Acrobats: Quarter Square Triangles

Several years back I was introduced to a fantastic book: 501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks by Judy Hopkins.  I have found this book to be a fantastic resource. I use this book often. How do I use it? I have challenged my private Facebook group: Sew Anyways with Nancy McNally to learn 2 new blocks a month. We are currently in our 1st month, block 2: Acrobats.

In order to join my group, you have to answer the questions when you request to join. I will approve your membership as soon as I see your request. Now, back to the quarter square block.

The Acrobats block is made up of  9 quarter square triangle units and 11 squares. The layout of the QST. + the Sq. makes the block appear as if there is an X  running through it. This is a block that is not seen very often in the public domain of the World of Quilting. That is the reason I chose Acrobats for the 2nd block of this month.

Let’s talk about Quarter Square Triangle (QST).

It consists of 4 triangles (hence the name quarter).

A QST consists of 4 triangles sewn together to create a square. You can’t just sew any type/group of triangles to create a QST. The triangles must have the cross or straight of grain as their base or bottom. The 2 remaining sides of the triangle come together to form a 90° angle (the center)…but don’t put this one the outside…its cut from the bias! That means it will stretch or distort.

In order to figure out what size of a QST you need, there is some math you need to do…I know I know…just bare with me.

Let’s say we want a 3″ FINISHED size QST block/unit : add 1.25 to your 3″

We want our QST to have 2 different fabrics.

3″ + 1.25 = 4.25

We will need 2 fabrics cut at 4.25″ (4 1/4″) squares.

Cut on BOTH diagonals.

Place fabrics in the layout you would like and sew.

The QST will measure 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ this is the unfinished size

It will finish at 3″ x 3″. In the diagram below. I have 2 squares lined up (1 black & 1 white). Blue lines going through both blocks showing to cut on both diagonals. You will yield 4 triangles of each. I only show 2 of each, because that is all you need for 1 quarter square triangle block/unit. You will yield 2 quarter square triangle blocks/units total. The 3rd picture in the diagram shows which ones to sew together. Press towards the darker color. Pressing lines/arrows are not shown in the picture.

Sew…that is how you do the math for a Quarter Square Triangle! It is really simple!

The only step remaining once you piece your quarter square triangle block is to trim to the correct size. Sometimes sewing triangles can be tricky, they can slide or move. Once your block is pieced, iron, then trim to the correct size. For Trimming, I always find center. Align my ruler on the center. See the diagram below.

My block is 3″, center is 1.5. I rest the 1.5 intersection on my ruler on the very center of my block. I have it circled in red. Before trimming, check all 4 sides of the ruler/block. Make SURE the fabric is extending past the desired measurement, not less than or on the inside of the desired amount. If my fabric would have been on the other side (less than) of the 3″ mark…going towards the 2″ side, I would not trim. At that point, I would begin examining my seam allowance…

As for the Acrobat Block,

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally


Try it out Design Template for Machine Quilting

I designed a new template “Try it out Design” template. As a longarm quilter, I find that I get stuck on the designing of the quilting that is going to be stitched in a block. I designed my Try it out Design for all machine quilters, not just for longarm quilters.

First I have to decide on a design to be stitched.

Am I going to stitch a different design in every block?

Am I stitching the same design all the way across the quilt, also known as an Edge to Edge (E2E)?

As I am deciding on a design I draw it out on the template. I can tweak the design as I go along, make a mistake…erase it 🙂 and keep on going.

Once a design is kind of settled on, the next is to figure out how to begin the design in the block, work my way around, and if need be, move directly into the next block.

This happens with every quilt. This is why I designed this template. Now, how should the template look? What should the template offer?

I decided I wanted a template that would offer:

-a variety of registration lines for me to use

-different “shapes” such as half square triangle(s), quarter square triangles

-diamonds, rectangles

-lines so that echo designs or fillers can be drawn (stitched)

-by drawing directly on the template, I can figure out a path to go from block to block, E2E, single block designs,                        sashing

So, I designed one! My template is 13″ x 17″. The largest section has registration lines from the center out that start out as a 1″ square and go out to a 12″ square. I begin with a solid line for the odd numbers (1″, 3″, 5″, 7″….) and the even numbers are dashed lines (2″, 4″, 6″, 8″….). Next I added center registration lines on the horizontal, vertical, both diagonals, half square triangles, quarter square triangle. Move to the end of the template I divided the remaining 4″ x 12″ area into rectangles divided in half which also create diamonds.


