Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How to make a triangle quilt

I recently completed the largest quilt I've ever attempted, an 80" by 90" bed quilt.  It was also the first time I've made a triangle quilt so I thought I'd share some hints and tips I picked up along the way, as well as some advice from others I really should have followed!


The quilt is made up of 540 triangles. I cut them using a template but there's lots of great tutorials out there on how to cut equilateral triangles.  I would have used the 60 degree line on my mat and my ruler if I didn't have this template.

I was cutting them two - four at a time and then stacked them neatly, avoiding overhandling. I stacked in pIkea of 20 in ddifferent direction to keep count.

Advice which seems to pop up again and again on triangles is to use plenty of starch, as you end up with lots of bias edges which stretch when handled excessively. Now, I'm not a massive fan of starch (I don't think I've found the right one for me yet - any recommendations?) and so opted to skip this step, and decided to "just be careful". This was fine, but I definitely ended up with some stretch edges.  I was lucky and manage to work it out when sewing them together, but if you're not up for gambling like me, I would starch them.

I used fat quarters (FQs) from my stash and specially purchased quarter yard width of fabric (WOF) strips, and got more triangles out of the FQs than the WOF strips.  This was because I hadn't brought the template to the shop with me and didn't think the process through when I opted to buy WOF strips.


As is probably apparent from the above, I tend to think of instructions as a guide rather than as a rigid formula which must be adhered to and I'm a massive fan of shortcuts!  I don't normally pin. However, I have worked with squares until now and you can nest rows of seams together to get perfect points.

Discarding my usual lazy attitude, I was a good pinner with this quilt.  Drawing inspiration from this post by Connecting Threads on using pins to create perfect points, I pinned every single point in the quilt.

I pinned through the points to make sure they lined up exactly.  I left the pin in until I was within a stitch of it and then removed it.

My sewing machine is a beauty and allows you to regulate the speed at which you sew very easily. Sometimes I'd stop but sometimes I'd just slow right down.  My sewing machine also lets you sew single stitches, which my previous model did not (there were only two states - stopped completely or a thousand stitches a minute!).  This meant I could get very close before I removed the pin, reducing the chance of slippage.

Pinning was time consuming, but I got some of the best results I've ever achieved in quilting. There's a lesson in there somewhere....

I read this tutorial by Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts.  Her tip about pressing open the seams is one I wish I'd taken.  You'll see from the photo below that I ended up with very bulky points.  This really affected the quilting on those areas and it was difficult to stitch neatly, if at all, over the bumps.

I think pressing open the seams would have made life easier.  I also wasn't able to take her tip about pressing in the same direction if you do opt to press your seams to the side because I sewed all my triangles into pairs before deciding on the layout.  This would also have helped to reduce bulk.


I had to rearrange my living room in order to baste this monster quilt!  I spent three hours crawling around on the floor and I thought it was been a great success.

I love stippling and really wanted to use this technique on this quilt.  However, I was very pushed for time and thought that straight line quilting would both be quicker and give a more professional finish.

I managed three length-of-quilt lines before I had to accept that my basting was not tight enough and it was going to be baggier than I'd be happy with.  I had to unpick the three lines, which took an entire evening.  This is the second large quilt I've had to unpick quilting on and it is not a happy place. The stippling did mean I could tighten as I went which was good and I would recommend this technique if your basting is not up to much. It really helped to sort out any problems with the basting.

I would also swallow my pride and spray baste (at least partially) another huge quilt.


I am absolutely delighted with the binding on this quilt and it's a real marker for me of how much I've improved.  I machine bound it as the binding was the same as the backing fabric and, again, I was in a hurry.  However, it was so neat and quilt I think I'm just going to accept that I much prefer it to hand binding, even though the latter is more discreet.

I watched this tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilt Company which has the best tip ever, and allows you to join your binding without an overlap.  It's really smart.


I really enjoyed making this quilt, so full of challenges and the excitement of the prospect of pulling it off.  I watched this video by Angela Walters about quilting before I started and the tips she shared could apply to a lot of things in life, not just quilting.

I was working to a tight deadline to finish this quilt and it was obviously playing on my mind. I woke up in the middle of the night following a dream all about setting up a quilting department at my work! Now, it would be great if they had one, but I don't think it'd progress any of the aims of the corporate plan!

Linking up with
Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts

Sew Fresh Quilts

Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation

My Quilt Infatuation


  1. I love triangles, have made several fairly big quilts using equilateral triangles (Stack 'n Whack) but I'd still like to make one that is not SnW. Great tips here, and your quilt turned out lovely. Spray basting changed my life btw; I've done it on all the quilts I quilt on my DSM for 15 years with never an issue. Last year I even tried gluing my binding down (Sharon Schamber has a terrific video) much to my own shock and horror of doing that, and now I wouldn't do it any other way. :-) Good to adapt!

  2. It's been a while since I have made anything with triangles! Thank you for all the great tips! Your quilt turned out beautiful!! Perfect points!

  3. I am a huge fan of pressing seams open, and I hope you do give it a try on future project. There are certainly times when pressing to the side is the right way to do something, but reducing bulk at seams is a big win in my book. Your pinned points look fantastic; I recently pinned rows of a quilt together for the first time in a long time and realized that I should probably be doing it all the time myself!

  4. I have been wanting to make a triangle quilt. I hope to be able to make one before the end of the year. Thanks for sharing the hints. Debbie

  5. I agree with pressing open those seams, even if it IS a pain in the pitoot! They lay so smooth, and it shows when you have seen the difference.

    Your color scheme is rich, and classic! First I thought, "How modern!", but then I saw it as tropical. Then retro next. I'd say you did a great job with your fabric mix!

    Julie @ Pink Doxies

  6. Great recap on a wonderful quilt... I love to reflect on the good the bad and the ugly before I can truly embrace a beautiful quilt for all the positives it has.. your points are perfect! Your color choices sublime and you sprinkled them in just the right amounts :) Basting.. not with spray adhesive is important to have a great seamless finish... try looking up something like Shamburg method . You roll it on boards on a long table only.. doesn't take up a lot of room. I pin mine to the carpet with heavy duty pins! lol Works great for me :) Kathi

  7. Great post! I just cut out a huge stack of triangles for my first triangle quilt and haven't had time to start sewing them. Now I can read your links and hopefully be all the wiser for it. I can see how those points would be difficult to quilt over, so I'll try to press them down. Thanks for all your insight. Your quilt turned out to be a winner!