Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Pinwheel Tutorial

Pinwheels are not the easiest block if you are still new to patchwork.  To ensure they come out with the points lined up in the middle you must do 3 things.

1.  Cut the squares accurately
2. When placing pieces together line them up accurately
3. Sew accurately, all the seams are 1/4".  I have a special foot on my machine that is for 1/4' seams.  If you don't have this foot, it may be worth putting a piece of tape on your sewing plate to mark the 1/4"

I hope you understand my instructions, if you have any problems contact me, alternatively  there are lots of tutorials on youtube.  There are other ways to make pinwheels, but this is the way I make them.

When the block is complete it will measure 4 1/2".  When joined to other blocks in the quilt it will be 4" (1/4" seem either side).  I cut out four  3" squares in two different fabrics.  I will call them light and dark.

Place the light fabric on top of the dark fabric and line them up accurately RIGHT sides facing each other.

Pin them as above and draw a line from one corner to the other.  This line will be cut so it doesn't matter if you use a pencil of biro.

Sew 1/4" either side of the line. NOT on the line.

Now cut along the line.  I use a rotary cutter, but a scissors will be fine.

You end up with four pieces, each made up of the two colours

Open them out and PRESS (rather than move the iron around).  In patchwork the seams are both pressed together.  Not an open seam as in dressmaking.  Press the seam to the DARK side EVERY time.  This is important.  You are left with little triangle sticking out the side, I snip these off.  See below

Once you have pressed all four pieces, lay them out in the sequence below.  Every subsequent block you make for the quilt will be in this pattern.

Starting with the top pair fold the RIGHT square over the left square right sides facing.  The seams will be facing in opposite directions which means you can 'butt' them together.  See below.  You are going to sew along the right hand side of the square so line them up accurately along that edge and pin.

Now do the same for the bottom pair.  RIGHT over left, butt the seams and pin. Make sure you keep the top pair and bottom pair in the right order.  They will look like the photo below.

With the top pair and bottom pair in the correct order place them on your sewing machine.  You are now going to 'chain piece' them.  Chain piecing is often used in patchwork so you don't have to keep stopping and cutting the thread when you are making lots of pieces.  The chain piecing in this block is to make constructing the pinwheel easier.  Keep the pieces as close together as possible.  When you get to the end of the first piece, keep your foot on the peddle and push the bottom piece through without stopping.

The two pieces will be connected by a piece of thread.  Place the two pieces side by side with the seam at the top, as in the photo above.

Now open them up and fold the RIGHT side over the left, right sides facing.

 With the seams facing away from each other, butt them together as you did previously.  Line up the edges accurately.  It is made a little easier as they are still attached to each other by the 'chain piecing' thread.

Sew along the the edge to make a 1/4" seam.

When you open it up the points should all meet in the middle.

Snip the 'chain piece' thread so you can open up the seam.  I said previously that in patchwork the seams are usually pressed together.  However, there are a lot of seams meeting in a pinwheel block so I will be pressing the seam in the middle open so it is not so bulky.

When I have made all of the blocks I will show you how to put them all together.

If you don't have a sewing machine, you can hand sew.  The instructions will be the same apart from the chain piecing.

Chickpea xx


  1. Thank you so much for the tutorial. Eager to get some nursery material now and make something small for the arrival of our first Great Grandchild.Perhaps a quilt for the Crib. Will look in again for further instructions. Enjoy your blog very much.

  2. Thank you Kathy. Congrats on the new great grandchild :)

  3. Chickpea, thank you so much! Your instructions seem crystal clear and I can't wait to have a go. I am treating myself to a machine for my birthday next month (65th arrgghh!)and have already bought some fabric scraps to try out new techniques on. Thanks again for the tutorial, it's much appreciated x

  4. Let me know how you get on Pensive Pensioner :)

  5. Oh goodie thanks, I have bookmarked the page for easy access.

  6. Great tutorial. And I'm in love with the hare fabric, it's gorgeous.


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