Windy Days Quilt

Hi! I'm Sarah of SarahB Designs and I'm so happy to bring you another fun Moda precut recipe! The classic pinwheel pattern is one of my favorites and my Windy Days Quilt is a fun twist on the classic! Small and large pinwheels spin around the entire quilt top in a tilted but symmetrical design!

Precut Fabric
1 charm pack of the fabric line of your choice, I’m using Just Wing It! by MoMo
2 Bella Solids charm packs in a coordinating color, I’m using White

Additional Fabric and Supplies
1¼ yards coordinating print for backing (or 1½ yards if adding border)
½ yard for coordinating print for binding
Rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat
Fabric pencil or similar temporary fabric marker

I didn't add a border, but if you would like to add a border to the quilt, you'll need an extra 1/2 yard of coordinating fabric.

If you have a design wall, you’ll get to put it to use in this step! Before sewing, you need to choose if you want a scrappy look for the larger pinwheels or if you prefer each of the 4 triangles to be made of the same fabric. Not all fabric line charm packs will contain duplicate squares, but Just Wing It! has several, so that’s another design option you can consider. I prefer a scrappier look, so I chose a different charm square for each triangle of the large pinwheel.

Choosing fabric placement

The Just Wing It! charm pack includes duplicates of several of the narrow stripe prints, so you can choose do the large pinwheels all in the same print, or you can mix the narrow stripes in and make the pinwheels scrappy. Play with the design and see which look you prefer. I was placing all my pieces on the floor and you can see I stacked a white charm square under each print so I would have it handy when I picked everything up to sew. If you are using a design wall, you can simply pick up the background squares in the next step. (I had 6 printed charm squares and 3 solid charm squares left over.)

Once you are satisfied with the arrangement and have snapped a photo of it (to remember where the fabrics are placed), make and label the following 3 stacks:

• large pinwheels – 1/2 square triangles (there are 16 solid-print pairs for the scrappy look I show)
• small pinwheels – 1/4 square triangles (there are 20 solid-print pairs)
• background squares (there are 45)

Large Pinwheels

You will either have 8 (single-print pinwheel) or 16 (scrappy look) ½ square triangle units.

If your cutting mat has a diagonal line in addition to the grid, place 1 unit with the diagonal line running from one corner to the opposite corner. Place your ruler approximately 1/16” from the diagonal line (or where the diagonal line would be if one isn’t printed). This will allow room for your pencil or marker and allow you to mark an accurate line. I found it easier to mark from the center to the corner, then again from the center to the opposite corner to avoid stretching the fabric on the bias.

Repeat this marking process on 1 layer of all your ½ square triangle sets.

Your solid charm squares don’t have a right or wrong side, so with the right side of your printed charm square facing a solid, sew 1/4” on one side of your marked line, chain piecing as shown below.

Leaving your pieces attached, sew 1/4" on the opposite side of your marked line of all the 1/2 square triangle sets. Take care not to stretch the fabric, as you are sewing on the bias.

Clip the threads between all the sets, then set the seams by pressing flat. With your ruler, rotary cut on your marked line. Press each triangle set open. Repeat.

Square up the 1/2 square triangle units to 4 ½”, taking care to keep the diagonal seam running corner to corner. To “square up” a block, trim just enough from two adjacent sides to make a perfect right angle, then turn the block to the opposite two adjacent sides where you will make sure the block measures 4 ½” and all corners are right angles.

Don’t create the large pinwheels yet! The quilt top construction will be a lot easier if these triangle blocks are left separate.

Small Pinwheels

This is a quick and easy trick! It might not follow the “old school” quilt rules, but it works, and it’s a handy way to make the most of your charm squares!

With the right side of your printed charm square to the inside, facing a solid, sew along all 4 sides of the square with a ¼” seam as shown below.

If you prefer to chain piece, as I do, use this method instead. With the right side of your printed charm square facing a solid, sew along one side of the square with a ¼” seam. Continue to sew one side of all the ¼ square triangle units, chain piecing. Without clipping threads between the pieces, sew along the opposite side of all the pieces, again chain piecing with a ¼” seam.

Now clip the threads between the squares and sew along another side of each, chain piecing. When you are done, sew along the other sides, again chain piecing.

Now it’s time to cut! Align your ¼ square unit on your cutting mat just as you did with the ½ square unit. I don’t mark my lines here, but if you are more comfortable cutting on a marked line, go ahead and draw it before cutting. :) You will make two diagonal cuts to create 4 triangle units, as shown below.

Set your seam by pressing the triangle units before opening, then open and press flat. Square up each unit to 2 ½”, taking care to keep the diagonal seam running corner to corner.

Create the pinwheels by placing the small triangle units all in the same manner. Each pinwheel should have the same background/print arrangement. Chain piece unit pairs, clip each pinwheel set and press toward the print.

Next, sew the matching pairs together to complete the small pinwheel block.

Press the small pinwheel units open. If you unsew 1 or 2 stitches on the back of the block you will be able to press the block nice and flat, getting a mini-pinwheel in the back.

Trimming Background Blocks

Trim the solid charm blocks you’ve set aside to 4 ½” square. You can trim ½” from 2 adjacent sides or remove all the pinked edges, whichever you prefer.

Arranging the Blocks

Using the photo you took before you started sewing as a placement guide, arrange your small pinwheel blocks, the large pinwheel triangle units and the trimmed background blocks on your design wall or and large flat surface.

Chain piece each vertical column set and don’t clip the threads between blocks as shown below. The threads will act help keep all the blocks in the order you've placed them in as the top is pieced together.  

For the 1st column of blocks, press seams down. For the 2nd, press seams upward. Continue sewing pairs of block columns together and alternating the you direction you press so seams will lock together nicely in the next steps.

Once the 4 column pairs sets are stitched, sew the edge column (set 5 in the photo) to the adjacent set and stitch all the sets together in the same manner. Pin adjacent columns together to ensure seams match up. The bias edges on the small pinwheels will stretch a bit, so that can help you match the corners.

The final step to finish the quilt top is sewing all the horizontal seams. All the blocks are already attached, so just use pins where necessary to ensure nicely matched seams. Sew the rows together and your quilt top is done!

If you want to add a border, cut the coordinating fabric you've chosen into four 3½” strips, removing the selvages. Add to your quilt top.

Quilt Back

This quilt top is small enough that you can certainly use a single length of fabric as the backing (if you aren’t using a longarm machine to quilt it). However, I love the look of a pieced back, and we have a nice stack of leftover ½ square triangle units just begging to be used!

To ensure your backing is large enough for longarm quilting or to accommodate the optional border, use the remaining solid charm squares and your choice of leftover printed charms. Sew a few additional ½ square triangles, and trim those down to 4½”. (I used a few of the printed charms that were almost white as solids, and placed them at either end since I wanted to make sure my back was large enough for the longarm quilter to work with. I was able to trim those scrap/filler pieces off after quilting.)

For my back, I chose to split the backing fabric vertically down the center and use the large ½ square triangle units to form a zigzag pattern. If you didn’t trim all the leftover ½ square triangles to 4½” earlier, do so now, just as in the quilt top step.

Arrange the ½ square triangle units in a pleasing pattern and chain piece by sewing down the vertical line. Press the center seam alternately to the left and right. Then sew each pair set together, taking care to match the seams. (The pressed seams will help lock the points in place.)

Center one piece of the backing fabric on the pieced zigzag strip and sew it on with a ¼” seam. Attach the other piece of the backing fabric on the pieced strip, taking care to align it with the first. (It's fine if the pieced inset isn't the same length; after quilting it will be trimmed down.)

I centered my zigzag pieced strip, but an off-center pieced strip would make for a really interesting quilt backing too!

Finishing the quilt

Layer your quilt top, batting and quilt back. Quilt as desired. I chose to send mine to be professional longarm quilter, Paula Stout of Porch Quilts. She quilted it with "angel wings" that matched the butterflies you can see in the Just Wing It! print I chose for the backing. I am so pleased with the result!

You can use straight-of-grain binding to finish the quilt, but since I chose a stripe I decided to make the most of it and cut it on the bias.

I truly love the back of this quilt as much as the front!

One 36-1/2" square quilt, perfect for a baby quilt or child's lap quilt. (If border is added, quilt will be larger.)

Sarah Meyer
{SarahB Designs}


susiloci said...

Que bonita ese colcha de molinillos!!!

SarahB said...

I should have included these solid charm squares counts in the instructions -- in total you will need:
* 36 5" background squares that will be pieced and
* 45 background squares trimmed down to 4 1/2".

SarahB said...

Additionally, please see my blog post here: for additional information, other fabric mock-ups, and where to purchase quilt kits! :)

Shawn said...

Looks great! Thanks so much for sharing your design.

Molly said...

I love your quilt Sarah! Great design! :)

Sherry said...

I LOVE it! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Jenny said...

this is really cute. love the layout

Staci said...

Darling use of HST. So clever to use the teeny pinwheels and the larger ones, adds so much movement and charm.

Sallie said...

Love your quilt! Thanks for sharing!

Katrina said...

Well-done! I like how you also showed the easy pinwheel method!

Colleen said...

Very cute!!

sariah said...

This is so adorable! I love pinwheels so I'm excited to try the "fast" method you shared!

The zig zag piecing on the back is so fun. :-)

Maria said...

Totally adorable! Love this little quilt! <3 Thank you for sharing!

Connie M said...

What a beautiful quilt! You make such beautiful things (and your kids are adorable)! Greetings from an old friend. :)

Kelly O. said...

love the different sized pinwheels!

Miss Holly said...

This is a gorgeous quilt!! I just love everything about it ....Thank you for such a great tutorial!!I love all the tricks...

Vickey Hughes said...

I love this quilt! So pretty!

Anonymous said...

M'encanten els quilts de molinets!

Anonymous said...

Lovely quilt, but having trouble downloading the Printer Friendly Version. It keeps trying to download again and again as if it's just downloading the link. Please help.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, got it now. Only seems to work with Google Chrome not IE.

SarahB said...

Glad you were able to get the printer friendly version downloaded! Sorry you had trouble at first!

Kathryn D. Duke said...

great quilt SarahB...need to remember this when I am ready to start a new project!!

Jodi said...

Love, Love, LOVE!!! Thanks for sharing. This is now in my "to do"

badryah said...

i'm badryah from malaysia. i'm new to quilting but i find this pattern is very beautiful and easy to make. i'll try making one for my own use.
thank you for sharing the pattern with us.

Julie said...

This is only the second quilt I've ever made, and you have done such a great job with this tutorial it has been coming together nicely so far. Thank you so much for your easy to follow instructions and your adorable quilt pattern! I love it and am so excited to see the finished product!

SarahB said...

Julie, that makes me so happy! Please do upload a photo of your finished quilt to the Moda Bake Shop flickr group when you are done! :)

Anonymous said...

Just finished this one for a friend's baby. She loved it and it was so easy to make. Thanks for all your tips.

Design Originals by KC said...

Can't wait to make this quilt for my BFF. Thanks for leaving such great directions as I am new to quilting! Kathi

mbkries said...

This may sound silly, but I'm having a hard time understanding your directions for piecing the whole quilt together. If I'm chain piecing the vertical seams on the colums together first, how would I press those seams up or down, wouldn't it be left or right? Or, do you mean, make long vertical strips, how can those be chain pieced, and then there wouldn't be any horizontal seams to do at the end, right?

SarahB said...

mbkies - it's been 2-1/2 years since I last sewed this design and I truthfully I think this section was accidentally placed early: "For the 1st column of blocks, press seams down. For the 2nd, press seams upward. Continue sewing pairs of block columns together and alternating the you direction you press so seams will lock together nicely in the next steps." You are right, at that point the recent seam (from top to bottom) could only be pressed left or right or open. Sorry for the confusion!

The simplest next step would be to join the chain pieced section. Next press to the left or right (alternating) so the pieces nest together nicely. Then sew the horizontal seams and press to finish the top.

mbkries said...

Great- That makes more sense. Thanks for the help and the cute pattern... My 2 year old just loves windmills, so this quilt is for him :)

Mary Essenburg said...


Love this quilt, hate waste, and found a way to speed things up.

I was a bit disappointed when I found out that I had to cut the 5" charm squares down to 4 1/2" and the small pinwheels down blocks to 2 1/2". That is a lot of work.

Solution: I decided to cut 4 1/2" strips of white (much easier and faster). Sadly, I did not have jelly rolls on hand to solve the small pinwheel problem and will have to either purchase one or cut all those pieces down...ugh.