Pinwheels on the Plain

Hi, I’m Kristy and I blog over at HandmadeRetro. This is my first Moda Bake Shop recipe and I couldn’t be more excited to share this little quilt I came up with.

When I was designing this quilt I was jointly inspired by the wind farms outside of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory and the back of a wedding quilt I made for my brother and his wife which was in turn inspired by the aisle markers at their outdoor wedding.

I was so please when I came up with the technique (that may or may not be original) that I thought it deserved a quilt of it’s own. So here it is, Pinwheels on the Plain.

1x Layer Cake Modern Workshop by Oliver + S
1x Charm Pack in Bella Solids White (9900-98)
4.5 Yards Bella Solid for Background (9900-98)
5.5 yards of green spot for backing (11175 14)
3/4 yard of yellow texture for binding (11174 20)

Perle No. 8 Hand quilting thread in various colours to compliment your pinwheels
Quilting hoop
Olfa stencil cutter
Template Plastic

Sorting and Cutting Fabric
Sort the layer cake into two piles: one for the larger triangles and one for the smaller inner triangles. Because paper pinwheels created by cutting and folding scrapbooking paper inspire the quilt, I chose a small design for the smaller triangle, and a large design for the bigger triangle. I also tried to make the pairs different designs and colours.

You will need 16 layer cake sheets for the larger triangles and 8 for the smaller triangles.

From the 16 layer cake sheets for the larger triangles, cut 4×4.5″ squares.

From the 8 layer cake sheets for the smaller triangles, cut 2x 5″ squares (reserve the 10″x5″ off cut for piecing into the back)

From the background solid cut
       (5) 83″x9″ strips (I cut mine lengthways). 
       (28) 7.5″ in squares and then diagonally into 56 triangles
       4 more 7.5″ squares and crosscut into 16 quarter square triangles.

From the binding fabric cut
       (9) 2.5″ strips

Sewing the Pinwheel Blocks:

Start by sewing the solid charm squares to the 5″ print squares into HST units.

– Draw a line diagonally across the back of the solid corner to corner

– Sew .25″ either side of the line.

– Press to set seam

– Cut along the drawn line.

– Press HST units open, pressing seam to print.

– Trim to 4.5″, making sure your diagonal seam remains in the centre of your pinned unit.

You will have 8 HST units in each print.

Sew HST units with the units you just made and the 4.5″ print squares.

– Draw a line diagonally across the back of 4.5″ print square corner to corner

– Place the HST units and the print squares right sides together with the seam line and drawn  line forming an ‘X’

– Sew .25″ either side of the line.

– Press to set seam

– Cut along the drawn line.

– Press HST units open, pressing seam to larger triangle.

– Trim to 4″, making sure your diagonal seam remains in the centre of your pinned unit.

You will have 8 HST units in each print combination – four in one direction and 4 in the other.

Construct the Pinwheel Blocks:

 – Layout your 8 units in each colour combination into two pinwheel units – one will ‘turn’ in a    clockwise direction and the other counterclockwise direction.

– Sew the vertical seams and press to the larger triangle.

– Sew the horizontal seam.

Make 32 pinwheel blocks, you will have 16 unique combinations.  

Sewing the Rows:

Lay your pinwheel blocks out on your design wall or floor in four rows of 8 on point, making sure you have a good spread of colours. Have alternate rows spinning clockwise and counterclockwise.

Sew the Setting Triangles:

– Working one row at a time, sew a setting triangle to the bottom right of each block. It may overhang a little at the bottom edge, don’t worry. You won’t need to do this for the last block in each row. Press seams to the solid.

 – Working one row at a time, sew a setting triangle to the top left of each block. Again it may overhang a little, this time at the top but don’t worry. This time you won’t need to do it for the first block in the row. Press seams to the solid.

– You will end up with blocks that look a little like this.

– Sew the quarter square triangle to both sides of the end blocks left exposed.

– Trim any dog ears at the edges, ensure you leave .25″ seam allowance at the pinwheel points.

– You have a row!

– Complete 4 rows.

Sewing the Quilt Top:

Join a solid strip between each of the rows and one at the top and the bottom. Because the bias edges of the setting triangle are exposed and we cut the strips a little longer than necessary, this needs the be measured and pinned carefully. The points of the pinwheel blocks should be 10″ apart.

– Find the centre of each of your solid strips and mark, mark 10″ along in both directions until you reach the edge. Use this as a guide when pinning the solid to the pinwheel rows.

– Pin, matching the pinwheel points and the marks you made.

– Sew, press seam to the solid strip.

Cut off the excess strips at the side matching pinwheel points and leaving .25″ seam allowance.

Make the back:
Either cut your backing into two and sew together to create a single fabric backing or piece the leftover layer cake sheets into the backing.

Baste using your preferred method.

I hand quilted my Pinwheels on the Plain in No. 8 perle cotton from DMC.

I initially outline quilted the coloured pinwheel blocks about 1/8th inch in Blanc beginning in the middle and working my way to the edges, top and bottom simultaneously. 

I then made a stencil and quilted pinwheels in the empty areas between the pinwheel in the middle three solid rows. 

To make the stencil, I drew a 7.5″ square on template plastic and then the pinwheel shape in the centre. I cut along each of these lines using and Olfa double blade cutter in dashes. 

