How to Calculate Setting Triangles

By Cynthia Gast
This quilt features blocks set on point with pieced side setting triangles.

Any time you assemble a quilt top in the diagonal on-point setting, you need setting triangles to fill in the spaces around the sides of the quilt top center. If you create a quilt using a published pattern, the pattern directions include the setting triangle dimensions. However, if you alter the pattern or create your own quilt design, you need to calculate these dimensions for accurate triangles. Two formulas exist to help you with this task, one each for the side and corner setting triangles.

Side Setting Triangles

Measure the size of your finished blocks in inches using the plastic ruler . If your quilt top incorporates sashing, include that in your measurement. Do not rely on a pattern’s statement of the block size as yours may differ slightly.

Multiply the block size by 1.414. Round that number to the nearest eighth of an inch.

Add 1.25 inches to the rounded number. This number is the size of the square from which you cut your setting triangles.

Divide the number of side setting triangles you need by 4 to find the number of squares you need to cut. Side setting triangles are quarter-square triangles, cut this way so the fabric grain runs along the outside edge of the quilt center. Cut each square diagonally twice to make four triangles.

Corner Setting Triangles

Measure the quilt top’s finished block to find its size in inches. Include sashing in your measurement if necessary.

Divide the block size by 1.414. Round that number to the nearest eighth of an inch.

Add 0.875 inch to the rounded number. This is the measurement of the square you use for the corner setting triangles at the corners of the quilt top.

Cut two squares with sides equal to the number you calculated.

Cut each square diagonally to make the half-square triangles for the corner setting triangles.

Tip

Handle the bias edges of the triangles carefully to avoid stretching this section that runs diagonally to the fabric grain.

Coat the triangles lightly with spray starch to hold the edges in place.

About the Author

Cynthia Gast began writing professionally over 25 years ago in the automotive magazine niche and has also taught preschoolers and elementary grades. She has been a full-time freelance writer since 2008. Gast holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Illinois.