How to Sew Triangular Quilt Pieces

Sew triangular quilt pieces perfectly with these simple steps.


Materials and Tools:

sewing notions
light box
rotary cutter
cutting mat
template plastic (optional)
permanent marker (optional)
sewing machine
water-soluble stabilizer

Square-in-a-Square Made Easy

As wacky as these triangles look, they'll fit that center square exactly¾no guesswork necessary.


1. Carefully stack about eight triangles. It doesn't matter if they're right side up, wrong side up or mixed up.

2. Fold a center square in half and crease it. Gently lay it on one of the triangle stacks, with the fold aligned with the point of the triangles and the short edge even with the long edges of the triangles. Cut off the hanging points with a rotary cutter.

3. Carefully flip the folded square to the other side of the triangles. Realign the fold with the point and the short edge with the long edge of the triangles and cut off the other points.

4. Repeat the process as necessary to cut off all of the triangle points. 

5. Sew a triangle to the opposite sides. Press the seams toward the triangles.

6. Sew the triangles to the remaining sides. Again, press the seams toward the triangles. Repeat to make four square-in-a-square blocks.

7. If you have many of these blocks to make, cut a square of template plastic equal to the size of the middle square. Mark the center with a permanent pen. Use this template instead of the folded fabric square for cutting the corners off.

Assembling Skinny Triangles

A regular throat plate has an oval opening that allows the needle to swing from side to side for zigzag stitching. A disadvantage of sewing points with a regular throat plate is that the oval opening allows the needle to push skinny points of triangles into the bobbin area, nibbling all the way. Here are some tips for keeping skinny triangles intact:

  • Use a single-stitch throat plate. Instead of an oval shape, the needle hole has a circular shape that allows room only for the needle. Obtain the single-stitch throat plate at your local sewing-machine dealer. Note: If you attempt to zigzag stitch with this plate installed, it will result in a broken needle. Stitching with a single-stitch throat plate makes all the difference in the world.
  • Place a square of water-soluble stabilizer under the points. It supports the points as you sew, and because it's water-soluble, you don't have to tear it out. Just trim it when you trim the dog-ears and it will continue to support the points through the whole process.

Border Trick

Determining the precise length for border strips can be challenging, especially for large quilts, since most of us don't have large cutting tables for measuring accurately. Here's one way to pull it off:


1. Carefully press the quilt top.

2. Lay the quilt top out on any flat surface large enough to support the entire piece (including a floor). Smooth the quilt top to square it gently into shape.

3. Stack the side border strips, right sides up, align one end and square the ends with a rotary cutter and ruler.

4. Pin the aligned edges flush with the top center edge of the quilt.

5. Smooth the border strips over the quilt top, being careful to avoid distorting it. Place a weight on the top end of the inner border strips so that the strips don't become repositioned in the process.

6. Trim the border strips flush with the bottom edge of the quilt.

7. Fold the side border strips in half lengthwise and mark this fold with a pin. Fold them in half again to mark the quarter points. Fold the quilt top to mark the center and quarter points with pins as well. Match up the pins. Sew the side borders in place, easing as necessary. Press the seams toward the borders.

8. Repeat the process with the top and bottom inner border strips. Press thoroughly before you repeat the process with the outer border fabric.

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