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Giant Pinwheel Quilt!

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(picture by Tabby, not sure the caption goes with this, but whatever!)

A few years ago I checked a book out of the library called A Month of Sundays–Family, Friends, Food & Quilts. I was quite taken with one of the, a giant pinwheel, and photocopied the pages so that someday I could make it.  A pinwheel is a basic and familiar quilt block and here the entire quilt was made to be a big single pinwheel block–made up of other pinwheel blocks. I really loved this concept. It’s pretty simple looking in design, and I found it striking, especially because it used two colors only. The colored blocks would be made up of many different fabrics, printed, all in that color. The book showed it in green and white and though I considered many, many other color combinations, that is also the colorway I wanted. This winter I saw a lovely new line, Greenery, at Hawthorne Threads. That did it– I ordered a few of their fabrics (that bark! those deer!) and that was the start. The Hawthorne Threads fabric is digitally printed and definitely not the beautiful softness you’ll find in other high quality non-digitally printed fabrics, but I think since I bought it it has softened through handling (and washing.) That fabric did cut very nicely. So I chose a combination of their fabrics, plus some I saw at the store, plus a few little bits from my own collection. Although I tend to bemoan the vast swathes of white fabric prevalent in modern quilts, that is what was needed here. I chose a white-on-white with an all over floral pattern. Because two of my prints had tiny bits of bright pink in them, I chose a beautiful pink for the binding.
As for the backing, I’m so in love with it. I decided that the perfect backing would be a green and white vintage sheet. I got right on Etsy to browse and found a 1980s sheet from the seller BlueRose Retro. It was in terrific condition, so smooth, and the colors and pattern looked made for my patchwork pinwheel! Inexpensive and delivered quickly, to boot! (certainly less expensive than 4 yards of good cotton.)2017-09-03 15.54.24

The construction of the top really wasn’t very difficult at all. Good instructions from the book, and it’s all just triangles and squares. The hardest thing was cutting 4 gigantic triangles of the white fabric.  Because the center of the quilt is one complete pinwheel block I made extra certain that those triangle points lined up perfectly.  The prints are randomized, though I was careful to have that center block be 4 that I especially liked together. The one design flaw I made was that I had just 2 triangles of an old fabric I liked, a dark green with hearts on it. Because it was only two I wanted to be sure they were nowhere near each other. So how did they both end up in one block?!

Perhaps it is because I sewed the top so successfully-matching points, laying flat, pretty square, that it is especially galling that this ended up being probably the worst made quilt I’ve ever done!! More on that later.

For quilting I decided to do curved lines in the big white section so that they might mimic or evoke a pinwheel’s movement. Though I used saucers and plates to draw on the first lines, after that I used a string held at the center and my pen. I also decided to not measure, but have variable widths. My thinking was that I would have different widths intentionally, rather than accidentally (and yet they ended up fairly even. ) I also decided that the lines of stitching would not go seam to seam, but rather end short of the other seam. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting and so some go all the way and some end. Ultimately I do love how the curved lines look and think they give big impact when seen all at once.
But here’s where the problem came in… tremendous wrinkles on the back. And then, the front not laying smooth and being loose and blousey. Because I did the white sections first, and curved around rather then going out from the center, (and also I should have used a walking foot on my machine.) it all just ended up fairly bunched. However, after a few tears I pulled it together and accepted it. So what if there are wrinkles? So what if I had to take a few little pleats when I applied the binding. I’m not entering it into a contest and it’s for family use. It’s soft and the colors are beautiful. The stitching in the white areas does look how I envisioned it, too. In the green sections all I opted to do was one large triangle the same shape as the overall piece.  Oh, and while the drama of the wrinkles on the back was happening, something I’ve always worried about finally did happen: while snipping a thread my tiny sharp embroidery scissors cut a tiny hole right in my fabric!! Not visible but I worried that it could fray and grow over the years. I was going to cover it with a piece of matching fabric, but since I usually like to put something special on the back that is where I appliqued a small pinwheel block made of the backing and binding. I did embroider my initials and the year on two sides of the block, but frankly did such a lousy job I’m going to pull it out and redo it.

After all the quilting woes the binding was a treat to put on. I was eager to wrap this up and call it done. I’m back to work on Tuesday, and while my initial goal in June was to complete two quilts this summer, by July I knew it would only be one. There was no way I was not going to finish this so I spent some solid time Sunday finishing the binding. And, as there was definitely a September chill in the air on Sunday morning, I can attest that having the quilt on my lap was very warm and snuggly. So, as Liz says, “does it work as a blanket?” You bet it does!  (And I love the way it looks, too.)


About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

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