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Playing with Pinwheels in Quilting

Lesson 4 of 5

Pinwheel Play: Sew Time

Cheryl Arkison

Playing with Pinwheels in Quilting

Cheryl Arkison

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Lesson Info

4. Pinwheel Play: Sew Time

Lesson Info

Pinwheel Play: Sew Time

We're going to go for it and we're going to play, so don't be afraid to take off on any tangents let go of all of the fear that we're holding on to and we talked about earlier and remember, whatever you're doing doesn't have to be anything other than the block you're making at this time. All right, so let's, have fun. All right, so one of the things I thought I would play with, well, everybody is playing here as I'm going to do that idea that I suggested when I said improv didn't work for me. I got a whole bunch of pink scraps here, I'm going to sew them together, and if you've already seen my other class with creative live on improv, then you got an idea of where I'm going with this. If you haven't, then feel free to look it up so you can join along as we're improv ing our way through this, I'm just going to cut a whole bunch of scraps in different pieces, give myself some different sizes to play with got some little ones I have some longer ones and it's all the fabrics that I've been...

using all along. I have some of these triangles here, that's the one that I stretched out when I was showing you guys. The bias stuff so I'm going to cut it back to a relative square and then I have these smaller triangles I have these smaller triangles to maybe there'll be something as well but for now I'm just going to grab all this fabric and see where we go with it so let me just so a bunch of it together and we'll turn it into a block you guys can follow along with me here and as the students in the class we've got for amazing quilters here in the class today and as they so we're going to share their blocks as we go part of what I want you to see at home is too see how we do this right what are people stop process for making these blocks where were they thinking they might go did it work did it not work what did they enjoy? What didn't they enjoy so from an improv perspective you're getting a little tiny lesson I am literally just going to so scraps of fabric together um and then cut it apart again so I'm making fabric from my fabric and as I said you can catch my other class on improv from here to there to get the basic techniques for doing this for now let's just still a bunch of stuff together and see what happens I'm open for the exploration because I'm here to play rates there's the first round of things in here I have to say, for those of you who are either around children, whether you work with them are you have ground children or your own they're definitely the ones that have inspired this class clearly is we were talking about earlier and that sense of play that we get from them and just that pure sense of adventure that they have, but I really have to give credit to my children for making me the quilter that I am because while I quilted before I had children, I have been quilting for a number of years. It wasn't until I had my oldest who was going to be nine shortly and she's amazingly smart and funny girl, but when I was pregnant with her at a very rough pregnancy, you're getting a personal story here but I had a very rough pregnancy, which meant I was on bed rest, which meant I had a lot of time to sit and do not nothing except obsess and think and do the exact opposite of play really when it came down to it, but because I had all of that time, I was forced to think a lot about motherhood and what I wanted and I happened to watch a show which I will read not name was not a show I watched frequently but let's just say I had my ah ha moment while I was watching the show and but what it made me realize it was this episode where women were showing were complaining about their daughters and my daughter has all these hang ups and they were usually physical hang ups, right? Like, I don't know why she's obsessed with having a perfect nose or why she thinks she's fat and everything like that, but then secret camera footage showed the mother doing the exact same thing ls and the mother was completely oblivious to the fact that she had done this and so I was watching this and it like literally one of the few times I've seen that show, you know, in years and I happened to catch it and it really struck me because I thought, wow, like they really do see everything and I didn't have kids yet, so I wasn't really clueing into that fat and I didn't know if I was having a boy or girl, but I remember saying at that time I said no matter what, they'll never see me complain about the way I look and it was just that moment and that thought that got me thinking, but what it also got me thinking about was they'll never see me complain about that, but they need to see me as I see me and if I don't see me in a positive light in a true and honest light, then I can't be a good mother right so in other words I had to be is honest with myself to be the best mother that I could and it really wasn't ah ha moment for me and so what that really became for me is that I needed teo fully acknowledge and embrace the creative part of me it was something I'd always had a kid and then we get older and we stopped writing the stories we stopped designing barbie clothes we stop playing right? We think no, we have toe d math and chemistry and go to university and we have to get jobs and all of that sense is gone they're on so