More On-Point Options

Okay, let’s review…


At this point in the year, you’ve learned a lot about piecing and applique.  You’ve learned probably more than you ever wanted to about borders. And last week, I threw everything up in the air when I introduced the concept of setting your quilt on point.

You should be really excited now and itching to design your own quilt.  And you should do just that.  You’ve really got just about everything you need to dig into your stash, sew up some blocks, and lay that sucker out just the way you want and not how the pattern dictates and be completely successful with the process.  You’ve lost your fear of quilt math, realizing that it’s simple multiplication, division, addition and subtraction.  You can throw terms like Golden Ratio and Quilter’s Cake around with all the confidence in the world.

So, allow me to muddy the waters just a bit more…

At one time or another, you’re going to have some wonderful quilt blocks that you want to set on point.  You dig through your fabric or make a mad dash to the LQS or your favorite on-line shop and get the material for those setting blocks and setting triangles.  You get home, begin to lay everything out and are hit with one cold, hard fact…

That fabric you loved in the store or from your stash for the setting blocks and triangles just ain’t singing the same tune it did on the cutting table. It doesn’t add that “zing” that you thought it would to your blocks.  You may have just ran your debit card up $20 or $30 and you certainly don’t want to toss the fabric away and make another purchase.

What can you do?

Why don’t you piece your setting triangles and/or blocks? Or alter the basic layout?

Whoa….there’s a new concept.

Yes, you certainly can piece the setting blocks and/or triangles, just as you can anything else on your quilt.  And you can alter that on-point layout that was in the last blog.  The results will take you from a quilt that is nice, to one that has every WOW factor in the book.

Let’s play with the layout first.  By changing the layout just a little, you can dramatically change your quilt top.  You can alter a simple on-point layout from this:

Chain quilt with colored corner triangles

To this:

Chain on point quilt 2

With the above illustration, I’ve colored the setting triangles different colors to make it easier for you to see what I’m doing with this.  While the nine-patch blocks are the same from the quilt last week, did you see what I did with them?  Instead of separating them with setting blocks, I sewed them together and only used one set of large setting triangles on the right- and left-hand side.  These are shown in blue.


Now let me draw your attention to the top and bottom, right and left-hand corner triangles shown in green.  Those aren’t small at all, like they were in the first on-point quilt we worked with.  These are large – larger even than the large setting triangles.  These are double corner triangles.  So how do you use Quilter’s Cake to come up with the measurements to cut these triangles?  It’s not hard, I promise.  Since we’re still working with 12-inch finished blocks, take the 12-inches, divide it by 1.414, then multiply that by 2 and add 7/8-inch for the seams. So, on a 12-inch finished block, the equation would work like this:

12 ÷ 1.414 = 8 ½-inches

8 ½-inches x 2 = 17

17 + 7/8 = 17 7/8-inches.  You would cut your square 17 7/8 inches and cut it in half once on the diagonal.  The difference with these corner triangles is that you would make two for each corner.

The math isn’t hard…don’t be scared of it.  When I taught chemistry and physics to a bunch of gangly high school students, I always told them numbers were your friends.  Words can lie, but numbers (if interpreted correctly) cannot.  They will always tell you the truth.

Now let’s take those layouts and play with fabric.

Take a look at this quilt:

On point star 1

This is a great on-point quilt.  It has some nice colors; the points of the stars aren’t chopped off.  Piecing-wise, this is very nice.  I do want you to notice one thing.  The same fabric is used in the background of the star blocks, the setting blocks, and the setting triangles.  There is nothing wrong with this approach.  With this color-way, the blocks seem to “float” across the top of the quilt.  And again, let me emphasize, there is nothing wrong with that design.  Sometimes that is the look you’re going for.

But, if you want to go for a bit different look, without piecing those setting squares and/or setting triangles, then make the fabric do the work for you.  Look at the same quilt, keeping the fabric in the star blocks the same, but changing up the fabric in the setting triangles:

On point star 2

Or changing the fabric in the setting blocks instead:

On point star 3

Or by adding sashing and cornerstones…

On point star 4

And altering the sashing and cornerstones a bit….

On point star 6

If you don’t like the empty blocks beside the stars (if you or your quilt artist has great quilting skills, this would be a great place to showcase some feathered wreaths), throw in another block:

On point star 5

Sometimes all you need is a quick fabric change up to make your quilt really sizzle.

When you’re piecing a quilt, the options are endless and once you have a good grasp of the quilt math and some confidence in choosing fabrics, the sky is literally the limit when it comes to either changing the design of a quilt pattern or designing your own.

Don’t be daunted.  You can do this.

Throwing in a different quilt block where a plain setting block is one thing, but now I want you to think about piecing the large setting triangles.  Let’s look at this design I came up with using Fossil Fern fabrics.

On point star 7

Wouldn’t this quilt look wonderful if we could work in some piecing on the triangles?

On point star 8

Now what about piecing the setting blocks?

On point star 9

There are so many secondary patterns going on in this quilt it boggles my mind.  And with the pieced setting triangles, you’ve just made your border, so it’s a win-win.

My final thought before we wrap up setting triangles is this:  Don’t settle for ordinary.  Let your imagination and creativity work overtime in the simple design elements of a quilt.  When a quilter is putting together a quilt top, it’s easy to get caught up in the blocks – whether they are pieced or applique or a bit of both.  That’s well and good.  But don’t stop there and don’t let the pattern dictate every element of your design.   Carefully consider the borders and sashing, the setting blocks and setting triangles, as well as the corner triangles. Use those to enhance your center and make the whole quilt a one-of-a-kind design.

Make it yours.

And make it sing.

Until next week, Quilt with Excellence!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


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