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...
You'll see at the end of this page.
Several common abbreviations are used in this tutorial:
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.
Sample Block Size: 6" finished / 6½" unfinished
Attributed to: Nancy Page
AKA: Pinwheel (Ruth Finley)
Design Type: Uneven 9-patch, small center, Pinwheel
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 a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1**||Med||2||1⅞'' x 1⅞''||2⅜'' x 2⅜''||2⅞'' x 2⅞''||3⅞'' x 3⅞''|
|2**||Light||2||1⅞'' x 1⅞''||2⅜'' x 2⅜''||2⅞'' x 2⅞''||3⅞'' x 3⅞''|
|3||Med||4||1½'' x 1½''||2'' x 2''||2½'' x 2½''||3½'' x 3½''|
|4||Dark||4||1½'' x 1½''||2'' x 2''||2½'' x 2½''||3½'' x 3½''|
|5||Light||1||2½'' x 2½''||3½'' x 3½''||4½'' x 4½''||6½'' x 6½''|
|Unfinished Block Size||4½"||6½"||8½"||12½"|
|**I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #1 and #2 above (I added 3/8" to each dimension for the sample block). |
There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.
If you have a perfectly reliable 1/4" seam allowance use the dimensions in the cutting charts for these patches.
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.
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.
|Trim HST to…|
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.
ith 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.
To the remaining two #1/#2/#4, with RST add a #3 to both short sides.
Make two. Press SA towards #3.
Arrange the units and cut patch into rows. Double check that the lightest triangle is pointed out, away from the center.
With RST, stitch the side units to the #5 square.
Press with SA to the center.
Stitch the rows together. The seams nest to make matching them a piece of cake.
This is the finished Paper Pinwheel quilt block.
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.
Frequently I write about how much I love the EQ quilting software program (available for both PC and Mac - I use it on both, too.)
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 EQ and look what popped up right away.
This little beauty...
Blocks set in straight rows and columns.
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 EQ8 software.
A happy accident!