The Perennial quilt pattern is now available in the shop! If you're reading this post on Perennial quilt tips and video tutorials, chances are you fall into one of three categories:
- You've never sewn triangle blocks before and you're curious if you can figure it out.
- You've sewn triangles before, but it didn't go well. You need some convincing that round two is a good idea.
- You love sewing triangles, and are simply curious if there's a tip out there you don't already know.
After listing those three categories, I wish I could get you all together in a room so you could encourage each other with the triangle truth:
- YES, you can conquer triangles!
- What a bummer that in the past your triangle blocks got a little funky. Let's remedy that together!
- And for you seasoned sewists in group number three, I will take on the challenge of finding at least one tip I can pass on to you to make your triangles sew together a little straighter and hopefully a bit faster too.
The Perennial Block: A Wonky Triangle Inside a Triangle
The Perennial quilt is made with just one block rotated and repeated. Once you master this single block, you've mastered the entire quilt pattern! If you are familiar with the Mod Mountains quilt pattern, then you have seen this wonky-triangle-inside-a-triangle block before.
During the Mod Mountains quilt sew along we covered every step in the quilt making process, so many of the tips and tutorials found here are taken from those posts.
Perennial Quilt Supplies
Supplies for making the Perennial quilt are pretty basic. I do recommend getting a 60° triangle ruler OR plastic template sheets so you can make an easy-to-use template from the one included in the pattern.
- Perennial quilt pattern - available October 17, 2019
- Fabric as required in the pattern (see Fabric Requirements chart below)
- Basic Quilting Supplies
- Plastic template sheets OR a 60° triangle ruler
- Grippies for the back of your ruler (this stops your ruler from sliding around)
- Magnetic pin bracelet (cause it's awesome)
Choose Your Fabric
Even though cutting and sewing triangles has its special needs, you don't need to worry about those when choosing fabric. Any fabric in the cotton or linen family is a great choice. Even fabric, such as linen, that is known to fray can work because...
Fabric cut on the bias does not fray.
Say whaaaat?! YES. Granted, the way I have you cutting these wonky triangles only 2 of the 3 sides will be bias edges, but 2 outta 3 ain't bad! And we can toootally handle that one side. However, we do need to address one quirk about cutting triangles because...
Fabric cut on the bias does stretch.
But don't worry! I won't leave you with a problem and not give you a solution. Or how about two solutions?
Combat Fabric Stretching in the Perennial Quilt
- Use starch on all of your fabric before cutting. Read more about using starch in this blog post. Also try to handle your cut triangles as little as possible. The more these pieces get touched, folded, and fondled, the more they will fray and stretch.
- Sew on-grain strips to the sides of the cut triangles. Fabric cut on-grain does not stretch very much. By sewing strips to the bais edges our blocks are much more stable.
Cut Your Fabric
The cutting instructions on pages 2-3 illustrate how to cut your smaller wonky triangles. To do that, cut a strip of fabric with base widths varying between 3 ½" and 5 ½". With a basic straight ruler and rotary cutter, rotate your ruler at different angles to cut the triangles.
Once you cut a few of these unique little triangles, you may even get addicted!
This is the most straight forward part of the pattern. Line up the selvages of your yardage and lay the fabric on your cutting mat with the fold of the fabric closest to you. If you're a beginner, you always want to cut away from yourself with your rotary cutter. I play it a little fast and loose and cut both ways.
You can see what I mean in this video. The audio is terrible, and I should refilm it but...you get the idea. 😉
Perennial Quilt Block Assembly
The video below shows how to cut, sew and trim wonky triangle blocks for the Perennial quilt pattern.
Pages 3-4 of the pattern explain how to sew your strips to the sides of your small wonky triangles.
Note: After posting the pictures below, I see that I flipped my sewing process. The pattern instructs you to sew the opposite side first. Well, as you can see, it really doesn't matter which side you sew first, as long as the base of your triangle is still large enough that you have room to trim.
In the pattern instructions you press your seams towards the darker fabric. I will usually say this in my patterns because I have a deathly fear of frayed dark threads showing up under my light fabric once everything has been quilted.
