Windmill-Pinwheel Tutorial – Post 3

In the first post were the fabric requirements for this 15 inch block

In the second post, we sewed the basic units (quarters) of the pinwheel.

Now we get it all together!

Step 3 – The NEWSy Pinwheels! So you think you can start making your pinwheels now, right? Wrong! For when you start putting them together – the wheel refuses to come together – the blades are pointing in all different directions – North East West and South! This is the `aha!’ moment (It was, for me!) You will have two sets of blocks – Set A with the red on the top and Set B with the white on the top. Sort them into two lots.

  • Sew together Set A blocks in pairs and make a pile.
  • Sew together Set B blocks and make another pile.
  • Press all seams towards the blue.

Set A – 8 pairs                      Set B – 8 pairs

One set makes the wheels clockwise and the other, anticlockwise! So you are on your way to two clockwise and two anticlockwise. Now comes the fun part 

Step 4 – Experimenting with Layouts You can layout the pairs and try out various lay outs like here –

I did not like the way these looked in the centre – it made the pinwheels kind of disappear. So I decided to add a sashing. Here I tried out white and blue sashing with different layouts.

I quite like the third layout but the blue sashing makes it all kind of mergeL

My final choice

Making the Pinwheels

  1. Lay out the final pattern you’ve decided on.
  2. Remember to carefully check that you are joining the seams correctly. I thought I was! But this is what my 4th pinwheel looked like :

    Oops! The white is supposed to be on the perimeter… so out came the ripper and I had to re-do it L

3.  After stitching the pairs together, you shall find that the centres do not lie flat!

Here is a beautiful solution at the piecmealquilts blog – explained so lucidly –


And here is my pinwheel all ready!

Don’t you love the little pinwheel at the back?

Square up each of the four pinwheels to 7.5″.

End of Step 4 – You will have two pinwheels facing clockwise and two anti- clockwise – all 7.5″ square

Step 5 Centre Windmill

Once I had my 4 pinwheels done , I was ready to join them with a red sashing.

The Block of the month was supposed to be a windmill – but I had only pinwheels!

So, I decided to put a teenie-weenie windmill between the four sub-blocks.

Again – the rule – stitch big and square down to size. I began with 2 blue and 2 white 1.25 inch squares to make 4 half square triangles. (After joining them with a ¼ ” seam on either side of the dashed Line, I cut them along the centre pencil marked line)

I had 4 squares, which I joined first in pairs, before joining the pairs to make a tiny little windmill. I trimmed down my windmill to 1.5″ square (including seam allowance). Flipped it over and trimmed the seam allowances to about 1/6 of an inch before taking off a few stitches from the centre – allowing this teenie – meenie wheel to emerge. Isn’t it adorable!?J Step 5 Add the sashing The final block shall be 15.5″ (including seam allowances). And here it is – the final block! You can make it  into a cushion cover, or make more of these to make into a runner, a table cloth or a full sized quilt! Add a wider sashing between the blocks or use the same sashing – the possibilities are endless. Note: If you want to make a block of all clockwise or all anti-clockwise pinwheels – you’ll need to  make at least 2 blocks. Double the fabric requirements ( Post 1 You’ll have one anticlockwise and one clockwise pinwheel.  Do write to me if a step is not clear anywhere. Happy Quilting!

Windmill – Pinwheel tutorial -Post 2

Pinwheel Block

In  a previous post gave the fabric requirements for my block.

So you have all your fabric together. Cut out and stacked. Now we see how to sew the basic units for the block.

How to put the block together will be in Post 3!

Step 1 The Double Coloured Half Square Triangle

Construction of the secondary Blade –

  • With a pencil mark a diagonal line on the wrong side of each of the white squares.

Tips – Put a fine emery sheet / sand paper below the fabric when drawing the line

  • Take each white square and layer it on top of a red square, right sides facing.
  • Sew each pair together with two seams, stitching ¼” on either side of the drawn diagonal line. I find it is better to be just a thread or two less than ¼”!

  • Cut across the diagonal line in the centre to make 8 units.

  • Press the seam (of the unopened unit ) to set it. A trick I have learnt is to keep the dark side on top when pressing the unit. Then when you flip it open, the seam is on the dark side!

