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Beginner-Friendly Quilt Block: 4-Patch Pinwheel

The pinwheel quilt block is a classic that takes a little time and practice to get the hang of. But once you’ve got your preferred half-square triangles method down, you can whip up a stack of pinwheel blocks with perfect points!

4-Patch Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

This version of the pinwheel quilt block is set up in a four-patch (in this case, with four identical blocks making up the quadrants) and it measures 12″ square unfinished (11½” finished in a quilt).

Ready to make a pinwheel quilt block?

Step 1:

Cutting Fabric for Pinwheel Quilt Block

Grab two fat quarters. It works well to have one darker and one lighter. The fabrics I’m using here are are Lily and Loom Farmer’s Market fat quarters.

From each color, cut 8 squares that are 3-7/8″ x 3-7/8″.

Step 2:

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

Next, it’s time to make half-square triangles! On the wrong side of each light-colored fabric, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. Pin one lighter fabric to one darker fabric with right sides together. Repeat with the other 7 pairs.

Step 3:

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

Stitch a scant ¼” seam from the edge of both sides of the drawn line. I like to use chain piecing to do this, which means I don’t cut the thread in between sewing the units.

Step 4:

If you chain pieced your HSTs, cut the threads between the half-square triangles to separate them. Then, cut along the drawn line with a rotary cutter and ruler.

Step 5:

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

Press all of the half-square triangle open and press the seams toward the darker fabric.

Step 6:

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

Trim off all of the dog ears (the tiny points that extend beyond the block unit). When you finish trimming, the units should measure 3-3/8″ square.

Step 7:

Arrange 4 half-square triangles into a four patch so that the light fabrics always sit next to the dark fabrics. If you prefer the dark triangles to point clockwise, it will look like this:

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

Or if you prefer the light triangles to point clockwise, it will look like this.

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

I chose the second layout for my block.

Step 8:

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

Sew together the blocks in each row. Press the seams in opposite directions (both toward the darker fabric), which will create a nested seam in the next step.

Step 9:

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

To finish the pinwheel quilt block, sew together the top and bottom rows and press the seam the direction of your choice. This block unit alone measures 6¼” square.

Step 10:

4-Patch Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

Repeat Steps 7-9 to sew the rest of the pinwheel quilt blocks. Arrange the pinwheel units into a 4-patch and join together the blocks in each row. Press the seams opposite directions. Join together the top and bottom rows, pressing the seam in the direction of your choice.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial for a festive pinwheel quilt block!

6 Comments

Claudia

I much prefer Angela Waters’ method for HST she showed on her first Midnight Quilter show on YouTube. I sewed up several yards of material into HST and then made the pinwheels mostly on a weekend!

Reply
Kathy Steigleder

I noticed that you said the units would finish at 3-3/8 inch, shouldn’t that be 3-1/2 inch?

Reply
Diane Schroeder

Why do I have trouble keeping the points matching some are off just a bit

Reply
Evelyn

I need to make this block to alternate with layer cake squares (10inches), what size 1/2 square triangles do I need and what size squares do I use to get them using this method?

Reply
Tina

Thanks so much – very simple & easy to follow! I love the old-fashioned, utilitarian quilts our grandmothers made, with a little effort thrown in to make them pretty!

Reply
R

Am I the only one that sews in reverse, in order to make my seams match? This seems to cram my seams together, depending on the direction my seams are ironed.

Reply

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