A Weekly Dose of Triangles: border ideas

It occurred to me, as I was editing these photographs of border layouts that these would make great striped designs as well. I’m not sure that I’ve seen a striped half triangle quilt. Sounds like a great idea for a “modern” quilt, with plenty of room for wonderful quilting. These strips could divide a quilt top into areas, like lattice does, or just be stripes. With most of the borders, I made sure to create a corner as well. Sometimes it’s hard to decide how to end one border and begin the next one.

These three designs are just one square wide. There are lots of ways to flip these single squares to make an attractive border design. In this group, the third design appeals to me the most. I love the wonky feel of the triangles flipping back and forth.

Borders 1

This pair is pretty great! The top one is a flying geese design. It’s edge made a box or square on point, which lead me to the next design. Piecing these borders would take some time, but they have a lot of appeal.

Borders 2

Of course in this set, I love the zig zag design and the way it forms such a tidy corner. The bottom border would be quite an intricate one to do and couldn’t be sewn to just any  sort of quilt top. I am not sure what I would do in the corner, obviously! That would take a bit of fiddling.

Borders 3

This is the last of my half square triangle posts. I hope you enjoyed them! I make a blog book at the end of each year and so I must admit that I did these for my reference. As I piece and piece half square triangles as leader-ender pieces, I will have lots of ideas to refer back to when I need inspiration.

In between working on house projects, Peter has been building our ark. Honestly – I don’t think short of several hurricanes we’ve lived through that I have endured so much rain. I neglected to take a picture when the rain was pounding on the roof and all the back yards were filling up. It looked like a model of the great lakes! Happily our house is on a little rise, but Peter had a back-up sump pump system put in a few years ago, and we’re so glad for it now. The sound of it emptying every half hour or so is very comforting! There are some daffodils in the front garden waiting for the slightest bit of sun to come out. The ones in the backyard are submerged. It’s been seriously nasty.

A Weekly Dose of Triangles: stars and pinwheels

Here’s another  post on creating quilt squares with half square triangles! This group includes star and pin wheel variations, which are some of my favorites.

This one is a bit of a cheat, as I put squares in each corner. It’s probably called a mosaic, but I’m calling it square in the middle star.

Square in the middle star

If you flip just the interior squares, you get the negative version!


This star has nice double points and you can see half square triangles in the corners.

Double pointed star

This one is appropriately called Diamond Star. You can see it’s a smaller version of a whole cloth design I did. Imagine filling in the light parts of the yellow pieces and you’d get an 8 pointed star.

Diamond star

And here’s a star with a pin wheel middle. I’m sure you get the idea now, that rotating the half square triangles or playing with the fabric colors and values will produce an endless number of star variations.

Pinwheel star

This pin wheel is in the middle of a square on point. This might be a fun center for the quilt I plan to make.

Pinwheel in a star

I can’t remember where I found this pretty square, but it seems related to Yankee Puzzle or Flying Geese. There’s so much movement.

Puzzle square

Here’s a great square called Windmills. I’ve seen some quilts where the pattern is even larger, making quite a dramatic quilt. This square is such a good example of how dynamic half square triangles can be.


I’m almost done, but there’s one more post coming next week, on using half square triangles in border designs.

A Weekly Dose of Triangles: making squares

And the design ideas continue! In the last two posts I showed you a myriad of ideas using simply the half square triangle for all over quilt designs. Many, many, many quilt squares are made up of half square triangles. When I took a beginning class with Karen Buckley, and when I teach one, the first lesson is all about triangles. So here’s what I came up with!

This pattern is a sort of simple bow tie design. It also looks like an hour-glass.

Simple bow tie

I’m calling this four square, for lack of a better name. Using half square triangles makes it so much more interesting than four solid squares would be.

Four square

This square has the look of the overall quilt pattern I plan to make. The corner squares could be twisted any which way to make an interesting secondary design when pieced together.

Open Diamond

And this one flips just the center blocks for an almost inside out look of the previous block. A lot of squares like this are simply called Mosaic. In The Quilters’ Album of Blocks and Borders , my favorite reference book, it is named Mosaic No. 16!

Mosaic No. 16

Dutchman’s Puzzle is a favorite pattern of mine and I think I have it in every sampler quilt I’ve made. It has great movement.