I have a video here for you to watch how I use my  Try it out Design, template. All you need is a Dry Erase marker, a Dry Eraser (or soft cloth to clean the board), painter’s tape to add to the outer edge. What is that for? So that you don’t accidentally draw off the Try it out Design template and onto the quilt! You can see in my video how I taped off the edges to prevent me from drawing on the quilt.

My new template is not on my site yet. If you are interested in my template send me an email at:

Also, if you are interested in a longarm, drop me an email

Happy quilting!

Nancy McNally

What is in this bag?

You know, sometimes you just need to leave that bag alone..the one that is sitting up high on the shelf that you can’t reach. Well that bag was calling to me. I knew not to touch it. I just had too! So what was in that bag? This was! I dumped the contents onto my table work mat.

What a HOT MESS!!

I dove in! I remember this project! Why in the world would I shove into this bag without organizing it first?

As I began digging I found a pin…the hard way, “OUCH”! Dug some more to find the pin and that is how all of this happened. I took each section that was pinned (I did kind of sorta organize it some what…kind of), unpinned and placed all the sections across my longarm machine. Next I brought my regular size ironing board out and set it up. I attacked!

I ironed each section, spray starched as I worked on each one. I had decided I was going to take the time to iron, and fold neatly to place the sections into Ziplock bags. Thanks to my assistant and friend Cheri, I’m really enjoying these ZipLock bags. It took a good while to iron this pile. Not all the pile was ironed. Some of the pile was scraps. I chose to put the scraps into their own Ziplock bags. So here is how far I had gotten with this quilt. Now, I don’t have everything lined up perfectly on my design wall, so no judging.

The picture with the X blocks, there will only be 1 row of these blocks surrounding the quilt. There is also a skiny border to separate the body of the quilt from these X Blocks.

After all the dust settles from our move, I believe I’m going to put this one on my list of MUST FINISH NOW projects.

I folded all of the sections, pieces and parts nicely. Placed all in LARGE Ziplock bags and tucked away again.

By the way, I designed this pattern. Let’s hope I can finish this one. I can see some amazing quilting designs that need to be stitched.

As of today, March 7, 2018 I have to remove my design wall from my sewing room. Why? It looks extremely tacky for the listing of our home (my home is for sale as of today). Can’t wait to move into the new one!

I will have to have my quilting friends over for a day of sewing!

Happy quilting everyone!

Nancy McNally

Midnight Mystery Quilt Along with ME at Annie’s

If you have not heard, I have a Mystery quilt with Annie’s

You can quilt along with me! Each week we are releasing a new block. The purpose of this mystery is to help improve your sewing skills. You can watch me when I make mistakes! Yes, I make mistakes! I crack myself up when I do…because it is on camera!

I video tape one block at a time. This make it easy for viewers. You can piece the quilt one block at a time, no pressure for you to create 200 of this unit or 150 of that unit in order to keep up. 1 block a week, how simple. I offer tips, show how to cut, pin and why I construct the block in this format or that. In the end you have a unique quilt that I think you will love!

First Block: 

Looks simple, correct? See not so hard. Choose your colors, from your stash or you can use the fabrics I used: Northcott Premium Colorworks Solids. Beautiful Beautiful fabrics!

For the first block, I begin with simple construction and we build your skills from beginning to the last block.  We build on your skills with each block.

If you decide to join in on the fun, check us out on Facebook

You can share your pictures with us! I would love to see your progress and color choices.

Happy quilting,

Nancy McNally

Binding, I find it uninspiring

I know I know, some of you reading this will be saying “I love binding” well, I don’t. I don’t find it creative. Actually I believe it is the task of helping the heavy quilted quilt through the machine. That’s what makes me not enjoy binding. Sew, I need to figure out a way I can enjoy binding. After all it is the last step! I find it uninspiring so, lets try to think of a way to make it faster or more creative…

Here is what I find difficult when sewing the binding on the traditional way:

1-dealing with all the bulk through the machine, it is heavy.  Yes, I use my walking foot, also known as an even feed foot.

