Triangles are a quilter’s go-to shape for a great many patterns. But with rag quilting, that’s a LOT of edges to line up the old way of cutting them. This easy rag quilt half square triangle method should speed up the process and make you love your triangles all over again. It’s very similar to the way you originally learned to make fast half square triangles for traditional quilting but we’re hacking the method to make it work for rag quilts as well.
1. Gather Your Materials
You’ll need squares of backing fabric, batting, and front fabric. This is the same as you would gather for any rag quilt. Remember your triangles will be 1/4 the size of the squares. You’ll need 2 different facing materials, 2 pieces of batting, and 2 pieces of backing fabric for each set of triangles you make.
2. Stack the Sandwiches
Again, we still doing what you would normally do with a standard square rag quilt. Stack the backing, batting, and facing material.
3. Pin the Sandwiches in the Middle
Pin your quilt sandwiches in the middle to help keep them from slipping in the next step.
4. Stack the Sandwiches Back to Back
Just like with a regular rag quilt, you’ll stack the sandwiches back to back (pretty side out). Depending on the size of your sandwich squares, you make want to pin or clip the edges so they will not shift in the next step.
5. Sew Around the Sides
Here is where we differ from standard rag quilt construction. Sew around all four sides of the sandwich stack, leaving the seam allowance you plan to use in the rest of the rag quilt construction (1/2″ and 1″ are the most common). Sew all the way across the ends, cut your thread, and then sew another side instead of turning in each corner. We’ll need those sewn over bits to ensure the threads are stable later.
6. Sewn Up Sandwich Pouch
Now you have something that looks a bit like a fabric sandwich pocket. It’s a bit fluffy and still square. We’ll be turning this into matching triangles in just a moment.
7. Make a Diagonal Cut
Now we are making triangles. We have two cuts to make. For the first cut, line up a straight edge from corner to corner of your seams (this is why we sewed all the way across instead of turning in the corners). Now use your rotary cutter and slice the pouch. Yes, my straight edge is a heavy metal T-Square bar from the hardware store. I like the stability of it with the extra weight.
8. Make the Second Cut
This is our final cut. Either don’t move the cut pouch or carefully reassemble the pouch so all the edges line up if you need to move it for a better cutting angle. Use your straight edge and line up the two uncut corners of the pouch. Now cut across the pouch.
9. Triangles are Cut
That’s it, you’ve made the triangles. Why is this a different fabric? Well, let’s just say that no matter how stable you straight edge is, a cat jumping on the cutting table can cause you to miscut. Please join me for a moment in mourning the loss of the purple and pink leopard print fabric.
10. Pull Apart the Triangles
Pull apart the triangles, clipping any pieces you might have missed with cutting through so many layers. Unfold them and iron if necessary to get them to stay open.
11. Ready to Assemble
That’s it, you can now stack and sew your half square triangle sets just as you would with any other rag quilt. Note that you will need to trim the batting on the long edge of the triangles before assembly.
If you are so inclined, take a moment to review the offers from our advertisers below. Your patronage of our advertisers helps us continue to offer tutorials at no cost to you.