Straight or On-Point Setting?

Should your medallion quilt center block be set straight or on point? Before you start adding borders to your block, you need to decide this important design element. Here are some things to consider.

A straight setting is appropriate if your block is a non-directional square, any square that is directional “straight up,” or any rectangle. Here are 3 examples of blocks you can use with a straight setting.

Square, non-directional. Use either straight or on-point setting.

Square, directional “straight” up. Use straight setting.

Non-square and directional. Use straight setting

A square outline with a couple of borders looks like this. Pretty simple, huh?

Straight setting

An on-point setting will work if your block is a non-directional square, or a square that is directional on the diagonal. The feathered star above is a non-directional square. Here is another example of a block you can use with an on-point setting.

Square block, directional through the diagonal. Use on-point setting.

And here they are set on point:

Directional square, set on point.

Non-directional square, set on point.

And this shows the basic outline with one frame border.

On-point setting

If your block is a non-directional square, you can use either. Which is better? Only you can decide. The on-point setting focuses attention on the central block, lending it big impact. If you have a great block and want to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the surrounding borders, this may be your preference. If you want to enlarge your quilt quickly, the on-point setting does that, too. It does use setting triangles and a long bias edge, so it can be slightly more difficult to execute.

The easiest way to add setting triangles:
Have you ever made a block-format quilt with a diagonal setting? The math for setting triangles is the same as that for the setting corners on that block quilt.

For the exact size use:
(Finished block size x 1.414) + .875 = unfinished setting square. Cut 2 setting squares. Slice setting squares once diagonally. (Cut each square into 2 pieces.)

You have a block finishing at 12″. 12 x 1.414 = 16.97. 16.97 + .875 = 17.84″. Round to 17.875″. This is the size of the square you’ll cut.

For the safe size:
Use the formula above. Add at least a half inch. For the example above, I’d cut my setting squares to 18.5″ or 19″. After sewing the triangles on, trim to size.

To attach the setting triangles, pinch the center of the long side to make a crease. Pinch the edge of the block at the center. Match the creases and pin. Smooth the triangle across the edge, careful not to stretch it. Pin generously. Repeat for the opposite side. Sew. Press toward the triangles on both sides, and trim the dog ears. Repeat for the remaining sides. Trim, leaving at least a 1/4″ past the center block’s corner.

For more information and pictures on how to set a block on point, see this post.


5 thoughts on “Straight or On-Point Setting?

  1. Scott

    You’ve offered a wealth of information, more than I can comment on after only one reading. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      You’re welcome. Seriously, any time you have a question, feel free to ask. I can either answer outright or point you in the right direction. When I was a new quilter, I felt like I had to figure everything out by myself. While that was great in a way (I figured it out…) it sure made me struggle. Thanks for taking a look.


Thanks for your comments. I don't check them often. Please email me if you have questions.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.