2-Next is having the quilt in my lap to hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Oh my, being that I am in MENOPAUSE! Are you kidding me! I’m an oven right now and to have the quilt on top of me for sewing…just ain’t gonna happen, LOL

3-Arthritis in my hands. Having to hold binding, needle with fingers that ache…not fun

So there are my 3 reasons why I don’t like binding

And, I must add, I do not enter any of my own quilts into quilt shows. If I did, then I would use the traditional method. It is a cleaner look.

You have probably figured out that I machine bind. I truly feel it is stronger than hand binding. You can argue with me if you want, I’m not going to change, see reasons listed above, LOL.

I have 2 methods of machine binding.

1- After squaring the quilt and preparing the binding, I sew the binding to the back of the quilt first. Roll the binding to the front, secure with pins or wonderclips, choose a decorative stitch with a pretty thread and SEW<— that is how I make it creative …pretty thread and a decorative stitch.

2-After squaring the quilt and preparing the binding, I sew the binding to the front of the quilt or top. Next I roll the binding to the back, secure with pins in the ditch from the front of the quilt. I only secure a little bit at a time so I don’t get poked with pins. Use my Digital Dual Walking foot with the ditch foot with guide. Position quilt with the binding ditch area directly in the line of the guide from the foot and sew in the ditch..hoping to catch the back of the binding in place.

I thought I’d show how I mark the binding at the corner. I use my Creative Grid Ruler “Bias Binding Simplified”. If you have this ruler you know that it has a 45° angle on one end. I place the ruler with the angled tip at my corner with the ruler going to my left. I mark the angled line with a chalk pencil. As I continue to sew towards the corner, the needle will land directly on the drawn line. That is where I STOP sewing, needle down, pressure foot lift and turn the quilt so I can sew off at the corner.  I then create the 45° sewn line for re-positioning the binding. Now I can continue onto the next side of the quilt.

My Digital Dual Feed Walking Foot. The Digital Dual Feed Walking Foot is belt driven. Directly behind the foot, is the belt that is 1/2″ wide and grabs the fabric gently advancing. Now top and bottom layers are fed through evenly. Love Love Love this foot.

 This is how I align my ruler. I get perfect mitered corners!

Happy Quilting (Binding) everyone,

Nancy McNally



The Element of Surprise

The Element of Surprise.

This is not the first time this has happened to me.

When it does it is a welcomed surprise!

You see, I had a deadline that was on top of me, breathing down my back “gotta finish this quilt, gotta finish this quilt. only have a week to piece, quilt and bind…gotta get this quilt done…call a friend (Cheri)” Cheri came over 3 days in a row. This quilt was not difficult, just a little different from the traditional method of piecing.

Sorry, can’t show you the quilt. In May 2018 will be the reveal

Once the quilt was pieced, it was time to quilt. Oh great, someone (me) forgot to request the backing fabric from the manufacturer.  Quickly scan my fabric shelves, do I have enough? Ummm of course I do! I found a wide backing I had purchased from a few years ago. Cheri ironed the wide backing.

Quilt is done, backing is ready. Now on to the longarm machine. We pinned the backing onto the leaders. Wound bobbins, threaded my Innova Longarm. Cheri cleaned off the table. I had not dusted it in a while :/

Grabbed my rulers for machine quilting. I love ruler work! At the same I am gathering my rulers, I’m telling myself , ” Don’t do anything complicated or time consuming!” Cheri must have heard my mind, because she was telling me the same thing, lol

Before I knew it I was stitching a Cross Hatch pattern. I Love ruler work. I grabbed another ruler to help me stitch arcs and I was off a running, I mean stitching, a really neat pattern.

But you know what? I had no idea how this would turn out on the back of the quilt. Most of the time, I can’t really vision what the quilt is going to look like on the top because I only get to see a small portion of the work as I progress. Why? Because we advance the quilt on to a bar. The quilt gets wrapped around a the stitching design gets hidden. I progress for another 4.5 hours. I quilted about 5.5 hours that night.

The next day I quilted another, close to, 6 hours. Quilt is done! Take it off my longarm as fast as I could. Now I have to sew on the binding. I’m rushing and racing around trying to finish. You see, I have to have this quilt at the publishers by tomorrow…

I drape the finished quilt over the longarm exposing the back.  All I can say is “WOW”!! I actually started crying tears of joy! I could not believe how beautiful the quilt turned out!!

