QM Shorts: No-Mark Stitch & Flip

Today’s QM Short comes courtesy of Donna Amos, a member of the 2011 QM Scrap Squad. It’s a great tip and a real time saver! Donna lives in Decatur, Arkansas and blogged about her Scrap Squad experience.

Recently I had a large stack of rectangles (over 100) that called for using stitch-and-flip. I dislike marking all those squares and thought there had to be a faster way than drawing a line on each one. Here is what I came up with. (This will work with half-square triangles also.)

short1 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipHere’s the rectangle with a square to be added. Cut a narrow strip of paper, lightweight cardboard (cereal box weight or file folder) or lightweight sandpaper like you see on the right above. I used cardboard.

short2 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipPlace the square on top of the rectangle, right sides together.

short3 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipLay the cardboard strip across the square, corner to corner.  Cardboard should be a little longer than the distance from corner to corner.

short4 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipSew along the straight edge of the cardboard, holding the cardboard in place while sewing. Chain as many as you wish.

short5 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipYou’ll get a perfect diagonal seam.

short6 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipTrim the seam allowance to ¼”.

short7 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipSet the seam by pressing over the stitching and then flip the smaller patch open and press.

short8 QM Shorts: No Mark Stitch & FlipA perfect diagonal line without marking each square!

Many thanks to Donna Amos for sharing her photos and text with Quilty Pleasures. We really appreciate the great job she did.


About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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107 Responses to QM Shorts: No-Mark Stitch & Flip

  1. Pingback: Workshop Wednesday: Stitch & Flip Tips | McCall's Quilting Blog

  2. Debbie says:

    Works great! Thanks for an awesome tip. I previously marked with a Hera marker but this is a real timesaver.

  3. I cannot thank you enough for the article.Really looking forward to reading more. Want more.

  4. Mae says:

    A novel idea but I hate wasting material. Sewing the waste triangles together would make a smaller square but I like the flannel idea. I wonder if a piece of 1/2″ felt cut to the right size and clearly marked to line up with the diagonals would work

  5. marg says:

    I use masking tape, you can use it many times over

  6. Natalie says:

    For a more accurate or different way to do it, Lori Holt just put out a big flower shaped plastic template with a lot of lines on it. You center it and place it on the bed of your sewing machine (has adhesive to it) and you put the corner in front of the needle and let the other corner follow the center line headed straight to the needle. There are also lines 1/4 ” away on each side for it you were making two hst’s out of the squares, doing on each side of the line you would line up the corner with the line to the right.
    I don’t have this one, but it sounds great. I also was looking at a plexiglass table and it has these same type of markings on them you could follow as well.

  7. Louise says:

    Bonnie Hunter makes a template to get 1/2 squares in sizes that are usable. Turn your piece and put the template on the corner of the bonus triangle and stitch along the edge of that.

  8. georgia says:

    If you are going to sew the “scrap” to couldn’t you have a piece of paper or card 1/2 wide and sew down the other side then trim between the 2? These second blocks always need a final trim to size so it seems like this would work.

    • Peggy says:

      Just turn your work around and use the strip the same way. No need for the 1/2 inch strip!

      • Judy says:

        Peggy, I’m not quite understanding. Please explain how that sewing down center of a Square (when u have two squares right sides facing each other) is going to make to hst?? The reason for the marking in the middle is to sew on each side of the center marking, correct? Doing the Rectangular/Square that u were making would work for that method, BUT, how would the hst work from two Squares if u sew down the middle and cut the middle? Georgia was more likely correct when she said to make 1/2″ cardboard pattern and sew on each side of it……

        • Meredith Hill says:

          You draw a diagonal line down the middle of the two squares and then sew 1/4 ” down both sides of this line. When you cut on the diagonal line now, you will end up with two HSTs. It really works.. Just try it

    • Gail Barabasz says:

      I agree, that this method that you described with the 1/2 in strip would work.

  9. Alice B says:

    Emory cloth is like sandpaper, but the grit is applied to cloth instead of paper. You can find it at the hardware store.