If you do not share this fear, or if you are using a background fabric that is darker than light gray (whites and creams can be transparent, thus showing the dark threads), press your seams open or out away from Template B (the small triangle). Basically, just do what feels right here and don't get bogged down by what I tell you in the pattern.
TIP! Use some steam and a tailor's clapper to get crisp, flat seams.
Trimming: Clear Vinyl Template A
If you created your own Template A from a clear vinyl sheet, similar to what we did in the Modern Fans quilt pattern, trimming these mini mountain blocks will be a snap. Simply lay your template down, adjust it to the level of wonkiness you like, and trim! Since you can see all three sides of the triangle at once, there's no extra measuring.
Trimming: 60° Triangle Ruler
If you are using a ruler, I find it easiest to trim the bottom first, then line up that edge with the 6 ¾" guideline on the ruler. See below for pictures of my cutting process. The exact triangle ruler I am using is the Clearview 60° triangle ruler and I have added ruler grips to stop it from sliding.
Before doing any trimming, I lay my ruler on top of the block to get as sense of where the base of the triangle will be.
Perennial Quilt Assembly
First thing's first. Before sewing any rows together, I highly suggest you lay all of your triangle blocks out and step back. I know I joked about this earlier, but this is the time to make your final decisions on layout. If you have a feisty little pet who feels the need to sit on everything placed on the floor, you will probably want to use a design wall.
As I mentioned previously, the Perennial quilt uses one of the blocks from the Mod Mountains quilt pattern. In the video below, even though I am using the Mod Mountains quilt as an example, the exact same rules apply when sewing rows together for the Perennial quilt.
NOTE: This video shows how to sew together individual rows one at a time. That's still a great way to sew, but since filming this video I have discovered that you can, indeed, chain piece rows.
Do not attempt this technique if this is your first time sewing triangle blocks together. However, if you have sewn triangles before, chaining the rows together will save you a lot of time. To do that, follow these steps:
- Just like in the chain piecing rows video, gather all of the triangles on the left side of the quilt starting from the top row and ending with the bottom row. Be sure to keep these in order. I prefer a neat stack.
- Starting with the top row again, gather the second triangle block in each row and place them in a stack next to the first stack of blocks.
- With both stacks next to your sewing machine, continually sew each block to its neighboring block without snipping the threads.
- Once all of the triangles are sewn together, take them all to your ironing board. Snip and press the threads and seams.
- Trim all dog ears too!
- Keeping the stack in order, gather the third block in each row and sew them to the unit you just created.
- After sewing the third block, take the chained rows to your ironing board and snip the threads, press the seams and trim the dog ears once again.
- Repeat this process until all of your rows are sewn together.
The main difference with chain piecing triangle block rows from what you see in the video, is that you snip the threads between each row. I have found that to be the easiest way to not get tangled, but you could try chaining rows together without snipping them apart. Just be sure to report back with your results!
Quilt Assembly with Flat-Top Triangles
As stated in the pattern, you can use a flat-top 60° triangle ruler. This next video demonstrates how to sew flat-top triangles together.
Sewing Rows Together
At this stage two rows are stacked on top of each other with right sides together. The edges are lined up and everything is pinned. Once you are sewing, fudge what you've gotta fudge (even if it's slightly more or less than a ¼") to sew across the tip of the triangle's intersection.
Check out the photo below to see what I mean.
And because two examples are always better than one, here's another...
Now I'll flip this row open so you can see how nice this triangle tip turned out.
When you were sewing triangles into rows, I suggested that you press your seams to the side – preferably to the side of the darker fabric. Rows, however, have different areas of bulk, so I suggest that you press your seams open. I also think this is prime time to use a bit of steam and a tailor's clapper.
I even filmed a video to demonstrate exactly how I do it. Spoiler alert: you don't need anything fancy. In fact, you'll notice that my ironing board cover has a massive hole...which I'm not proud of, but haven't had the energy to replace.
I'm not sure if you can tell in a photo how flat my seams are, but just know that even if I were to fold up this up and throw it in a closet, these seams would stay pretty much intact. The magic of the clapper, baby.
And there you have it! Step by step how to make a Perennial quilt! If you still have questions, don't hesitate to post them on the Suzy Quilts Patterns Facebook group or here in the comments below.