Setting triangles are sewn into openings at the ends of rows when quilt blocks are set on point.
Since rows are sewn diagonally, they have triangular openings around their outer edges where square blocks end. Partial blocks can be constructed to fill in the spaces, but quilters often use large fabric triangles instead.
Two types and sizes of triangles are used for setting triangles.
- One type of triangle fits into the gaps along the top, bottom and sides of the quilt.
- Smaller triangles are used to create the quilt's corners.
Setting triangles all appear to be cut in exactly the same way, but their structure is very different:
- Corner triangles are half-square triangles, created by cutting a square in half once diagonally to produce two triangles with the straight grain on their short edges. The stretchy bias runs with the longest edge, the edge that is sewn to corner blocks... cutting corner triangles illustrated
- Setting triangles are quarter-square triangles, created by cutting a square in half twice diagonally to produce four triangles with the straight grain on their long edges. The stretchy bias runs along short edges and each short edge is sewn to the side of a block in the finished quilt... cutting setting triangles illustrated
Why Does Fabric Grain Matter?
To minimize stretch, it's best to assemble quilt units with the fabric's straight grain along edges that will be on the outer perimeter of a block or entire quilt, so that there's less chance of stretch as you work.
If setting triangles were cut like corner triangles, their longest edges would be cut on the stretchy bias, making the outer edges of a quilt more likely to stretch out of shape before the project is complete.
How to Cut Corner Triangles
Cut two corner triangles by dividing a parent square once diagonally.
- Finished block size x 1.41 = the quilt block's finished diagonal
- Divide the answer, the finished diagonal, by 2.
- Add 0.875" and round up to the nearest 1/8" to find your parent block size.
- Cut two parent blocks that size and divide each in half once diagonally to make a total of four corner squares.
Corner square example for 10" finished size quilt blocks
- 10" block size x 1.41 = , 14.10" finished diagonal
Parent square size = 14.10" / 2 = 7.05" + .875" = 7.925, round up to 8"
Corner Triangle Parent Squares for Common Quilt Block Sizes
- 4" blocks: use 3-3/4" parent squares
- 6" blocks: use 5-1/8" parent squares
- 9" blocks: use 7-1/4" parent squares
- 10" blocks: use 8" parent squares
- 12" blocks: use 9-3/8" parent squares
- 14" blocks: use 10-3/4" parent squares
- 15" blocks: use 11-1/2" parent squares
How to Cut Setting Triangles
Cut a parent square twice diagonally to produce four setting triangles with the fabric's straight grain on their long edges. Use this formula to cut setting triangles:
- Finished block size x 1.41 = finished length required on the triangle's longest edge. Round up to nearest 1/8".
- Cut a square with sides that are 1-1/4" longer than the number in Step 1.
- Cut the square in half twice diagonally.
Setting Triangle Parent Squares for Common Quilt Block Sizes
- 4" blocks: use 7" parent squares
- 6" blocks: use 9-3/4" parent squares
- 9" blocks: use 14" parent squares
- 10" blocks: use 15-3/8" parent squares
- 12" blocks: use 18-1/4" parent squares
- 15" blocks: use 22-1/2" parent squares
Setting BlocksSquares of fabric placed between blocks are called setting blocks. Cut them to match the unfinished size of your quilt blocks.
Decimal to Fraction Chart - 1/8"
- 0.125 = 1/8"
- 0.250 = 2/8" or 1/4"
- 0.375 = 3/8"
- 0.500 = 4/8" or 2/4" or 1/2"
- 0.625 = 5/8"
- 0.75 = 6/8" or 3/4"
- 0.875 = 7/8"
Examples of Quilts Made with Setting Triangles
- Quilt with Patchwork Setting Triangles
- Quilt with Plain Setting Triangles
- Learn more about quilt design and layout options.