This month it’s my turn to design the quilt for the Love circle of the Do. Good Stitches quilting bee. Each month, one of our members designs a quilt and all members make blocks from their own stash and send them to the quilter who puts the blocks together and finishes the quilt. Our finished quilts get sent to Wrap them in Love. I always look forward to designing the quilt, because there are so many quilts I’d like to make, and it’s awesome to have blocks made by so many friends roll in to see my design come to light!
This month, I am asking my bee-mates to make scrappy, wonky pinwheel blocks using a range of fall colors. Did you catch all of that? They’re scrappy because I’m asking that the pinwheels are all made of different fabrics, instead of matching the 4 “pinwheel” sections. The pinwheels are a bit wonky, as the pinwheel sections are all pieced a bit free-form, and don’t all need to be a precise size. Finally, I thought that using a variety of neutral fabrics for the background (instead of just one color) would add to the warmth and patchwork-y feel of the quilt. So, how do I make this block? Glad you asked! Here’s what you do:
1. Cut 16 squares, each 3.5 inches, from neutral fabrics. (I raided my scrap bin for neutrals here, and came up with a few kona solids in different shades and a few essex linen/cotton blend fabrics, though any neutrals will work).
2. On the BACK of each neutral square, draw 2 lines emanating from one corner, and ending about halfway between the opposite sides of the square. We’ll be sewing along these lines to create our pinwheel sections, so be sure to vary how wide these sections are.
3. Next, grab a scrap of fabric and lay it down right side up. Lay down your neutral square right side DOWN (remember, we drew the line on the back of this fabric) and line it up such that you leave approximately a quarter inch of your scrap fabric above the line for your seam allowance. ** It’s important to note that you want to be sure your scrap is large enough to fully cover the corner of your neutral square once it’s sewn. You can test this by holding it in place and flipping it up over the corner, though I found that after a few squares of trial and error it’s easy to eyeball this. And if in doubt, grab a slightly larger scrap to start! **
4. Sew directly over the line you marked on the neutral square, taking care to make sure you keep your scrap lined up so you have a quarter inch seam allowance.
5. Flip your square over and press your scrap fabric up over the square. This is where you want to be sure the corner of your neutral square is covered!
6. Repeat steps 3-5 and add a second scrap to the square using your other line as a guide.
7. Press the second scrap, and lay your square face down on your cutting mat to trim. Using the neutral square as a guide, trim off the excess scrap fabric.
8. Using scissors, trim the extra scrap fabric off the back of the square, creating the usual quarter inch seam on the back of the blocks (this reduces bulk overall).
9. Flip your block over, and you have one small piece of your wonky pinwheel complete!
As I completed blocks, I laid them out following this grid to be sure I placed the blocks correctly. It’s pretty easy to see the pattern emerge once you have a few blocks done, but with the first few I was a little disoriented, so having this visual helped!
Once all blocks are complete, lay them out in the pinwheel pattern. You should have 4 pinwheels in the middle of the block, and a number of half pinwheels around the edges. When I join up all the blocks, these pinwheels will be complete! This was another reason that this block is a good scrappy choice, as this will help the pattern look continuous when the blocks are joined.
I sewed my blocks into 4 rows, and then joined the rows together. Be careful to use a *scant* quarter inch seam so that your block comes out to be 12.5 inches unfinished.
One small issue to address: On one block I veered off from my line slightly.
When I flipped the block, I could see the line through the neutral fabric. Yikes!
In this case, I simply went back to the sewing machine and re-sewed this line and it was fine. It would also be a good idea to mark your lines with a water-soluble or heat sensitive pen, as these lines will disappear completely when using steam to press your seams.
And there you have it! A scrappy, wonky pinwheel block!