BLOCK Friday – Pinwheel Quilt Block

Every quilter knows the Pinwheel quilt block. It’s withstood the test of time and continues to thrive in today’s quilting world. We love these Pinwheel quilt pattern block designs – they’re tried and true! And… they make really neat quilts, too.

One Nation Quilt Pattern - Block Designs
One Nation Quilt by Heidi Pridemore

This quilt block’s history is really interesting! The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has an 1812 – 1814 “Pinwheel” Quilt in it’s collections:

Smithsonian Pinwheel Quilt
1812 – 1814 “Pinwheel” Quilt

In 1962 a great-great-granddaughter of one of the makers of this quilt donated it to the Museum with the information that it had been made by women in the Adams family. They were said to have made the quilt while the men were away during the War of 1812. The donor’s great-grandfather was Jackson Adams, her great-great uncle, Joshua Adams, and her grandmother, Jane Adams…The “Pinwheel” Quilt, with its contrast of elaborate stuffed quilting and simply pieced blocks, is a fine example of early 19th-century quilt making.

Wow! What a story! Of course, quilting has evolved quite a bit since 1812 and traditional block quilts, although resembling their ancestors, have seen a multitude of quilt designs and arrangements over the years. Take Brighton, for example. This is a quilt that features, not only pinwheels, but also special folk art appliqué quilt blocks. Quilts, as you can see, have become more daring in the color department, as well.

Brighton Quilt Pattern - Block Designs
Brighton by Dawn Heese

Sew Easy: 8-at-a-Time Triangle-SquaresNot only has design and color brought Pinwheel quilts into contemporary times, but we’ve also seen changes in technique. The Batik Pinwheels quilt uses zero triangles! The technique used in this quilt creates 8 triangle squares at a time using pre-cut 10″ squares, quickly and accurately. Learn about this technique by watching the quick Sew Easy quilting video tutorial shown here.

Batik Pinwheels Quilt Pattern - Block Designs
Batik Pinwheels by Tony Jacobson

The Pinwheel quilt block has been modified even further in recent years. The traditional Pinwheel block’s more curvaceous cousin, the Whirling Pinwheel, has found popularity amongst the quilting community. You can see why – Holiday Whirl and Fond Memories are fabulous!

Holiday Whirl Quilt Pattern - Block Designs
Fond Memories Quilt Pattern - Block Designs

Here’s a tip if you decide to go with a whirling pinwheel quilt. The Whirling Pinwheel Template Set makes the quiltmaking process much easier and more accurate.

These quilts have ebbed and flowed with the quilting times. It’s exciting to see a Pinwheel quilt pattern, block designs from traditional to contemporary quilts, in homes of quilters and non-quilters alike.

For more Pinwheel quilt patterns – free quilt patterns – download the free Pinwheel quilts eBook. It’s one easy download with 4 free quilt patterns!

What’s your favorite type of Pinwheel? Tell me about it!

Carrie Sisk, Online Editor, Fons & Porter
Happy Quilting!

Carrie Sisk, Fons & Porter Online Editor

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Fons & Porter Blog
Carrie Sisk

About Carrie Sisk

Carrie's first sewing machine was a gift from her dad—a better gift was never given. A crafter, trained pianist and experienced paintballer, when the opportunity arises, she's hiking in Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park.