Triangulation: Fox and Geese

Roxi Kringle

Monday, April 10, 2017

In family systems theory, a triangle forms when the tension between two people becomes so great a third person is drawn in to relieve the pressure. This explains much of the tattling behavior of children. Case in point, riding in the backseat of Grandma and Grandpa's car. This was in the days before a minivan could safely separate all parties for the peace and comfort of the front seat passenger, namely Grandma. Two boys and a girl side-by-side in the backseat on what we thought was a long ride through the country, it was probably an hour at most, combined with a hot summer Sunday in a car without air conditioning brought out the boredom in each of us.

Declarations of "He's on my side," was countered with "She's touching me," and shoving each other at the shoulder began since we all wore seat belts. We paid little attention to Grandma's warnings to stop picking on each other until our bickering reached the point when Grandma declared, "If you don't stop, I'll sit between you." I think it was the tone of voice that caused us to stop, crossing our arms in front of us, and poutingly look out the car window at passing trees. Grandma became the point of the triangle since my brothers and I couldn't resolve the dispute between us.

The communication triangle, dragging a third person into the situation or saying, "Tell her I said..." is not as effective as going the person directly, and the situation can get pretty messy.  However, in quilting, the triangle, along with the square, are basics design shapes creating interest and movement. The essential triangle creates all manner of stars, birds, and trails in traditional patterns. Like the dreaded family systems triangle, they can get messy because the diagonal cut can stretch and result in cut off points, mismatched seams, and a less than flat quilt top. 

My first ever quilt used triangles and cut my own template from paper or cardboard that I placed on the fabric and cut around. This process lacked accuracy as every so often I trimmed the tiniest of slivers from the template and the sewn blocks bulged in some places and tucked in others. Once I started using rotary cutting techniques my seams neatly matched. To avoid inadvertently stretching bias on the diagonal of the triangle I started utilizing the tip of first drawing a diagonal line on the square.


Then I sew 1/4 inch on either side of the line.


When I cut the square on the line I have two half square triangles.


This technique works well in this project with different blocks, or different fabrics for a scrappy look. My eyes start to glaze over when it comes to a full-sized bed quilt and a triangle count in the hundreds.

Fox and Geese

The Fox and Geese pattern combines raw edge triangles and squares cut after sewing. To make this 12-inch block I used

  • 4 light squares cut at 3 1/2 inches
  • 5 light squares cut at 3 7/8 inches. Cut 2 of these in half on the diagonal.
  • 2 medium squares cut at 3 7/8 inches
  • 1 dark square cut at 3 7/8 inches
  • 1 dark square cut at 6 7/8 inches, then cut in half on the diagonal

Place the light 3 7/8  inch squares right sides together on the medium and dark squares. Draw the diagonal and sew 1/4 inch on both sides of the line. Cut in half on the diagonal and press toward the dark. The half square triangle should measure 3 1/2 inches

Sew the light 3 1/2" square to medium half square triangle making two units measuring 6 1/2".


Sew the light triangles to the legs of the dark half square triangle. The bias will face away from the square. Press toward the light. trim the dog ears after attaching the two triangles to the half square triangle.
Find the center of the large dark triangle by folding in half and marking. Match this point to the point where the light triangle points meet the square, pin, sew and press to the dark.


Arrange the four units as below and sew together. The unfinished block will measure 12 1/2 inches.



The print used four colors and set the block on point. I found the print confusing when drafting my pattern and based my design on the Fox and Geese pattern in 5,500 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone.