Do you want to make your own set of tangram-esque puzzle pieces? Great. Let’s get to work.
The process is pretty simple. You’ll be making a bunch of half-square triangles, sewing a backing and batting to it, turning it right side out, and slip-stitching the opening closed. Here’s the details:
- First, choose your fabrics. You don’t need much of each color. I used seven different colors, and only used about 1/6th of a yard each color, and about a third of a yard of the white.
Really, you can use whatever fabric you want, with as many different colors as you want, and make as many pieces as you want.
- Each color is paired with every other color once (7 colors, so the math is 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 26; I think this works with whatever number of colors you have: take the number of colors, minus one, then add all the numbers to that number and on down), and by cutting the pieces in half (you’ll see later) you get a total of 42 tile pieces.
If you want to end up with 42 finished squares like I did, you’ll need to cut six 4″ squares in each color, including the white (if you are using a different number of colors, the number of squares you’ll need to cut will be one less than the number of colors you have). For the backing, you’ll need forty-two 3 3/4″ squares in whatever combination of colors you want; I used 18 squares in white and 4 squares of every other color.
- Match up one of each color with one of every other color, red with orange, red with yellow, red with green, and so on. If you’re using fabric with a pattern, make sure to keep right sides together.
- Use a pencil or a disappearing fabric marker to draw a line from one corner to another.
- Sew from one corner of the square diagonally to the opposite corner, using the line you made as the guide for your presser foot.
- Turn the square around and sew down the opposite side of the line in the same manner. You will now have to parallel lines of stitching.
- Cut each square in half along the diagonal line you marked in step 4.
- Press the squares open with the seam pressed toward the darker fabric.
(I’m sure there are lots great tutorials about how to do half-square triangles. Calli from Make It Do just did a very nice little tutorial about how to do half-square triangles, and it looks very similar to the way I did it, so if you need another tutorial on how to do half-square triangles, check it out.)
- Cut out 42 3 3/4″ squares of batting (I cut out twice that because the batting I had was very thin, and I wanted it to have a little more heft.
- Lay each pieced square on top of a 3 3/4″ square, right sides together.
- Lay your matched pieces on top of one piece of batting.
- Sew all the way around your square (1/4″ seam allowance), leaving a 1 1/2″ opening for turning out.
- Clip off the corners (sorry, I didn’t show this step, but basically you want to trim to as close to the corner as possible without cutting through the stitching).
- Using a turning tool of some sort (I used hemostats, which I read about here), turn out each piece, making sure to push the corners nicely.
- Tuck in the open seam, and slip stitch the opening closed. I don’t really know how to describe the slip stitch, I stitched through both sides of the fabric as closely as possible so the thread doesn’t show, then I pulled the thread back through half an inch, made a knot, and “popped” the knot through the fabric to bury it inside (that’s how it was described to me when I was first learning to sew as a teenager, so please forgive my lack of eloquence). Perhaps the pictures will help the description.
Repeat 41 times, and you’re done. Now go enjoy your finished work.