  • Press the seam (to the dark side) – you have 8 (diagonally) red and white `triangle squares’


  •  Now comes a very important step – squaring the unit. Place the 45 degree angle on the diagonal, and trim down the square to 5″.

(Theoretically, you could have started with a square about 5.25″ but I have learnt it is better to stitch a bigger unit, and trim it down to size)

At the end of Step One, you shall have two sets of 5″inch squares, red and white.

Step 2 The Basic Unit

  • I marked a diagonal on each of the eight blue squares by lightly finger pressing it, as a pencil mark would not show in it. I needed to be very careful not to stretch the fabric across the bias while doing this!

  • The next step was to pair the eight 5″ blue squares with the red and white triangle squares. One needs to be very careful that the diagonal on the blue square is perpendicular to the seam of the red and white TS

  • Sew each pair together with two seams (slightly less than) ¼” from the diagonal.
  • Before cutting across the diagonal, check your triangle square below again!
  • Once satisfied, cut to get 16 squares. Set seam with blue side on top and press open, seam on blue side!
  • Our basic unit is ready , except for the tedious part – trimming it down to 4″. So go get yourself a cup of coffee or check your facebook page before you settle down to the next step, where it really is very important to be accurate!

End of Step Two you have – 16 units:

  • Again… back to your ruler, the 45 degree line …this time, you have an additional 45deg line to crosscheck L …Now you will understand why I suggested you begin at 5″ and trim down to 4″!
  • You need another break after your 4″ units are ready to your satisfaction all angles 45 and 90 degrees and all corners perfect!

In the next post, we shall be putting together these units into pinwheel blocks.

Dancing Square Mug Rugs

I saw this mug rug at, while browsing the net for a little gift that could be made in a day!

I was not sure if I could understand the instructions given by Katherine. I knew there was another way of making this ‘dancing square’ block – joining all the quilt squares first, and cutting with a template. But I was not sure if I could get my pinwheel centres to match with that method!

I had also made a full size quilt about three years ago, using a stack and whack method very kindly shared with me by Cathey McClure. But I could not remember how that worked! Other than that it went stack, whack, stitch! And stack, whack, stitch again! L

So I used this (more roundabout?) method and surprise, surprise! my little quilt tops came up in no time at all!

I am giving the instructions for 4 mug rugs 8″ X8″ (not arbitrary – but because it works that way!). Through chain piecing, these can be cut and stitched up in an afternoon (other than the quilting).

You will need

Background squares (Blue- B) Twenty 4″ X4″

For the Pinwheel- Four Squares
of 4 contrasting coloured squares (yellow –Y, Pink –P, Red –R and Green G)

(For each little quilt you need – 5 B, 1Y, 1P, 1R, 1G)

For the backing – 9″ squares of background fabric (or any backing of your choice)X 4

Binding – Four strips 9″X 2″ of each of the pinwheel colours.

8.5″ square of batting

I like to mark a light square with a pencil on each corner of the wrong side of my solid squares – so that i don’t have to strain my eyes later trying to decide which is the right side!

Making the Template

I make my template with graph paper. Only centimetre graph paper is available in India. So I used a print out of inch graph paper available for free download online.( Free Multi-color Graph Paper from

Of course, you could draw the square on plain paper, but graph paper gives it the accuracy I like in a small quilt!

If you have template plastic, great! It is not available here. (For my full-size quilt I had used plastic sheet cut from a plastic folder and marked with a permanent marker. You can use that for your template). I find that the graph paper template I use here works equally well.

  1. On the graph paper, draw a 4″ square . From each corner mark a point ¾” to the left (or right) and join the diagonally opposite points.
  2. Quick way of checking if you have it right – the diagonals meet at the centre point (2″ in this case)
  3. Stick your graph paper square to a thin, stiff card sheet, and cut out the shape.

    Cut across one diagonal – this is your basic template.

    Marking and cutting the fabric

    1. Stack up the squares colourwise carefully, matching all edges – make sure the wrong side is up in ALL of them. ( Or you will end up with a few anti-clockwise blades, which you will have to set aside for another project! Ask me! ) The background squares can also be in stacks of 4.
    2. Place the template on the top square and cut the stack. Do this for all stacks. For the sake of convenience I am going to call these pieces Half Squares or HS.

