Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pinwheel Tutorial

Ever discover a really easy way to do something and feel like you are the last person to know?  That's where I was earlier this week.  I'm doing a shabby chic pinwheel quilt for a customer.  I was hopping around on the Internet looking for some ideas on pinwheels, sizes, etc.  I happened across a new way to cut pinwheels that was incredibly fast.

Here we go:

I needed 24 blocks that were 6 inches finished.  Basic pinwheels typically have a solid color (often white) and then a print.  I started with 48 blocks that measured 5.5 inches.

I *HIGHLY* recommend you press all of these squares with a little Best Press.  I have talked about it before here.  When you work with triangles, there is always the danger of stretching and distorting the shape.  A light starch like Best Press will help give you some protection.  Plus, the stuff smells SOOOO good.

Take two squares (one solid and one print)....

...and put them right sides together.

You will then sew around the edges using a quarter inch seam allowance.  There are two things that will make this process SO much easier.

The first thing is a quarter inch foot.  This is something that I didn't have with my last machine.  It came with my Symphony.  I adore this foot.  Mine is a generous 1/4 inch.  If I really need a precise 1/4, then I would use the 1/4 inch markings on my machine.  I am amazed at how much easier this foot makes piecing.  I flew through these squares.

The other is the pivot option on my machine.  When the pivot option is selected (the picture of the presser foot that the huge red arrow is point to), the foot comes up with the needle down, every time I stop sewing.  It is amazing how much faster you can go around a square when you don't have to stop, lift, turn, lower, go.

All I have to do is stop...


And keep going.

Once your squares all done, head to the cutting mat.

Now we have a square that has a seam sewn around all 4 sides.  

You are going to cut on the diagonal from one corner to another.

Then put the two halves back together and rotate to the other diagonal.

Cut along the second diagonal.  You will end up with 4 triangles.

Open the 4 triangles and you will see the classic, pinwheel squares.  Take these to your iron, set the seams and press the seams open.  Make sure the seam is pressed towards the darker fabric.  Otherwise, it will be seen through the white.  Please, stop and iron.  I only finger pressed these because I was tired and lazy, the night I took these pictures.  You will see the uneven edges that resulted from my laziness.  Be a good quilter and use your iron as much as your machine.

Now, rotate the squares into the pinwheel shape.  Sew the top two together.  Then sew the bottom two together.

One hint, if you want to use your quarter inch foot, start with the side that has the corners that hang over.  It will save you a lot of headache and ripped stitches from fabric getting bunched up.

Now take the two halves and sew them together.  **VERY IMPORTANT**  Make sure the center line (where the top two squares are sewn together and where the bottom two squares are sew together) matches up perfectly.  Line the halves up first, using the center line.  If your edges are a bit uneven, you can always square them up.  If the center line doesn't match up, your pinwheel will not look like a pinwheel.

That's it!  I did these in batches.  I sewed all of them together.  Then took 4 or so at a time and cut, pressed, and sew back together.  

I thought a pinwheel quilt was going to take me a long time but these flew by.  You could easily sew a smaller pinwheel quilt in a day, using this technique.  Once the quilt is finished and with the end user, I will post a picture.  I did some cute things with it and can't wait to share.  If you try this, please share some pictures with me.  I would love to see what you do with this.

Thank you to MissouriQuiltCo for posting this tutorial on YouTube.




Deb said...

Wow, easy! I'm going to tackle some pinwheels using that technique tonight. Thanks for the idea!

SewLovedByYou said...

You're welcome! Let me know how it goes.

renee said...

Oh my, you did make that look easy. Heh. I'm sure I could screw it up, though. ;-) I can't wait to see what the finished quilt looks like.