  10. sally says:

    the post cards you get from all the political candidates, churches, etc. Our church makes postcards to promote different events. There are usually some left over and I use these for my paper piecing – it is heavy enough and smooth – no that I think of it, they may slide for this, but am def going to try.

  11. Linda King says:

    It’s a great idea, but I too like to mark because the piece you cut off can be a leader & the next cut off piece can be an ender so those 2 pcs together & you got a hst, as they say waste not want not. While your makeing a quilt your already starting another with this method.

    • Amanda says:

      I think this would work amazing with a 1/2″ strip of paper. You would just line up the paper with the line you sew and then cut down the middle and still no marking.

  12. Marijke Kleefman-Sandee says:

    thanks for the tip.No need for a pencil any more

  13. doreen says:

    Shucks! Did not work for me! Not sure what I’m doing wrong.

  14. Barbara says:

    I like this idea. When stitching on the bias, I find it’s more accurate to press before trimming the 1/4″ seam allowance. I do this when sewing binding strips together too. I’ll try this method with the simple sewing guide on my next HSTs. Thank you!

  15. Kathy Howard says:

    I’ll have to try that. I would think it would be good for keeping seams straight on crazy quilt blocks, also.

  16. eve elliott says:

    You coul also use an emery board… I do like the idea of using the basting spray so you don’t have to hold on to it! Thank you for all the tips!

  17. Margaret says:

    I use washi tape- one strip usually lasts for about 25 blocks or so and it stays put while I sew.

  18. Catherine says:

    If you place your needle at the tip down in the fabric and butt the guide next to the foot it will work.

  19. Maureen says:

    great idea especially for the lozenge challenge wonderful thank you

  20. Dee Shultz says:

    I, just last night, finished stitching and flipping 628 rectangles………where were you about 3 weeks ago when I started this???????????? LOL Great idea..I’ll remember it for next time.

  21. Yvonne says:

    Brilliant idea! Thank you for sharing. I have an idea that will work with yours so well! If you have a ‘stitch in the ditch foot’ it would make the job easier still. The card would but up against the divider in the foot! Tried it, love it! Thank you!!!

  22. Jan Przybylski says:

    Thanks for the great idea. I’m making chevrons and this will surely help.

  23. judy brill says:

    What is emory cloth & where do you get it?


  24. Margaret Dukes says:

    Those dividers that come in Lipton Tea Bags should work great! They are cardboard and long enough…

    • sheila says:

      The tea bags dividers DID work great , for this and to put under the fold for paper piecing also, Unfortunatly Lipton now use a silly little inner box to seperate the bags , Not happy about the change:-(

    • MONICA says:

      great idea, I am making ‘flying Geese ‘ for the first time, so this will make things accurate and quicker, thanks for your tea box tip, always thought it was such a waste for those strips of cardboard.

  25. Jackie says:

    I was commenting on how neat this was and asked my Darling Husband if I could have some sand paper. (He has many different grit sizes.) DH gave me some emory cloth. It is in strips of 1 inch by 10 inches and is more flexible than sandpaper. It also doesn’t crack and leave little pieces of grit like sandpaper. I have 250 setting blocks to make all stitch and flip. I am much more inclined to dive in with these aids.

    Thank you so much!

  26. Judith Larman says:

    Thanks so much for the tips. I will be trying both as I have had this same problem in the past.

  27. Pingback: Confessions of a Stitch & Flip Flunkie | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  28. char says:

    I’m going to employ your clever method, but I’m going to use 1 inch Post It Tape. It comes in a tape dispenser. Or maybe just use larger sized Post it Notes

  29. June says:

    Great idea – thanks for the photos to clarify and make it stick in my head!

    : )

  30. Althea says:

    Wow! Thank you so much. Found you from someone I was following on Pinterest.

  31. Pingback: De-Stashing: March 2013 | Life takes a turn

  32. Sharon says:

    Thanks for this tip, I’m definitely going to try this. I hate the schlep of marking all my squares. Thanks again from Sunny South Africa.

  33. Deb Peterson says:

    Thanks! I’m going to try this!

