TYSS: Fifty-Four Forty or Fight

The skill you are exercising in this block is the 60 degree triangle.

The sampler shows the block in the traditional three fabrics (two colors and the background). If you’re following the White & Bright layout, it is orange and blue.

Option 1: Tri Recs Tool

Jeanne at Grey Cat Quilts wrote a Skill Builder post for both the triangles and this exact block, so pop over there for all the details, including block instructions and measurements. Her instructions use the Tri-Recs tool to cut the triangle shapes. I agree with Jeanne – if you’re going to buy one specialty ruler, the Tri-Recs set is the one to go with. It makes this component much easier because it cuts off the points for you so everything lines up perfectly. If you don’t have a Tri-Recs ruler, you can foundation piece it. (You can also make your own templates, but we haven’t talked about templates yet so I’m not including that option here.)

Option 2: Foundation Piecing

If you’d like to foundation piece the triangle component, download this PDF (click on the image to download it) and check out the Skill Builder Posts 14A and 14B on foundation piecing.

Option 3: Regular Ruler

Another option is to cut the triangles using a regular ruler. Here’s a little secret, though – It isn’t actually a 60 degree angle. I know, I know, the Skill Builder is all about 60 degree angles, but in actual fact, the block uses a 63 degree angle, which means the 60 degree line on your ruler is useless. However, we know that the two bottom angles are the same, so we can find the center point and work from there. I added a little wiggle room to the side triangles, as always, so you can trim it to size.

From your background (center triangle) fabric, cut four squares that are 3 7/8″ square. Find the center point and mark it either on your fabric or on the cutting mat. If you mark it on the cutting mat, be careful not to shift the fabric as you’re cutting.

Cut from one bottom corner to the center point at the top of the square, then repeat with the other side.

From your star point (side triangles) fabric, cut four 2 1/2″ x 4 3/4″ rectangles. Place two rectangles wrong sides together before cutting your diagonal lines. This is important! If you do this, you’ll be able to cut both sides of the triangles at the same time. If you cut one rectangle at a time, you’ll need to cut two in one direction and two in the other direction.  Cut the rectangles corner to corner.

One pair of rectangles produces four triangles. Repeat with the second pair of rectangles.

Lay out your pieces – two small rectangles and one large rectangle.

Place the fabric pieces right sides together. As you can see, the white rectangle corners extend far beyond the edges of the center triangle. You don’t need to be so precise when sewing these because there is extra fabric that you can trim later. Just make sure the skinny point crosses the center triangle at least 1/4″ from the edge of the center triangle.

Sew 1/4″ from the edge, then press. Place the next small triangle, again making sure you have plenty of room on both sides. See the little point at the top that extends past the edge?

That comes in handy if you have a seam guide on your machine, because it help you maintain the 1/4″ seam. Sew and press.

Your section looks a little funny because of the excess (and probably crooked) star points, so trim it to size. It’s important to measure and cut accurately when you trim this!

You’ll trim the unit to 3 1/2″ square. Measure 3 1/2″ and keep the line on your ruler even with the bottom edge of the triangle. The point should be exactly 1/4″ from the top where you will cut. Trim the excess fabric (sorry for the backwards photo – remember, I’m left handed!).

Flip it around and trim the bottom edge, using your new straight edge at the top as a guide and measuring 3 1/2″. Probably you’ll just be cutting off the long points of the side triangles. Sorry, no photo!

To trim the sides, line up the center point at 1 3/4″ and keep the bottom edge of the center triangle even with a line on the ruler.

Repeat with the other side, making sure that you’re cutting it to 3 1/2″. The center point should still be at the 1 3/4″ mark.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see that the 1/4″ mark on the ruler lines up with the point where the two fabrics meet at all three corners of the triangle. In the photo below of the finished, trimmed unit, look at the stitch marks around the edge of the unit. When sewn into a block, the triangle will go exactly to the corners.

So that’s the “60 Degree” Triangle Unit! In order to complete the Fifty-Four Forty or Fight block, you can follow Jeanne’s instructions in her Skill Builder post.

So, any questions?



  1. can I use the tri rec triangle in place of a 60 degree triangle? I have projects that call for a 60 degree triangle

Comments are closed.