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Draping from my Innova Longarm machine. Love how this quilt turned out

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally

Midnight Mystery Quilt Along

Back in the late summer of 2017 I came up with an idea that I presented to the producer of Annie’s Creative Studio (ACS), Midnight Mystery Quilt Along. My idea happened through the individual blocks that I would be filming on how to piece. There was 36 blocks for me to choose from. Well, let me start over…

The producer, Laura (whom I adore!) offered me a position for the new program ACS instructor. A video instructor. I was given a list of 36 blocks that I could pick and choose the order in which I wanted to video tape for ACS. Great! I was in. She had also given me other projects to video tape too. I will discuss those in another blog.

As I was reviewing each block, I thought, “why do quilters make 1 block…let alone 36 blocks and not have a project that these blocks could be included in? What is a quilter going to do with 36 blocks that do not go together, are connected by some type of color theme?”These blocks would just sit in a drawer or bin….I need to figure something out. I wanted ACS to be successful.

I presented an idea to Laura: A Mystery Quilt. I would combine X amount of blocks with a theme. Something that would bring them together.

Ah! A skill builders quilt.

Now, it has to have something that brings all the blocks together…color scheme

Next, there has to be something unique in the middle…a center medallion…a unique center that is created by bringing 2 blocks together.

Laura loved the idea and away I went designing!

That is how Midnight Mystery Quilt Along was birthed (pieced, lol) A Skill Builders Series 🙂

Midnight Mystery Quilt Along is all about building your skills as a quilter. I begin with an easy block and I build to a more complicated block. No special seams, all straight piecing. This quilt challenges you to try different blocks from a beginner level to advanced beginner. This series is all about you, the quilter.

Choosing colors: I have to thank Northcott Fabrics for providing me with this beautiful line of solids! Northcott’s Premium Colorworks solid line has the most scrumptious line of colors. I wanted all of them!

Batting: Thank you to Hobbs.  Hobbs Tuscany Collection, Cotton Wool Blend. I chose Hobbs because I love the quality of their batting. The Tuscany Cotton Wool batting quilts beautiful, drapes with ease, the needle glides through.

Some of you might be asking what thread I used for piecing the quilt…Hmmm…well, I used YLI’s Soft Touch.

And, what thread did I use to machine quilt? I used YLI’s Polished Poly Variegated Primary Brights.

Enough for now, I have to get busy working on the next great project for Annie’s!

More to come later!

I hope you plan on joining me at Annie’s Creative Studio!



My Secret Project is now ready!

For at least 9 months I have been working on a new project with Annie’s Craft Store (Annie’s Publishing Company). If you are unfamiliar with them, they publish a variety of craft magazines. The one you are probably more familiar with is Quilter’s World magazine. I have been working with Annie’s for years. I have several online classes with Annie’s. Well Annie’s has a new program! Annie’s Creative Studio. For a peak at the video of what I have been working on, check out this youtube video

And here is the video with all of the new instructors, we have all had a wonderful time working with Annie’s!

More to come soon! I’m going to begin blogging about each project I worked on. Some I have designed and some not. Its a great mixture of projects!

We are offering a 30-day free trial, so go take a look!

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally


Winter Retreat!

Oh my Goodness! I went on retreat! a Quilt Retreat! I have never been on a retreat where I was not teaching, I loved it!

Not only was the facility beautiful and fantastic, it was held during the winter when we have the blahs. So yes, I enjoyed Winter Retreat at Creative Passions Retreat Center in Chesaning, Michigan.

I was able to finish 1 quilt top and begin a second one. I’m naming them both after the retreat.

I only knew a few of the ladies that attended retreat with me. Now I have a lot of new friends! Everyone was fantastic.

I have attended retreats before, as a teacher. I can say the sleeping conditions were no where near as nice as Creative Passions Retreat Center. The food was fantastic, the accommodations were beautiful and perfect. I honestly can’t say enough about my experience. Because of my experience and talking with the owner Laura (who is beautiful and wonderful) I have planned my own 2 retreats. Yes, you read that right. The retreats are scheduled for 2019, winter and fall. Details will follow as we work out all the details. Yes, I will be teaching.

So for now, enjoy the pictures! I did not want to leave. Yes, Of course I missed my family. When a retreat center offers all that CPRC did, you want to stay a little longer than a weekend.


Nancy McNally