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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Textured Pinwheels - A Tutorial

This tutorial came about when I found a bag of half square triangles I got in a swap that I hadn’t done much with. One day when I wasn’t wearing my glasses I glanced at one of the blocks pinned to my design wall, and I couldn’t really see the muslin background squares individually - bingo!  Rather than cutting dozens of 2-1/2” squares, why not use rectangles?

That thought led to the idea of using a variety of neutrals for the background because - let’s face it - using that muslin throughout block after block after block would be a bit blah!

Here are instructions to make an 8-1/2” textured pinwheel block (8” finished).

Gather a variety of neutral* and colorful fabrics

*If you need guidance on choosing neutrals, Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville has tips on how she chooses her neutrals - it’s a very good guideline that I use all the time. See her instructions here

For each block you will need:
-- eight 2-1/2 x 4-1/2” rectangles from neutral fabrics and
-- eight 2-1/2” squares from medium, dark and bright fabrics. Avoid very light colors, you want a good contrast with the neutral backgrounds.

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on each 2-1/2” square, we’ll use the sew-and-flip method to make two different sets of rectangles!

To make the “inner” set, place a colored square on a neutral rectangle as shown. Sew in the direction indicated, just to the outside of the line, toward the corner that will be cut off after sewing.

Trim off the corner, flip and press - your rectangle should measure 2-1/2” x 4-1/2”.

Make 4!

To make the rectangles for the “outer” edge of the block, place the square as shown and sew in the direction indicated.

Notice that the drawn line goes down from the top left corner this time!

Again, trim off the corner, flip and press.

 Make 4!

And now we'll lay out the block...

I found it so much easier to start with the center and work outwards!

Working in a clockwise direction, start by laying one of the “inner” rectangles horizontally, then place the second one vertically as shown, noses touching…

Add the third, horizontally - keep those noses together ...

And the fourth, vertically!

This forms the center - see that pinwheel?

Now add the “outer” rectangles so that the color corners face outward

Sew together into 4 pairs...

... then sew the 4 pairs together!

There you have it, a textured pinwheel block!

The corners will form a diamond when the blocks are put together. I chose to create totally scrappy corners but as an option you could use one constant fabric, or one color family for that position.

I hope you like the tutorial; if you make the pinwheel I’d love to see what you’ve done with it!

Sew forth and sew on...


  1. I love the scrappy look of the block too.

  2. That is a very pretty block, and cheerful. Thank you for sharing the tutorial!

  3. My first thought -- you've been making way too many BH quilts! But really, aren't you clever. I like this.


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