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Make Triangle-Squares from Bias Strips

Watch editor Jennifer Keltner make multiple triangle-squares from bias strips. She demonstrates the method Bonnie Sullivan used to make triangle-squares in Folk-al Point--a project featured in the April 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.

Hi, I'm Jennifer, here in the American Patchwork & Quilting sewing lab, here to share a tip with you for making multiple triangle-squares all at once without cutting triangles first. This technique is used by Bonnie Sullivan of All Through the Night Designs that starts with using two fat quarters of fabric. So, I've laid them out on the ironing surface here with right sides together. I have the bottom one face up and the top one face down. Then I'm going to press them as one unit. And by doing this, it sort of helps them stick together, so when I cut them out there will be less shifting of the fabric than if I press them separately. So, I'm going to give them a quick press and when I'm finished, I'll take the whole unit as one over to my cutting surface. So, I've moved my cut pair of fat quarters to my cutting surface. They're still together as I pressed them with right sides inside. And now I've taken along the top edge and the left edge and squared them with my ruler so I have nice, straight edges on both pieces of fabric. Then, I like to use two rulers to make this first cut. On this smaller ruler (it's a 6x12") I've got a 45-degree angle line and that's the one I'll be using for this method to cut the bias strips. So I'll take that 45-degree line and place it so it's exactly on the top cut edge of fabric here, and I'll line that up. Now, I'm ignoring the cutting lines on the mat and I'm just following the 45-degree line on the ruler. Once I have it in position, I'll hold that ruler in place with one hand, and I'll take a longer ruler (I have a 24"-long ruler here), because I like to make my first cut as long as possible. You can see, the ruler isn't going to go corner to corner, but because I want it to be as long as possible, I'll slide this 45-degree line over a bit so I can make sure my ruler is almost going to come to the bottom corner down here. Once I've got that taken care of--my 45-degree line is lined up--my second ruler, I can slide along that edge to make sure I get it to the bottom, and I'll hold it in position and begin making my first cut. Now, don't worry that the other ends don't line up exactly. Once I get here, I'll set aside my rotary cutter and hold the first ruler in place, and shift up. Then I can get rid of this ruler and continue on making my cut. So, my first bias cut is made. Once that first cut is complete, you want to make sure that you don't handle this fabric any more than necessary, because you are cutting bias edges and they do have quite a bit of stretch to them. So, I pick up my ruler and move it over so that I can cut. In this case, the instructions called for 2-1/4"-wide strips. So, I just place my ruler over that first cutting line at the 2-1/4" mark and I make my second cut. And I'll continue making each subsequent cut but moving over another 2-1/4". Once I get one side cut all the way to the edge, instead of moving this fabric since it has all of these cuts in it, I'll, instead, turn my mat around so I can cut the other side without picking it up. Then I'm ready to take the strips to the sewing machine and sew a 1/4" on either side of each pair of strips. Once you're at your machine, for every pair of strips that you have, you're going to stitch a 1/4" along each long edge. Now, according to the instructions, you want to use a scant 1/4", which means on the narrow side of a 1/4"--maybe a thread or two inside a 1/4". And the most important thing is to be consistent as you stitch along that long edge. You don't want to have a lot of swerves. So, stitch slowly and make sure when you're handling the strips you're careful, because they are less stable than fabric that's cut on the straight grain because they're bias strips. So, simply stitch down those long edges a scant 1/4"on each long edge on every pair of strips that you have. Then, we'll be ready to cut them into triangle-squares. Once you've sewn your strips on either side of the long edges, then we're ready to cut triangle-squares. The first thing you want to do is find a ruler to do your cutting with, and I like to find one that has the 45-degree lines marked on it. And I also like to use a smaller one for this, because it's more manageable. To begin, I'm going to take the 45-degree angle on my ruler and place it atop the top seam line on my strip. I'm lining it up across this line with my seam line and I'm just going to straighten up the first edge. Then, I'll pick up the ruler and just turn the strip around, so that I have that first cut in place. And I'll put my ruler back down, this time with the 45-degree line lined up on the bottom seam line that I stitched previously. And here is where you want to pay attention to the 2-1/2" marks that we're using to cut our triangle-squares. You can see here the 2-1/2" mark on the ruler lines up and also from this point where the seam line intersects that 2-1/2" point to the top of the seam line here. So, it's 2-1/2" between the two seam lines that you previously stitched. And my 45-degree mark is lined up on top of the seam allowance. I'll make my first cut of a triangle-square. Then, I'm going to make the opposite cut by moving to the top seam line. And again lining that seam line up with my 45-degree line and then the 2-1/2" line from edge to edge. And I'll continue cutting triangle-squares looking at the 2-1/2" between seam lines and the 2-1/2" between seam lines here. So, this edge and this edge, and always having my 45-degreen line lined up on the seam line. And I'm ready to cut another triangle-square. I'll continue down the whole strip making each one as I go along. Then, when you press them open you'll have just the little dog ears on either side of your triangle-square and you can trim those off. If you need to make multiple triangle-squares from the same fabrics, give the bias strip method a try. It might be just the technique you're looking for.