Part 4 – OK, so it’s not “perfect”….

…and yes, that is way-OK!  Because I’m going to show you something that will help a lot.  I should have combined this technique with the last section of part 3, but that’s ok. It’s not too late. And then I PROMISE we’ll move onto the fun stuff of combining blocks.

I’m going to show you how to “square up” your blocks.  Despite our best intentions to make each half-square triangle the exact same size as another, there will always be times when the fabric either stretches a bit more than another block, the seam isn’t “exactly” 1/4 inch, our pressing didn’t make things exact, etc. etc. Rather than dwell on that, let’s think about the good news here.

You can “square up” a block and make each one look like the other.  It may seem tedious at first, but it goes by fast and it is well worth the time in doing that so that everything lines up like it should.

OK, so here’s a quick run-down on what can happen. Exhibit A: Kim (yes, I’m talking now in 3rd person) stays up late and is sooooo tired. She decides that rather than go to bed like a normal person, she gets the sewing bug and wants to work on some of her half-square triangles.  She knows where to sew, she keeps her eye on the 1/4 inch seam, and somehow she strays…from that 1/4 inch seam.  Before she knows it, blocks look a tad funny. They don’t match up with one another. But no worries Kim! You’ve got a solution — you “square up” that beauty of a square and MAKE it match.

OK, back to reality here and forget the silliness — This WILL happen to you, too. (And even when you are well-rested! :))  So here’s what you do.  Place your square underneath a square ruler.  I want my squares to be 3 1/2 inches at this point. Notice it is NOT 3 1/2 inches. Oops.

Step 1: Place your square underneath a square ruler. The dashed lines show where that 3 1/2 inch square should be. The nice big red arrows show some problem spots. (eek.) But remember….it’s all good! No-stress project here.


Step 2:  Make sure your diagonal on the ruler (45 degree line) is on the diagonal of the half-square triangle.  Before you trim, make sure the fabric on the left and bottom sides extends just a tad over the 3 1/2 inch line. This is ok because you’ll cut it off later. 

Step 3:  Trim the right  and top edge of the half-square triangle.

Step 4:  Lift the square ruler off the fabric and rotate your fabric arounds so that you can now trim off those 2 other sides.  This time make certain that your bottom and left side of the square lines, lines up right along the 3 1/2 inch markings. 

Step 5:  Trim any fabric that extends beyond the ruler.

Now you’ve got a perfect square! Isn’t she a beauty? 🙂  And if you’ve never done this before, you learned something new!  You can use this technique with ANY size you are making. I know some of you are making 5 inch squares while another is making 2 inch. No problem at all.

Are you ready to go to the next step? I’ll go ahead and post it for those who are speedy and anxious to see it all come together. We are making one of my very favorite quilt blocks – a pinwheel!  Keep reading…



Filed under Make-It-Up-As-You-Go Quilt, YCMT Sew Along

11 responses to “Part 4 – OK, so it’s not “perfect”….

  1. A new step!!! Yeppie!! I’ll get to cutting as soon as I wake up… hahahahaha


  2. My 6 year old is learning about quilts in school as part of her Social Studies program so this has been fantastic for us! Today I took in the squares that she and I have made together (along with some Amish made quilts that I had here at home) and it was great fun! To see her beaming with pride and sharing with the class how much fun she’s having sewing with Mom was just great–and to think that I started this right before the quilting unit came up–thanks Kim!!

  3. Kim

    Heather — I’m so happy to hear this! What a fun memory you are creating with your daughter. Thank you for sharing that with me!


  4. What do you do if your block is too small on one side, rather than too big? This happens to me sometimes!

  5. ycmt

    Hi Anne! That has happened to me, too – you’re not alone! 😉

    Most likely your seam is a tad larger than 1/4″. Check that first. You could also try ironing it again. You may need to take out the thread and start over with a new block.

    Another thing you can do is to simply “square up” your block to be a bit smaller on all sides then you originally intended. Of course, you can only do this when you are making up your own pattern. With this one, it really won’t matter what size your block ends up being, so if squaring up the block to be smaller than you would have wanted, that’s ok. Just make sure you square up all of your blocks that same, smaller size.

    Kim 🙂

  6. alishasays

    I so wish I had known about this years ago!

  7. Pingback: Part 6 - Time to “Square Up!” Again… «

  8. Kei

    What if I don’t have a square ruler? Any tips on squaring off without one? How aboout cutting a square the right size, placing it over the blocks and trimming off anything sticking out around the edges?

  9. Kim

    Hi Kei – Sure, I think that would work just fine. I would draw a diagonal from one angle to the next. Then make sure you place that diagonal on the same diagonal on your square.

    Kim 🙂

  10. Kei

    Thanks Kim! I’ll give it a try.

  11. Kei

    It worked! 🙂 Pics on my blog. The pinwheels are going to look gorgeous!

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