Dutchman's Puzzle

Double Z is quite an interesting design. As you can see, it depends a great deal on light and dark values for it to show up well.

Double Z

You can see that as well as twisting and turning the half square triangles around, there’s also color happening. Lights, darks, color families are all playing together – it’s so much fun!

A Weekly Dose of Triangles: more design possibilities

Today you will see the rest of the overall design possibilities for the half square triangles that I did. Really, I could go on and on but you get the idea!

This pin wheels pattern is a quilter’s favorite. For this design I think I would need more darks to make the pattern pop, or I could put a plain square in between each pin wheel. The movement is really great!


Here is another favorite quilt pattern design – flying geese. Though this design works, it might be nice to add a plain strip between each “formation” to give your eye a rest.

Flying geese

The geese don’t always have to fly in a straight line, do they? As I was taking the triangles off the wall at the end of the weekend, I “noticed” this design. I had taken many of the triangles down, so it’s not the same size as the other photographs.This one works well with my colors; perhaps it’s the relief of the light values between the darker ones.


This design radiating out from a square is really impressive. I guess it might be a Trip Around the World in all half square triangles. It could be fun to piece or applique a medallion for the middle.

Triangle trip around the world

I found many beautiful versions of this when I Googled half square triangle designs. The many colors make such lovely shadowy designs, and soften the edges of the squares. I’m calling it a square within a square.

Squares within squares

These last three designs use another shape to make the design, but I wanted to audition them. This first one is called Ocean Waves, I think, and is a pattern that’s long been on my want-to-make list. I tried out several middle fabrics and Peter and I like this dark one best. Though I wouldn’t use a fabric quite this dark, it makes the candy colored fabrics really sing.

Storm at sea

I saw a quilt top with this huge flying geese design at a little quilt show that I recently attended. Making a triangle out of triangles is quite striking, though sewing the big non pieced triangles might be a bit tricky.

Huge flying geese

This is a pattern that I have long admired. I am a great lover of stars and I’d like to do this one. Since I am without a design board, this one will have to stay on the want-to-make list.

Sparkle star

Which design will I be sewing? I had a comment from Jo, from a family of quilters, and she asked which one I was planning to make, so she was paying attention. ;-D Peter checked out all the designs as I arranged them on the wall and then we looked over the photographs. He likes the square within a square one and I do too. Although I will have to arrange and plan this quilt, I can manage without a design wall. Meanwhile I have a great pile of triangles to continue to sew – you can see that what I have done is not enough for a quilt!

Look at last week’s designs as well as this week’s and tell me – which one you would choose to sew?

Next week – quilt squares made from just triangles.

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!

A Weekly Dose of Triangles: just the beginning

I have stacks of the leader/ender triangles done. Last weekend, I pressed and cut them to size, and finally it was time to play. (Now that I have finished playing with the triangles, the design wall has to come down. The painters are coming…)

Loads of triangles

I know that many of you who read my blog are not quilters, so I though a little lesson was in order, and if you are new to quilting, perhaps you will enjoy this as well. If I make a quilt using just one shape, it will be called a charm or one block quilt. Many quilters pooh-pooh this sort of simplicity, but wait until you see what these simple shapes can do. Let’s look at some common charm or one square patterns.

These pieces are made up of equilateral triangles. Remember Sophomore Year geometry with Miss Detweiler? If so, then you know that these triangles measure the same on each side.

Equilateral triangles

Back to geometry class, can you see that these shapes are 60 degree triangles? This pattern is called tumbling blocks or baby blocks. They are such fun to play with; to form a block you sew a light a medium and a dark piece together and you get this 3D illusion.

Baby block stack

I call this shape swirling stars and it’s the curvaceous relative of a baby block. Look at the baby block above – can you see where six 60 degree pieces intersect? So these pieces can make the same shapes as their straight-laced cousin.

Spinning star

Here is my favorite shape – a hexagon. Not only does its six-sided shape make many, many lovely designs, it can be divided in half, in thirds and even in sixths, if you want to do some really nasty piecing. Handy hexagons

If you are interested in starting a charm quilt, Pat Yamin has loads of templates for all of these fun shapes and more.

Please stop by next Friday to see some of what the humble half square triangles can do! It’s quite amazing.