Patchwork Tree and Half-Rectangle Triangles

Tree quilt, fabrics

Here’s a little peek at a new quilt I’m designing: Mmmmm, green. If I had to choose a favorite color, it would have to be green. I love, love, LOVE greens! And I had such fun just pulling these few fabrics together, some from my stash, some from the quilt shop, and some I ordered online.

I wanted to have a tree as the center piece of the quilt, and the tree block that I liked the best had half-rectangle triangles, which caused me some issues. I was thinking that you could just make them the same way that half-square triangles are made, by cutting the rectangles, drawing a diagonal line across the middle and sewing ¼” to each side of the drawn line then cutting apart.
I did a lot of thinking and math about all that, trying to figure out the easiest way to come up with the right size rectangle to yield the right size triangle with the right proportions for the block and oh, by the way, the rectangle needed to have even measurements so that it could be rotary cut. Sheesh. I finally decided it was all too hard to think about because cutting sixteenths of an inch with a rotary cutter and ruler doesn’t work so well anyway, and got out the Tri-Recs tool set. I could just use the Recs part of the tool set to make half-rectangle triangles that I needed.

The Tri-Recs tool is totally easy, since you just cut strips and then lay the templates on the strips and cut the triangle bits. The template has a cut off corner as well, so that matching up the triangles is easy when it comes time to sew them together. There’s no math involved either; if you know how tall the finished unit needs to be, you add ½” to that measurement, and cut the strips that wide.

So why was I making this so hard when I had the Tri-Recs tool set all along, you might ask. The whole point of doing this without special tools is that at some point, this pattern may end up in a book, and it’s better to provide a pattern that doesn’t need special tools of course. However, after I made my brain hurt, I decided that I’d just write the pattern with good old-fashioned templates for the half-rectangle triangles, and note that a tool like the Tri-Recs also works. (And if I was making all of this too hard and somebody out there knows the easy way to figure out the math like I was trying to do to begin with, please don’t tell me now, I don’t want to know!)

Anyway, a big issue with this tool set for me is that the templates are very slippery (they’re the same acrylic material as a rotary cutting ruler), and holding them steady to cut around them with a rotary cutter is hard, especially with the Recs template because the top of it is so narrow. Seems to me to be a potential finger chopper situation because if you’re not very careful, the cutter could slip:

Tree Quilt, cutting

To make matters worse (for me anyway), my hands don’t do well when I have to hold something really tightly or press down on something really hard—it’s that tenosynovitis thing again—so if I have to cut a lot of triangles, then I get to do nothing else for a day or two while my hands recover. 😦 I dug out my roll of InvisiGrip, and put a layer on the back of the templates which helps a bit with the sliding problem, but using the Recs template is still best approached with caution in my opinion. Overall though, it’s still better and quicker than drafting and using a regular template for this type of patchwork unit though.

And the tree? Here’s where it’s at right now, with the bottom row sewn together and the rest just laid out above on the cutting table:

Tree quilt, layout

Any guesses where I’m going with this? To be completely honest, this may be just a tease for the moment and I may not be able to satisfy your curiosity much; the end project may have to be kept secret for a bit! 🙂 So what’s on your cutting table today?

8 thoughts on “Patchwork Tree and Half-Rectangle Triangles

  1. I like the little sandpaper dots better but found that they impeded the view. They need to be smaller. So I raided hubbys tool box and found a self adhesive sanding disc refill and whipped out my trusty SMALL hole punch (scrapbooking supplies, doncha know) and punched out sand paper dots for ALL my rulers and acrylic templates. Works like a charm.


  2. Right now I am making a baby quilt for for first grandbaby. Her nursery colors are chocolate brown and pink and this has not turned out to be the challenge I thought it would be. The young do follow fashion and I think these colors are hot right now or something. But it is going to be cute. Since it will be used by a baby, not too complex, not with all the machine embroidery, quilting, etc. that I love, but nice for a baby girl. Susan Branch’s new baby line has a cute brown teddy on a pink background so there you go. It is my focus fabric.


  3. Funnily enough, I have a green quilt on the go at the moment. Sadly, I can give no more information than that since it is to be a Christmas present for my elder daughter and her partner.


  4. Greens are my favorites too…. though I’ve yet to redecorate in greens. I’m quite fond of my many-years-old-now autumn-and-earthtones. I’d rather buy tech than furniture of course!


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