3D Pinwheels Tutorial.

I had such a fun time making my Spring Pinwheels quilt for the Spring Blooms Mini Quilt Swap at Quilting Gallery!

I’ve had a few friends and fellow bloggers ask how I made the pinwheels, so I’ve put together a tutorial showing how it’s done.
The finished size of the pinwheel is 8 inches, so the unfinished size is 8 1/2 inches. For each pinwheel you will need:
Background fabric (my example uses white fabric): four squares, 4 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches.
Pinwheel fabric (my example uses light blue butterfly fabric): four squares, 3 3/4 inches by 3 3/4 inches.
After you cut your squares, you will take the four pinwheel squares and fold them in half, on the bias, with wrong sides together. You will have four triangles, with the fold on the long edge.
Now with the triangle in front of you, the short raw edges should be the bottom and right sides. Take the bottom left corner and fold it across the bottom, then pin it into place.
Because there will be so many layers of fabric (because of the folded triangle) I like to baste it to the background fabric to keep it in place. The pinwheel blade is pinned in the upper right corner of the background fabric. My baste stitch is about 1/8th of an inch from the edge.

So here are the four pinwheel blades, basted to the four squares of background fabric.

Now, time to sew the four pieces together!

With right sides together, sew two of the squares. You’ll be sewing over the basted pinwheel edge on one block, and the long pinwheel blade on the other. The nice part about this step is that the folds of the pinwheel blades butt up against each other so it helps keep your seams in line and your points sharp! Here’s quick picture of how they lock together.

Don’t forget to set your sewing machine back to a regular stitch instead of the basting stitch. I always forget this step and have to unpick it. :)

After you’ve sewed the seam, you’ll have to ignore your quilting training and instead, press the seam open. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with 7 layers of fabric on one side, and your pinwheel won’t lay flat!

After you have sewn both of the sets of two, it’s time to sew them together. At this stage, be very careful of how your sewing machine goes over pins. With the pins and all these layers of fabric, it could really do a number on your machine, so you might want to pull the pins out before your sewing machine goes over them.

Again, because of the fold of the pinwheel blade, you can butt the edges against each other, making it easier to get some great points in the center!

And you will iron the seams open again.

Now we’ve got a pinwheel!
But wait, it’s flat.

Take your iron and iron up the edges of the pinwheel.

I like to give it a good blast of steam and then hold it up to give it a nice shape. (But be careful! You don’t want to scald your fingers!)

And there’s your finished 3D pinwheel!

Depending on the fabric you use, you can get a lot of lift out of these. In this example I used a fairly soft cotton. But if you use a batik, or another fabric with a really tight weave, it will give you a very crisp edge and an inch of height.

I hope you enjoy this pattern! This is my first tutorial, so if you have any suggestions on how to improve things for my next one, or if any of my steps aren’t exactly clear, please let me know!

26 thoughts on “3D Pinwheels Tutorial.

  1. Thank you Viking Quilter for being brave enough to speak up! I couldn’t make it work the other way.
    Thanks for the tutorial. Love this block!

  2. Polly and Kate2962 – So sorry about that! All my photos are hosted on my website, and I had a nightmare with it crashing and my domain and hosting disappearing. The pictures are all back up. :)

  3. I am a late comer to this comment section but I wanted to thank you for the great tutorial. I am making these blocks for my grand daughter’s “big girl” bed. I am using Michael Miller’s mirror dot fabric. Won’t that be luscious!

  4. These are adorable. I’m thinking of using this pattern for my granddaughter’s quilt. However, I just quickly sewed a pinwheel block together and ended up with a raw edge on the inside of my pinwheel that was folded over to make the 3-D effect. Did I miss a step? Are the triangles sewed together before placing them on the squares. Thanks so much for your cute pattern.

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