Blocks and Pinwheels Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The Blocks and Pinwheels quilt block is chock-full of whirly-twirly goodness. 

Blocks and Pinwheels quilt block tutorial starts here...

With nothing but half square triangles and cut squares, it's a dandy block to play with.

For our sample, the 8-at-a-time method for making half square triangles is a perfect match. Other than that the design contains nothing but cut squares.

Now if we could just jazz up the name a bit, eh?

Let's begin.

General Instructions

Seams are all 1/4" and pressed toward the darker fabric unless otherwise noted.

Click the image to pin these instructions for later

Several common abbreviations are used in this tutorial:

  • RST - right sides together
  • SA - seam allowance
  • HST - half square triangle

When you press, do it first with the patch flat as it was sewn.

This sets the seam and helps meld the fibers of the thread with the fibers of the fabric together.

Then press your patches open from the front. This helps to avoid tucks pressed in at the seams.

Tucks are a pain in the derriere because they get in the way of your quilting—especially when you're trying to ditch quilt with your walking foot.

Step 1: Cutting patches for a Blocks and Pinwheels block

Blocks and Pinwheels quilt block designBlocks and Pinwheels design

The 8-at-a-time method is used to make our HSTs. If you choose to make a quilt entirely from this block, you may wish to use another method to mass produce them.

You'll find more ways to make HSTs here.

Cutting chart to pin for later

My go-to thread for all my piecing is...

Step 2: Assemble the units for your Blocks and Pinwheels

Half Square Triangles (HST)

Make 8

HST unitMake 8

Using the 8-at-a-time method for making HSTs, draw two diagonal lines on the back of either the #1 or #2 square. Choose whichever one is easier to see your markings on.

Install your favorite quarter inch foot, standard piecing stitch length.

With RST, layer #1 and #2, and stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of both lines.

Sewing HSTsThe marked diagonal lines need to be just dark enough for YOU to see. They appear a bit light in the photo, but were easy to see while I was stitching.

Press the sewn units flat to set the seams.

From the chart below, find the 'MidPoint Measurement' that corresponds with the Finished Block Size you chose. We use this to cut the #1/#2 patch into four equal squares.

HST Dimensions
Block Size
Trim HST to…
6" 2⅝" 2"
8" 3⅛" 2½"
12" 4⅛" 3½"

Move your sewn patches to your cutting mat. I like to use either my rotating mat or a smaller mat for this so I can turn the mat and not disturb the patches while cutting.

Find the MidPoint Measurement on your ruler. Align that measurement on the ruler with the edge of your block.

For this 6" sample block, the MidPoint is 2⅝" (white arrow).

Cut the patch in half from top to bottom through its center as shown below. 

Cut the unit in half top to bottom.If you look closely, you can just make out the two lines of diagonal stitching.

Rotate your mat a quarter turn and repeat.

You now have four units, each with two diagonal lines of stitching through them that are equal to the Mid Point Measurement.

Cut these units in half between the diagonal lines of stitching to form eight HST.

Return to the chart above, this time use the 'Trim HST to...' column. Trim to perfection!

This is what you've got when finished.

Trimmed HST ready for use

Click here for more detailed directions using this method to make HST

Side Units

Make 4

With RST, join a #1/#2 HST to a solid #3 square as shown below.

SA is pressed toward #3 to reduce bulk.

Preparing side units

Set two of these two-patch units aside for Step 3.

For the two remaining, add a #4 corner square to both short sides.

Press, SA toward the center units.

Create the top and bottom rows

Center Pinwheel

Make 1

Sew the four remaining HST into two pairs, pressing SA in the direction of the arrow. This is so that your seams will nest with the side unit you've already created.

Create the Pinwheel center

With RST, stitch the two pairs together so that they form a pinwheel design.

For a good match in the center, I like to put a pin straight through the points on both sides. (Click here for more information about pin matching points.)

I then insert a pin on both sides of the pin already through the points (white arrow).

Pinning to match the centerFeed these patches into your sewing machine so that the seam allowance is pointing towards your machine as shown above.

To finish up our center pinwheel, twirl the seam allowance in the center.

Do this by loosening the few stitches in the seam allowance—do not cut them away—and flatten the seams with your fingers. They will point clockwise around the center (as viewed from the backside). 

Press into place.

Closeup of the twirled seam allowanceCloseup of the twirled seam allowance - see how it forms its own pinwheel in the center?

Step 3: Assemble your Blocks and Pinwheels quilt block

Arrange the patches for your Blocks and Pinwheels as shown below.

Arrange the units into the design

With RST, join the sides to the center pinwheel block.

SA are pressed in the direction of the arrows.

Pressing in the direction of the arrows

With RST, stitch the rows together. Use pins to help you keep points that should match lined up.

This is your finished Blocks and Pinwheels quilt block. There's a lot of movement in this design for just a handful of HSTs whirling around a center!

Finished Blocks and Pinwheels quilt blockOur finished Blocks and Pinwheels quilt block—in all its whirly-twirly goodness!

And finally our Blocks and Pinwheels from the backside. You can see how the seams all nest around the pinwheel unit.

Backside of the Blocks and Pinwheels quilt block

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

For even more blocks to make...

These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas. 

Can you see the library sticker on the spine of Jinny Beyer's book? Yep. I check this copy out of our local library every few months for research.

Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs is my all-time favorite quilt block resource!

Can you tell?

It's in color.

It's got a ton of blocks.

What's not to love?

Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.

This book is no longer in print.

If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on

UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020. 

However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.

BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.

It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.

In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.

UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.

This is terrific news.

Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.

Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.


Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.

And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!

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