  34. GwenH says:

    Thanks for the great tip, I have quite a few 1/2 sq. triangles to work on this week, so I will for sure give it a try!

  35. Del Soden says:

    I like this idea. I would use it if I was planning to discard the cut off piece.
    But I usually use a half inch ruler to mark that diagonal line across the squares. I position one side along the center And I draw down both sides of it. It takes a bit longer to chain piece one side, then flip around and go back along the other outer line, but when you cut them apart, the little cut off pieces are already assembled HST ready for another project.

    • Kathy Howard says:

      I haven’t tried the strip, but if it were 1/2 inch it might work for the double stitching or maybe 1/2 inch masking tape would work? I normally do the two lines of stitching, too.

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  38. sandra collins says:

    thanks that a really good tip will be uswing it from now on

  39. Evelyn says:

    Good idea and I bought the Rowenta iron in the pic as well.

  40. Shawn StGermaine says:

    I really dislike marking lines to sew, as it takes to long and Iam very impatient when sewing dont move right along, so I will try this out…looks like a Great Idea!

  41. If you spray the card with a little basting spray, then you won’t even have to hold on to it. :)

  42. Nancy L says:

    What a great idea. I definitely have to try this.

  43. marjorie says:

    I have been doing this for years, but by using a post-it note. I have even used a insert card from a magazine. Easy peasy.

  44. Lucia Brown says:

    Recently I was tempted to buy a quick quarter ruler for making half square triangles. I didn’t buy it and so glad I didn’t. I knew there had to be a better way than to do all of that excessive marking which is way too time consuming. Thank you so much for this wonderful time-saving idea. It’s just what I was looking for.

  45. Carol Gautier says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Brilliant idea!

  46. eileen says:

    THANK YOU this is possibly the most useful advice ever for me. i hate marking lines and i procrastinate which delays the project!

  47. Pingback: Jacob's Ladder and no-mark HSTs | Stoneview

  48. Pingback: Still more quilting | Stoneview

  49. Sheila says:

    Just wondering…. don’t you need to be a quarter inch away from the template? Looks like to me you would be sewing on your cutting line?? Thanks!

    • Linda Bee says:

      I was wondering the same thing myself.

    • Alice B says:

      Sheila, stitching right next to the template works because she’s doing the stitch and flip method, so she needs to sew directly corner to corner. If you were making half-square triangles, and making two sets from two squares, you’d want to stitch 1/4″ from the template, as you say. I’d do that by using a Post-it note instead of cardboard, putting it on the other side of the needle, and using my 1/4″ foot.

  50. Tahni says:

    In making my American Hero Quilt, there are 448 places where I can use this application. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for sharing your tip. I also sew a second pass when the scrap corner is large enough for another HST (half square triangle). A little extra sewing and pressing along the way and another quilt is in process at the same time. So many of the above comments could be repeated here as well; thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  51. joyce turner says:

    I always appreciate tips to make things easier,and faster.

  52. This is genius! I HATE drawing that diagonal line.

  53. Pam Richards says:

    What a cleaver idea. I will use it. Love our quilting buddies who don’t mind sharing a useful tip.

  54. Krista says:

    This is fabulous!! Thank you!

  55. Cynthia Lyons says:

    OMG!!! I love it! I recently put a pattern back because it called for 120 squares to be marked and I just could not bring myself to do it. I will have to go back and pick it back up now. :-) Thank you!!!!

  56. Pingback: Quilty-y tip for stitch and flip technique · Quilting | CraftGossip.com

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  58. Christi Mackenzie says:

    Never would have thought of this but when I first started to read I thought you were going to say “Use the Half square sewing guide that you afix to your machine” I think this would work as well. Such simple things that have to be pointed out to use because the forest is to big, or is it to many trees? (too caught up in the big picture)

  59. Janet Evans says:

    Wonderful idea. I will try it. You just have to love other quilters for sharing great ideas.

  60. linda says:

    What a great idea. Thank you

  61. Rachael Finley says:

    My boss at our quilt shop in Wray, CO constantly reminds me to simplify. I can’t help myself. But this kind of simple I can appreciate. Thanks.

