Saturday, April 29, 2023

Cutting 45 degree diamonds and parallelograms

How do you feel about diamonds and parallelograms?  

Most of us have used squares, rectangles and triangles in our quilts, but other shapes seem to show up less frequently.  Because they aren't used as often, we're less familiar with them and they can be intimidating.  

Parallelograms with 45 degree points

All you need to cut these shapes is a rotary cutter and a ruler with angle markings.  Most rulers have a 45 degree marking.  Some also have 60 degree markings.  For this tutorial, I'm using the 45 degree markings to cut shapes with 45 angles, but the method would be the same to cut 60 degree shapes.

Tools and materials

Start with a fabric strip or a strip set.  Your pattern should specify what width to use.  

To make the first cut, line up the 45 degree marking from the ruler with one edge of the strip then cut across the strip along the edge of the ruler.

Cut the strip at an angle along the ruler

To avoid cutting towards me I rotate the strip 180 degrees for the next cut.  

To cut a diamond, measure from the cut edge, using the width of the strip as the measurement.  Line up the measurement marking along the full cut edge.

I like to also line up the 45 degree marking with one side of the strip to make sure the angle is still accurate. This is especially important when cutting additional diamonds, as small shifts of the ruler or a slight curvature in the strip, can add up to alter the angle over several cuts.  If I can't place the width measurement along the cut edge and the angle marking along the side of the strip at the same time, the angle is off.  If that's the case, I need to trim the end to the correct angle again before cutting the shape.

Repeat the previous step as needed to cut as many diamonds as you need.

In the case of diamonds, it doesn't matter which direction the 45 degree cut lies, leaning left or right, because the diamond has four-fold symmetry.  You can just rotate the cut shape 135 degrees to orient it as needed (unless you're using a directional print and care about the print direction, in which case you'll need to keep reading and pay attention to cut direction).

If you're cutting a parallelogram with two longer sides, simple rotation won't work. You can't just rotate a left-leaning parallelogram to make a mirror image leaning right instead.

You'll need to pay attention to which way your parallelogram needs to lean before you start cutting.

The pictures below show how to cut parallelograms that lean to the right as well as those that lean to the left.

Setting the cut direction to lean left

Setting the cut direction to lean right

As for the diamonds, rotate the strip 180 degrees after making the first cut shown above.

Your pattern should specify the measurement to use for the second cut.  As when cutting a diamond, measure from the cut end, lining the measurement line up with the full cut edge.

Cutting a left-leaning parallelogram

Cutting a right-leaning parallelogram

Top: left-leaning
Bottom:  right-leaning

That's it for cutting.  Next up, click here for a tutorial on how to line up these units when piecing them side by side.  I shared a little bit about that in this post, but the tutorial is more comprehensive.

You can cut these shapes from strip sets as well.  My patterns Echo Point, Leading Edge and Rush all use 45 degree shapes cut from strip sets to reduce the number of angled shapes to cut and sew individually.

Happy quilting,


  1. Great tutorial & although I've been quilting a "long time", it's nice to see people still helping with these tutorials for newcomers & some oldies as a refresher. Thank you, take care & hugs.

  2. I just saw this post - wow! what a lot of very helpful info! I'm hoping to make a quilt with long, narrow triangles, and I think some of this info will help me out. Thanks!


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