    3. Now comes the part which appears tedious, but makes life much simpler! On each half square, draw the crossing diagonal by placing the template perpendicularly– but DO NOT CUT. You can see in the pic below how your half square will appear.

      (No way I would do this for a larger quilt. But quite doable in a small quiltJ)

      Put the pieces back in stacks colourwise. Makes it easier to chain stitch. Remember to keep the wrong side up in all the pieces!

      Making the Block

      (You can skip reading this part and go on to the next part – it is an explanation of the process, more as a reminder to myself how I worked it out…)

      This project is basically a nine patch.

      The centre square has 4 pieces – YPGR

      The corner squares have 3 pieces –

      1. ½ B piece
      2. ¼ background piece b
      3. ¼ coloured piece( 4 corners each different)

      The outer centre squares have –

      1 ½ background piece B

      2. ¼ coloured piece

      3 ¼ adjacent coloured piece

      We begin by deciding what colours would be adjacent to each other. I decided on this scheme.

      1. Begin from the centre. Join 1 pink HS to 1 adjacent green HS, matching the pencil marked diagonal of the two pieces carefully. Join 3 more Pink HS to 3 green HS.
      2. Similarly join 1 Red HS to 1 adjacent yellow HS. Make 3 more red-yellow squares.
      3. Now join 1 red HS to a green HS. Similarly make 1 more Red-Green Square.
      4. Now make 2 Pink Yellow squares.
      5. You are now left with two HS of each colour (total 8). Join these to the background BHS .

        You will have ( besides 32 background halfs – which will not be cut)

        4 RY squares

        4 PG squares

        2 RG squares

        2 YP squares

        2 BY squares

        2 BP squares

        2 BG squares

        2 BR squares

      6. This is what your squares will look like. Cut all these squares across the marked diagonal! Now you know why we marked the line. You could also stack them and cut across the diagonal – this was a small project – so I preferred to cut each individually.
      7. Press open the units, seams to one side. It does not matter which.

        Putting it together

        1. Centre Square. Put together the 4 coloured squares. Make 4 such units. (rg-yp )

        2. Corner Squares Take a br HS and join to a B-HS. Match the seam of the brHS to the diagonal of the BHS while joining.

        1. Similarly join all other double coloured HS to BHS. You shall have 4 sets of

        Bbg, Bbp, Bby, Bbr

      8. Outer Centre Squares. Join the remaining double-colourHS units to the backgroundHS. You shall have 4 sets of Bpg, Bpy,Bry, Brg.

        1. Now press these seams towards the background fabric.

        Squaring Up

        Personally, I find this the most tedious part. I trimmed the squares to 3″. The centres are already available where the seams meet – so it was really not so much of a problem.


        Position each of the 4 sets in 3 rows of 3 patches, and join. Be careful while joining them – I had to rip seams thrice, because I joined the `wrong’ edges!

        So here it comes together magically!

Only one thing remains before you quilt it. Flip it over – and set the seams at the pinwheel centres into whirls!

Just so…

Quilt as you like. I added a binding overlapping the ¼” seam allowance – hence my little quilts were 8″ each.

This is what I did on the reverse on one mat.

I’ve decided to do a different colour binding on each of the 4 little quilts.

Two of my reversible mug rugs are quilted and ready. I just echoed the pinwheel outer edge in the quilting. I also did an outline quilting on the pinwheel, but didn’t like it. You can still see where I ripped it!

My finished mug rugs.

You could, of course, join the four blocks with/ without a sashing, add a border and and make a runner.

Do let me know if you make these!


Windmill- Pinwheel tutorial : Post 1

Windmills of Your Mind…

…Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning, 

On an ever spinning wheel

As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind…

( Original Song sung by Noel Harrison)

I am currently doing a BOM (Block of the Month) that shall add up to a charity quilt at the end of the year.

The first block (March 2011) was the Windmill Block – which I thought was another name for the Pinwheel Block! It is only now that I discovered that they are not the same! The Windmill Block is at Fig A here, and the Pinwheel Block at Fig B.

