Pinwheel Quilt Tutorial

Pinwheel, Whirligig, whatever you want to call it, this is my favorite quilt to make! What I like most about this particular pinwheel pattern is that I don’t have center points to worry about. It may have a little extra trimming, but that just makes it easier to square up.

SummerPinwheel2

Baby Wyatt’s Pinwheel Quilt


Quilt Dimensions: approximately 40.5″ x 60″

FABRIC NEEDS:
Fabric 1 – for pinwheels
1/4 yd.
  • Cut 2 strips @ 4.5″ x WOF (Width of Fabric). Then, cut into 16 squares @ 4.5″ x 4.5″.
Fabric 2 – for pinwheels
1/4 yd.
  • Cut 2 strips @ 4.5″ x WOF. Then, cut into 16 squares @ 4.5″ x 4.5″.
Fabric 3 – for pinwheels
1/4 yd.
  • Cut 2 strips @ 4.5″ x WOF. Then, cut into 16 squares @ 4.5″ x 4.5″.
Fabric 4 – for pinwheels, border and binding
1 1/2 yds. [NOTE regarding the polka-dot border: I did not want to piece my border because I knew I couldn’t match up the dots, so I bought 1 3/4 yds. and cut one long piece for each side. For the striped border below, I pieced it and only purchased 1 1/2 yds. It just depends on your preference and how picky you want to be.]
  • Cut 2 strips @ 4.5″ x WOF. Then, cut into 16 squares @ 4.5″ x 4.5″;
  • Cut 6 strips @ 4″ x WOF. Trim off selvages; and
  • Cut 5 strips @ 2.5″ x WOF. Trim off selvages.
Fabric 5 – for pinwheels and backing
 2 1/8 yds.
  • Cut backing first at 64″; then
  • Cut 2 strips @ 4.5″ x WOF. Then, cut into 16 squares @ 4.5″ x 4.5.
Fabric 6 (white)
 1 1/3 yds.
  • Cut 9 strips @ 4.5″ x WOF. Then, cut into 80 squares @ 4.5″ x 4.5; and
  • Cut 5 strips @ 1.5″ x WOF.

Making the Pinwheel Template: 
Cut a 4.5″ x 4.5″ square from a piece of paper or card stock. I like a sharper angle than some of the other patterns out there, so I measure and mark one-inch from the top left-hand corner and one-inch from the bottom right-hand corner. Draw a line connecting the two marks you just made.

Then, using a ruler and rotary cutter, cut along the line. This is your pinwheel template.

Using your ruler, draw a line one quarter-inch from the edge of the long, angled side and write TOP on your template. IMPORTANT: Always cut your fabric with the template TOP side up. 


Cutting Your Fabric:
To make 1 block, it takes 2 of the pinwheel squares and 2 of the background squares that you cut above. Cutting can be somewhat of a long process. I usually only cut one square at a time to keep them accurate. If you cut two squares at a time, both fabric squares MUST be RIGHT SIDE up. If not, you’ll cut pieces that are backwards. Do NOT cut right sides together.

Line your template along the bottom of a square as shown below. Line the quarter-inch marking on the ruler with the line you drew on your template. (By using the line as your guide and not the end of your template, you help ensure that you won’t whittle away your template during the cutting process. Thus, keeping the original template dimensions.)

Cut along the ruler’s edge and repeat with all of your pinwheel and background squares.

Sewing the Pinwheels:
This may be the trickiest step, but once you do it a few times, it’ll be easy. Remember you will be sewing a one quarter-inch seam. Look at how the pieces will fit together, below.
Off-set the ends one quarter-inch. From the cut end of the fabric to the ‘V’ made where the fabrics overlap should measure one quarter-inch. Measure it each time until you get used to what it looks like. After several, you’ll find that when you go to your machine to sew, your quarter-inch off-set will line right up with your needle.

Using a quarter-inch seam, sew each pinwheel piece to a white background piece. (Use a quarter-inch foot with a guide to help keep your seams even. It’s an amazing tool!)

Don’t cut your threads between sewing pieces together. Simply pull back and sew the next two pieces together creating a chain. It’s a real time saver.

After each pinwheel is sewn to a white background piece, press seams open. Then, I always layout a block to remind me how the pieces are going to be sewn together.
All pieces will be sewn together following the layout below. You’re just sewing half-blocks.
Fold the right piece over the left. With RIGHT sides together, line the upper right corners and right side and sew in place. They will not line up square. That’s okay, we’ll trim it later.

Repeat until all your pieces are sewn into half -blocks and press seams open.

Now, match up your half-blocks, RIGHT sides together, and lining up the center seam.

Pin in place at the center seam. It looks completely wrong, as nothing lines up, but it’s correct. Sew in place.
When all your half-blocks are sewn together. Press seams open. Using your ruler, line the 3.5″ marking straight down your center seam. Trim along the right edge. Turn your block and repeat, always lining the 3.5″ mark with the center seam. [If your block is too small, simply move your ruler another quarter-inch, to 3.25 and trim. You’ll just have a little smaller block.]

Your block is complete!

Sewing the Blocks Together:
Determine the layout of your quilt. I like planned randomness. I color code my fabrics with no same fabrics together. It all makes sense in my head and looks something like this:

Example layout

Following your layout, you’re going to sew 8 rows of 5 blocks, making sure to match center seams, just as you matched the centers of your pinwheels. When your rows are complete, press seams open.

Next, sew the rows together taking care to line up your seams. Pin at both the center seam of the block as well as at the side seams. Sew in place and press seams open.

Attach Sashing:

The sashing is the small white strip around the sewn blocks.

  1. Take three sashing strips and sew the the ends together following steps 4 through 8 of this tutorial. Then, cut in half so that you have two long strips. Sew one strip to each side of the quilt-top lengthwise. Press seams open and trim.
  2. Take the two remaining cut sashing strips and sew one along the top and the other along the bottom. Press seams open.
Border:
  1. If you are piecing your border, sew 5 border strips together as you did with the sashing, above. Cut in half so you have two long pieces. Sew one strip to each side of the quilt. Press seams open and trim as needed.
  2. Sew remaining strips to top and bottom. Press seams open and trim.
Quilt and bind as desired. I stumbled across this great Binding Tutorial on YouTube. It’s excellent if you need directions or a refresher.
Additional Pinwheel Quilt layouts:

Please feel free to leave any questions you may have in Comments. Happy sewing!

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7 thoughts on “Pinwheel Quilt Tutorial

  1. Very cute. I feel dumb even asking this, but to sew the bottom quilt where you aren't using the same fabric for the background fabric, do you just cut out all the pieces and then lay them all out before sewing? Or is there a quicker trick to getting the right fabrics where they should be? I am afraid that I know the answer- that it is the time consuming lay it all out and then sew it section by section, keeping them in the right order. I'm just hoping that there's an easier way! 🙂 To wishful thinking!

  2. Once you see how the background piece and the pinwheel piece go together you can basically just grab from your cut stacks, line them up and sew. It's like you're just making the same half over and over. You'll notice if they're wrong when you go to press. I've sewn them wrong many times, you just have to pay attention to which way they're facing.

  3. On your fabric needs list, I think you mean to say 5 strips of WHITE 1.5" x WOF. Right? 4 strips isn't enough, especially if you're sewing 3 together for the sides, and you're supposed to have 2 left over for the top and bottom. I realized this last night as I was sewing on my white strips, but luckily I had already bought more white fabric to make another quilt, so I could continue. Such a cute pattern! Thanks for sharing!

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