Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How to quilt a pinwheel block

After the quilt is layered and pinned, the first step to secure the layers is to quilt in-the-ditch. It seems self-explanatory but at first I really didn't know what this meant. A stitch-in-the-ditch is a stitch taken into the seam line, that hidden place where two pieces of fabric are joined by stitching when piecing. By quilting into the seam line, the piecing stitches are being locked-in and secured. This is what it looks like:

Begin with 1/4" of small stitches to secure the beginning, then stitch on one side of the sashing strips, pivot the needle to stitch in the ditch across the bottom and quilt up the other side, and tie off the thread with another 1/4" of small stiches. I did all the inner sashing strips before quilting all the way around the perimeter, still in the ditch between the blocks and inner border.

In addition to stitching the layers together, the ditch also provides a means for travelling from one point of quilting to another without having to stop and start a new line of quilting. This is very helpful when quilting the blocks.

I tried googling "how to quilt a pinwheel block". All I got was piecing instructions, which is not the same, so let me share a couple of ideas on how to do this. I quilted the pieced pinwheel blocks by stitching-in-the-ditch. Quilting between the seamed pieces from one corner to the other, pivoting and stitching in the outer edge (ditch). This is basic utility stitching that works well. Another option would be to quilt some free form swirls or a curved arch on each piece of the pinwheel to create some movement. This can be done in addition to, or instead of, stitching-in-the-ditch.

To keep a consistent design that will show nicely on the back, I decided to quilt a pinwheel design on the novelty square framed block to echo the pinwheel block next to it. When I did this I also used blue painter's tape, a very low adhesive tape that provides a guide for quilting straight lines without having to mark the fabric. Use an acrylic ruler to find the center of the square and lay the tape alongside it.

Begin stitching at the edge of the center mark, being careful to stitch next to the tape but not into it.

Travel from the side edge to the corner by stitching-in-the-ditch.

Remove the tape and position it on the diagonal. Keep the needle in the down position while adjusting the tape, then pivot in line with the tape. Stitch from the corner to the opposite diagonal corner.

When you get to the final line, check to make sure your tape is positioned right where the threads have been quilted in the center, then adjust the tail ends of the tape to the corners.

When you're finished, it should look like this:

Copyright©2012, Sharon Baggs

1 comment:

  1. That was a great idea for the solid squares. I am getting ready to quilt my first quilt and was looking for ideas. Thanks for sharing!