How to Sew this Variation of the Pinwheel Star Quilt Block or Brenda's Star

Posted by Elaine Huff on

This variation of the Pinwheel Star block uses flying geese, half square triangles and squares to create a center star with partial stars around it. While it has a lot of pieces, it's easier to sew together than the traditional block.

pinwheel star

Awhile back I shared my friend Brenda's quilt and named the block "Brenda's Star". Her quilt is the inspiration for this variation. The traditional block used diamonds to create the stars which means Y seams! It also means I would probably never get a tutorial done. So I redesigned the block using half square triangles and I think it is a good variation of the traditional block. Here's a picture of her quilt.

blazing star

Fabric Requirements for a 16" Finished Pinwheel Star Variation Quilt Block:

  • Light/White: 4 - 4.5" squares, 8 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, 4 - 3" squares, and 8 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium/Pink: 12 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium/Green: 4 - 3" squares, and 8 - 2.5" squares
  • Dark/Red: 2 - 3" squares, and 8 - 2.5" squares
  • Dark/Blue: 2 - 3" squares, and 8 - 2.5" squares

pinwheel star fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Half Square Triangle Units:

Step 1:

Using the four White 3" squares and four Green 3" squares, sew together eight half square triangles as shown below. Trim/square up the units to 2.5" square. You can find the tutorial showing my method for making half square triangles at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-half-square-triangle-block. Press half of the seam allowances toward the Green fabric and half toward the White fabric.

 pinwheel star 1

Flying Geese Units:

Step 2:

Using four White 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, four Green 2.5" squares, and four Pink 2.5" squares, sew together four Flying Geese units like the ones in the picture below. You can find my method for making flying geese blocks at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-flying-geese-block

pinwheel star 2

Step 3:

Now repeat Step 2 only switching the position of the Green and Pink squares as shown in the picture below.

pinwheel star 3

Corner Units:

Step 4:

Lay out a Pink 2.5" square, a White 2.5" square, and two Step 1 Half Square Triangle units (one with seam allowance pressed toward the White and one pressed toward the Green fabric) as shown in the picture below.

pinwheel star 4

Step 5:

Sew the units into two rows and press the seam allowance away from the Half Square Triangle units as shown.

pinwheel star 5

Step 6:

Sew the two rows together and press the seam allowance. As you can see, I've pressed using the tweak/twirl/furl method but you can press however you wish. Repeat Steps 4 through 6 for a total of four units.

pinwheel star 6

Step 7:

Lay out a White 2.5" square, a Step 2 unit, a Step 3 unit, and a Step 6 unit as shown in the picture below.

pinwheel star 7

Step 8:

Once again, you'll sew the units into two rows and press the seam allowances away from the Flying Geese units.

pinwheel star 8

Step 9:

Sew the two rows together and press the seam allowance as shown in the picture below. Repeat Steps 7 through 9 for a total of four Corner units.

This would be a cute little block all by itself - it reminds me of a tulip!

pinwheel star 9

Star Point Units:

Step 10:

Using the four White 4.5" squares, four Red 2.5" squares and four Blue 2.5" squares "snowball" two adjacent corners of the White squares as shown below. This is the same procedure used in making Flying Geese blocks (just with a square instead of a rectangle) or half of a Square in a Square block.

pinwheel star 10

Step 11:

Using a Red 2.5" square and a Blue 2.5" square, sew together a two-patch unit as shown below. Press the seam allowance toward the Blue fabric. Repeat for a total of four units.

pinwheel star 11

Step 12:

Match up a Step 10 and a Step 11 unit as shown below. Make sure to keep the color orientation right!

pinwheel star 12

Step 13:

Sew the units together and press the seam allowance toward the two-patch unit as shown in the picture below.

pinwheel star 13

Center Unit:

Step 14:

Using the two Red 3" squares and two Blue 3" squares, make four Half Square Triangle units. Press the seam allowances toward the Blue fabric. Trim/square up the units to 2.5" square as shown below.

brendas star 14 

Step 15:

Using the four Step 14 units, sew together a Pinwheel unit like the one shown below. You will find a tutorial for making a basic Pinwheel block at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/pinwheel-quilt-block-pattern

brendas star 15

Step 16:

Press the seam allowances using the tweak/twirl/furl method as shown below.

brendas star 16

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Putting It All Together:

Step 17:

Lay out the Corner units, the Star Point units, and the Center (pinwheel) unit as shown in the picture below. 

brendas star 15

Step 18:

Sew the units into three rows and...

brendas star 18

Step 19:

Press the seam allowances toward the Star Point units as shown.

brendas star 19

Step 20:

All that's left is to sew the three rows together! All done except for the final pressing!

brendas star 20

Step 21:

Press the seam allowances away from the center of the block as shown in the picture below. Whew! That's a lot of steps!

brendas star 21

Layout Options:

Here's the typical 4 x 4 layout. I love the secondary design it creates!

brendas star quilt 1

Add some sashing and cornerstones:

quilt 2

Or use an alternating chain block:

quilt 3

And how about scrappy? My favorite!

quilt 4

Conclusion:

I'm glad I designed this variation of Brenda's Star. It is a much easier version even though there are a lot of pieces. Very traditional looking and I can see myself making a full quilt in the future. And since it's 16" square, you don't need to make too many blocks!

hope you've enjoyed this Brenda's Star quilt block tutorial. If you liked this post and want to see more quilting tutorials like this, simply click here to sign up for my newsletter and also receive a free PDF.

Happy Quilting!

Elaine

P.S. Check out my PDF patterns in the Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/fabric406?mcnav&section_id=29739767

P.P.S. To figure out yardage for a quilt, check out this post: https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-much-fabric-do-i-need

 


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