A Weekly Dose of Triangles: totally triangles

After sewing, pressing and cutting a lot of triangles, now we get to the seriously fun part, making patterns. Peter said that this could also be called tiling or creating a regular tessellation. I had never heard of regular tessellations and had to look that up !

There are many sorts of triangles, but the two you mostly see in quilts are the two you see below. On the left is a half square triangle; a square divided equally in half. On the right is a quarter square triangle; a square divided into four parts. Though these triangles look like they might do the same things, in quilting, the way the fabrics are cut is important, but that’s another lesson; let’s play with design. Charm quilts rely on light and dark values for their design versatility so let’s see what they can do.

Two sorts of triangles

For the purposes of these exercises, I made myself place the squares randomly on the design wall. You can imagine that if you wanted to take the time, you could play a lot – grouping the colors together in sub shapes, moving them across the quilt… endlessly changing your mind! (Please notice that in this page of patterns, I twisted the squares around in place; I didn’t take the pieces off of the design wall.) Here is the classic and most simple design; a sea of right angle triangles with lights and darks aligned in the same direction.

Totally triangles

Turn every other square 180 degrees and here’s a scrappy diagonal stripe. The triangles I have completed so far are more in the light to medium range, so this design is not as bold as it might be.

Diagonal stripes

Here are some little zigs, or perhaps chevrons. I like this tidy design very much.

Little zigs

And here are some big zags. I think if I chose this pattern to sew, I’d make sure to have more darks, for a bolder design. I made this stripe even, but it could become more erratic, like an EKG, or bargello pillow.

Big zags

This is the kind of designing where a design wall is critical. I could have arranged these squares on the floor, but I’d really need to stand on a step stool because it would be very hard to see what was happening. My design wall is made of the stuff we grew up with as a bulletin board (homosote) covered in flannel and screwed to the wall. These small fabric pieces stick to the flannel and so I don’t need to use pins. In Asia, where we couldn’t make holes in the wall, I stapled flannel to foam core and hung it. It wasn’t great, because of the lightness of it, but it did the trick.

I hope you’ll check back next week – there are more designs for you to see!

5 thoughts on “A Weekly Dose of Triangles: totally triangles

  1. This was a great post. I’ve been quilting my entire life, from generations of quilters. Just showing your readers how amazing something so simple can be is of such value. Now what one did you choose to use? I made 5 Jacobs Ladder quilts a few years ago because I couldn’t decide what set to use. They are all great.


    • Thank you! Actually the design I plan to use will be in the next post; I have several more to share; it was so much fun to play around with them. Jacob’s Ladder is a really interesting pattern…


  2. ***edited due to typos***
    I love what you did here. But to be clear, on the one you said turn every other block 180° but what about on the small Chevron and big one? How did you get those. Also what size are your squares? TIA


    • Hi Kristin. Sorry to take os long to reply. I have been very busy and the half square triangle posts were so long ago, I had to remember what I was doing/saying. The triangles are 3″, which finish 2.5″.The small chevron is a “2 row pattern”. The big one looks to be a “4 row pattern”. What I mean by “2 row” is that it takes two rows to make the pattern. The big one, four. You could make that big one as big as you like!triangles
      I would suggest pulling the images off my blog or clicking on them to enlarge, so you can see how to twist and turn the triangles to make the pattern. Or better yet, if you have half square triangles with a light side and a dark side, fool with them. I can’t really explain in words how to move the squares around…
      I looked online to see if there was printable HST graph paper and I didn’t find any. You could use regular graph paper and draw lines and use colored pencils too.
      I hope I’ve helped!


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