WANT TO MAKE PERFECT PINWHEELS? April 07 2017
Pinwheels – a quintessential building block in quilting!
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.
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.
#3. Now, I am ready to sew the top two HST units together to make one half of the block.
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.
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.
#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!
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).