I love men’s cotton shirting fabric, and (don’t laugh) I always look through the men’s shirt section when thrifty shopping. I find quite a few good quality, cotton dress shirts that don’t show much, if any wear, and only cost around $5.00. The colors may be muted, but come in delightful large & thin stripes, paisleys, and other fun prints. Each long sleeve shirt can be cut into five good-sized pieces: two front pieces, two sleeves and the back. You end up with at least a yard of good quality, usable fabric, and get several nice-sized buttons as well.
I found this pretty, medium blue with a narrow orange pinstripe cotton. Great colors & I love the woven texture! I paired it with a dark yellow cotton linen, left-overs from a past project, that I’d already cut into 5” squares. Pinstripes….led to pinwheel squares.
To make 64 (3-1/2”) pinwheels, I used:
- 32-5” squares of pinstripe men’s shirting- One large Men’s long-sleeve dress shirt should be plenty.
- 32-5” squares( 5/8 to one yard) of bright yellow cotton linen
In order to make the pinwheels, I needed to make 1/2 square triangles. The yellow linen was already cut into 5” squares, so I cut a few 5” squares of the striped fabric to experiment with some ideas. I settled on making four 1/2 square triangle units from each 5” square pair of fabrics, using the ‘X marks the spot system’. I began by marking a pencil line on each diagonal.
After marking the X-I fed them one by one through my machine, corner to corner, chain sewing a 1/4” seam on both sides of each drawn line. Because I was cutting so many units from each square, and so much handling can pull out stitches, I did a quick backstitch at the beginning and end of each square.
Quick tip: When reaching the end of first chain, DON’T cut them apart yet! With needle still down in last stitch, raise presser foot, turn around and then sew down the other side of the line, while they’re still attached.
Just pull them along, twisting and turning them right side up. This saves time and thread! Now cut to separate, clipping both threads at once.
After cutting them apart, I pressed them, being careful not to pull and distort the fabric. I repeated these steps on the other diagonal:
I pressed again, using spray starch, and then cut the squares in half lengthwise……
Lastly, I cut the resulting squares in half by cutting on the pencil line.
After cutting them apart, I carefully pressed the units open, pressing toward the blue cotton. I noticed that even though this is a simple, even stripe-I got four distinctly different 1/2 square triangles, which were approximately 2” square. So, I sorted them into four stacks, and arranged these stacks in the correct placement of the pinwheel, keeping the stripes going the same direction.
I finished one block as a “master” and kept it to compare each new block to as I continued. I started with the top row of units, flipping the right unit over the left unit, right sides together, lining up the diagonal seams. I stacked the pairs, keeping the side to be sewn to the rightI chained stitched the units together, using a 1/4” seam, then pressed open. Because the yellow linen is thicker, I pressed toward the blue stripe fabric, and trimmed off the little triangle ‘dog ears’. I did the same with the bottom row. Then, I matched the center seams and sewed the top row to the bottom row. This time I pressed the seams open.
I trimmed the pinwheels to 3-1/2” square. Pretty- huh?!
To connect the pinwheels. I cut 1” strips of an orange cotton as sashing. I divided the pinwheels into two piles, and started by sewing a sashing strip to the bottom of the first pile. I pressed toward the sashing, then added the second pinwheel to the opposite side of the orange sashing.
Again, I divided the units into two piles, and connected these units with another strip of orange sashing. These completed blocks were 7” square. Then, I cut 1-1/2” sashing strips of a solid blue cotton. I repeated the same steps as with the orange sashing to join the pinwheel blocks together, to form 4-pinwheel blocks. These measured 14-1/2” square.
I ended up with four of the 4-pinwheel blocks, and connected them with more of the blue sashing. I used the blue sashing as the first border. Then added a 1/2” yellow border, and a 1-1/2” border of a pale blue cotton that I decided to use as the backing. Another border of the remains of the 1/2” orange sashing, and then the last of the 1-1/2” medium blue sashing. This project sure made a dent in my scrap stash, and I love the bright colors!
Here it is layered, pinned and ready for quilting. I haven’t quite decided how to finish this project. But, I’ve just been using up some of my ‘left-over’ fabrics, so why not experiment a bit?
That’s all for now-Carole