I had stopped really being true to myself so when my daughter was born and I had the daughter I renewed that commitment of saying ok, I have to be completely true to myself and she'll never see me complain about my looks but I had to be really, really honest and and be true and doing that meant that I was going to quilt as muchas I actually wanted to not and it wasn't going to be in secret right? Like I would go out in public or I would tell people at work you know? Yeah, I quote that's what I'm doing tonight I'm just going to go home and quell and they think you're weird um they're like ok, you're twenty whatever and your quilting and go for it um so I wasn't going toe hide behind that, but what that did is it opened up for me this whole new world of creativity because I got so excited by what I was doing because I wasn't, you know, put hiding it under the rug and it in my effort to be more true to myself I fully became true to myself quilting then became a compulsion, right? Something that I had to d'oh all the time and it made me feel better and the days that I don't do it, I am a worse mother because I am not as calm and everything and so it means that my kids are in the sewing room with me all the time they have. I have made this first quilt sunday morning or first books or sunday morning quells I made half quotes probably with the child on my lap, right? I wrote most of it in the early morning hours while they were still in sleep. I wouldn't even get out of bed so that they wouldn't here, but I was up and and and then I would you know I would so during the day I could I can write to the soundtrack of pbs kids it's entirely, but they were so much a part of it so that when it came time for the second book, these are my daughters on the cover with me my kids are throughout the book right? It was so much so important to me to have them be a part of it because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be doing this I would still be hiding in the basement not telling anyone that I was much of a quilter and and feeling guilty about something that gave me tremendous pleasure instead I was able to you embrace it and doing so maybe a better quilter it may be someone who gets to do this for a living and it made me a better mother by far absolutely by far a my a better mother for rich so not only am I thanking them for you know, instilling in me a sense of play but in also inspiring me teo be true to myself and and who I want to be so if my kids ever watching thank you thank you so much on they probably will watch they get a big kick out of it but then every time I do something there like does this mean you're famous quilter now on well that's a matter of perspective oh matter perspective I don't care about fame I just want everybody else that I work with and so with and whether that's here in the studio at home to be excited by what they're doing long scenes long seems how are we doing? Are things coming along so you have a plan at least to start with there's. No plan, no plan it's even better because we're playing idea. Yeah, take the ideas, see where it goes. Thank you so much. Take the idea pushed the block up the hill it's a mountain e I don't know what I'm doing but that's ok that's, right that's the point, right? I guess so I've been told it is that's what I said it's about the journey it's not about the exactly, basically, when it comes down to it, if you ever want to hear my gist on quilting is its process, process process. But I'm saying that with my canadian accent not process as this process it's all about the process because we're not concerned with what we're going to end up, right every single one of my creative life classes in this siri's that's what we've learned is, what are the steps we need to take to get us tio potential outcome? But we don't necessarily know the outcome when we start, right? So that's process oriented for sure. So how long have you been quilting for? I know it is doing it for a while, but I haven't actually heard where your inspiration came from I'm a new york built a revenue doing only three years oh wow, and how did you get started? Um why sort of sewing garments eleven long ago? That was because that would be giving away money that's not gonna happen if I tell you that I have to kill you so um so I don't know a few years ago I just thought if you really need to make a quote for someone and give it away he sizing garments to people isn't real fun but looking to quote you could make it and give it away it's right makes people happy it's a neat gap and then you get addicted to it it is an addiction it's completely and I think that's what? You know whether it's whatever your craft is for your hobby it tends to be that way and so that's why I've only ever built in I dabble in making clothes, but I'm not very good at it and I don't do a lot of clothing making, but the reason is because cool things one expensive addicting hobby I don't need more yeah, one of the time exactly I don't need more, so I've never done I always I admire the stuff I look at it and think oh so cool and I wish I could do that and everything, but the truth is I only have time for one expensive and time consuming hobby see, this goes full circle into what made me truly a call uh a quilter, I have taught my daughters how to use sewing machine, so if they want to come and hang out with me or they want to do something with me, I can very easily fit let's go so and then I get to do what I want to dio and there's so hot because we've spent time together. I also bake a lot of cookies for that reason