<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Pinwheel Star blocks
FieldGuidetoQuilts.com

Pinwheel star blocks

Email us for permission if you want to use anything on this site.

Copyright
© 2017 by


Click on a block to see a whole-quilt mockup.



Flying Bat
Flying Bat

The Ladies Art Company used the color scheme at left in its 1897 catalog (we hear that it was also in an 1895 edition). The difference between Flying Bat (LAC #44) and Polaris Star is that the contrasting ribbon of color that gives the block its character is divided into three diamonds in Flying Bat. It's easier to see in the alternate color block at right.

Flying Bat could make a very pretty block with different fabrics for each diamond, but nobody except us has ever thought of that.

Polaris Star
Polaris Star

Carrie Hall stitched up a Polaris Star block for a collection that is now in the museum [of whatsis in Lawrence, KS]. She made it in three colors, like the graphic at left.

We confess that her block's proportions create a slightly narrower ribbon than our graphic, which is identical in its proportions to Flying Bat. But then, Jinny Beyer drew it that way in her Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns, and in our eyes, Jinny Beyer does no wrong.

Polaris is better known as the North Star or Pole Star.

Solitaire


Sarah's Choice
These Sawtooth variations are from Clara Stone's Practical Needlework (1906). Click any block to go to the relevant page.


Solitaire

Solitaire is based on a 8x8 grid. It was Clara Stone's No. 146.

Those four thingies in the middle are called quarter-square triangles. If you have four laid out and you turn two of them 90 degrees, you get a shape that, on this site, we call a turnstile after the 1897 block of that name.

The seams are in different places in Solitaire and Turnstile, but you get the general idea.



Sarah's Choice

Clara Stone included Sarah's Choice as No. 142. It's based on a 4x4 grid. On this site, that square in the middle is called a windmill after yet another block of that name.
 
Sawtooth


Quarter-
square
triangle


Turnstile


Windmill

Enigma



Enigma
in three colors
Enigma
North Star, Star Puzzle

The strange visual effect in Enigma is largely from a 1/16th (22.5-degree) rotation in the center star pattern in relation to the larger star. Along with the alternating colors of the inner star, it looks off-center. The effect is lost in the three-color block.

The second reason oddity is that Enigma is drawn on a star grid instead of the square grid that makes the usual diamond star. You can see that the outer square's angles aren't right triangles.

Or you can tilt your head so that two of the outer star's points are at the top of an imaginary block. Does that look like a Lemoyne Star or a Sawtooth star ? No, it does not. If you don't believe us, just click on those itty-bitty icons.

Enigma is No. 400 in the Ladies Art Company Catalog of 1897. In 1937, Chicago Tribune columnist Nancy Cabot published a similar block with a slightly smaller center star and called it Star Puzzle. Columnist Nancy Page renamed Enigma, calling it North Star, in 1939.


Rhubarb Twist
Rhubarb Twist

This block was used in a whole-quilt pattern of the same name by designer Terri Atkinson.

Its predecessors, Whirligig and Wheels (not yet on this site) are both turned on-point compared to this one, and the triangles' points touch the blocks' edges. Whirligig is from "Prize Winning Designs," (1931), according to Beyer's Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns (2009), and Wheels is from Progressive Farmer (1976), according to Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (1993).


Circling Swallows


Flying Swallow


Whirling Star


Falling Star

Circling Swallows
Falling Star/Flying Star/Flying Swallows/Rolling Star

Circling Swallows has been around since about 1800, according to quilt historian Ruth Finley (Old Patchwork Quilts, 1929). She said it was popular in New England and Pennsylvania.

Nowadays the block usually goes by Circling Swallows. Finley called it Falling Star; Circling Swallows and Flying Star were alternate names; almost 60 years later, Yvonne Khin (Collector's Dictionary, 1988) added the name Rolling Star.

Any of these blocks can be made with the instructions you'll see when you click the "Make it!" icon. And if you don't like that how-to, there are plenty more on the web.


Flying Swallow
Wreath

The Ladies Art Company called this two-color star Flying Swallow in 1928 (#503). The star and background are one color and the triple diamonds are in the second color. In 1933, Laura Wheeler called the same block Wreath.


Whirling Star


The two-color Kansas City Star variation (1937) was called Whirling Star. The background and diamonds are in one color, and the star is in the second color.


Falling Star
Flying Swallows

In their 1935 book, quilt researchers Carrie Hall and Rose Kretsinger called a four-color variation of Circling Swallows by two of the same names Finley included as alternatives. The block is pictured at left. Hall stitched up a block of this design and included it in a comprehensive collection of quilt blocks that is now in the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrenceville, Kansas.


Star Flower

Star Flower

This basic design seems to have only one name, and nobody knows what it is except a few experts. Jinny Beyer is one of them. She cites Q Book 112: One Piece Quilts for the name Star Flower in her Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns (2009).


Godey's Design
Godey's Design (1858)

This Godey's Design is, like Star Flower, too familiar to quilters to have a well-known name. It must have been something of a novelty in 1858, however, since Godey rarely included quilt blocks: Its readers (so Godey's thought) were too well off to be interested in thrift-inspired activities such as quilting.

Unfolding Star

Unfolding Star

Nancy Cabot's block from a 1936 Chicago Tribune was far more complex than the block it inspired half a century later: Waltzing Matilda by Judith Martin (1988).

The frou-frou around the octagon may seem beside the point, but it creates an interesting lattice over a quilt top. Click on the icon to see two examples.


Waltzing Matilda
Waltzing Matilda

This elegant star is from Judy Martin's Ultimate Book of Quilt Block Patterns (1988). It was reportedly based on the 1936 Unfolding Star block, above.

Fish Tails
Fish Tails
Double Star

The Fish Tails block was originally published as Double Star in Practical Needlework by Clara Stone (1906). The far more memorable name that we're using is from an identical Nancy Page block published in 1933.

Anna's Choice
Quilt

Anna's Choice Quilt

The Kansas City Star published this "very old pattern" in 1941. It's made up of 16 identical miniblocks, each made of two half-square triangles—that is, from miniblocks made of two right triangles apiece. That means, by the way, that it's based on an 8x8 grid.

You'll notice that the proportions are different from the Pin Wheel and Polk Ohio blocks. That's because both the others are based on star grids, which require more drafting attention than this one.


Pin Wheel


Polk Ohio

Pin Wheel
Star of the Milky Way/Twinkle Star/LeMoyne Star & Windmill

Both Pin Wheel and Polk Ohio are based on star grids, but Pin Wheel is older. Its debut was in the Orange Judd Farmer in 1899, according to Barbara Brackman.

Orange Judd was the long-time editor of American Agriculturist, which he bought from its founders in 1856. Later, his publishing company bought an existing magazine for farmers and named it Orange Judd Farmer. Orange Judd & Co. also published Hearth and Home for three years.

All three magazines published quilt blocks, which, in agricultural journals, were a nod to the farmer's wife. If Judd had known that he'd be remembered more

Patron of quilting arts
than a hundred years after his death as a patron of the quilting arts, he'd probably have been shocked.

Polk Ohio

Nancy Page used an identical basic block for Polk Ohio in 1939 (Birmingham News), according to Jinny Beyer's Quilter's Album.

We don't know whether the name refers to President Polk, who was born in North Carolina, or the town of Polk, Ohio, which is west of Akron, or something else. Nor do we know how the colors in Page's block were arranged. We've included a two-color version. We'd love to hear from anyone who knows more.