Have you looked at a quilt with blocks set on point and said “I can’t do that!”? To be honest, when I just started quilting, I shied away from doing on point quilt block settings myself. Even when I started to design patterns, I was not always comfortable writing those patterns. Well, I’m here now to say I did it and I will share some instruction and tips that will make you feel like you can do it easily too!
Here’s a quilt that is on the design wall, called Wildflower Lane, that I hope to have available soon. This is on point block setting:
And here are a few others:
On point settings can be used with one block quilts or with two block quilts to create an interesting secondary design. So on to the tips to help you get started and practice this new skill.
Unlike quilts made from blocks that are set normally, on point block quilts need what are called setting triangles. Setting triangles are cut from squares. There are side triangles and end triangles.
When I write my patterns for on point set quilt tops, I do the calculations for these triangles for you and tell you what size squares you need to cut them from. However, if you are making a pattern with a straight setting but decide you want to do an on point setting, you will need the formula for those calculations. So here they are:
Side Triangles – You take the finished size of your block x 1.414, then add 1 1/4″ to that number. For example, if your finished block is 6″, here is how the formula works:
6″ x 1.414 = 8.48″ (round this up to the nearest 1/8″ to 8.5″)
8.5″ + 1 1/4″ = 9 3/4″ square needed.
This square is then cut diagonally twice for 4 quarter-square triangles. For the above quilt, there are 12 side triangles, so you will need three 9 3/4″ squares:
End Triangles – You take the finished size of your block/(divided by) 1.414, then add 7/8″ to that number. Example:
6/1.414 = 4.243 (round this up to the nearest 1/8″ to 4.25
4.25 + 7/8 = 5 1/8″ square needed.
This square is then cut diagonally once for 2 half-square triangles. You need 4 end triangles, so you will need two 5 1/8″ squares:
Block Lay Out and Stitching
So now that you have your triangles cut, it’s time to lay out the blocks and the triangles so you can stitch together the quilt top. A large floor space or a design wall comes in handy here. Here’s a diagram on laying out the blocks and triangles:
The top part of the diagram above shows how the blocks are laid out and the bottom part shows how to sew the rows together. You will actually assemble the quilt on a diagonal. This is definitely different from piecing a regular quilt top!
I always start from top left and work my way down until all the rows are assembled. The top left and bottom right will have a unique piecing method that I will show in the following photos. I call these the “end caps” since the block is on the end and is surrounded by two side triangles and one end triangle.
Here are the steps to piecing this “end cap” successfully:
Step 1: Line up the 90° angle of the left setting triangle with the corner of the block and pin in place. there will be a small “tail” of the triangle overlapping the block.
Step 2: Stitch with a 1/4″ seam. Then repeat on the opposite side of the block with the other setting triangle. Press these sides open:
Step 3: Line up the end triangle with the center of the unit assembled above. When you flip it on top to pin in place, you can use a ruler to make sure the point of the end triangle is right in the center of the block.
Pin in place, stitch and press open. Once again, there will be overlapping “tails” from the end triangle:
Here’s what the end cap looks like all stitched and pressed. You can now trim off the “tails” if you want.
Step 4: Now that the end caps are finished, it’s time to join all the blocks and triangles into the diagonal rows. The blocks will be joined just like in regular quilt tops then add the triangles to the ends of the rows. Notice all the “tails”.
Step 5: Now it’s time to join those rows into the quilt top! Once again, there will be overlapping “tails” from all the triangle points. Be sure to line up the seams of the blocks when joining your rows.
Lining up the seams is a very important step to make sure your quilt top is not “wonky” when you are done piecing it. If you are shaky in aligning seams, see my blog post on tips for that here. It’s towards the bottom of that post.
Here is the finished top. All ready for borders and quilting!
Well, that’s it. See? it’s really not too hard. Just like anything in quilting, it takes practice to make these on point quilts come out nice and straight. Don’t let the fact that you need to practice this skill scare you away!
Now you can take any blocks and turn them into an on point quilt. Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be happy to answer them if I can. Leave a comment even if you don’t have any questions and you will be entered into a drawing for my quilt pattern, Country Dance.
The drawing will be on Monday, December 7th.