Windmill Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

It doesn't get much easier than the Windmill quilt block.

A quartet of quick pieced half square triangles. Cut squares and rectangles.

That's all there is to it!

The Windmill quilt block tutorial starts hereClick the image to Pin it

On this page you'll find instructions to make this beginner friendly design in three different sizes: 4", 6" and 8" finished.

Time to cut up and sew!

General Instructions

These abbreviations are used on this page:

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

SA are 1/4" and pressed towards the darker fabric unless noted otherwise.

Using starched quilt fabric makes fingerpressing the HSTs open much easier.

If you've never used starch before, click here for more information.

Step 1: Cut patches for a Windmill block

Windmill patchwork designWindmill design

The hot pink print fabric (A) in the block is from Alison Glass' Sun Print line. It's such a happy color. Fun to work with!

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Windmill Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
4" 6" 8"
1** BAC 2 1⅞" x 1⅞" 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞"
2** A 2 1⅞" x 1⅞" 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞"
3 A 4 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½"
4 BAC 4 1½" x 2½" 2" x 3½" 2½" x 4½"
Unfinished Block Size 4½" 6½" 8½"
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2"
**I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HSTs, 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.

There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.

These are some of the supplies I use to prepare and cut my fabric.

Step 2: Assemble the units


Make 4


We use the Quick Pieced method for making our HSTs.

If you plan to make many blocks, you may want to use another HST method like 8-at-a-time or triangle paper.

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the backside of each #1 square.

With RST layer each #1 with a #2. Stitch a 1/4" inch from both sides of the drawn line.

Press each pair flat to set the seam.

Making HSTCut along drawn line (top), after pressing (bottom)

Cut in half along the drawn line to create four HSTs. Press these units open with the SA toward the darker A fabric.

Check your sewing accuracy using the chart below. Trim as needed.

HST Dimensions

Block Size
Trim HST to…
4" 1-1/2"
6" 2"
8" 2-1/2"
Trimmed HSTFour HST, trimmed and ready to use!

Corner units

Quarter Blocks

Make 4

With RST, sew a #3 to the #1 (background side) of a HST.

SA are pressed toward #3. Repeat for the three remaining HST.

With RST, sew a #4 to the #1/#2/#3 patch.

Adding the #4 patchMake 4

SA are pressed toward the #4 to avoid bulk. Repeat for the remaining patches.

Step 3: Assemble your Windmill block

Arrange the units into the Windmill design shown below.

Each quarter unit is rotated a quarter turn as you move clockwise around the block. The long edge of the #4 patch is on the outside edge of the block.

The four units form a pinwheel in the centerThe patches create a pinwheel in the center of the Windmill design

With RST sew the units in each row together. If you've followed the pressing directions, all the seams in the units nest. That makes matching the centers of the pinwheel quite easy. 

Use pins to hold everything in place as you stitch.

Press the SA in the direction of the arrows shown below.

Again with RST, stitch the rows together.

It's helpful to use a pin through the match point in the center to ensure a good match.

The arrows point to the pin in the photo below.

[Click here for more on 'Pinning for Perfection'.]

Pinning the rows togetherThe pin is hard to see, but it goes perpendicularly through the very tips of the background HST.

After stitching pull a few of the stitches (do not cut them) away from the center so that you can twirl the seam allowance.

Then one final pressing.

Use my special pressing technique to get the flattest block you'll ever see. It's so-o-o-o-o simple. A real V8 head-thunk moment!

Here is the block from the backside. The twirled SA is circled. It forms a cute little pinwheel.

Windmill quilt block, backside

Our Windmill quilt block is now ready for a quilt.

Windmill quilt block, front side

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!

No time for quilting today?

Save this Windmill block tutorial for later!

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