Quarter square triangles are a common quilting unit. These tips will help your points come together perfectly.

October 13, 2016

Today's Machine Minute is brought to you by Baby Lock and the Symphony machine. Quarter square triangles or hourglass blocks are another common unit that quilters use. But how do you get those points to come together effortlessly when you're sewing by machine? I've got a few tricks to share with you. To begin with, when you're cutting quarter square triangles, you have two different fabrics placed right sides together. You'll use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut your first diagonal line from corner to corner. Now, because you have bias edges, you don't want to do a lot of moving of your pieces so if you can swivel your mat instead of swiveling the pieces, that's preferable. Then you're going to make a second cut. You're basically cutting diagonally in an X through your two squares. And what you'll end up with is four pairs of triangles. You've got one of each fabric. Now, the bias edges are these, and you're going to be sewing those together and they have more stretch than the straight-grain edge. What you want to do is feed first the 90-degree angle or that straight edge through. So when you're ready to sew them together in pairs, put your presser foot down, align your quarter-inch mark, and begin sewing along that 90-degree edge. You can sew these as a chain, so that you can take multiple pairs and you don't have to clip your threads in between. You can just feed the next pair right under there, making sure as I said that you keep the same fabric on top. When you're done, what you'll end up is a chain of your triangle pairs sewn together. You can clip those apart and open them up and press those seams open, so that you end up with pairs that look like this. Now it's time to match those pairs together. We'll put them, again, right sides together and we'll nest the center seam. And here is a place I like to place just one pin to hold that seam straight and make sure that intersection comes out cleanly. Now I don't have a choice like I did before of choosing the 90-degree side. I have to go in with my point first into the presser foot. But I've got a little trick for you there, too, and it's using a little bit of scrap fabric, just called a leader cloth to many people. And the scrap fabric you can start under the needle. All you are trying to do is begin stitching, get your stitching line to come even and to go all the way to the edge of those points. So I'll put that little leader strip in there, and I'll start sewing. And I'll guide the tip of my triangle under the presser foot. And then my stitching will go all the way from edge to edge. But at this point, I've sewn the long seam and I am ready to open up and press and complete my hourglass block. It's an easy way to do quarters square triangles and to make sure your points come out perfect every time.