A.Windmill Block                                                                        B. Pinwheel

Pinwheel variations

These Blocks  show variations of the pinwheel Block. You can see how choice of colours/ dividing the component triangles in various ways can give a totally different look to each of the Pinwheel blocks.

Designing the Block

I decided I wanted to make a 15″ (ready) blocks for the BOM as there would be 12 blocks only – in a 3X4 setting it would be a 45″ X 60″ quilt. With sashing and borders , could be stretched to 60 X 75 – a reasonable size.

I decided on a simple Pinwheel Block with four pinwheels separated by a sashing – something like this!

Don’t you like the two secondary pinwheels in pink and yellow emerging in the centre?

But for reasons explained later, I had to add a sashing. My final block ( for which instructions are given) looks like this

Pinwheel Block

Fabric requirements

I would need 2 dark colours and a contrast light colour. I decided to use red and blue as the dark, with a contrast white fabric.

For the 4 Pinwheels

4 squares of red (the secondary blade)5.5″ X 5.5″

4 squares of white (the secondary blade) 5.5″ X 5.5″

8 squares of blue (main blade) 5″ square

For the sashing

4 strips (I used red) 1.5″ X 8

For the Centre Pinwheel

2 squares 1.5″ white

2 squares 1.5 ” blue

See how how make the basic units-
See how you put the block together –

RECYCLING – Convert a Couple of Old Favourite Silk Sarees to a pair of quilts!

Recycle 2 sarees to make a pair of coordinated quilts 60″ X 80″ or larger!

Often we have favourite silk sarees – which become unwearable over time – or get a tear or two. They cannot be converted to salwar kameezes either. Or may be you just have had enough of them, and do not wish to wear them any more!

What better way to continue to enjoy a pair of sarees than make it into a pair of quilt tops over an afternoon? J

Sarees are usually about 40- 44 inches wide and between 5 metres to 5.5 metres long (200- 220 inches). This includes a `pallu’ which may be any size – rarely more than 40 inches long. For the purpose of this tutorial, we shall take 2 sarees, which are

40 inches wide

200 inches long

40 inch pallu

Remember, you have a lot of flexibility while working on this, so do not worry if your saree measurements do not match with what I have taken! In this example I have taken sarees with borders – we can also use sarees without borders.

Take the two sarees and closely examine them for any fraying, wear and tear and cuts. Pin a small piece of paper or stick a `read me’ notepaper near the damaged portion. You can always work around it!

Saree A                                                                               Saree B

Step 1. Cut the pallus and place aside. We may need to use them later, especially if the saree is damaged.

Step 2

Cut the main saree lengths into two along the width as shown.

You shall end up with 4 lengths approximately 80 inches long.

A1                                               B1                                     Pallus A, B

A2                                                         B2

If the saree is damaged, work around to get an 80″ undamaged length (B1 in the illustration below)


Step 3

Now comes the fun part!

  • Cut A1 (Saree A) lengthwise along the centre – vertically – into two equal lengths.
  • From B1 (Saree B) cut strips (including border) approximately 8-10″ wide from either side

A.1.1             A.1.2                      B.1.2         B1.1          B1.3

Step 4:
Join them so! You shall have two quilt tops approximately 60X 80 inches in size

A1.1        B 1         A1.2                B1.2      A2     B1.3

Step 5

You have several options to lengthen the quilt, if you wish to – add the pallu, or undamaged portion of border from Saree B! Use your imagination to make your own, unique pattern J

You could also incorporate the pallu in the centre, and stitch around it! And make matching cushion covers from the left over fabric.

But remember, when working with old sarees, and silk ones at that, the fewer seams you have the better! Also, the golden rule about a quarter inch seam is not valid while working with silks. You may want to take a half inch seam, or even a` French seam’ .

Use an old cotton saree to make the backing. Quilt it yourself if you will – or `bag’ it (stitch three sides of the top to the backing) and give it to the razai walla to fill and quilt!

Here are my pair of quilts. Since the sarees were badly damaged, I had to incorporate the pallu. I used an old cotton saree to back one of the quilts and had them filled and quilted in the market.