because I was never one to play with dolls I myself is as a kid much I made doll clothes, but I never really played with the dolls, and so I can do that as well. Um now so it's like, well, let's go so let's go bake cookies and then I don't have to get down on the form, play cars, things like that it's not my deal, okay, so I've just sewn some scraps together. I have some different sizes and everything. I don't know what I'm going to do with these let me look at them and see what my options are and this is the little bit I've been playing, cheryl s so as you're making your pinwheels, I noticed that the color schemes tend to stay the same. Is that always the case like you cured choosing different pinks, for example with yours, or are you able to make pinwheels as well but use completely different anything go anything goes I just chose pink because it's not a color crime but pink and gray because it's not a color combination I've done a lot with and my pink been is very overflowing and I didn't no why so that well I must tell you some of those fabrics right it's that element of cutting into a precious fabric why not you know it's just fabric let's see where it is and you know for the sake of of learning I thought well let's stick with the same color so we can show variations in the theme so these air the few pieces that I improv together I kinda have three different sizes if I were making a pinwheel we would be cutting squares right of the same size some to see how long I have of fourteen inches by like you know nine nine and a half and I have eight eight and a half here right so I can get a square out of this in a square out of this so that's what I'm going to d'oh and I'm going to cut them eight and a half inches because that's you know the width of my ruler and I'm lazy so well I make my life any more difficult than it needs to be warmer playing because that's when I can consistently cut I'm gonna cut an eight and a half inch square out of this but again I will fully admit vanessa too that the reason I also have all the pinks and the grays and almost always the same background fabric because I thought if I did really like these and they ended up together than they all went together right right and I can play and get them all in the same kind of a quilt together so I don't know if I'll do that but I wanted to at least leave the optionality yeah yeah leave leave the door open for that as well so I'm going to cut another eight and a half inch by eight and a half inch square from here and then I'll cut a background and make a pin well like I was doing before and like everybody else wass michelle how are you doing on your first play attempt I've got some little triangles for squares cut out or I should say I just have to press them yeah cute and then I'm just doing some more that are larger oh on and see where that my end up me too I like that spirits okay so I need a background fabric so I'm gonna grab a gray nikki can you pass me any one of those top grace note the light or any one of them fine thanks all right so let's see what happens when I do this I'm going toc I had improvised all that piece saying now I've given myself some order and I'm going to put a block together just like all the other blocks impress that a little bit before I cut it there's some heavy creases in it nikki we never got around to you how long have you been quilting sewing when I was twelve allow and I come from a family of makers so knitters sour seems just I'm the first quarter and I've probably been quoting I don't know couple decades wow way have so much to learn from quilters like you have been doing it for a long time you never stop learning exactly I mean I'm your clearly learning I'm here there's always something else you haven't done yet yeah um color you haven't used to pattern you haven't done so yeah it's never boring and new things they're coming out all the time to range well their their new to you I mean if you go far enough back they've been done before that's true that's a good point but new fabrics yeah changed although I'm I'm working on a on a challenge right now and it's a color the coat the pantone color the year marcella arsala which they're you know, people there aren't fabrics like that but I went back into my stash and actually found a fabric printed nineteen eighty seven that was that was back color that was exactly that yeah, it was on the salvage line yeah I'm sure they didn't hand from my mom when I went through her stuff because it's like a upholstery wait well I usually by colton cotton yeah yeah well at this exact point in time I'm coming up on seventeen years of quilting and I know that because the recipient of my very first quilt got his driver's license so I can I can always know how long it's been by knowing how old my nephew is we're one of my nephews he's my oldest nephew so it's always very different and I think even in that, like I recently did I am not a border but I was cleaning out my garage in the summer um and if you're ever really bored, you can look at my hashtag things I found in my garage on instagram because it was quite entertaining some of the things that I found in my garage um but one of the things two of the things I found which I am fully embarrassed but I've already admitted them so I'm happy to admit them here to everybody and in the creative live audience is I found swaps that I did in nineteen ninety nine when I was a relatively beginner quilter on dso they were round robin so you start with one center and then the next person puts all the way around in the next person goes