Wednesday, July 25, 2012

~ Half Square Triangle Tutorial: Pinwheel Perfection ~

I am still up to my elbows in these bright and happy colors.  These oh-so-happy pinwheels are just the border to my latest pattern ... wait until you see the seashore center.
Here's a hint:  I'm thinking of calling it "Ode to the Target Dollar Bin".

The first thing I had to do was find my handy-dandy "Quilt-in-a-day" ruler.  That may have been the most difficult part of the whole process.

My pinwheels consist of 4 'half-square triangles'.  Each unit needs to measure 2" square, unfinished. So I added 1/2" to that measurement and cut strips of the two coordinating halves that are 2 1/2" wide.
Your measurements can be whatever you need. Do the math to adjust, adding that 1/2".

Put the two strips with right sides together before making the next cut to save a step. Steam them with the edges matching exactly and they won't wiggle apart in the process.  Now cut those strips into 2 1/2" square pairs.  They are pretty much wed for life, so don't separate them.

Draw a line down the center of the (back of the) top square, as shown, with a permanent type marker.  You will cut on this line so it matters not that it is permanent.

But ... don't cut yet.

Now -- using your 1/4" foot, sew 1/4" to the right of the line you have drawn.

Then flip it around and sew down the other side as before.

You may choose to do this in a strip-piecing frenzy if you would like.

Now cut down that center line.  I personally just use scissors and not a ruler and rotary cutter.  The seam line is already set, so it matters not if you don't have a perfect straight edge here.
Although ... do your best to make it straight.
Just in case your 7th grade Home-Ec teacher stops by.

Now get out your ruler that is just made for this process. You can purchase it here, or at your local quilt store.
Why another special ruler?
Have you ever tried to sew a square from two triangles?  They almost never actually look like or measure like a square.  That is because a) you are sewing on bias edges which are known to misbehave and b) you are a human being.
Moving right along ...

Place  the line (indicating the size in inches of unfinished square to are striving to create) directly on your seamline, with the diagonal line marching exactly through the corner to your left.  You see that there is a slight excess of fabric, not to mention those pesky notches hanging out the end.

Holding the ruler steady, with your fingers completely landlocked, cut off both of those edges to the top with your rotary cutter.
Then ... flip it around ... and do the same for the other two edges.

If you would be more comfortable cutting off a slightly larger amount, then add 3/4" to your original measurement instead of 1/2".

Either way ... you end up with a lot of confetti.

And a pile of perfectly square ...  squares.

 Told you so.

To make some happy pinwheels lay them out as shown here and sew them together.

If you press the center seam all to one side it can be awfully bulky in the center (what with six [6!] seams coming together) so I "twist and pop" the center to even out the bulk. Ooh, I see that I have made another pinwheel in the process.  Cool.

I have had SO much fun working on this quilt.  I may have a hard time sewing on any colors again that don't serve as a woven alarm clock.

Stay tuned to see the finished product and pattern.

Happy Pin(wheel) - ing!
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  1. What a happy design! It makes me want to make a quilt! I love the pretty colors and patterns and you make it look like fun!

    1. Gorgeous!! I wish that I could sew!

  2. Thanks for stopping by CountryMommaCooks and linking up at our Saturday Link and Greet Party...hope to see you again tonight : )
    Deana @ CountryMommaCooks

  3. I would just sew my fingers together...I am so in awe of you. I used to work for Scalamandre in Florida and we had to toss out the old fabric samples...have you ever thought of contacting fabric stores for their discontinued items? You would put them to such good use.