Baby Windmills: Basic Tutorial
Meet my favorite easy quilt block, a Baby Windmill.
I started making these 4″ x 4″ blocks about 10 years ago, and I can’t tell you how much fun I’m still having! Let’s get right to how it’s done.
Each block takes two fabrics. Choose quilting fabrics with contrast; in other words, you want one to be considerably darker or lighter than the other. You should be able to see the difference between them.
Cut 4 patches 1-1/2″ by 2-1/2″ from each fabric.
Using a quarter-inch seam allowance and a stitch length of 2 mm, join the patches into pairs as shown above. Press the seam allowances toward the darker fabric. The pairs should measure 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″.
Arrange the patches so the darks (here that’s pink) form two funny-looking capital L’s. Sew them together as shown. Press the seam allowances toward the left.
Now rotate the bottom piece 180 degrees to match the photo above. In other words, turn the bottom piece upside down. Nestle the opposing seam allowances together in the middle and sew the pieces together as shown.
And just like that, you’ve made your first Baby Windmill! It should measure 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″.
So why would you make these simple quilt blocks and what can you do with them?
I began piecing them when I was working full time for Quiltmaker and commuting an hour in each direction. I wanted to sew in the evenings but I was often too tired to make creative decisions. I needed something easy but still interesting.
I cut some scraps into 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ patches and I was off!
I kept a basket of them next to my sewing machine, and whenever I had a few minutes, I could make a couple of blocks. It didn’t take much brainpower, and pretty soon they added up!
Just above is one of the first small quilts I made from BW’s. Get the free quilt pattern (coming soon!).
A while back I started designing quilts based on this block. You’ll find one of them in the Jan/Feb ’17 issue of Quiltmaker. It’s called Spinster.
Tilt your head if you need to. Can you see the same Baby Windmill shapes? This quilt was made entirely from stash (that’s why I’m a Stash Bandit!) and there is only one patch size in the whole quilt. It’s a lot of fun to make. It’s a big quilt: 79-1/2″ x 79-1/2″.
I have a new guild program/trunk show with many quilts based on Baby Windmills. It’s called Windy Wonders: A Quilt Blocks Grows Up. I’d love to visit your quilt group and share my enthusiasm for this humble—and spectacular—design. See Trunk Shows for details.
Spinster pattern from Quiltmaker
Tags: baby windmill, scrap quilts, windmill
Nice little tutorial, thank you! I love a simple block with bold contrast, great job 🙂
Thank you, Teresa! They’re addictive!
Love it. I have soooo many left over strips, large and small. Now I can do something with them!
Anna M Rasmussen
Thank you so much for the wonderful zoom meeting you did for our guild mtg. Quilters of Alachua County Day Guild. It was perfect. 😊 Who knew one block could have so many different looks. Your presentation was wonderful. Anna
Thank you so much! You were a wonderful Zoom audience!
thank you so much. i am enjoying your lectures