Anita’s Pinwheels

My blog post of April 29 showed rows of “Pinwheel” blocks handstitched by Anita when she was a girl under the tutelage of her grandmother.

I trimmed all the blocks to 9″ square and sashed them with a white tone-on-tone fabric. For corner stones, I chose a navy floral print from my inherited stash of vintage fabrics. The colors of the flowers blend fairly well with the colors in the “Pinwheels,” yet the overall appearance of the print is more subdued than the pieced blocks, allowing them to shine.

I quilted an all-over freehand spiral design with very pale silver gray thread. Then it was back to searching inherited stash for a poly/cotton navy fabric for the binding. I felt a solid navy would coordinate well with the corner stones, and I didn’t feel guilty using poly/cotton since many of the “Pinwheels” were made with cotton and polyester blends.

I am pleased with the outcome of this quilt, and I know Anita will be, too. We transformed a stack of vintage blocks languishing in her cedar chest into a usable quilt. She plans to fold it and display it at the end of her bed to remind her of good times stitching with her grandmother.

Pinwheels on the Design Wall

Anita P. asked me to transform her stack of Pinwheel blocks into a quilt. She hand stitched them over forty years ago under her grandmother’s watchful eye. There are forty-two blocks in all, perfect for a 6 x 7 grid.

I trimmed the blocks to 9″ square and am sewing 2″ sashing between them. The sashing, cut straight of grain, is stabilizing the blocks, many of which have bias edges. Some of the fabrics are thin cotton, typical of the era, and some are a polyester blend. I am hopeful that the white sashing nicely ties the blocks together and allows each Pinwheel to shine.

Anita plans to display the quilt at the foot of her bed where it will visually remind her of precious times spent sewing with her grandmother.

“Pinwheel Play” Finished!

In April, I presented a lecture and workshop for the Lake Gaston Piecemakers. The Programs chairmen, Gerry and Phyllis felt “Pinwheel Play” would be an intriguing and challenging workshop. Read all about the fun here. Randi has finished her quilt which is pictured below. It coordinates so nicely with the blue pottery in her china cabinet!

Lake Gaston Randi's quilt

To demo the cutting technique for “Pinwheel Play,” I used a kitty cat print and coordinating fat quarters, purchased from JoAnn’s. The workshop participants embraced the idea, cutting and sewing diligently; most completed all four “Pinwheel” blocks by the day’s end. My hostess, Judy, and I stayed up late adding sashing and borders to the blocks we sewed in the workshop.


Now that my “Pinwheel Play” is quilted and bound, I can donate it to the local NICU. I wonder if the baby girl it blesses will grow up loving playful kitty cats.

“Pinwheel Panache” Reprinted

Do you ever leaf through quilting magazines or books prior to purchasing? I do! On a recent trip to JoAnn’s, ostensibly to purchase a skein of navy embroidery thread, I picked up the Winter 2014/2015 edition of America Loves Scrap Quilts published by McCall’s Quilting.

American loves scrap quilts winter 14 15 cover

The specialty magazine contains lots of lovely projects! I noticed that the instructions are not interrupted by ads – a plus for someone like me who’s easily distracted. So, I’m turning pages, oohing and aahhing . . . and come upon a quilt I designed, “Pinwheel Panache!”


This quilt first appeared in McCall’s Quick Quilts, February/March 2010. Perhaps you have a copy . . .

McCalls QQ Feb Mar 2010 Cover_Small

It was fun to see my quilt reprinted – proof that it is still a great design assembled in the time saving method of layering four fat quarters, cutting through all four layers, swapping pieces and sewing the pieces into pinwheels. Intrigued? You can purchase a copy of America Loves Scrap Quilts directly from the McCall’s website. Click here for the Print Issue.  Click here for the Digital Issue.


“Simple Pinwheel” Quilt and Table Runner


I’d like to draw your attention to the “Patterns” tab in my blog header. If you have a few minutes, take a look at the free patterns offered there. If you need to make a quilted gift, perhaps you’ll find an idea for a pretty or quick project that suits your budget, time constraints or fabric/color preferences.

“Simple Pinwheels,” listed on the Patterns page is a quick quilt easily accomplished with strip piecing. Here’s a picture of Marjorie’s scrappy Pinwheels quilt. What a fun way to utilize random 2 1/2″ strips. Notice that each block is composed of 2 colorful strips. I love the contrasting white sashing and blue cornerstones!

Simple Pinwheel by Marjorie Simple Pinwheel by Marjorie

FYI- one strip of colored fabric (2 1/2″ x 40″) plus one strip of background fabric yields two “Simple Pinwheel” blocks that measure 8 1/2″ unfinished. If you are working with fat quarters, one 20″ colored strip plus a 20″ background strips yields 1 “Pinwheel” block.


On a recent shopping trip to JoAnn’s Fabric andCraft store, the peppermint fabric caught my eye. I imagined a “Simple Pinwheel” table runner made with white, red, and peppermint fabric. If you’d like to make one, too, you need 1/2 yd. white, 1/4 yd. red, 1/2 yd. peppermit, and 1/2 yd. backing fabric. Cut 3 strips each of the red and peppermint fabrics; cut 6 strips of the white fabric. This yields 12 blocks.


I made two rows of five blocks each for my runner because I wanted the top to fit onto a 42″ width of backing fabric.


