Free Pinwheel Quilt Pattern + Pinwheel Block Variations Explained

Discover all about the pinwheel quilt block and explore its numerous variations. Learn how to piece a simple pinwheel quilt pattern.

The pinwheel quilt block is a traditional quilt block used in many different quilt patterns – modern and traditional.

In this article, we’re diving into the world of pinwheels.

And let me tell you, there’s lots to be excited about. From pinwheel quilt block variations to a simple pinwheel quilt pattern, we’ve covered it all.

So what do you say? Let’s explore the playful world of pinwheels!

What is A Pinwheel Quilt Block?

A pinwheel quilt block is a quilt block that resembles a spinning pinwheel or windmill. That’s also the reason why the pinwheel block is sometimes called the windmill quilt block. 

The basic pinwheel quilt block consists of four half-square triangles rotating around the central point, each HST representing a “leaf” of the pinwheel. Due to its simple design, the pinwheel block offers many variations which I will show you below.

Typically, the pinwheel quilt block is created by using two different fabrics to create the swirling effect of the pinwheel. This block will look good in any color or print, as long as they are clearly contrasting. (If you are wondering how to choose colors, you can find some tips and tricks in our posts on how to choose colors that always work and about the color schemes for modern quilters.)

The pinwheel quilt block has a long tradition and is one of the classic quilt blocks that is claimed to be around since the 1800s. While it is often associated with traditional or vintage styles, its simple construction also makes it the perfect choice for modern quilt designs

See the tutorial below to learn how the basic pinwheel quilt block is constructed.

Pinwheel Quilt Block

Pinwheel Quilt Block Variations

The pinwheel quilt block’s simple design lends itself well to a variety of block variations. By experimenting with different designs of the leaves and piecing them from smaller triangles, you can achieve various shapes and effects.

You can replace the half-square triangles with quarter-square triangle blocks (like we did in the first illustration above). This creates the three-dimensional effect typical for paper pinwheels and enhances the effect of the motion. If you want to emphasize the illusion of movement, you can also manipulate the central part of the pinwheel.

What Is A Pinwheel Quilt?

All quilt designs that use pinwheel quilt blocks are called pinwheel quilt patterns. Pinwheel quilt blocks add a sense of playfulness and movement to quilts, making them the perfect choice for baby quilt patterns. 

The pinwheels can be arranged in a regular pattern or randomly for a more playful effect. In the tutorial below I will show you how to make a simple crib-size quilt with pinwheels in three different colors. 

Free Pinwheel Quilt Pattern (36×46” Finished Quilt)

The tutorial below is written for a 36×46” finished quilt top. If you want to make a different size, you will need to make the calculation adjustments yourself. Use our fabric yardage calculator to help you with the quilt math!

A Step-By-Step Tutorial For Pinwheel Quilt

This is a simple and quick pattern to make a pinwheel quilt. I will lead you step by step through how to piece this playful pinwheel quilt top. From making the half-square triangles to piecing them into pinwheel quilt blocks and finally, sewing it all together into a finished quilt top.

Pinwheel Quilt Pattern

Required Tools:

– rotary cutter
– cutting mat
– ruler
– marking pencil
– sewing machine

Materials:

– chosen fabric
– thread

How To Make A Pinwheel Quilt:

Pinwheel Quilt Pattern_Cutting Chart
Step 1: Cut the fabrics

Follow the cutting chart above.

HSTs To Make Pinwheel Quilt Block
Step 2: Make half-square triangle blocks

To make this pattern you will need 12 pinwheel blocks in total (4 in each color). This means you’ll need 16 half-square triangles per color. 

I suggest following the 8-at-a-time half-square triangle method that produces 8 identical half-square triangles at a time. This means you will need to repeat this process two times for each color.

Each time you will need one 10” square in color A/B/C and a 10” square in color D.

How To Make A Pinwheel Quilt Block
Step 3: Sew HSTs into pinwheel quilt blocks

In this pattern, you will need two different pinwheel blocks. The difference between them is in the rotation of HSTs. See the image below and make sure you place the HSTs in the correct orientation.

Make two pinwheel blocks rotating clockwise and two pinwheel blocks rotating counterclockwise.

Step 4: Sew the rows

In this pattern, you will need two different pinwheel blocks. The difference between them is in the rotation of HSTs. See the image below and make sure you place the HSTs in the correct orientation.

Make two pinwheel blocks rotating clockwise and two pinwheel blocks rotating counterclockwise.

Step 5: Attach sashing and borders

In this pattern, you will need two different pinwheel blocks. The difference between them is in the rotation of HSTs. See the image below and make sure you place the HSTs in the correct orientation.

Make two pinwheel blocks rotating clockwise and two pinwheel blocks rotating counterclockwise.

Your pinwheel quilt top is finished!

You gotta admit, these pinwheels make such fun and playful quilts. You could absolutely use them to make any size quilt, but you can’t go wrong with a pinwheel baby quilt.

If you make one, make sure you tell us all about it! We looove hearing about your quilts!

Happy sewing!

Further Reading

Finish a Quilt in 3 steps

If you’re new to quilting and you’re overwhelmed with how to finish a quilt, here are the 3 basic steps with links to useful tutorials:

STEP 1: BASTE
How to Baste a Quilt >

STEP 2: QUILT
Machine Quilting for Beginners >
Inspiring Straight Line Quilting Designs >

STEP 3: BIND
The Ultimate Quilt Binding Tutorial >


If you prefer, you can follow our beginner-friendly tutorial on How to make a quilt from start to finish.

Pinwheel Quilt Pattern FAQ

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