WANT TO MAKE PERFECT PINWHEELS? April 07 2017

Tips on Pinwheels

Pinwheels – a quintessential building block in quilting!

IMG_3946

I thought I would share a few things I do to get the pinwheel points to match up!

#1.  I use Aurifil cotton 50 wt thread for piecing.  The finer weight helps me tremendously in achieving precision when I piece!  With this thread, I am able to get the fine thread with the strength to holdup the seams.

#2.  In constructing the half-square-triangles, I always (always!) make them bigger, and then trim them to size.  For example, for a 3″ finished HST unit, instead of the conventional measurement that would have me cut my squares at 3 7/8″, I would cut mine at 4 1/2″.  The resulting HST units would be a bit larger than 3 1/2″ — which allows me to trim them to exactly 3 1/2″x 3 1/2″ square without the unit being wonky!

I also press my seams open – that way, I can treat my HST units as it they are squares after they are trimmed to size.

IMG_3880

In the picture below, the goal is to trim my HST units to 4″ x 4″ (raw edge to raw edge).  So, I will line up the diagonal seam of the HST unit to the 45-degree line on the quilting ruler, as shown in the sequence below.

IMG_3889

IMG_3891

IMG_3893

#3.  Now, I am ready to sew the top two HST units together to make one half of the block.

IMG_3896

The key is good pinning for this step — I make sure the diagonal seams of both HST units match perfectly before pinning.  This is how I check to make sure the diagonal seams.  Once I am happy with how the diagonal seams match, I place a fine patchwork pin where the seams match.

IMG_3898

IMG_3900

To keep the seams keep matching when the HST units are sewn, I kind of have to let my machine “sew over” the pin — which they tell you is a no, no!  But I do that really carefully, and only with the finest patchwork pin I can find (made by Clover).  [Disclaimer: You are free to NOT sew over the pin if you aren’t comfortable doing so.  And if you do, always be very cautious, and not to sew ON the pin.] Then, I press the seam open — and on the right side, you see that the points at the valley match up quite nicely.

IMG_3902

IMG_3906

#4.  After I get two block halves made, I am ready to sew my pinwheel block together.  Again, I match up the V’s at the seam, place a fine patchwork pin to hold the matching-up point in place.  Sew, and press my seam open again — and watch the point meet up at the block center!

IMG_3910

I had the chance to teach precision in piecing quilt blocks at a Craft Festival last year.  To my surprise, 85% of the students who signed up hardly had any piecing experience.  I did have to do an improv block because of the needs of the students being a bit off-course.  However, I learned a very important lesson.  Even beginners can achieve accuracy in piecing when they are shown simple and careful tricks!  I am proud to say all the ladies left the class that day with VERY impressively accurate blocks!

And that’s what this post is about — sharing a few tricks I use that might be helpful to your piecing (if you aren’t already using these tricks yourself).