Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 1: “Easy As Pie” Quilt Along


Welcome to the first installment of steps for making your own “Easy As Pie” quilt from a layer cake.  The original post about the quilt along is found here.  Today’s directions include piecing instructions for the pinwheel blocks and sawtooth rows.

There is still time to join the QAL!  Nicole still has a few quilt kits available here

February 4th: Cutting and piecing pinwheel and sawtooth rows

February 11th: Cutting and piecing wonky star blocks and center row

February 18th: Sewing together rows and adding borders

February 25th: Post your photo to Flickr by this day for a PRIZE!


Let’s get started!  The first thing you want to do is set aside some fabric for specific blocks.  You need to pick the fabrics you want to use for your sawtooth rows and put them somewhere safe.  You will need four 10” x 10” squares per row, two of each print per row.  After a little experimenting, I would suggest not picking red or olive for your sawtooth rows.  The darkness of the color can create a break in your quilt so the top looks like it is divided by the row instead of it blending harmoniously with the other rows.  I chose aqua and gray for my sawtooth rows.


The other fabric you need to set aside are the pieces with the larger prints of trees, ring-around-the-rosy, hula hoop girl, and girl reading a book.  That’s ten 10” squares from the layer cake as shown in this photo.


Got that fabric set aside?  Now let’s pick the fabric you will use for your pinwheels.  You will need sixteen 10” squares to make your eight pinwheel blocks.   You can pick any sixteen squares from the remaining fabric because they are all smaller prints and perfect for the pinwheels.  Pair up your squares.  You should choose different colors and different prints.  For example, you wouldn’t want a pair of two red squares or a pair of two different color apple prints.  Try to vary the pairs as much as possible.

Place the first pair right sides together.  Pin around the block so that you fabric doesn’t shift while you’re sewing it together.



Sew a 1/4” seam around the perimeter, stitching over your first few stitches or backstitching when you get back to your starting spot.


Stop at each corner about 1/4” from the edge in the needle down position.  Simply lift your presser foot and pivot your fabric 90 degrees and start sewing again in the next direction.


Press the perimeter seam to set it.  I like to starch my fabric.  At this point, I starched both sides of this sandwich.  The extra body and stiffness will help decrease any movement of the bias edge when you cut the fabric.  Get ready to cut!  


Cut your square in half on the diagonal in both directions.  Make sure you don’t move your fabric at all when you are cutting!


And voila!  You have four half square triangle units you will reassemble into a pinwheel block!


Press your half square triangle units, first finger pressing the seam allowance open.  Have you ever finger pressed your seams before?  Just open up the seam and slide your fingers out to “press” it all the way open.  Then use your iron to make the open seam permanent.  Finger pressing helps so that the seam line doesn’t get distorted or wonky like it might if you just nose the tip of the iron in there without opening the seam first.


Then flip your half square unit over and give it one more press with the iron.


You are almost done!  Lay out your half square triangles to create a pinwheel shape. 


You’ll notice that each of your units has little fabric flaps on the corners.  You can just trim these with a pair of scissors, but make sure you only cut off the flap and don’t cut into your fabric!


Now, working horizontally, place two half square triangle units right sides together.  In order to make clean, crisp points on your pinwheels, fold back the top fabric to make sure your seam lines on the diagonal are aligned perfectly.


Place a pin right in that seam going on the diagonal.  That will hold those two seams right on top of each other when you are sewing the units together.


If you want to make sure your seams form a perfect point, you can flip open the fabric and check your work. 


Sew both the top and bottom halves of the block.  Finger press and press your seams open.

Now you are going to sew together the top and bottom of your block. 


When you line up your center seams, if you pull back the top fabric you will see these mini hourglass shapes.  Awesome!  All of your seams are aligned perfectly!


Pin your center seams—I like to put one pin directly through the seam and then one pin on either side just for extra insurance.  I also pin horizontally to keep the fabric from shifting around.  Sew the two halves together and finger press and then press the seam open.

Square up your block to 12.5”.


Repeat for all eight pairs until you end up with eight perfect pinwheels!

Now that you are an expert at making easy half square triangle units from two pieces of a layer cake, making the two sawtooth rows will be a walk in the park!

Find your four 10” squares for each row.  Pair these together so that you have two different fabrics in each pair.

Follow the exact same steps as you did to make four half square triangle units for the pinwheel blocks (sew around the perimeter, cut diagonally in both directions, etc). 

This is where the directions vary a little.  Square up each half square triangle unit into a 6.5” square.


You’ll end up with a pile of eight 6.5” half square triangle units for each row.


Pin your units together and sew together.  Finger press and press seams open.


Join your pieces together to make one row that looks like this, with seams pressed open.


Repeat to make another row from the other four 10” squares you set aside.  End to end, each of your rows should measure 48.5” long.

You are done with week one of the QAL!  How fun and easy was it to make these blocks and rows?  I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and would appreciate any feedback.  Please email me with any questions at lugar4tresgatos [at] 

Come back next Monday for cutting and piecing directions for the wonky star blocks and center row!

Join the fun and add your photos to the Flickr group here.  Remember, you can win next month’s quilt kit if you quilt along with me and finish your quilt top by February 25th!


  1. Jamie, this is such a fun quilt, and your instructions are wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey Jamie, Great tutorial. I learned a couple things. I'm glad you showed how you pin - I like the way you do it. I think I'll give it a try. Isn't that tiny hourglass so cute?

  3. Now all three are pinned! Love your "Easy as Pie" tutorial ;0)


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