that I have learned from others who also enjoyed sharing their experience with me.  Quilting, like ME is a fountain of friendship and love.  Keep sharing what you know and asking questions.  That's how we all learn andd grow in our craft.

Stitches to you,


PS-ps-PS  Don't forget Florida in March.  Be There or be square.


I am new to your site and new to blogs.

I began sewing about 44 years ago, when I was just a small thing.  However I have only been quilting for a about 4 1/2 years.  

Last year was quite exciting for me:  I atttended my first Shop Hop and I'm hooked,  Entered the State Fair for the first time and brought home a blue ribbon, and developed a quilters group which meets monthly.

Within the past four years I have completed about 25 quilts, which most were original designs and hand quilted.  I Lap Quilt rather than working on a frame,  I have to be mobile.  My designs are mostly for friends and family and I try to reflect their personality or home interior.  

Currently, I am quilting a design that I would like to publish.  What procedures should I follow to get this accomplished?


Saluda, SC

Oh, Teressa,

I encourage you to read the second paragraph of this blog again.  I have quilted and belonged to guilds for a long time, but I am not a designer, and I certainly can't give advise on publishing designs.  I try to let folks know that this is definitely an amature thing I'm doing here.  However, I'm glad that you get enough from it that you feel comfortable asking your question.  Also, if it helps, go through my other blogs from the beginning.

The best thing I can tell you is to do some Google searches, talk to quilt shop owners, write to some people whose books you admire.  Most of them have web sites and email addresses in their books.  I have written to Alex Anderson several times and she and well as another quilter were very forthcoming about the questions I asked.

It sounds like you have a great start for one who has quilted only four  and a half years.  The other thing I would recommend is to really polish your pattern to perfection (work out any bugs) and know what you want to do with it before you approach a publisher.

Also, get several of your friends to make the pattern themselves so that you know that you have workd out the bugs.  It's easy to overlook something in your own work.  

Good luck and keep me posted on your success.  You can write me directly through my ATG profile.

Stitches to you,



Thanks for the helpful tips.  I will get started on getting the group members working on the designs and make sure there are no bugs in the design.  

Today, I was working on a square that a friend had asked me to help her with.   She said she could not do the block, after reading the directions, I soon learned that the directions were not clear at all.  I can see now why the beginner was having problems.   Clear and accurate directions is the first direction I will begin.

LaRue, you may feel that you were not any help to me at all, but your suggestions really made me look at this project differently.  

Thank you for your time, I'll keep you informed.


South Carolina


Check your profile page for a message.



I think I'd ask a few friends, privately to make your pattern, rather than a group.  Say a beginner, a mid range quilter and one more experienced.  That would give you a more personal opinion.  (or two of each)


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