Piecing Diagonal Sets

Cut and place straight-grain side and corner setting triangles to prevent diagonal rows from stretching.

Cutting and Piecing Diagonal Sets

Quilt designer: Karen Brow, Java House Quilts

Quilt name: Gated Garden, American Patchwork & Quilting, 2006 calendar


When you’re sewing in diagonal rows, your fabric may have a tendency to stretch or distort as you piece them. To avoid stretching, cut the side setting triangles and corner setting triangles so the straight-grain edge will be along the outer edges of the quilt. Place the straight-grain edges will prevent your quilt from becoming distorted or sagging.

Use this secret when you cut your fabrics, then follow these steps to easily piece a diagonally set quilt top.

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Lay Out Blocks and Setting Squares


Lay out blocks and setting squares in diagonal rows as desired. (If you’re including sashing between the blocks, lay out the sashing pieces now, too.)

Add the Setting Triangles


Add the side setting triangles and the corner setting triangles to the layout. Remember: Make sure the straight of grain for each triangle is along the outer edge of the quilt!

Join the Blocks


With right sides together and raw edges aligned, join together the blocks (or blocks and sashing pieces) in each row. Sew the setting triangles to the ends of each row. Do not add the corner triangles.

Press the Seams


Press seams to one side, pressing each row in alternate directions. For example, press the seams in row 1 and all odd-numbered rows to the right, and press seams in row 2 and all even-numbered rows to the left. Then when you assemble the rows, the alternated seams will nest together, ensuring matching seams.

Match the Seam Intersections


Pin together rows 1 and 2, matching seam intersections. You may need to ease the blocks a slight bit to ensure that the raw edges align. If one row is significantly shorter or longer, check your seam allowances to see if one is too narrow or too deep. If so, remove the seam and re-stitch before joining rows. Sew the rows together, backstitching at the beginning and end to secure the seam line and stabilize the quilt edge.

Continue joining rows in pairs (for example, join row 3 to row 4, row 5 to row 6, and so forth). Then sew together the joined rows.

TIP: If you’re having difficulty aligning seams when sewing rows together, try sewing with the seam allowances on top facing away from you as you guide the rows under the presser foot. This forces the top seam to butt up to the lower seam so the two automatically lock together.

Stitching the Corner Triangles


Sew the corner setting triangles to the pieced rows. The 1/4" seam allowances of the corner triangles will extend beyond the edge of the quilt center.

Press and Trim Quilt Top


Press all seams in the same direction. Trim any threads and/or dog-ears.

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