like that so that men I had two other people's quills in my garage for sixteen years fifteen years I felt so incredibly rude so incredibly rude I completely forgotten that they were in there and I was really lucky because thanks to the internet, which is how I was you know, in a group with these people in the first place but the website that we met on is no longer in existence and and everything but I just googled their names and one of them is a pattern designer she's still quilts and she's a pattern designer, so I was able to contact her through a website you know, since a very apologetic letter she's like don't worry, I forgot about it too, so we're even um and I sent her a picture of equitably said, do you want it back? Because I'll happily send it to you if you're not interested in having it back? Are you okay with all donate it to a charity here? But I was at this point it's not going to make any promises about asked adding my round because that was the sad part I hadn't even put my round on it and it was hiding in the garage I had started it and I remember now I had started it and it didn't work and and so I had put it aside waiting to try to figure out the right thing to do for it and so then I kind of I said I'll send you everything that I did and all the extra fabric and a few extra treats in apology and she took it back and she e mailed me just like I got it it's actually better than I remember it being and so we'll see if she finishes it gone unfortunately, I cannot haven't been able to find the other quilter, so I'm going to try a little bit harder ask around a little bit more she was from minnesota, so if anyone from minnesota is watching, contact me and see if maybe you know this crown, sir, but if not, I will donate the quilt for a charity drive where you can actually donate, quote tops and and get it into somebody's hands now, right? So that there is some appreciation for it. But one of the other things I found in the garage, which was quite interesting was another swap project I did it. So do we all remember why two k when the world was gonna end? Yeah, yeah, so it was in during that time quilters being quilters decided, well, we're going to ignore all of that we're going to swap fabric and so they were y two k swaps going on all over the place where you swapped twenty five charms to two and a half inch squares and you put up, you made eighty packages to send out to eighty other people, and you would get eighty and returns, so in the end, you would have two thousand two and a half inch squares when you put it all together makes an etienne by one hundred inch quilt two and a half inches at the time, and I did this walk, and I was pulling out, I found, so I found all the envelopes, like everything was still in the envelopes. I have the addresses of everybody that sent things, I counted it out, I actually had eighty one packages, so I had extras and said, oh, my god, but we're talking about the age of the fabrics like this is fifteen years ago and it's a whole other world of fabrics. So now I've actually been putting those charms together. I sort of them, and I keep a stack of them by my machines. So every time I'm so it, no matter what I'm doing, whether it's a pinwheel like this improv, something like that. When I get to the end of the scene, I so a pair together and then I so and then and then you know, I'll add a third one, two that's, why I'm assembling it and rose. Right and I go until I have forty in a row and then I put that rose side and grab another stack and do that so in that way because I think to sit and so two thousand two and a half inch squares together like yeah exactly it would be phenomenally boring and not interesting but this way I'm getting assembly without even thinking about it but looking at the fabrics oi yeah some of those fabrics or just you know let's yeah that's a good way to put it but they're also really interesting ones right like I did some of the swaps people came from all over the world right so I had a couple of packages of fabric where it was predominantly australian print which looks really cool and still look really cool right but you could you can see them on in there you could tell who really liked their calico will most of them are calico's to be honest but who really liked you know the browns and who really liked um novelty see prince with tractors and teddy bears man there were a lot of teddy bears at that time and I'm not one to do cute I don't really do cute very very often despite my t shirt today it's not something that I generally dio but it's been fun it's a good lesson in history and I'll finish it on and you know see where we go with it see where we go just like we're seeing where we go with pinwheels today way how are we doing a see things coming together over there you've been quote thank for quite a long time but I have a multi crafter no no, I think I know karen knit sweater she's wearing today and you realise herself very cool how did a waiter or anything like that? Um couple months like about to design it and um private amato net it wow, yeah, I'm very impressed when I look at knitting patterns I feel like it's a foreign language it's just not something that my brain gets ahead around but that may be because I also have a hard time following patterns period so but I'm always impressed very impressed so to design your own too like following and knitting pattern seems phenomenal to me but then to design your own pattern that's amazing absolutely amazing we have to understand garment construction that makes a difference yeah and they