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


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



Projects in Progess?

What project(s) do you have in progress? I know I have several. I always have several projects in progress, always! This one in particular is way out of my comfort zone when it comes to colors. Mary, owner of Decorative Stitch, asked me to piece the quilt a while back for the shop. Things got busy and my focus was needed on a different project. Sew! Now I am back to piecing this one.


Latte Mosaic
See the circle? Not the blue one, the one formed by the fabric

This quilt is made from browns, grays, creams and variations of each color as in hue. If you look close you will see the circle and how it forms. I circled the fabric circle in blue. This quilt is still in progress.

At first I did not think I would enjoy piecing it because of the colors. But! I am! It is the illusion of the circle that forms from triangles that makes me love this quilt. When you see in person the colors are very warm and soft. You may think the triangles are from 60° ruler, nope. It is a different angle, I love it!

What projects do you have in progress?

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally