Pinwheel blocks set on point spin across the top of a vintage red, white, and blue quilt. Making 256 triangle-squares for this project is a great way to practice your piecing.
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From the collection of Pella, Iowa Historical Society


  • 4-3⁄8 yards solid white (blocks, setting squares, setting triangles, corner triangles, binding)
  • 1-1⁄8 yards each solid red and solid blue (blocks)
  • 4-3⁄8 yards backing fabric
  • 80" square batting

Finished quilt: 73-1⁄2" square

Finished block: 11-1⁄2" square

Quantities are for 44/45"-wide, 100% cotton fabrics.

Measurements include 1⁄4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order.

From solid white, cut:

  • 3--17-5⁄8" squares, cutting each diagonally twice in an X for 12 setting triangles total
  • 9--12" squares
  • 2--9-1⁄8" squares, cutting each in half diagonally for 4 corner triangles total
  • 128--3-3⁄4" squares
  • 8--2-1⁄2 ×42" binding strips
  • 8--1-3⁄4 ×42" strips for middle border

From solid red, cut:

  • 8--1-1⁄2 ×42" strips for inner border
  • 64--3-3⁄4" squares

From solid blue, cut:

  • 8--2 ×42" strips for outer border
  • 64--3-3⁄4" squares

Assemble Blocks

1.    Use a pencil to mark a diagonal line on wrong side of each solid white 3-3⁄4" square (Diagram 1).


2.    Layer a marked solid white 3-3⁄4" square atop a solid red 3-3⁄4" square. Sew together with two seams, stitching 1⁄4" on each side of drawn line (Diagram 1). Cut apart on drawn line to make two triangle units. Press each triangle unit open, pressing seams toward solid red triangles, to make two red triangle-squares. Each should be 3-3⁄8" square including seam allowances. Repeat to make 128 red triangle-squares total.

3.    Referring to Diagram 2, sew together four red triangles-squares in pairs. Press seams in opposite directions. Join pairs to make a red pinwheel unit; press seam in one direction. The red pinwheel unit should be 6-1⁄4" square including seam allowances. Repeat to make 32 red pinwheel units total.


4.    Using remaining marked solid white squares and solid blue squares, repeat steps 2–3 to make 32 blue pinwheel units total.

5.    Referring to Diagram 3, sew together two red pinwheel units and two blue pinwheel units in pairs. Press seams toward blue pinwheel units. Join pairs to make a Pinwheel block; press seams in one direction. The Pinwheel block should be 12" square including seam allowances. Repeat to make 16 Pinwheel blocks total.


Assemble Quilt Center

1.    Referring to Quilt Assembly Diagram, lay out Pinwheel blocks, setting squares and setting triangles in diagonal rows.


2.    Sew together pieces in each row. Press seams toward setting squares and triangles. Add corner triangles to make quilt center. The quilt center should be 65-1⁄2" square including seam allowances.

Assemble and Add Borders

1.    Cut and piece solid red 1-1⁄2  ×42" strips to make:

  • 2--1-1⁄2  ×73" strips
  • 2--1-1⁄2  ×65-1⁄2" strips

2.    Cut and piece solid white 1-3⁄4 ×42" strips to make:

  • 2--1-3⁄4 ×73" strips
  • 2--1-3⁄4 ×65-1⁄2" strips

3.    Cut and piece solid blue 2×42" strips to make:

  • 2--2×73" strips
  • 2--2×65-1⁄2" strips

4.     Referring to Quilt Assembly Diagram, sew a solid red 1-1⁄2  ×65-1⁄2" strip, a solid white 1-3⁄4×65-1⁄2" strip, and a solid blue 2×65-1⁄2" strip together to make a pieced short border strip. Press seams away from solid white. Repeat to make a second pieced short border strip.

5.     Referring to Quilt Assembly Diagram, sew a solid red 1-1⁄2  ×73" strip, a solid white 1-3⁄4×73" strip, and a solid blue 2×73" strip together to make a pieced long border strip. Press seams away from solid white. Repeat to make a second pieced long border strip.

6.    Sew pieced short border strips to opposite edges of quilt center. Add pieced long border strips to remaining edges to complete quilt top. Press all seams toward border.

Finish Quilt

1.    Layer quilt top, batting, and backing; baste.

2.    Quilt as desired. The vintage quilt was hand-quilted 1⁄4" from the edges of each triangle. A diamond pattern was stitched in the setting squares and triangles, and parallel lines were quilted through the borders.

3.    Bind with solid white binding strips.