have to grade it to sell you have to grade for different body sizes that's just sizing it differently is that what that means? Yeah in the body doesn't change I'm uniformly s o a cz one gains weight you don't necessarily gain height oh that's you know I wish I could actually lose height don't she's that's what they say when you get older you get shorter something else look forwards I don't want to think about that my um when I was younger I was always the biggest kid in class I'm not a short person I don't know if you can tell that but I don't find myself terribly tall but my brother being the mean older brother that isthe knew that I wanted to be taller even taller so he had me convinced that my parents had taken me for a test to see how much space was between my cartilage and that could predict how tall I was going to be oh because he's a doctor now so the fact that he did this like I must have been so so gullible because he was so much older than me that that he got away with it but he had me convinced I was going to be six feet tall I was so excited by this so so excited I'm going to be six feet tall it's gonna be awesome I thought I was going to be a model because of course if you're that tall you're going to be a model you know never minding other factors on whether you're going to be a model and now I wouldn't wish that upon my kids anyways but he had me so convinced so when I stopped growing at the age of fourteen at not quite five what nine I was crushed just crush you told me I would be six feet told yeah, childhood traumas my kids will get mad at me because you know I let them paint in their underwear one day so and shoot it they're not gonna watch that part no don't say that some of your most meaningful quote are like the ones that you made from your kids scrapbooking are I'm just curious to see which one means the most to you and why you know that's a really good question um I think because quilts for me as I said before there's so much process involved for them like I remember the making of the quilt more so than what the final result where it goes or what it is and stuff like that s o there's quills that like I think this one which have shown in some of my other classes here this there is peace in pattern if you haven't seen it before right there is peace in pattern which is kind of like, you know, a good quoting mantra you don't really see it that well that way but you can see it on here this one for me was the first quilt I made in my new studio um it's just session studio it's a room in my basement let's be honest, right? But our basement flooded um quite a number of years ago when it was a really long process for us to get it finished again and my husband you know, amazingly said, we need to get the sewing room down first, and I think that was partially selfish on his part because he was tired of listening to me, so when he was trying to watch tv and we were in the same room because it was a living room dining room combo things so that it was partly that, but he admitted to me later that it was also because he knew that sewing was what made me happy that quilting was what made me happy, so we had lived for many years to get from the flood to getting to that point with seven years and and it was a lot of frustration for me, and, you know, maybe a lesser couple would have divorced, but but we made it through, and so he got it done because he needed he's like you needs a space of rest, you need a place of your own and everything, and this was the first quilt I made in there. I had my design wall was up, and so I had the opportunity to really play with a design wall. The kids would come in and they were cutting fabric, and we're playing red light green light with the sewing machine or they're sitting on my lap, so it just it really kind of represents to me that sort of new phase of creativity because I had this space again on dna new phase for our family because our house completely opened up I could live I'm one of those people I could live in like a super ultra modern a place where like you see a vase and nothing else and it's all white and it's clean well, I need color, but but it would just be clean with no knick knocks or anything like that but I live with three kids and a man and a dog who really don't care to live that way so the fact that I had this brand news space and we weren't on top of each other just kind of all added up so it isn't about this specific quilt or what it says or anything it's about everything that it represents and so I think for me that's what a lot of my quilts are is that meaning the meaningfulness comes in that right now and whatever quote you finish last is usually your favorite right? Because and this is I think where we all have that element to play along the way because you like, try the new technique or a new combination of colors and you've gotten so excited and like, yeah, we're going to do this on dh it's beautiful and it's awesome and then you know you're great and then you either give it away or you move on um but you know, the last one you made is often the most favorite there it would be interesting to ask my family the same question though, because we do have quilts all over the house you know, I probably have about thirty forty quotes just at home because with the books I have to keep them um teo for professional reasons and so we have about thirty or forty quotes roaming around the house have never counted them up, so I'd be curious if my kids have favorites and why right? What what are their favorites? So I don't know I don't know the answer