Monday, March 19, 2012

IMQG Block of the Month for March

Our March Block of the Month for VAANI is the Windmill or Pinwheel Block.

Windmill or Pinwheel Block

Finished Size of block:

12 inches


2 fat quarters, 1 light coloured fabric and the other a dark coloured fabric.
A spool of beige thread.

2 fat quarters, one light and the other dark 


12-1/2" square & 6 x 12" acrylic rulers
Rotary cutter
Self-healing mat
Sewing Machine

Recommended Tools

Note - to construct half-square triangles (HSTs), determine the size of the finished unit and add 7/8th inch.  I will be rounding the 7/8th inch to 1 inch and trimming off the excess after the unit is sewn.  For a 12" block, I will need four 6-1/2" finished HST units plus 1 inch = four 7-1/2" squares.

Wash and iron both fabrics.

Using a 12-1/2" square ruler:
   Cut two 7-1/2" squares from the light fabric
   Cut two 7-1/2" squares from the dark fabric

Each fat quarter yielded four 7-1/2" squares, so I will make 2 blocks


1.  Using a 6" x 12" ruler, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each light square.

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each light square
2.   Pair a light square with a dark square, right sides together, with the drawn line facing up for a total of two pairs for each block.

Pair a light square with a dark square placing right sides together
3.   Pin each pair together.

Pin each pair on corners away from the drawn line

4.   Stitch ¼" away from the drawn line through each pair, chain piecing as you sew.  Chain piecing means to feed the next unit under the foot without releasing the previous unit.  Notice the little scrap of fabric preceding the unit that was just sewn.  This is called a "leader" scrap that was sewn before the first unit to prevent the pointed tip of the unit from catching in the little hole in the bed of the sewing machine. 

Sew 1/4" on each side of the drawn line, chain piecing as you sew

5.   Remove this chain of sewn units from the sewing machine, turn it around and again stitch ¼" away from the drawn line along the other side.

Turn chain around and sew on other side of drawn line

6.   Remove the pins and clip threads to separate the sewn units. 

Clip threads that hold two units together
7.   Cut each of the units in half diagonally along the drawn line.

Cut diagonally along the drawn line

8.   Flip each square open with the darker fabric on top and press the seam towards the darker fabric. 

Press seams towards the darker fabric

9.   Centering the diagonal seam along the diagonal line on the ruler, trim each square to 6½".  Please note, the more prominent solid diagonal line in the picture is actually on the mat, showing through the ruler.

Trim each unit to 6-1/2" square
10.   Trim any remaining 'dog ears'.

Trim away any remaining 'dog ears'

11.   Referring to the block illustration, lay out the pinwheel pattern.

Lay units out following illustration

12.   Stitch the top two units together, pressing the seam to one side.  Stitch the bottom two units together, pressing the seam to the opposite side.

Join top two units and bottom two units, pressing seams in opposite directions
13.   Place the top unit on top of the bottom unit, nest the seams together and pin in place. One pin should be placed at the intersection of the vertical and diagonal rows of stitching and another pin placed right next to it.  

Nest the seams and pin in place

14.   Stitch the top row to the bottom row, making sure the needle penetrates the fabrics just above the pin that was placed at the intersection of the two rows of stitching.  Do not remove this pin completely.  As you approach it, remove it gently until the bottom of the pin is released and leave it in place until the needle passes it.  

...and hooray! the Pinwheel Block is done!

15.   Press the block flat.



  1. Wonderful Tutorial Chumkie. I love your work station and the lovely stuffed chair.

  2. Thank you, Veena and Brinda. There's always room for improvement, so I'm open to any suggestions which will make the instructions easier to understand. If I can be of assistance while you are constructing your blocks, contact me on this post. I'm notified by email of any comments, so you should get an answer promptly :)

  3. Chumkie...sorry if i am sounding totally ignorant here. I made 3 blocks with finished size of 5 1/2 ", am not sure what size I chose for the individual blacks.....need to make nore but am in a pls

  4. Veena, my calls to India are free. If you send me your phone number and let me know what a good time is to call you, we will be able to solve your problem a lot quicker. Alternatively, we can get on chat in FB, but we need to be on at the same time. Right now it is 12:08 pm here and probably 10:00 pm for you.

    From your comment, I am assuming you have made 3 complete pinwheel blocks that measure 5-1/2" square. That means you will get 5" finished blocks when they are all put together. That also means you put together four 2-1/2" finished or 3" unfinished half-square triangles (HSTs).

    To make a 2-1/2" finished HST, you need two 3-1/2" squares. So you would need 4 pairs of 3-1/2" squares to make 4 HSTs for each pinwheel block.

    My assumption right in the beginning may have been wrong, which means whatever follows would need to be modified.

    Waiting to hear back from you.


  5. gr8 and more importantly very clear tute chumkie, thks a on.

    am planning a chevron quilt for a friend so that would be hst right , so if i need a 10" square finished hst block need to cut the fabric 11 " and then stitch the two and square off after ??

    would an adult single quilt of dimensions 60 x 75 " be ok ? so i would need 6 blocks width wise and 8 length wise isn't it ?

    thks and have a good week.

    btw your workstation is beautiful , it would be sheer bliss to spend time there !!!

    1. Thanks, Smita. A chevron quilt is made with HSTs. You've got the right dimensions and idea. 6x8 arrangement of 10" blocks (60" x 80") is a comfortable size for an adult. And yes, I prefer to make an oversized block and cut them all down to size after piecing the HSTs. Here's an example of a modern chevron quilt in a 6x8 configuration. You would use your 10" blocks to create the chevron pattern.


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