Paper Pinwheel Quilt Block

It's hiding something. Can you figure out what?

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The Paper Pinwheel is a simple little block that holds a secret within its seams.

Can you guess what it is?

This is a very basic block to make. Just a few half square triangles and cut squares. But when you put it together with a bunch of its friends, well...

Magic happens.

You'll see at the end of this page.

Let's begin.

General Instructions

Click to pin the instructions for later

Several common abbreviations are used in this tutorial:

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

All seams are 1/4".

When instructed to press, first press the seam flat before opening the patches. This is to set the seam, melding the thread fibers into the fabric.

Then open the patch and press again. I prefer to press from the right side so that no tucks are accidentally created at the SA.

SA are pressed to the dark unless otherwise instructed.

Step 1: Cutting

Paper Pinwheel designPaper Pinwheel design

Our Paper Pinwheel takes three fabrics: light, medium and dark.

Though my two reds are relatively close in value, the difference in pattern helps.

You may want to skip to the bottom of the page to see what all the 'secret' fuss about this Paper Pinwheel is about before choosing your colors.

Cutting chart for Paper Pinwheels

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

Step 2: Assemble the Paper Pinwheel units

HST unitMake 4

Using the quick pieced method to make our HST, draw a diagonal on the backside of either the #1 or the #2 patches. Which one depends on the marking tool you use.

The chalk line I get with my Bohin Mechanical Chalk pencil (below) is bright enough to show equally well on either the dark or light fabric.

With RST, layer a #1 and #2. Stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of the line for both pairs of patches.

Sewing HSTThe white arrow points to the 'spider' that I use. It's a scrap piece of fabric that I sew onto first and then onto my patches. Less chance of my machine chewing up the point.

Press in the closed position to set the seam.

Cut in half between the two stitching lines. This creates four HST.

Press the HST open.

Find your finished block size in the chart below. Trim your HST to the size listed for it.

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

If you cut your patches exactly the size in the chart and your SA is a good 1/4", likely all you'll need to trim away are the dog ears.

With RST, add a #4 to the #2 side of a HST as shown below.

Make four. Press with the SA toward #4 to reduce bulk.

Set two aside for Step 3.

Sewing the side units

To the remaining two #1/#2/#4, with RST add a #3 to both short sides.

Make two. Press SA towards #3.

Sewing the top and bottom units

Step 3: Assemble your Paper Pinwheel quilt block

Arrange the units and cut patch into rows. Double check that the lightest triangle is pointed out, away from the center.

Patches are laid out in the design

With RST, stitch the side units to the #5 square.

Press with SA to the center.

Pressing directions for seams

Stitch the rows together. The seams nest to make matching them a piece of cake.

This is the finished Paper Pinwheel quilt block.

Completed Paper PinwheelOur Paper Pinwheel is ready for a quilt!

If you press the last two seams in, then if you choose to make a quilt of these blocks set edge to edge, all of your seams will nest.

I promised you a reveal!

Purchase EQ7 from
Purchase EQ7 from
Available for PC and Mac

Frequently I write about how much I love the EQ7 quilting software program. 

Seriously. It's Da-Bomb. 

I make all the images and patterns on this site with it.

The Paper Pinwheel looked to be a good skill builder block—some HSTs for the newer quilter to practice on without having to drown in them to get a quilt finished.

Well I popped this design into a straight set quilt in EQ7 and look what popped up right away.

This little beauty...

Paper Pinwheel blocks set edge to edgePaper Pinwheel Quilt: 7 rows of 6 blocks each

Blocks set in straight rows and columns.

No sashing.

Just Paper Pinwheels set edge-to-edge (remember the pressing suggestions?)

The secondary design created is a mirror image of the original pinwheel...just spinning in reverse.

How cool is that?

And it was revealed with just a few clicks in the EQ7 software.

A happy accident!

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

  1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Quilt Block Pattern Library
  4.  ›
  5. Paper Pinwheel Block

No time to quilt right now? Just save it for later.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please let me know by clicking this button - thank you!

Share Your Comments, Tips and Ideas

Quilt Blocks... chosen by our readers.

Log Cabin

Autumn Leaf

Broken Sugar Bowl

Card Trick

Rail Fence

Ohio Star

Bears Paw


Friendship Star

Churn Dash

Quilt patterns, books and kits to tempt you...

Click any image or link for more info

"Quilt As-You-Go Made Vintage"
by Jera Brandvig

"Christmas Figs"
by It's So Emma

Subscribe to our StashTalk Newsletter