SAL11 - Setting Triangles!

Dear Ruthanna,


This is the eleventh in the series of emails based on Ruth Grihalva's April Power Point presentation to the String-A-Long Quilt Guild in Porter County Indiana. The title was "Piecing Hints, Tips & Longarming Issues."

Her comments are based on our experience with over 10,000 longarmed quilts in our 20 year history. Additionally, Ruth has published over 160 patterns, three books, and two tools under the nom de plume of "Raggedy Ruth Designs."

However, these newsletters are written by me, her husband. I am writing these from Ruth's presentation notes. Nonetheless, I will be sprinkling my ideas in, also.

SAL11 - Setting Triangles!

In this newsletter we will explore "Setting Triangles," where to find them, how to make them, how to put on the borders, and how quilting fabric is created.

Question: What do you get as an answer when asking a quilter, with pins in their mouth, what direction it is to Alaska?

Answer: Warp Weft.

Hilarie of the Little Stitch Studio, Norfolk discusses fabric grain, as well as the resulting bias, well in her blog, part of which is quoted here:

"What is grain? Simply put, grain is the direction of the weave in the fabric. 

"Fabric is created by weaving two or more threads at right angles to each other. There is the lengthwise grain and the crosswise grain. 

"The lengthwise grain, called the warp, runs up and down while the crosswise grain, called the weft, is made from threads woven over and under the lengthwise grain from side to side. 

"As the fabric is woven, the selvedge is created by the weft threads turning as they are being woven in the opposite direction. This creates a continuous binding on the length of the fabric."

As you can see from her pictorial, the bias runs at an angle, usually 45 degrees in classic quilting projects, to the warp and weft, or grain. It therefore, has no strength to stretching pressures put upon it. Then, it follows that fabric cut on the bias does not have the stability of other, rectangular cuts.

Fabric cuts that are used in quilts must keep in mind that forces [such as weight on you lap while assembling, displaying your quilt top at meetings and festivities before they are quilted, etc.] on the bias cuts can lead to stretching and fullness in the top and borders, as well as pinching in the finished quilt.

In the following examples on assembling quilts with setting triangles, you will note the direction of the bias [as indicated with arrows]. Take care to assure that the bias is not on the borders, as well as care to avoid stretching while being assembled. This is shown because the edges facing the borders have no bias, or stretching, as indicated by the lack of arrows on those edges.

But, first, lets identify "setting triangles" in order to see the effect of the creation of a quilt without bias on the edges.

We can see where to find setting triangles in the left layout of illustration#28. Here we have a log cabin quilt, on point. The triangles to make the top and sides, square and straight are labeled "S" and "C", for the side and corner setting triangles, respectively.

The arrows drawn show the direction of the bias. Note that there are no bias edges at the border of the quilt. This orientation safeguards the top from being stretched.

The layouts on the right depict creating the setting triangles from their blocks. Note how the bias runs. This method of cutting is to assure that all outer edges will not have bias. Take pride in assuring that the non-bias edges are on the outside. The setting triangles are cut first, before being used in the assembly of the top on the left layout.

As stated in previous newsletters, and depicted in illustration #29, take three measurements of the length. Then take the average of the lengths [(left + center + right)/3].

Notice on the right layout, the two side border strips are cut to the average, plus an inch on each end, for safety sake.

Illustration #30 shows pinning the borders onto the quilt top, with that safety-inch sticking up above the top as well as below the bottom.

The layout on the left shows the pinning - top and bottom first, followed with a middle pin to stabilize border.

The layout on the right depicts pinning the remainder of the border.

Remember, as you sew, remove the pins just before the presser foot. Also, do not let the fabric bunch up in front of the foot as it will indicate that either: you did not pin enough; or, that you will be getting fullness in the border.

After the borders have been sewn to the top [not shown] trim off the safety-inch, flush with the unfinished quilt top. This is depicted in Illustration #31.

Again, the squaring template should be much larger. The more of the lengths of the fabric that you can cover with the squaring template, the more accurate your squaring will be.

In illustration #32 we see the similar measurement and creation of the top and bottom borders, as that shown for the side borders, above.

Illustration #33 depicts the pinning process, similar to the side borders, above.

Again, in illustration #34, we do not show the sewing. However, we do need to trim off the safety-inch flush to the side borders, as described above for the side borders.

Now we have seen the proper care and handling of setting triangles and avoiding bias edges in the assembly of quilts.

What's Next?

The next email in the series will be titled "SAL12 - Squaring Up Your Back!

If you would like to have Ruth give a presentation or workgroup to your organization, please let me know by email to [with your complete contact information, please] or by phone at 567.208.3572, my mobile.

Al Fin

I trust that this was of assistance or interest. If you have any questions that need to be answered, on this or other longarming or quilting topics, then please write to me at or call 219.255.8085.

Thank you for your time and interest.
May The Lord Richly Bless You!
Rick & Ruth Grihalva
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