Assembling blocks is one of those steps in the process of making a quilt that starts out SO MUCH FUN. And then you have to go to sleep. Or do the dishes. Or the baby wakes up. And before you know it, you have a ton of cut pieces half assembled sitting next to your sewing machine weeks (ahem, sometimes years) later. I know this. I feel you. I’ve been there.
I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to be this way. For some reason, I kept my mojo on this project and just did a few an hour, a day, when I could, and they were done. In a WEEK. That’s a record. Don’t let yourself get distracted by the new Vogue Knitting, or making matching hairbows for the first day of school outfit. JUST DON’T. If I can do it, so can you. Seriously.
- Pull up a chair, maybe crack a bottle of wine, and draw lines on the backs of all of your contrast squares on the diagonal. Be exact about this. Use a sharp pencil, and mark the corners with dots if you need. You can also do this as you sew each block, but then you have to keep more tools out on your workspace.
- Lay a contrast square right sides together with a charm pack square. Line up the corners exactly and pin. Do these in pairs; pick the same pattern or color from each charm pack.
- Sew. Using the drawn line as a guide, stitch 1/4″ away from the line. Turn the block around when you get to the end and repeat. You’ll now see 3 parallel lines: one stitching, one drawn, and one stitching, all 1/4″ apart. Repeat on the other set of squares.
- Press. I like to flat press each side to smooth out the stitching.
- Cut. Slice down your drawn line so your square now looks like two triangles. Repeat.
- Press. Gently fold open your triangle along the seam and finger press, then iron. Press the seam allowance to the darker side. In my case, that’s the contrast side. There will be tiny corners of seam allowance extending over the edges of the squares; just cut those off.
- Lay out the block. *There are two ways you can lay out a pinwheel. I researched which layout is more traditional, and picked that way. I liked the way the block “spun” this direction better.
- Flip the right side squares over the left side squares, and “lock” the seam allowances together. *That’s the cool thing about quilting. The seam allowances are always pressed in opposite directions, which makes lining up perfect corners so easy. I thought my grandma was magic until I realized how hard it is to mess up if you just follow this rule.
- Sew. Stitch down each pair at 1/4″. I chain piece mine together.
- Press. Again, press the seam allowance to the darker (contrast) side.
- Flip the top over the bottom half, and again lock your seams together. This time making sure your triangle peaks interlock.
- Sew. Stitch at 1/4″ again. Stay a hair away from the point when you sew across. If you sew exactly on the point, it will look like you overshot and took the point off. The fabric needs just a hair of space to turn perfectly.
- Press. This is a bit trickier, but so cool. Press each half towards the contrast side as you normally would. It changes direction in the middle where the points meet. If you then flip the block over and coax the seam allowance apart, it MAGICALLY makes a mini pinwheel in the seam allowance! This helps distribute the bulk better as well as just being fun to look at.
Done! And repeat 41 (or 47) more times. I actually scrapped the first two blocks I made, as I realized that I could make the herringbone point around the block like it was spinning if I cut on a different diagonal than I originally had. If you have extra fabric, play a bit to see how you like the layout best. Don’t give up. Persevere. You can do it.
Happy Labor Day! And happy sewing!
Love from Wisco,