Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Making a Pinwheel Block

The pinwheel is a very popular block, and it makes a playful, fun quilt. A pinwheel is simply an arrangement of half-square triangles (HSTs), so you begin this block by making four HSTs.

The block can be made in any size—in this case, I have begun with 5" squares, and my block will finish at 8 1/2" (8" when sewn into the quilt).

Choose two pairs of squares. One pair needs to be lighter than the other—contrast is key.

On the wrong side of the lighter squares, draw a diagonal line. This will be a cutting line, so you can use a pencil or ballpoint pen.

With right sides together, stack the light (marked) square on the darker one of the pair, and line up all edges.

Sew 1/4" on each side of the marked line.

Using your ruler and rotary cutter (or scissors) cut along the marked line.

You now have two HSTs from each pair of fabrics (4 total). Press these open—pressing the seam towards the darker side.


At this point, I squared my HSTs to 4 1/2".

Pinwheel blocks can either go clockwise

Look at the darker triangles to determine this. The leading edge of a pinwheel is flat; the trailing edge is slanted.

Or counterclockwise 

See the difference between this one and the preceding one?

when assembled. Usually the direction doesn’t matter, though the pattern looks better to me when they all go the same way in a quilt. (Note: some quilts are very specific about direction, so be sure to read the instructions carefully.) Lay out your HSTs to decide your preference as to direction.

Sew together in pairs, and press towards the dark fabric.

Sew your pairs together to create the block.

If your seam allowances are consistent, your four points should meet in the middle. Don’t be discouraged if they aren’t perfect to begin with—it takes practice.

Square your block—I squared mine to 8 1/2"—and you’re done!

Pinwheel block quilts are fun on their own,

If you look carefully at these blocks, you will see I didn't have them all turning the same direction--this was one of my earlier quilts! :) Also note the pink square (2nd from the bottom on the far left)--not enough contrast; watch out for this.

or, they may add interest to a pattern when combined with other blocks. This quilt is Patches and Pinwheels--A Bonnie Hunter pattern:

(Every other block is a pinwheel--you may have to look closely to see them. This is a pattern that has specific instructions about pinwheel direction.)

Either way, they are both fun to make and fun to use!

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