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How To Make a Double Pinwheel Quilt in a Day

Eleanor Burns teaches how to make a quilt in just one day with the strip quilting technique.

Simply Quilts guest Eleanor Burns gives a lesson on strip quilting. She discovered her assembly-line method of strip piecing and quilting in the mid-1970s while rummaging through sewing manufacturer scraps. At the time, she used quilted skirt scraps, purchased for 50 cents a bag, to make quilts.

Eleanor's first book was Log Cabin Quilt in a Day, which were produced by photocopying 50 spiral bound books at a time. Double Pinwheel Quilts, which is her 60th quilt book, had a print run of about 20,000 by the publisher.

Double Pinwheel Block
Eleanor says you can assemble all the components for the 24 blocks needed to make a queen-size quilt in about six hours. Here's how she accomplishes the Double Pinwheel design using strip piecing and three fabrics.

1. You'll make the center blocks and the border blocks at the same time. They're reverse-image blocks. Start by cutting 28, 2 1/2" fabric strips from 3 yards of background fabric (white in the featured quilt). Save the remaining fabric for the border.

2. From 1-1/4 yards of medium fabric (yellow floral print in the featured quilt), cut 14, 2-1/2" strips.

3. From 2 yards of dark fabric (blue basketweave print in the featured quilt), cut 14, 2-1/2" strips. Reserve the remainder for binding.

4. Once you've cut the long strips selvedge to selvedge, then cut them all on the fold. Eleanor says the half strips are easier to work with and easier to press. To make two reverse-image blocks like the ones shown here, you'll need two half-strips of background, one half-strip of medium and one half-strip of dark fabrics.

5. Place a dark half-strip right-sides together with a background half-strip, then stitch with a perfect 1/4" seam allowance. Keep the chain going by stitching on a medium half-strip right-sides together with a background half-strip. Clip apart strip sets and press each to the dark side.

6. Place strip sets right sides together, aligning seams. Position so the background fabric of the dark strip set aligns with the medium fabric of the medium strip set. Lock in the seams.

7. Using a 6" ruler, cut off the left edge to line up the strip sets, then cut four, 4-1/2" squares (figure B). Use the 45-degree angle line to ensure pieces are square.

8. Use a 6" x 12" ruler to mark diagonal lines on one wrong side of the square stacks (figure C).

9. Stitch 1/4" from either side of the diagonal lines made in step 8 (figure D), then cut on the line using a rotary cutter and straight edge. Clip away the tips on the two opposite sides of each unit.

10. Position triangles on pressing surface so the lightest triangle is on the left. Press the seam, then press open the triangle. Arrange four of each unit into a block (figure F) and sew. TIP: The units with a larger section of dark fabric belong to the border blocks, while the units with a larger section of medium fabric belong to the center blocks.

11. Once units are stitched together, pick out stitches beyond the center intersection using a stiletto (figure G). Typically, you'll only need to remove two or three stitches. To eliminate bulk, push the center intersection of fabric down so it's flat.

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