Spinning Pinwheels

One stack of 8 triangles (spinning kitties)
One stack of 8 triangles (climbing frogs)

Remember the piece of fabric I showed last week? These two blocks are digital images of two of the 8 stacks of triangles. Do I have your attention now? I'm going to show you what happens with another fabric that I cut up into 8 squares and then again into 8 triangles. This will work with any large scale print!

This technique is not unique with me. I saw it demonstrated 10 years ago by Kay H. in Atlanta when we were part of a local quilt guild. But this sure beats the Stack 'n Whack method in simplicity.

Here is a scan of the original fabric.
Start with a 9-1/2" square. Cut 7 more with EXACT print placement.
1. Cut 7 more squares of fabric that look exactly like the original. Yes, you will have large "holes" in your fabric. You are looking for repeats of the pattern, but you only have to cut a total of 8 squares 9-1/2" x 9-1/2".

2. Stack the 8 squares and cut in half along both horizontal and vertical and then again along both diagonals. Leave the 8 stacks of 8 triangles each as they are. You will be working with only ONE stack of 8 triangles at a time.

3. Cut 4 squares 9-1/2" of background fabric (in this case, light yellow) and also cut along vertical, horizontal and both diagonals. You don't have to worry about mixing these up; they are all the same!

One stack of 8 triangles (in pic above it is the stack above the number "7")
Join 4 of the 8 print triangles with 4 of the background triangles.
4 sets of triangles pinned and ready to be sewn (always on the same side)
All 8 triangles (from one stack) arranged. What are those holes? Well, we're not done!
Note that is is helpful to "audition" your layout to make sure that you are sewing the background fabric to the correct side of each triangle. In this case, the yellow triangle was consistently sewn to the side of the print triangle where the green/cream curve occurs. This way all of the flower points are in the center. Don't mix these up or you won't get the kaleidoscope effect.

4. Cut 5 strips 2-1/8" x wof. Re-cut into rectangles 2-1/8" x 6-1/2". Note the artwork below. You can get your pinwheels to spin either left or right (or both ways if you weren't paying attention, as I wasn't!!).

Using another stack of triangles, this is how those two units will look together:
Two units ready to be joined (you will make 4 of these)
Don't you just love the way that center twirls?

Here are 3 blocks up close:
Patches from pic above sewn with the yellow print. Love that spinning flower!

Just look at that center wreath formed by the flower sections.

I didn't plan that perfect vine circle at the edge of the triangles!

And what do all those blocks look like together? Each stack of 8 squares will yield 8 blocks.

8 blocks. Note that some spin left, others spin right. (These are not sewn together yet.)
OK. I'm done. Hope you enjoy this. Please let me see your blocks if you take this adventurous challenge. There is no way I can tell you how much large-scale print fabric you will need. It all depends on the repeat. Go take a look at some of that "ugly" novelty print you have in your stash. Once it's cut up, it will no longer be ugly. This is a DESIGN posting and not an exact pattern with lists of yardage. I think it's safe to say that you can probably get your 8 squares out of 2 yards of print.

I bought 2 yards of an awesome ethnic/African print the other day and can't wait to try this again.


  1. Neat. Thank you for sharing directions.

  2. I love this, and the easy technique!

  3. Thanks for the tutorial. I'm going to give this a try after I finish my Christmas gift projects.

  4. Oh, this is just too cool! Oh my I love the results. I wonder about the fabric. Will any print fabric work? I'm going to try this. Thank you. Something new for me to try.

  5. Great explanation -- thanks for sharing your process! I'm a new follower; your blog is marvelous! Hope you've stayed safe in the wake of Sandy. :)

  6. I am going to give this a try! Thanks, Debby!

  7. Wow! Thanks for the tutorial. My mind's racing with possibilities.

  8. Great tutorial Debbie, that is one of my favorite block patterns but I've never made it this way.....what fun! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thank you for this tutorial! Now I must rush down to my sewingroom and find some fabric to use :)
    Gun, Sweden

  10. Thanks for the tips--I'll be sure to check out your link for stack 'n whack--I've never done one, but I'm intrigued!


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Thanks for stopping by Debby Kratovil Quilts! If you had a question and don't get an answer from me, please feel free to email me at: kratovil@his.com