Monday, November 07, 2016

Pinwheels - the current UFO

The current UFO that I am working on is a pattern called "Pinwheel Quarters".  This is another fat quarter friendly quilt pattern by Mary Jane Best of American Legacy Quilts.  If you use just the fat quarters listed, you'll get a 45"x55" or a 50"x60" quilt.

I had some 5" (finished) pinwheels leftover from a previous project.  I realized that I could use the Pinwheel Quarters layout, make more 5" pinwheels (so as to use the leftover pinwheels) and make a pinwheel quilt any size I wanted.  Since I tend to like bed sized quilts, I opted for a double/full ... which, if my math calculations are correct, means I will need about 264 pinwheels.   Oh my.

In order to make a LOT of pinwheels out of the same fabrics, it is more efficient and less tedious to make the half square triangles using the grid method.  Although this *specific* tutorial has you make a strip at a time, there is another method where you make up an entire rectangle of a grid, resulting in an incredible amount of half square triangles with very little effort.

But, I used the strip grid method.  It was easy enough to either find an appropriately sized strip or cut a single strip from my stash.   To get my 5" (finished) pinwheels, I start with a 3.5" strip of colored fabric and white fabric.  Using the grid method tutorial linked above, I mark 3.5" squares on the back of the white fabric in gray chalk.  Opposing diagonals are then chalked in the squares.

After sewing and cutting apart the squares, the resultant half square triangles are trimmed to 3" squares.  I like to make my half square triangles just a tad larger than needed so I can then trim them down to the exact size I need.  I have NEVER been able to sew them so that they end up precisely the correct size without trimming.  Yes, the trimming is another step, but when done, I *know* I have half square triangles that aren't going to fight me when sewn together.

The half square triangles are then sewn into pairs and pairs into pinwheels.  The pinwheels are really just fancy 4-patches.  When you press the seams for a 4-patch, if you aren't aware of this little technique, you will end up with a HUGE lump at the center intersection.  What technique is that, you ask?  I don't know if it has a particular name, but I call it 'the swirl'.  I've also heard it called "spinning".   I certainly didn't invent it but whoever did, is a certified genius. :-)   Here's a very good, if very detailed tutorial.  The actual swirling/spinning the intersection is about 3/4's the way down the page.

Sooooo ... I've been making massive amount of half square triangles.  Lots and lots and lots of pinwheels.  I need 4 half square triangles for every pinwheels.  I need (about) 264 pinwheels.  That's 1056 half square triangles.   Ya know what?  I'm really bored with making half square triangles right now. :-)

BUT ... I have 157 completed pinwheels and 57 half square triangles (that's 14 more pinwheels) already sewn.   That's OVER HALF the number of pinwheels that I need!  woo hoo!  I've passed the tipping point!

The saving grace about making the half square triangles with the grid method, is that it's mindless.  I can have a TV show or movie going while sewing and I really don't need to pay strict attention to the sewing!

It's back to the sewing room ... time to mark another strip into a grid, sew, cut, press, trim, sew again and press again.  The onward march continues. :-)

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