  62. 4dreamsr says:

    I use this same method, but instead of paper or plastic, I use a straight cut of extra fabric (preferably flannel). The extra cut of fabric laid across what you’re sewing ‘sticks’ to your layer & allows you to sew a straight line. Just like with the paper, be careful to sew on edge & not into it.

  63. ANN CAVANAUGH says:

    Thanks for the tip. This will save a lot of time on my current project!

  64. Shelia says:

    Ohhhhhhhh you are sooooo smart. Must be experience. I love to get tips like this. I have several of my own if you would like for me to share.

  65. shirley woods says:

    Thanks to Donna and Cheri as well.

  66. Mary Chevalier says:

    Thanks for the tip i am going to give it a try the next HST i have to make ,could have used it yesterday when i made a 21in sq it had lots of hst in it .

  67. Maria Nogueira says:

    Obrigada pela dica

  68. Donna Kay says:

    Thanks for the tip! I really get tired of marking all the squares. Quilter’s are the most wonderful people to share their tips and ideas!

  69. Joyce says:

    Great idea ! can’t wait to try it. I think it would work well for flying geese .

  70. Cheri' says:

    That’s way to easy. Thanks you just saved a tree, lol. (No more pencil needed)

  71. Mary Manum says:

    I fold my squares diagonally, wrong sides together and iron them rather than marking them with a pencil. I then sew in the crease. The card might be a little quicker!

  72. Robin R says:

    So simple! It’s amazing no one thought of it before now. Very smart. Thanks for sharing.

  73. Kathy Biciocchi says:

    Thank you soooooo much for this tip. I love timesavers!

  74. Sandy says:

    Super idea. I’m eager to try it out.

  75. I never thought of this on my own !! Thanx so much for sharing your idea !!

  76. Pat says:

    I’ve been quilting for how many years now and never THOUGHT of this !!! Shame on you, Patricia, and THANK YOU for showing me how !!!

  77. Joan M. Horton says:

    Don’t you just love it when someone can’t stand to fuss with a method and comes up with a neat way to do it easier. This is going in my tips and technique file.

  78. Joyce says:

    You are one smart lady! Thanks sew much for the tip! Will be trying it out for sure!

  79. Debbie says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  80. Cheri says:

    I’ve been using a 3×5 card for this for a long time (if you accidentally run your needle into the card, just flip it over or toss it, whereas template plastic might ruin your needle). I use the same technique when quilting diagonal lines, so I don’t have to mark my quilt top. Just start your needle in at the one corner, lie the card down so the right edge of it touches the left side of the needle and pivot the card so it hits the opposing corner and stitch away. If the segment is longer, just tape two cards together, end to end. You can keep going by repositioning the card. Fast and easy.

  81. Rosanne Rawe says:

    Wish I had thought of that…..

  82. That is absolutely BRILLIANT !!!! I wish I knew this when I was working on my Bonnie Hunter Orca Bay Scrappy mystery. Had to make tons and tons of HSTs and QSTs.

    Thank you so much !!!!!!!

  83. Kitty says:

    Just in time for my 20 snowballs! Thank you for sharing.

  84. Dottie Harrington says:

    How “cool”! What a clever idea!

  85. Great tip, thanks for sharing!

  86. Anne Robinson says:

    Thanks for the tip. I wish I had it for a sample that I just completed that was almost all triangles. Will definately use it next time. Thanks again.

  87. Lynette says:

    No!!! Oh. My. Gosh. How perfectly simple!!! And something I would never have thought of myself in a million years. ::sigh:: Thanks for sharing!

  88. Joanna says:

    So smart. Thank you.

  89. Kristy qp says:

    What a great tip! Definitely going to try this. Thank you!

  90. Claudia says:

    My kinda girl!

  91. Janet B says:

    Neat tip! I’ve got a piece of template plastic already cut that will work just fine.

  92. That’s clever! I do something similar, but I put tape on my machine bed and use that to line up points. It works with HSTs and these types of piecings.

  93. wordygirl says:

    Brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing. Your timing is perfect.

  94. Jeanne says:

    Thanks for the tip! I’m going to try this.

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