You could make a longer runner by using all 12 blocks, or you could make two potholders to coordinate with the runner.


Click here and here to see other “Simple Pinwheel” quilts.


More “Pinwheel Play”

Today I’d like to Show ‘n’ Tell about three “Pinwheel Play” quilts. “Pinwheel Play” is my Layer, Cut, Swap, and Sew pattern made from fat quarters. I offer it as a workshop to quilt groups/guilds.

Here is Deb’s quilt, a gift for her aunt . . . who is of Irish descent. Deb attended the workshop for the Braided River Quilt Guild in Papillon, Nebraska at the end of March. You can see more pictures of the workshop quilts in progress here.

Deb's Pinwheel Play

Here’s a close-up of Deb’s feather-y quilting.

Deb's Pinwheel Play quilting close up

Next we have Barbara’s quilt in greens, tans, and rust. The orange flange, or folded insert, between the borders adds a wonderful pop of color!


I was really tempted to quilt leaves on Barbara’s quilt since it says “fall” to me. But I had recently quilted for Barbara a large, truly fall quilt with buttonhole-stitched leaves using pantograph of various leaves, so I opted instead for some freehand designs. Barbara is an octogenarian member of the Tarheel Quilters Guild.


And now for the creative finale by Annemarie, one of the leaders of the Log Cabin Ladies in Esslingen, Germany. Anne did not swap the fabrics as directed by my instructions; she swapped in a different way. But you can still discern the pinwheels, can’t you?

Annemarie's crazy mixed up pinwheel

Awesome quilts, ladies. Thanks for sharing pictures of “Pinwheel Play” with my blog followers.

“Pinwheel Play” with Tarheel Quilters

On Saturday, February 1, I taught my “Pinwheel Play” workshop to over 20 Tarheel Quilters. (I am a member of this guild in Fayetteville, NC).


“Pinwheel Play” was published in McCall’s Quick Quilts, March 2010 under the title “Pinwheel Panache.” It is a Layer, Cut, Swap and Sew design.


Each participant brought 4 fat quarters that coordinated yet contrasted in color, texture, or shade.


All styles of fabric were represented: juvenile prints in primary colors, batiks, patriotic, floral, nautical, tonals, and pastels.


After I gave a cutting and swapping demonstration, the workshop participants got to work.


“What you see, is what you cut” is my slogan. Don’t worry about adding seam allowances to each piece. We will trim down the four quadrants of the “Pinwheel” before sewing them together; this compensates for the omisison of seam allowances.


Saving time is a benefit of this cutting method. Since I layer the fat quarters, I can cut all 4 blocks in the amount of time it would have taken to cut 1 individual block.


Four fat quarters yields four blocks, enough for a baby quilt or small lap quilt. This is perfect for the guilds’ two major charities, the NICU at Cape Fear Medical Center and the Veterans Administration Hospital.


Some of the quilters purchased fabrics from newly released lines. Others selected fat quarters from stash, happy to have an excuse to use them.


Quilters have an amazing attention span! We sewed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with a short break for lunch), and no one complained or wanted to leave early.


Concentrated sewing for 6 hours can yield a completed quilt top. Hooray for Nancy!


If you would like to try another four-block quilt made with the Layer, Cut, Swap and Sew method, check out “Monkey Shines” on my Patterns page. You really can make this quilt in a day!


“Prism” Published

I am so excited! My wall quilt, “Prism,” is published in the March/April 2014 issue of McCall’s Quilting! If you are a McCall’s subscriber, you’ve probably already received your copy. My quilt is on page 68.


As always, the staff photographer wonderfully staged my quilt; it’s displayed in a living  room setting. This colorful, modern quilt was quick and easy to piece.


The challenge for me was planning 9 different quilting designs for the “negative space.” Yes, each vertical row has a different freehand quilting design. I gained inspiration from machine quilting books by Angela Walters and Bethany Pease Sheets. Perhaps you can better see the quilting designs in the photo below.


How could you adapt the color scheme of this quilt design? What color could be used as the background instead of white? What could you use instead of the rainbow colored rectangles? Leave your ideas in a comment below.

A Salute to Our Veterans

Sending out special thoughts of thankfulness to our USA veterans and their families today. Hurrah for the red, white, and blue and the men and women who wear the uniform to keep our country free and safe!


This “Simple Pinwheel” quilt was made by my friend, Stacy. She is an avid supporter of the Quilts of Valor program and has made and presented many quilts to local wounded warriors. I often help our local QOV chapter by quilting the quilt tops others make.

For this patriotic quilt, I chose an all-over spiral quilting design. I wanted to present the illusion that the Pinwheels are spinning.


Did you notice that Stacy used a light red/white print as well as many bold red, gold, and blue prints in the quilt? From a distance, your eyes perceive gaps in the pattern. You wonder why there are Pinwheels missing, so you step closer and realize that the Pinwheels are there. The “missing” Pinwheels are a light print against the white background. Perhaps this can symbolize the veterans who have passed on . . . we miss them in our rank and file, but their contributions were significant, helping to define the overall pattern of the fabric of our country.


Veterans, thank you for your service!

Directions for “Simple Pinwheel” are found on the Patterns page of this blog. Read Stacy’s story behind this quilt on her blog