Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pinwheel Quilt Blocks

Sewing quilting blocks on the bias (diagonally across a piece of fabric) can be REALLY frustrating. Let me fill you in on why...

The nature of a bias seam on woven material, such as quilter's cotton, is way more elastic than when you are sewing with the direction of the weave. That bias can be a great thing when you are easing a curve in a wearable garment, but when you want exact quilt blocks with straight seams...well, that takes some finesse.

For the quilt I am making, I wanted to add some blocks with angles. After experimenting with a few slightly complex designs, and getting mixed results, this newbie opted for to go simple. Discovering that I needed to master my skill level with the bias and go on from there.

After doing some digging around in books and online, I decided that my solution was a pinwheel block. It's cute, colorful, and great for beginners.

Some of my finished 8"x8" pinwheels.

This is how I did it:

For an 8" block, cut two 4-7/8" squares of 2 different fabrics.

Take one of each of those squares and place them right sides together with the light fabric on top:


Using a water-soluble marker and a ruler, mark the diagonal from point to point. Place pins on either side to hold in place:


At your sewing machine, using a straight stitch and a presser foot with a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch on each side of your drawn line. (Note the placement of pins.):


At you cutting mat, slice through both layers on your drawn line:


With a hot iron, press open with the seam allowance toward the darker fabric side:


Back at your cutting table, make sure that your block is square and nip off the two little "dog ears" of seam allowance sticking out:


Do this same process until you have four 2-color blocks. Lay them out in the pinwheel pattern that you prefer:


Take the block in the upper right hand corner and turn it over top of the block on its right. At the sewing machine, using 1/4" seam allowance, stitch the seam indicated in photo below:


At the ironing board, press the seam allowance toward the darker fabric. Bring the block back and put in it's spot in your design:


 Repeat the same process for the bottom two blocks. Then you will have 2 strips:


Flip the top strip down over the bottom strip and sew a 1/4" seam indicated on the photo below:


Press open with a hot iron....viola...a pinwheel block!


The success of a block such as this means the center points of the pinwheel all come together. If you are of a little bit off on the points, it could be your cutting, seam allowance, or maybe your fabric is slipping around a little bit when you sew. Don't be afraid to rip a few seams out, press and resew. No one is looking! :)

Good luck!

–Cassandra

P.S. -For more quilty fun, check out my log cabin block tutorial and staggered strips block tutorial.




17 comments:

  1. I love pinwheels! I'm so excited to see your finished quilt!
    Angela

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    1. @Angela: Thanks! I am plugging away at my project in between all the yard work projects on my plate these days. Hopefully I will have a finished quilt soon! :)

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  2. I am going to try this today. Thanks so much, Jean

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    1. @Bayside Gal: You're welcome! So glad you stopped by!

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  3. Thanks for this great beginners look at this quilting block, it looks so easy I am going to have a try,the thougth of sewing triangles together is scary- this method is awesome :)

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    1. @Melody: So glad you like this tutorial. This is a great project for a beginner. Jump in the pool with both feet!

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  4. I'm a beginner and that tutorial will help a lot. Thanks for sharing it so clearly :).

    A hug from Lisbon-Portugal

    Ana Lopes
    http://www.lovecraft2012.blogspot.com

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    1. Welcome Ana! So glad you like it! Keep checking back for more beginner tutorials.

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  5. I found this easier, sew completely around your two squares then cut diaginally from corner to corner being careful that one side doesn't slip as you cut the other diagional corner and you should automatically have a pinwheel when you open up both and lay then out in order of preference. I wish I could give credit to the person that had a video on this but I cannot remember where I picked this up from? Sorry!!

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    1. That sounds like a great technique! I'm going to have to give that one a spin (pun intended)!

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    2. If it is done sewing all the way around, all the edges will be on the bias and this could be a bit challenging making sure your block doesn't stretch out of shape.
      If you are a beginner, I highly recommend C & A's way.Later you can branch out to other ways, but drawing the line, sewing on either side, cutting is less headaches IMOP.

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    3. I am all about the easiest way to make something happen!

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  6. I am a beginner as well and I am trying to gain more confidence in my quilting. This is a great beginners piece. Thank you for explaining it in detail to make it so easy.

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    1. I am rooting for you! Send us pictures of finished objects!

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  7. Thank you! I have made pinwheels before using triangles. They always look horrible. This makes it so much simpler and easier. YAY! Now I can get to those projects I have put off.

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    1. It is totally easier than triangles. I tried that method too and it didn't work so well for me either! Glad to be of help!

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  8. Ive been sewing for 6 months. and all im makeing is quilts,,,so all your patterns are very handy for me..I make the pinwheel and my quilt came out assome thanks

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