Pinwheels Aplenty- free quilt tutorial

Pinwheels Aplenty

At last! I bring to you a tutorial for charity quilt number two: Pinwheels Aplenty! I would like to start out by giving credit where credit is due. I did not make up the technique I used to make the pinwheels. I first saw it in the below youtube video from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. If you are not aware, they have a number of tutorials available on youtube that you can find just by searching for “Missouri Star Quilt Company”.

This quilt is quilted in an all-over meander with white thread and finishes about 36 inches x 42 inches. I can officially call my version a frugal quilt since I spent about $18 for the fat quarters and $1 for the backing. I had the rest of the supplies from previous projects. Ok, I guess I did buy a couple spools of thread. So I spent maybe $25 to make this.

Supplies required:

  • 6 Fat quarters – I used Kaffe Fasset fat quarters; unfortunately I don’t know what collection.
  • 8 2.5 inch white strips for sashing; I used Moda Basics jelly rolls but you could just cut your own
  • 168 inches of 2.25 inch binding, on the straight of grain or bias and folded in half (I prefer bias binding)
  • 40 x 46 inch piece of batting
  • 40 x 46 inch backing fabric
  • A square up ruler that is large enough for a 6.5 inch block
  • The usual quilting supplies: rotary cutter, mat, ruler, sewing machine, coordinating thread, etc.

Step 1) Cut 40 6 inch x 6 inch squares from your fat quarters. Also cut 30 2.5 inch x 2.5 inch squares from the fat quarters. Obviously 40 does not divide into 6 fat quarters evenly, so I made sure to cut the most pieces from my favorite quarters.

Step 2) Following the video tutorial, take 2 6×6 inch squares of two different fabrics and place them right sides together. Then sew a 1/4 inch seam all the way around the edge of the square. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, cut across the square in an “X” (two cuts, corner to corner…be careful not to shift the square during the second cut.) This produces 4 triangles. Open the triangles and gently press them towards the darker fabric creating a square. There are now exposed bias edges so you need to be careful not to distort the fabric. Trim the dog ears off of each square and arrange them into a pinwheel. Sew two squares together, then the other set. Press one pair towards the left and the other towards the right. Then when you sew the two sets together to form the entire pinwheel the seams should nestle together. If not then you might have pressed one of them the wrong way; just press in the opposite direction. The last seam can be pressed whichever direction you think creates the least amount of bulk.

Step 3) It is trimming time! Here is the ruler I used to trim mine:

Quilt in a day square up ruler

You can find one at Quilt in A Day’s site. There are many sizes to choose from but mine is 9.5 inches. There are also many brands of square up rulers; consult the instructions for yours if it is different.

To trim your block: Lay the ruler over the block. The writing “Quilt in a Day” should be visible and readable (not upside down!) Line the diagonal line up with the diagonal of the block. Like so:

squaring up your pinwheel

Then look for the 6.5 inch lines on the left and bottom of the ruler. Keeping the diagonal lined up, line the left and bottom edges up with the 6.5 inch line. Cut on the right side of the ruler. (note – these instructions assume you are a righty.) In my picture below you can see that my lines don’t match up totally along the left of the block. If you can’t get it to line up because the edge isn’t straight then err on the conservative side as I did in the pic. Don’t sweat it; we’ll fix it as we move around the block.

Squaring up your pinwheel

Pick up your ruler and rotate your block to the right so that the freshly cut side is closest to you. Place your ruler back on the block, line up the diagonal, line up the left and right edges with the 6.5 inch lines, then cut the right edge with your rotary cutter. Continue this way on the remaining two sides. Good work! A nice square 6.5 inch block.

The squared pinwheel

Step 4) Take one of your white sashing strips and lay it flat. Pin your blocks to one edge of the strip with the right side of the pinwheel facing down. Leave a small margin between each block. It doesn’t have to be exact but about a 1/4 inch is enough. I have 5 blocks pinned to the strip in the picture below. (Sorry, the picture washed out a bit so it is a little hard to see the strip. Especially since the strip is on the bottom. Ya, good planning there, Kel!) Pin all 20 blocks to strips in this manner.

speed piecing the sashing

Step 5) Sew a continuous seam on a strip, attaching all of the blocks to the strip. Do this with all of the blocks.

Step 6) Cut the strips at the margins between the blocks. Trim back any excess strip to be in line with the top and bottom of the block. Press the seam towards the sashing. This is the left side of the sashing.

Sashing on the left of the block

Step 7) Cut your remaining white strips into 6.5 inch x 2.5 inch rectangles. Sew a 2.5 x 2.5 inch square to the end of 20 of the rectangles. Press towards the white strip.

Sashing with cornerstone applied

Step 8) Now we’ll make the bottom side of the sashing for each block. Take a block from step 6 and lay it face up with the sashing that is already applied to the left. Now lay a unit from step 7 on it face down and pin as shown. Sew the two pieces together along the bottom. Repeat for the remaining blocks.

Putting on the bottom sashing

Step 9)  Arrange your blocks into five rows of four blocks each.  Sew each row together, alternating the direction of your press for each row.  (So, for row one press the seams to the left; row two press to the right, etc.)  Sew your five rows together.

Step 10) Almost done!  Now sew four 2.5 inch blocks and rectangles together and then sew those together to form the top row of the quilt.  Press towards the rectangles and sew it to the top, matching up the seams.  Then sew another row of 2.5 inch blocks and rectangles to form the right edge of the quilt top.  Attach the right edge and press towards the sashing.  Congratulations!  Your top is complete!

Step 11) Press & starch your backing, then lay it on a flat surface with the right side down.  Smooth your batting over that, then lay your top over the batting.  Center the top (doesn’t have to be exact, a good eye-balling will do) over the batting and smooth out the wrinkles.  Working from the center out, pin baste your quilt sandwich.  I pinned in the center of each pinwheel and also in the center of each of the 2 x 2 inch cornerstones.

Step 12) Quilt as desired, removing pins from the area to be quilted as you go.  I quilted mine in an all-over meander.  However there are lots of options that would be cute here…be creative!  A good place to find machine quilting ideas is Leah Day’s site, the Free Motion Quilting Project.

Step 13) Apply your binding.  I don’t have a tutorial for doing that but there are tons of them out there.

Label your quilt (if desired) and you are done!

Disclaimer: at the time of this posting, I have received no compensation of any sort from the brands, shops, and/or blogs mentioned.  They are referenced in this tutorial because they are the materials and inspirations that I used while making this quilt and I think they are worth checking out.  Enjoy!

This entry was posted in Challenge, Charity quilts, Tutorial and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pinwheels Aplenty- free quilt tutorial

  1. Kim says:

    Wonderful. And a great little tut as well.

Comments are closed.