I traced this onto my quilt top using a water-soluble marker and quilted around the outside square in Blanc and the inner pinwheel triangles in two colours.

Bind using your preferred method.

I cut 2.5″ strips and machine sewed to the front and hand sewed to the back.

One 80″x80 Quilt


Flying Kimonos

The Japanese have many beautiful traditions one of which is the art of Sashiko. I found a Sashiko pattern that looked like little arrowheads and adapted it to make a quilting block. The following quilt showcases one placement of the block to make a very colourful lap quilt using Modern Workshop by Oliver + S. Liesl Gibson has painted a palette of vibrant hues and subtle designs which made it so much fun to make these Kimonos Fly.

1 x Modern Workshop Jelly Roll
2 yards of main border fabric (use length to cut borders)
1.25 yard Moda Bella Solid – Chocolate 9900 41
1.75 yard Moda Bella Solid – Moda U Brown 9900 71

The instructions are for a 9 block layout. With careful planning and cutting you can make 12 blocks from one Jelly Roll.

These blocks while they look complex, are quite simple to make. The block is constructed using a strip piecing method cut at 45 degrees. There are three main rules to follow when making these blocks.

  1. Consistency in your seams. Keep an accurate 1/4″ throughout.
  2. Do not stretch your fabric or pieces. I use spray starch to stabilise my fabrics. I only press my piecing. Do not use steam. Only press a section when complete. This will avoid over pressing.
  3. Most importantly, always cut your completed strip sets at 45 degrees using the middle seam as a point of reference. If you cut your strips accurately and consistently, they will fit together perfectly when sewing the rows together.


Each block will consist of 17 separate fabrics for the arrowheads, one orange print kimono, one brown print kimono tail, and dark brown kimono tail and sleeve.

  • Select two (2)  brown strips and two orange strips (2) from your Jelly Roll. These will be your Kimono fabrics.
  • Cut 4 x 2.5″ strips WOF from dark brown solid for Kimono tails and sleeves.
  • Select 34 different fabrics from the Modern Workshop Jelly Roll. Each strip set will yield five (5) to six (6) strips blocks. For this tutorial, we will only use nine (9) in total.
  • Cut the strips in half to yield 2 x approximately 22″ strips.
Set 1 – Five blocks

Set 2 – Four blocks
  • Make a line drawing of this block and cut a snippet of each fabric and glue or pin to drawing. This will help you organise your strip sets.
Remember to place the dark brown solid, brown, and orange prints in the positions below. These form the Kimonos.
Placement of Fabrics for the Kimono Pattern
  • Layout your strip sets in rows and sew together. Stagger your strips 2″ from top or bottom depending on the orientation of the rows. (See diagram below).
  • Press open Seams.
  • Cut the strip sets into rows 2″ wide at a 45 degree angle.

The rows must be cut at a 45 degree angle. There is a marking on most rulers. I used a 6.5″ squaring ruler to achieve my 45 degree orientation. I placed the centre line of the ruler on the middle seam and then butted another ruler up against it. Reverse this process to cut the opposite direction.

  • When you have cut all strip sets into rows, lay them as shown below. You will need to cut nine (9) left diamonds and nine (9) right diamonds to add to the ends from the dark brown fabric.
  • Sew each row together staring from the left. The intersecting seams should fit snuggly together. Pin well and slow down when you come to each seam intersection. Press open your seams when block is completed.
  • Cut block – Your finished block should be 12 1/2″. When you cut each block, make sure you place the 45 degree angle of your squaring ruler down the centre and cut each block exactly the same.
Adding the Sashing
  • Cut 1″ strips WOF from the lighter brown solid.
  • Cut six (6) strips the width of your block – 12 1/2″
  • Layout your blocks so the Kimonos all lay in the one direction.
  • Sew the sashing strips to the top of two (2)  blocks and join to make a row of three. Press seams outward.
  • Repeat to make two more rows of three (3) blocks.
  • Measure across your sets of three finished blocks. Take the average of the two measurements and cut two (2) x 1″ strips of the lighter brown solid to make the sashing to join the rows. Sew together making sure the sashing intersections all align. Press seams outward.
Adding the borders

Border 1
  • Measure across the centre of the quilt.  Using 2″ strips of the lighter brown solid,  sew to top and bottom.
  • Measure from top to bottom of quilt and add 2″ border strips to sides of quilt.
Border 2
  • Measure across the centre of the quilt. Cut 1″ strips of dark brown solid and 6 1/2″ strips of main border fabric. Sew 1″ dark brown solid strip to main border fabric. Sew to top and bottom of quilt.
  • Measure from top to bottom of quilt and sew a 1″ dark brown solid strip to main border fabric and sew left and right borders.
Binding and Quilting
  • Make sure quilt is square.
  • Cut 2 1/2″ strips of the dark brown solid and make double fold binding.
  • Sew binding to quilt.
  • Quilt as desired. I have machine quilted this project using an all over pattern.

Block size 12 1/2″
Quilt Size 54″ x 54″

One colourful lap quilt.

These are alternative block layouts, which would look fabulous in any of the beautiful fabrics designed for Moda, especially their Bella solid range.

Jane Davidson
{Quilt Jane}