Monday, March 16, 2020

How To Set Blocks on the Diagonal and FREE Pattern

In light of the craziness happening today, many of us are sitting at home. You might want to call this: Do your best under House Arrest! I'm not making light of things, but as someone said the other day, we quilters have been training for this for years. Just give me some beautiful fabric, a sewing machine and thread and I'm off and running.

This is a repeat post from 2013. While the fabrics aren't around anymore (but I bet some of you have these!!), the technique is timeless. It's a quilt technique that has baffled many of us: How to set blocks on point (or on the diagonal).

Floribunda Collection
What are the magic numbers to cut those pesky side and corner triangles so they not only fit, but there are no bias edges along the outside edges? This is one of the most popular lessons I have ever offered. I begin with the Floribunda Collection. Pretty, huh?

I selected a block from my 2013 desktop quilting calendar. I call it the Antique Basket Block. It is 10" finished. My FREE one page pattern includes cutting dimensions and full size appliqué templates for that basket handle and the folk art green leaf at the bottom.
My Antique Basket block inspiration from my 2013 Block a Day calendar
Click that link above for the one page pdf of the block.
Auditioning fabric for the side and corner triangles
I selected two of the fabrics and auditioned each one against the block. I like the second one better.
I like this better - stronger contrast
 Time to take the plunge and CUT!
Cutting the SIDE triangles from an 18-1/4" squares - YIKES!
There are two sizes of triangles to consider. The first one is the side setting triangle (in picture above). We cut a square that is the finished size of the block (10"), MULTIPLIED by 1.414 and then we add 1-1/4" to that number for seams. I have a handy chart at the end of this blog post, so hold on and stop rolling your eyes. This is math talk, not trash talk! Our number is a whopping 18-1/4" square. Each square gives me 4 side triangles (that's all I need for my 4 block quilt).

Cutting the four CORNER triangles from two 8" squares
The formula for cutting the triangles for the four corners of the quilt: finished size (10"), DIVIDED by 1.414, then add 7/8" for seams. Now I'll show you how they look.

Two side triangles sewn on opposite sides of block; Corner triangle at the ready
The blocks are joined into DIAGONAL rows. The side triangles (there are 4) are added to the top left block, and then the single corner triangle. Press seams toward the floral triangles.

When you lay out your pieces as shown in the diagram below, it's easier to sew the sewing sequence.

Can you see those last two remaining seams left for me to do?
Three diagonal rows; 2 remaining seams to do
I will sew those last two seams and then press them open to reduce bulk. When you consider setting your blocks on point, it opens up some wonderful setting options.

I will answer a quick question you might have about the seam allowances I quoted above. When a square is cut into FOUR TRIANGLES, you always consider the block size it will work with. And, you always add 1-1/4" to the size of the cut square so that it will fit the block or unit it is to go with. When a square is cut into TWO TRIANGLES, you consider the block size and only add 7/8" for seam allowances so it will fit with the block or unit it is paired with.

Here is my handy, dandy chart with formulas for standard sized blocks.
And I've done the math for most of them; just find the block size!

You can download this chart and print it out; then hang it up in your sewing room!
Setting Blocks on the Diagonal by Debby Kratovil

This is NOT to be printed and distributed, please! While it's free to you, it cost me something to create it. Send your friends here to get it.

Several years have passed since I put this together. I had a friend in my quilt guild quilt it and it was donated to a worthy local charity, Young Lives, last summer. It has gone to some little child here in Virginia.

Antique Baskets Quilt
I still have some of this sweet fabric left and I used it for another project. I will be sharing it with you soon. For now, DO YOUR BEST UNDER HOUSE ARREST!


  1. Thanks for the handy chart! I always have to re-figure the measurements for each on-point quilt I make. Thanks to you, I now have a shortcut!

  2. unrelated but a question. I have a pattern I want to make using a batik jelly roll. It will but up against white cotton. Soak or prewash the jelly roll or not and with what? I read you can soak a jelly roll in warm water and synthrapol and hang to dry. Your thoughts???

  3. Hi, Susie. I’m not a good help. I prewash NOTHING. Nothing. And nothing.

    I would check online resources for good advice here!

    I’ve had renegade dyes bleed onto other fabric once or twice. That’s why I use and suggest Shout! products (in the laundry aisle). It’s like a dryer sheet that you put in with the wash and it catches most/all of renegade dyes from clothes/fabric etc.

    Hope that helps!


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