Play Craft’s Equal – Piecing!

frost_2702_5Look what I did!

frost_2702_4Check out those points!

frost_2702_2IT WORKS!!!  *excited flailing*

I mean yes, I did a bunch of calculations to be as sure as I could be that it *would* work, but it’s still nice to find that everything is fitting as it should and going together really well!frost_2702_9I am SO pleased with this so far!  I still have a few more rows to do, but I’m now confident that they won’t give me any trouble.

In general, the piecing has been as straightforward as it can be with three different sizes of triangle.  I’ve trialled a couple of different approaches now (strips versus building up large triangles from the smaller ones), and I think I prefer the latter.  I am also absolutely confident that I DO NOT want to piece triangles any smaller than this; the 1″ triangles are just about manageable, but anything smaller would be a nightmare in terms of lining everything up and managing the seams.

Tips for construction

Not put off by walls of maths and the prospect of endless equilateral triangles?  Want to try one of these?  Here are some of the things I’ve found when piecing this beastie.

  • Accurate cutting is your friend!

Obviously, starting with carefully cut pieces is crucial since it makes lining everything up to join *so* much easier!

  • Don’t skimp the seams!

Use the full 1/4″ seam allowance, or even a thread or so more.  Using a 1/4″ presser foot helps a lot with this.  I found that using scant seams on the smaller triangles meant that they came up a bit large when I joined them to the largest triangles, which meant more need to ease and argue to get everything lined up right.  My guess is that the 3/4″ seam allowance given for equilateral triangles is slightly out, but is the closest approximation we can sensibly measure with cutting rulers.  It’s fine as long as you’re aware of it.

  • Be mindful of the fabric grain

If possible, try to make sure that the grain of the fabric is pointing up and down the quilt.  This should make the overall quilt more stable and make piecing finished strips easier, but it means that a lot of the piecing of individual triangles is along bias edges, so care is needed to avoid stretching the triangles out of shape.fabric _grain

  • Minimal pinning

These aren’t very big triangles so I found that mostly they don’t need a lot of pinning; I could just line the points up and sew.  Especially on the smallest triangles (remember, mine finish at only 1″ tall!), pinning would distort them too much and make things worse, not better.  I kept pins for matching points and the largest triangles once the strips were long and heavy enough to pull the triangles out of alignment.  If possible, I kept pins away from the stitching area to stop them throwing off the presser foot.

  • Press seams open
Actually, I think it could be MUCH worse…

The random nature of piecing this makes it pretty well impossible to nest seams pressed to the side, and the dog-ears from seams pressed open are invaluable for helping to line up triangles when piecing.  Press ’em open, it makes life a LOT easier!

  • Press ALL the things!

Don’t even THINK you can get away with not pressing seams!

  • Use pins to line up points

When piecing complete strips or finished triangles together, I use a pin to line up the points as closely as possible by passing it through the back of one point and then through the front of the opposite point and pinching them tightly together against the head of the pin while I added a second pin to hold them flat and in place for sewing.frost_2702_8

  • Sew a straight line!

Sounds stupid; of course you’d want to sew a straight line!  But with the bulk of the seams (and maybe a pin) under the presser foot, it can be easy to wiggle off course and miss catching points together properly.

  • Have a pointy thing ready to tame rebellious seams

Pressing the seams open results in lots of little dog-ears and pointy seams that have an annoying habit of flipping up and scrunching when they’re sewn.  I kept my seam ripper to hand so that I could use the point to press them flat or coax them to lie nicely under the presser foot if necessary.  Essential when joining finished strips together.

Strip versus triangle piecing

I started by piecing same-size triangles together into the longest strips possible, then joining strips together and connecting them with larger triangles.  This works, but I felt it wasn’t as precise as it could be because you end up with lots of long seams and lots of points to match, which can be a bother.  Not to mention, depending on the pattern, long strips aren’t always an option anyway.  The advantage of this method is that it’s reasonably easy to keep track of where you’re up to with a strip.

What I refer to as “triangle piecing” means piecing the smallest triangles into medium-sized triangles, then piecing the medium-sized triangles into large triangles and then joining all large triangles into a finished strip.  Sound confusing?  Yes.  That’s the biggest disadvantage of this piecing strategy, really.  You can end up spending a fair bit of time squinting at numerous pairs of triangles and trying to figure out where they go and what you need to add next.  It helps to define the large triangles before piecing them (I outlined them in pencil on my print-out), or it can get very muddly, and between sewing machine and ironing board things can get very mixed up too.  It’s *not* impossible, but it does need patience and attention!  However, as mentioned, depending on the pattern this approach may well be necessary anyway and I did feel that the piecing of the finished strips with this approach seemed neater and more precise.  I’ll continue using this method for the last few strips.

Thoughts so far

I am SO SO SO proud of how well this experiment is working!  Some of my points are bit more “off” than my inner control freak would like, but given what I’m trying to do I think they’re actually pretty damn good.  My inner control freak can STFU for once!  I wish I could say that the quilting will be beautiful and complement the frosty triangles wonderfully, but I have to be honest and say that quilting’s my weakest skill; I’ll attempt some all-over feathers, but be prepared for disappointment there!  I would totally do this kind of thing again, in fact I’d love to make one with larger triangles (because I think accurate cutting/piecing/point matching would be vastly easier) and with shot cottons (because shot cottons might be my new fabric obsession).  But I’ll probably need a wee break from equilateral triangles for a bit once I’ve finished this one!  😉

Linking up with QuiltShopGal’s #CreativeGoodness, in case anyone else is mad enough to want to try this.  :p


5 thoughts on “Play Craft’s Equal – Piecing!”

  1. YAY for experiments turning out! It looks so icy, like rows of icicles. Cannot get too enthusiastic about that right now with an ice storm looming, but I would love looking at it in July 😉

    1. Thank you for the comment! 🙂 Yes, it is really rather wintry-looking, isn’t it? Stay safe in that ice storm!

  2. This is gorgeous. Thanks for the idea for triangle piecing. I’ve made 2 ET quilts ave and used strip piecing both times. I shall try the other way next time.

    1. Thank you, it was so much fun to make! I do so love ET quilts – they’re actually a lot easier than they look. Alas, I haven’t finished quilting it (I stalled and then crazy life upheaval happened), but it’s been sitting over the back of a chair waving at me so I must get back to it soon, while I’m in a FMQ mood. 🙂

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