Skill Level: Confident beginner
The Double Pinwheel quilt block is made completely of quarter square triangle units in three fabrics. The QSTs form a small pinwheel and the HSTs a large one, hence the name.
You may also know this block as Old Windmill (or just plain Windmill) or Whirligig.
This same block can be colored in several other ways using two or three fabrics to create a number of variations in look of this block. Those variations and their cutting instructions are below. There are 5 different block sizes included here.
This block would make an adorable baby quilt. In the larger block sizes, it'd be quick to whip up. As smaller blocks they'd be great for a block exchange with your quilting bee or guild.
All seams are 1/4".
When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front. Seam allowances are pressed to the dark fabric unless otherwise noted.
The instructions that follow are for a traditionally pieced block, though your Double Pinwheel could easily and efficiently be paper pieced. (Click here for those instructions and the free downloadable paper piecing patterns.)
The measurements in the chart below are exact.
Personally, I prefer to make quarter square triangles (QST) with oversized patches, sew them, and then trim to perfect squares. All the numbers in the chart below represent squares (to make the chart easier to read).
So if a patch for QST.1-3 is 4-1/4", I added a quarter inch and cut it 4-1/2" x 4-1/2". Then I subcut it as indicated. Trimming instructions are included.
Double Pinwheel Block
|Finished Block Size|
|Unfinished Block Size||3-1/2”||4-1/2”||5-1/2”||6-1/2”||8-1/2”||na|
After the sub-cutting they look like this.
With RST, align the edges of one QST.1/white dot and QST.2/blue dot patch. So that the patches end up in the proper position, stitch wiith QST.2/blue on top and feed the blunt edge into your sewing machine first.
Press the unit flat. Then press it open with the seam allowance towards QST.2/blue dot.
The edges of this stitched pair should be straight and even.
With RST, align the long edge of this pieced unit with the long edge of the QST.3/yellow triangle.
Press the unit flat to set the seam. Then press open with the seam allowance towards the QST.3/yellow patch.
Repeat for the three remaining units.
The QSTs look like this before trimming.
If you used the exact size for cutting the original squares, measure your block to confirm it is the correct size (see 'QSTs measure' in the chart below).
Double Pinwheel QST units
|Finished Block Size|
|Midpoint for trimming QST||1”||1-1/4”||1-1/2”||1-3/4”||2-1/2”|
|Trimmed QST are||2”||2-1/2”||3”||3-1/2”||4-1/2”|
If you started with generous squares, it's time to trim to 3-1/2". Use the 'Midpoint' measurement from the chart above.
Arrange your Double Pinwheel quilt units so that there is one QST.1/white dot triangle on the outside edge of each side.
The diagonal seams will nest for each two block row. Pin them if needed. Stitch. Press flat and then open with the seam allowance towards Fabric C/blue dot.
Your rows look like this.
Again, the seams in the center of the block will nest which makes matching the center seam allowances so much easier. Pin if needed. Stitch the rows together.
Press flat to set the seam. Then twirl the center seam allowance to distribute the bulk.
When the seam is twirled or pinwheeled it forms a 'mini-pinwheel'. In this block, all the seams are pressed counterclockwise.
This is how your Double Pinwheel quilt block looks from the back.
And this is the finished Double Pinwheel quilt block from the front.
For such a simple design, there are many variations on the Double Pinwheel quilt block.
The QST.1-3 fabrics are identified for all the blocks below.
Simply choose your block and a size, make your fabric choices and you're ready to make any block on this page!
QST.1:2)Red and 2)white
Cut the patches for your block size. Stitch the QST pairs together, two with Fabric B on top—two with C on top—to position the fabrics correctly.
Are your creative gears spinning out of control in this whirlwind of quilting ideas?
Or just need a different block?
Then check out our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library to find blocks for your next quilting creation!