Sew a fast and easy (and fat quarter friendly) quilt with my free Fat Quarter Whirlwind Quilt Pattern. This pattern is perfect for beginners or anyone who needs to sew a quilt quickly because the blocks are simple and repetitive. I’m providing a free template for the whirlwind blades too.
This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The instructions that follow contain the free cutting template and everything you will need to know to make the the Fat Quarter Whirlwind Quilt. This blog post is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The formatted-for-printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional.
Quilt Block Size and Layout
You can sew a 66” x 55” throw size quilt like mine with 10 fat quarters to make 30 blocks, or make any size you want – each FQ you pick is enough for 3 blocks that finish at 11”.
I know you are going to love sewing this quilt as much as I did! I used fabrics from Dear Stella – the Prairie Poppy collection. Since I was only able to buy find 6 different fat quarters, I used two repeats.
Whirlwind quilt blocks look stunning in floral fabrics too!
Are you ready? Let’s sew!
Fat Quarter Whirlwind Free Quilt Pattern
Finished dimensions: 55” x 66”
Finished Block dimension: 11”
You will need:
- 10 Fat quarters (1 fat quarter is enough for 3 blocks)
- 1 yard of background fabric
- 1/2 yard binding fabric
- 4 ½ yards 44” wide fabric for the back
- Batting – twin size
- The free printable template (click the download button above)
- Cut the fat quarters into strips that are 4 3/8” tall. Cuts must be made with the fabric and the template right sides up. This is very important.
Use the included template to cut these strips. Rotate the template clockwise 180 degrees for each cut to take advantage of the last cut you made – either the angle or the straight cut.
By alternating the orientation of each subcut piece, you are able to minimize waste for each cut. Each fat quarter should yield 12 pieces.
- Cut 30 background fabric squares, each 6 3/4” x 6 3/4”. There are many methods for cutting these squares; folding the fabric to get four squares per cut is efficient. You could use a straight ruler to make the cuts or a square ruler taped at the desired size as a visual reminder of the size you need. Using the squares on your cutting mat isn’t generally recommended although many of us do this.
- Once the background fabric is cut into 30 squares, subcut each square across both diagonals into triangles. This will yield 4 triangles from each square.
Make Whirlwind Block Halves:
- Each block is made from four larger triangles made from the triangles and strips that you just cut. To make the basic shapes for each block, you will sew a white triangle onto a fat quarter shape. To do this, align the square end of a print piece with one of the short sides of the background triangle. The long side of the triangle will cross the fat quarter shape .
- Sew across the top edge as shown in the photo.
When you press the white triangle back, you have the larger triangle needed for making the larger quilt block. Soon you will sew these into larger triangles and then sew them into the final square block. It is magic.
Chain stitching the background triangles onto the fat quarter strips makes this step go quite quickly. You can set up your sewing station with piles of both pieces and keep on sewing. Not having to stop and cut the thread and restart sewing for each piece is a real time saver.
Now that you have all of your basic triangles sewn together from your fat quarter pieces and the background triangles, you are ready to assemble the block sections.
- Place two triangles side by side as shown in photo above left. Place the triangle on the right on top of the one on the left.
- Sew along the bottom edge of the triangle.
These can be chain stitched together. Once these are chain stitched, snip the chain apart and press the triangles open and flat.
Make 60 (2 for each block).
Sew the Block Halves Together
- Sew 2 larger triangles together to make an 11 1/2” block.
There will be one place where seams will nest during the final assembly. I would clip or pin that area together first and then clip toward the ends of the seam. If you just sew from one end to the other, the nesting seams may not align neatly.
- When sewn together, the white triangles will be toward the outside of the block. Press. Square the blocks to 11 1/2” before assembling them for the final quilt, if desired.
Make 30 blocks.
Assemble the Fat Quarter Whirlwind Quilt:
- Lay out the whirlwind quilt blocks and decide how you want to arrange them. I made a portable design wall that is perfect for this process although you can lay them out on a large table or the floor.
- Sew the blocks together in rows. You will make 6 rows, each with 5 blocks.
- Sew the 6 rows together to finish your quilt top.
Optional Quilt Layout Ideas
You have more fun options to try. One option is to piece them together directly, as shown in the sample quilt. This will result in a quilt that is 5 block across and 6 blocks down.
Another option is to add a sashing strip between each row. In this case, you would sew the five blocks together and then add a strip to the bottom. You could use a pre-cut jelly roll stirp or cut strips of the desired width from additional fabric (not included in the amounts listed in the material needed section. )
Alternatively, you could sash both horizontally and vertically. Sew a strip to the right side of four of the five blocks needed for a row (the last block doesn’t need a sashing strip.) Then sew the long sashing strip across the bottom of the row of blocks. (You could also add a strip to the right side and the bottom of four blocks and to the bottom of one block.)
However you decide to layout and assemble your blocks, you are sure to love the results. This quilt has a nice sense of movement and looks great whether you use a consistent or scrappy approach to the blocks.
If you add sashing strips, you will need to add more material to your backing and batting as the quilt will be larger than specified. 2 ½ inch strips will add 10 inches to your quilt size.
Finishing the Fat Quarter Whirlwind Quilt
1. Cut the backing fabric in half and sew it together to make a piece big enough for the back of the quilt (at least 59” x 70”’).
3. Quilt the quilt top as desired.
4. Cut 6-7 strips of binding 2 1/2’’ x width-of-fabric and sew them together using diagonal seams. I was able to bind my quilt with just 6 binding strips sewn together, but if your fabric isn’t 44’’ wide, you may need 7 strips. Bind the quilt using your preferred method. See how I bind my quilts by machine here.
As always, I love to see quilts and other fun things you sew using my free patterns and tutorials. Add a picture to instagram and tag me #sewcanshe or @sewcanshe so I can take a look!
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