Triangle Trickery


  • Eighty 5in charm squares
  • 70cm of border fabric (also used for the binding)
  • 110 x 130cm of wadding
  • 1.3m of backing

Finished Size

40 x 48in

Skill Level



  1. Sort the squares into light and dark piles you need an equal number in each pile. If you have a selection that are mid tones then as long as they are matched with a very light or very dark square the contrast will still be effective.
  2. Mark a diagonal line on the WS of the light squares.
  3. Put a square from the light and from the dark piles RS together with the light square on top. Make sure the edges are lined up accurately.
  4. Sew 1⁄4in away from the marked line, feed the next pair of squares through without cutting the threads and keep going until all the squares are sewn on one side of the line.
  5. Repeat the other side of the marked line; you will have two lines of stitching across each pair of squares. Cut along the drawn line and press each open to give a square made up of two half square triangles. Press carefully to avoid distorting the square, see Figure 1.

Note: Normally the measurements for half square triangles are 7⁄8in larger than your finished square. With charm squares there is no point trimming 1⁄8in off the squares to make them smaller.

Assembling the Centre Panel

  1. Make sure your squares are all the same size. Use a bias square ruler to trim squares if necessary; they should measure 4 1⁄2in. It is more important that they are all the same size than the exact measurement.
  2. There are many ways of arranging the squares to create different patterns. Figure 2 shows pinwheels, and a broken dishes effect. They do not have to be symmetrical or regular. Play around and see what patterns you can come up with.
  3. You can either make the squares into blocks and then arrange those or layout the top in one go. Move the squares around until you are happy with the placement of all the fabrics. Make sure you don't have two identical fabrics too close or they will jump out at you. See Figure 3.
  4. Keep a record of the pattern, either by pinning in position on a sheet or the backing fabric. Alternatively take digital or Polaroid photos and use to remind you of the layout.
  5. Sew into rows and then join the rows into one piece. If you press alternate rows in opposite directions the seams meet together neatly. Press the whole top well.
Figure 1: Making the half square triangles
Figure 1: Making the half square triangles

Adding Borders, Quilting and Finishing

This quilt has used a border fabric from Makower which changes colour across the width of the fabric. This is not a current fabric but some shops may still have ends of bolts available. Other similar fabrics are available which also change colour or tone across the width of the fabric.

The borders are pieced sides first and then top and bottom in order to use just one width across the fabric. If your fabric changes colour differently you may need to adjust this.


  • Four 4 1⁄2in strips across the whole width of the fabric for the border
  • Four 2 1⁄4in strips across the width for the binding
Figure 2: Three possible arrangements
Figure 2: Three possible arrangements
Figure 3: Four blocks rotated form a star
Figure 3: Four blocks rotated form a star
  1. Measure the length of the quilt and cut two border strips to this measurement. Place them on the quilt top RS together and the edges even and sew with a 1⁄4in seam. Have the light area of the fabric at the top of one side and at the bottom of the other. See photo for guidance.
  2. Press the seam towards the border, measure and cut the top and bottom borders as above. Sew to the top and press as before.
  3. Press the backing fabric and lay on a flat surface RS down, put the wadding and then the quilt top on top RS up. Safety pin or tack the three layers together.
  4. Quilt as desired this quilt was free machine quilted with invisible thread in the top and cotton in the bobbin. You could equally well hand quilt following some of the patterns created by the arrangement of triangles.
  5. When the quilting is completed trim the backing and wadding level with the quilt top, make sure the edge is still square.
  6. Lay the strips of binding round the quilt top and decide where to make the joins, you may not need it all and you want the colour changes to match the border as much as possible. Join into pieces for each side and for the top and bottom. Allow a little extra on the length which you can trim off later.
  7. Fold each piece in half lengthwise WS together and press. Sew to the quilt top.
Finished Quilt

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 13 Number 2 - February 2003