to that yeah, that would be a good question it would seem like they're really involved with what you do, which is really cool yeah, well I I don't think I have a choice right? If I wanted to keep my quilting separate from my family and like I have some friends and I know of cultures that they're like no quilting is mine, right? It's it's for me it's not for anybody else I don't want them involved I don't want I don't want to teach them to so because then I'll have to sew with, um and everything like that we'll fight it that I never said frankly or I wouldn't sleep in order to so I would have to, you know, not sleep eso inviting them in and I thought that when I got the space in my my new sewing room studio space that's what I thought I was like no, this is my space, my refuge from all of you and all of your mess and I will keep it clean and you can't come in well, but if I did that I'd never see them and they'd never see me and so that's no good it was, you know, that's why I had to invite them in it's the same reason that if you've seen the translating inspiration class that they're allowed in my sketchbook, right? I have copies of some of my sketchbooks where they've drawn in it more than I have but that's inspiring to me because being a mother and being a quilter are inextricably linked for me absolutely I know it's not the case for everybody, but for me I wouldn't be the mother I am without quilting and I wouldn't be the quilter that I am without being a mother that's me though what everyone's that way how do you personally feel about coulter's who have kind of taken this craft form and taking him on a business level you know, like selling mass producing on sea and selling them and do you think it leave their quills? Yeah do you think it kind of loses its value in a sense but it's not personal no, I don't think quilting loses its value I think the problem is that a lot of quilters undervalue their work right and so that that creates this perception that you can make you know a quilt the size of that one and sell it for one hundred, one hundred fifty dollars because someone did that on etc and that any quilt that size is therefore worth that we'll know because they haven't valued themselves properly they haven't paid for their time they maybe have paid for their materials and that's all they thought maybe depending on what they've chosen but they haven't paid for their time and they haven't given themselves a fair market value on dh valued the work that they have done and then that hurts other people who actually are trying to sell it that way. There have been a lot of posts online and and controversy about it, but I really do believe that I think it's fine, I don't want to sell my twelve I'd rather give you a quote then sell you one on def I love you all happily give you one if you ask me, write my husband would be very happy for me to give you a quick but but I don't want to sell them that way I think within this industry and within the quoting industry as a whole it's very difficult to make a living ad it doing one thing so either just selling quotes just selling patterns just writing books just teaching it's almost impossible to do just one of those things and make an honest living provide for your family right we can all maybe pay for our time or we can make some money off of a hobby there's different ways to do it but I don't think that you know you can do it anyone when anyone thing and have it all of that way so the same goes for people who are selling quilts there I really hope that they value themselves so that they help the industry as a whole and help themselves because there's no benefit to them other than that they've made the quote but they really need to sell it for you know a fair values so that people understand that it takes a lot of work to do this it takes in a lot of investment of your time of your heart um to do it it's not mindless right now you know so here's what my pinwheel is looking like with the improv pieced fabric right totally just fun right that's what I look like I've mixed all my pinks together it's going to end up at this really odd size because these air eight inches you know so it will be fifteen I guess fifteen and a half inches it won't be too bad in there but it's kind of fun right? It's it's. A different look compared to this, where I've pieced the fabric and stuff like that.

Class Description

Have more fun with the basic pinwheel block! In Playing with Pinwheels in Quilting, Cheryl Arkison will teach you variations on the traditional pinwheel pattern and encourage you to get creative and play.

Cheryl is the author of two books on quilting and a huge advocate for having fun. In this beginner and advanced-friendly class, you’ll learn new ways to work with an old favorite. Cheryl will teach:

  • Fabric cutting and pressing for variations on the traditional design
  • Sewing techniques for your unique pinwheel designs
  • How to trim blocks inspired by a design wall

Playing with Pinwheels in Quilting will help you add a little more energy and creativity to your quilts.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Cheryl Arkison - Pinwheel Play - Tools.pdf

Cheryl Arkison - Pinwheel Play Bonus.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I have taken all four of Cheryl's classes and she is an excellent instructor. Amazing. She is clear, engaging, non-judgmental, informative and has a ton of quality suggestions. Can't say enough about her! I hope that she does more courses in the future. Thanks very much, Cheryl and Creative Live. Very inspiring.