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How To: Avoid Chopping Off Patchwork Triangle Points

Updated on March 13, 2016
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Quilter, author, tutor, columnist, Jan T Urquhart Baillie has been enthusing others with her passion for quilting for more than 30 years.

Jacob's Ladder Traditional patchwork block
Jacob's Ladder Traditional patchwork block | Source

Troubleshooting patchwork triangles

Many new quilters (and some not-so-new) find that the points are chopped off their triangle patches when they sew their quilts together.

Here are some simple tricks to avoid chopping off the heads of your triangles.

The picture shows a sample Jacob's Ladder block made by a beginner student. Her points are not perfect, but they are pretty good for a new patchworker.

Triangles have pointy points

not 'nubbed' or chopped off ones

It is important to master the sewing of triangular patches into blocks as soon as you can so that you are not disappointed when your quilt top is all finished.

When you sew them, sometimes you are not sewing exactly through what I call the 'X'.

This where all the seams meet, forming an X.

This how the triangle patches should look - when joined together well

Good triangle join
Good triangle join

This is NOT how the triangle patches should look - when they are joined

Bad triangle join
Bad triangle join

When you machine sew patches together

using quarter inch seams

You need to be very careful how you pin the fabrics together.

Below is a video showing the basics of the 'three pin method' of pinning.


Different step to be taken when joining patches with triangles

Where you see me putting in the positioning pin 1/4 inch down, you put the pin in the X instead.

The 3 pin method for joining patches - in patchwork quilts

Diagram showing triangle square patch - joined to a square patch

wrong side of patches
wrong side of patches

Diagram showing a quarter square triangle - with half square triangles joined to it

Wrong side of quarter square triangle
Wrong side of quarter square triangle

Easy does it!

Sew the right way up

In order to see the X, you must place the patches together, with the triangle on top.

You then position the paired patches under the sewing machine and sew with a quarter inch seam, making sure to sew EXACTLY through the X on the top patches.

Diagram showing the sewing line - crossing the X when joined to the next patches

Sew through the X
Sew through the X

Diagram with the sewing line on a 1/4 square triangle - crossing the X in the centre when attaching another patch

Sew across the X
Sew across the X

Get a quarter inch sewing machine foot

Makes piecing seams perfectly, so very easy.

When you are sewing template free patchwork, the key is to get the seam allowance exactly right. Specialty patchwork feet, with or without a guide flange, help you to keep the patches you are joining together right at the edge of the foot on the right, so the needle is exactly 1/4 inch wide.

If your sewing machine did not come with special quilting/patchwork feet, you need to buy the ones for your machine brand and model.

Otherwise, you may find some generic feet that will work for your sewing machine.

#57N Bernina Foot 1/4" with Guide - 0315777000
#57N Bernina Foot 1/4" with Guide - 0315777000

This one is my favourite for my own machine. Your brand may have one to suit your machine.


© 2012 Jan T Urquhart Baillie

Know how to join triangles - without chopping off their heads now?

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