Machine Minute: Triangle Tricks
Jennifer Keltner demonstrates two great techniques for making consistent triangle squares.
Hi, I'm Jennifer, here with another Machine Minute brought to you by Baby Lock and the Crescendo machine. Triangle squares: they're a familiar block in many a quilt top. And today I've got a few tips and tricks to share with you for getting perfect triangle-squares every time. Especially when you're making small triangle-squares, accuracy is essential. We always strive to get the perfect quarter-inch seem. But the smaller your pieces, the less margin for error you have. So I'm going to share with you a couple of ways you might like trying to make triangle-squares. Both of them involve using foundation paper. The first is a strip of triangle-square papers. This happens to be Thangles, but it comes in many different varieties and brands. And on this particular one you're going to sew on the dotted lines and cut apart on the solid line. This kind of paper, this happens to be from Laundry Basket Quilts, but again there are multiple varieties available. Here you're making 28 triangle squares, all the same variety. You're just making them on one sheet of paper before you cut anything apart. So I'll show you a couple of ways to make these kinds of papers work for you. First, when you're sewing on these kind of papers, I prefer to sew without pins. Now the directions for your papers may say to cut your strips exactly the width of the paper and that's fine if you want to pin the paper on. I like to cut mine a little bit wider, and then go back and trim the sides down before I cut apart on the solid lines. You don't have to sew them one at a time. You can put them under your needle and just sew across the dotted lines from end to end. Stop, and sew again. So if you just need a few pieces in the same colorway, that would be the way to go. But you can also line them up by taking them over to your machine and just sewing from one to the other and sort of offsetting them at the beginning. And by doing that you can chain piece and get a lot of triangles squares all done at once. One of the great things I like about the Crescendo machine is that it has a little guideline on it. And this red guideline is like a laser light, and when you shine it you can see exactly where your stitching is going to go, so you know that you've got your pieces lined up perfectly. Then when you're sewing across that divide you can sort of adjust as you go along to make sure that every piece lines up. It's a great tool to use on this machine. We're going to move on now to the paper where you're sewing 28 triangle-squares all on one sheet. And here, there are some indications on the paper about where you start. Again you're sewing on the dash line, and for all of these sewing on papers, I would recommend reducing your stitch length to maybe 1.8 millimeters. Using a smaller stitch length will make it easier to tear off the papers later. But you can use your standard 80/12 sewing needle, and you're going to place it under the needle following the directions on your package and the direction of the arrow. You'll sew all the way around this piece, and it looks a little bit like a puzzle until you sit down to sew it. And once you do, it gets much easier. Again you could use the guideline here if you wish to sew or just sew on the dashed line. Following again the direction that's indicated, and once you make it all the way around the block, then remove your pins and you'll be ready to cut here as well. When it comes time to cut your pieces, for the single ones I'm just going to line up my ruler with the edge of the paper, and again here I prefer not to use pins, so I just added that little bit of extra fabric that I'm going to remove on each side. Then once those two edges have been removed, even with the paper, I'm ready to start trimming out on the solid lines. And the nice thing about using this method, because we're sewing two triangles-squares together (and I'm going to cut just on the vertical lines in front of me right now and not the diagonal), you'll end up with pieces like this. It's important to be very accurate in cutting the top and the bottom and both side seams. But you don't have to worry so much about the diagonal because that's really just the seam allowance between the two blocks. You'll trim on the diagonal solid line. By using your lighter fabric against the paper, you can press this open, pressing the dark and the seam allowance toward the dark. Then you'll just have one dog ear on this to trim off and you're good to go. Press them all open with the paper so that they have that stability and stay nice and even and square. Then the paper, because you've used that smaller stitch allowance, actually just tears right off. And you'll remove that after your pressing is done and your triangle-squares will come out perfectly. On the one with 28 pieces, the process is the same. You would first trim on all of the solid lines. Then go in between the blocks and trim on those solid lines and then the diagonal one. Again, pressing your pieces before you remove the paper. If triangle-squares have been giving you difficulty, give one of these two methods a try, and I bet your triangle performance will improve greatly.