Monday, March 29, 2010


There are times I can’t help myself.  I see a new gadget or a new technique and I have to dive in – immediately.  (I’m not exactly chastising myself since that is how Miniatures in Minutes came about – I took time off teaching to write a novel and instead became fascinated with how the Fold and Sew technique could be applied to miniature quilts.  What can I say?  Obsession happens).

So, the latest cool thing – the Lil’ Twister tool from Country Schoolhouse – as the pattern notes, the tool for making pinwheels easy. 

Here’s how it works.  You start with a grid of 5" squares.  I was curious how the  Trip Around the World layout would translate into pinwheels so that is how I laid out my patches.  After sewing  the squares together, you add a 3" border.

Then, take the template and lay it over the intersections.  It’s hard to see on the photo but there are two intersecting lines drawn on the template that you use to line up the square over the seam lines.  Cut. 

Here’s another picture showing midway through the cutting process.

Here is the block once it’s been cut out:

Here it is added to the developing quilt layout (a design wall is crucial, I think):

Here’s the layout, ready to sew:

And here’s the top finished.

I am just so amazed that someone was able to visualize how this would work.  (For the record, the tool comes in two sizes – one sized to work with 5" charm packs, the other with 10" Layer Cakes).  Fun, fun, fun.  I have more tessellating pinwheel quilts coming up.   Either a runner for my dining room table or a new topper for the table chest in my office.  More hot pads?  A baby quilt?  With this first one, I just wanted to see how the technique was going to work, so I grabbed from my stash of Japanese taupes (only needed to buy one fabric for this quilt which makes it a Stashbuster, always a good thing).  I’m going to make it up in bright, happy colors as well.

Next question.  How do I quilt this thing?  I’m thinking that first I’ll quilt in the ditch to stabilize it.  Then, perhaps, quilt a quarter inch in for each of the pinwheel designs.  Perhaps alternate some of the design echo with little swirlies in some of the pinwheel designs?  Probably working with the light/dark contrast.  Or just keep it simple with the outlining.  Hmmm.  Ideas anyone?


  1. Love this little quilt and the technique seems to be fun. Thanks for sharing! I have a big collection of charmsquares and this looks like a fun way to use them. I just ordred the tool :-)

  2. Fun, fun! I love your new distraction!

  3. ooh, I wasn't expecting that! I thought you'd cut each square. where do I get my hands on one of those?

    A lot of Japanese stuff is quilted in parallel straight lines. The lines are best if not absolutely dead even, so mark the first at then use the edge of your walking foot, or quilt guide and don't worry about slightly off.

    Or it could be just my excuse for not being a very good quilter!


  4. That is way cool. Thanks for sharing a very neat tool.

  5. love this, I think I need that tool, right now!!!!!
    LOVE your little quilt :)

  6. Hi Terrie,
    I like it alot. I especially like the border print. How big are these pinwheels? I have a ton of 5" squares.

  7. Well isn't that just as nifty as can be? Very COOL!!!!

  8. Terrie,
    Thanks for telling about this tool and showing how it works. Are there marks on it so you know how to put it on the squares? This looks like fun!

    Your quilt is pretty, with the muted colors and the burgundy in the center.

  9. I've seen this tool mentioned on another blog but was wondering if there's a lot of waste? It looks like you get a lot of scraps to add to the leftover bag...

  10. ok time for a stupid question.... how do you know where to put the template on the blocks that you are going to cut??are there littler marks on the template??

  11. Thanks for giving us the gist it, this is on my list to do! I always thought they used a long ruler and rotary blade and cut through it on some angle.

    Speaking of cutting, do you trace the square and then use scissors, or carefully use a blade against the tool?

  12. Your quilt is so pretty, Terri!

    A German quilter and designer, Ginie Curtze, designed a very similar tool for a design she called FlicFlac, several years ago. Hers were available in four sizes, from around 3" to 6".

    The two times I've made this pattern (one mini quilt and once in a sampler) I quilted with a curved line in each pinwheel, and stitched in the ditch between each patch. You can see a picture of the mini quilt here:
    The finished quilt is about 15" square.

    The tool as I know it has lines marked across it that you match up to the seams where four patches meet (or where patches and borders meet) and then cut around with a rotary cutter. You end up with a small square with bias edges from the center of each original patch.

  13. Hello! I just made a pinwheel pillowcase back in March, too. I pretty much used the same technique as yours but my teacher just taught us to draw the pinwheel pattern on a plastic template. I quilted my top 0.5 cm inside the seam around each pinwheel. You can see my pinwheel pillowcase at the following address:

    Have a great day!

  14. There is also a book by Martha Thompson, called Square Dance (may be out of print ) published by Martingale Press, where you make your own template and can use other size fabric squares than just charms or cakes. Martha also explores the technique further. Fun to do, regardless of the tool.

  15. Hi! I just bought that template and was looking for inspiration. I just love how the pattern translated! Thanks so much for sharing. :)