Easier Pinwheels!

I learned a cool new quilting trick recently.  I think you’ll like it.

If you’ve ever made a quilt with pinwheels, you know that they’re not really that hard – but they can get quite monotonous!

Here’s the standard way to make a pinwheel block:

Take 2 squares of fabric (one light, one dark) and place them right sides together.

Draw a diagonal line on one of the sides.

Sew a 1/4″ on each side of the center diagonal line and then cut on the line.

Voila!  You now have 2 squares made up of 2 contrasting triangles.

Here you can see that I’ve done the above directions twice to end up with the 4 blocks needed to make a pinwheel.

You sew 2 sets of 2 of those squares and attach them together to make a pinwheel.

Not so bad, right?  But rest assured, you do that 180 times and you’ll want to smack yourself for deciding on that particular quilt design!  My quilt that I’m doing now has pinwheels along with the star blocks.  I can’t remember what I was looking up one day but I came across this video from the Missouri Star Company on an easier way to do pinwheels.

Well, it sure got my attention as I have a lot of pinwheels ahead of me and I thought I’d share the “Aha!” moment with you in pictures in case you’re not in the mood for a video.

Here is the easier way to make pinwheels:

If you have a quilt pattern that directs you to make pinwheels the standard way, you’ll have to start with a little math.  You need to measure the length of the center diagonal line.  (For example, my quilt pattern calls for you to cut 2-3/8″ squares for the standard way to make pinwheels.  When I measure down the diagonal, it measures out to 3-3/8″.)

Measure the length of the diagonal line.

Cut squares out of your 2 contrasting fabrics with sides that equal the measurement of that center diagonal line.  (I cut squares that are 3-3/8″.)  Place them together with the right sides together.

Here are my new larger squares of contrasting fabric. Put right sides together.

Here’s where this gets awesome – sew 1/4″ in all around the edge of of the square.

Cut sewed square diagonally twice to make 4 triangles.

Press triangles open to make FOUR 2″ blocks.  (That’s what makes this faster.  You’re making 4 blocks at a time instead of just 2.  Less sewing – less pressing – less time involved!)

Sew 2 blocks together thusly with a 1/4″ seam allowance:

Do this twice to create 2 block segments.

Flip around one of your block segments and sew together with the 1/4″ allowance to make a pinwheel block.

And there you are!

What to do with these pinwheels???

Here’s an easy block you can make with two pinwheels and two 3.5″ squares of contrasting fabric:

Pinwheel Quilt Block
Attach each pinwheel to a square of fabric.
Pinwheel Quilt Block
Attach the two rows together with a pinwheel in the upper right and a pinwheel in the lower left.


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