Monday, October 10, 2011

Whirly Gig Tutorial!!! (A Lil Twister Tool Tutorial)

Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning! 

 I just got back from The Sewing Summit last night and it was fabulous!!! I had so much fun, and I promise to post about it soon. But until then, I have another little surprise for today.  Remember when I promised a tutorial on how to make this???   We'll today is the day!!!  (You can also find this tutorial guest blogged at Sew We Quilt :)  

I have always wanted to make a "Whirly Gig" quilt (is that the technical
 name??) but always figured I would do it "someday" because cutting
 individual pieces with templates and then sewing on lots of angles just
 sounded like a project to put off.  And it continued to get put off.  That
 is until a few weeks ago when I was at my Local Quilt Shop and found
 the greatest little tool that in two days changed my  "Whirly Gig" quilt
 from the "someday" back shelf to the Display Shelf.  

And since I know there are many of you out there that probably would
 love to have your own "Whirly Gig" quilt that is fast and fun to put 
together, I decided to do a tutorial along the way :)  So let's get to it!!

2 Charm Packs or 80 5" Squares
1/3 Yard Print for the Whirly Gig Border cut into four 3" x WOF strips
1 Yard Print for Backing
1/3 Yard Print for for Binding  
A Lil' Twister Cutting Tool by CS Designs


Ironically enough, you start to make this quilt by making a basic 8 x 8 square
 quilt.  Now since this is the Wantobe Quilters campaign, I will be going
 through the individual steps of making a basic 8 x 8 square quilt.  If you are
already familiar with how to do this, please feel free to skip down to Step 2.

Choose 64 of your 5" squares and lay them out in an 8 rows by 8 columns
 grid, as shown below.  Go ahead and play around with the placement until
 you get a layout that is pleasing to the eye.  This won't be the final layout
 but it will help to keep good color separation   

Once you have the prints in the placement you like stack the rows up
 individually making sure to keep the first block in the row at the top of the
 stack. (see below)  Now label each row with a number 1 through 8.  I just
 use a scrap piece a paper with a pin stuck in it for this :)

And now you are ready to start sewing your top together.  Start with your row
 1 stack and the first two squares in the stack.

Lay your first square onto your second square in the stack with right sides
 together.  You can pin these if you like but it is not necessary.  Sew a 
1/4" seam along the edge of your two squares.  There is no need to get
 up and run to the iron just yet, we will get to that.

Open your now pieced together squares 1 and 2.  Lay square three onto 
square 1 with right sides together.  Once again pin if you like.  Sew a 
1/4" seam along the edge of squares 2 and 3.  Just keep repeating this 
process until you have sewn all 8 squares in the row.

Your row should look like this.  Now go ahead and repeat the process for
 all 8 rows.

Now you are ready to head to the ironing board.  You want to press your
 rows in opposite directions so it makes it easier to match seams in the next
 step.  So go ahead and press all of the seams in your odd numbered rows
 to the left and all of your seams in the even numbered rows to the right.
  (or vice versa, just keep the odd rows and even rows going in opposite
 directions :)

Now you are ready to start sewing the completed rows together.  Find your
 Row 1 and Row 2 from your pressed pile. You will know the start square
 in each row because it will have the label in it. (hence, why the labels are
 important :)

Lay your Row 1 onto your Row 2 with right sides together.  Now it is very
 important to pin and to pin properly. Start by matching the seams in your
 two pieces.  Remember, they are pressed in opposite directions so they
 should lay perfectly next to each other.  When you have "nested" (the term
 for having the seams lie next to each other" a seam put a pin in it.  Do this will
 all of your seams and then pin the edges of the rows.  It is okay if you have
 a little bubble here or there, that will work itself out.  It is far more important
 to make sure your seams are lined up then it is to make sure it lays perfectly flat.

When it is all pinned sew a 1/4" seam along the pinned edge, remembering
 to remove the pins as you sew.  It is a bad habit to sew over pins (I say
 this because I am still working on breaking it).  Once you have finished
 sewing go ahead and press your seam.  (I like to press this one open but
 you do what feels comfortable :)

Now Row 1 and 2 are sewn together and you are ready to move onto
 Row 3.  This is the same process as before.  Just lay Row 3 onto
 Row 2 with right sides together, pin your seams, sew your 1/4" and press.

And continue repeating that process until you have sewn all 8 rows 
together.  Yippee Skippee!!!  Your 8 x 8 Quilt Grid is now done and
 now you just have to add a border.


Grab two of your "Whirly Gig" Border strips that you have already pre-cut.
  Lay them along the sides of the quilt with right sides together and the excess
 overhanging the edge.  Once again, it isn't necessary to pin, you can just align
 as you go, but if you prefer to go right ahead.  Sew a 1/4" seam along the
 edge of the two sides and then trim the excess.

Now grab your remaining 2 strips and repeat the same process, this time 
adding the borders to the top and bottom of the quilt.   Give the entire quilt
 top a good pressing.

And your top is done and you are ready to cut it all up!!  Yup, that's right,
 you sewed this quilt together just to cut it up.  But trust me, it is a lot of
 fun to cut it up!!!


 Get out your Lil' Twister Cutting tool.  These can be found at just about 
every local quilt shop or on-line at just about any on-line quilt store.  They
 are super popular right now so it shouldn't be hard to track one down :)

Start up in the top corner of your 8 x 8 square grid quilt.  Lay your 
Lil Twister cutting tool so that the cross bars on the tool match up with the
 intersecting seams of your quilt top.  (as seen below)  Now using your 
rotary cutter, simply cut around the tool.  (you have a little leway around 
each seam so it is okay if you go over each edge 1/4" but not much
 more than that)

Lay your square just above your cutting area.  It is important to keep them in
 the same order that you are cutting them out :)  Now align your cutting tool
 onto the next intersection and once again, cut around the tool.

Continue this process across the entire first row.  You will have 9 squares 
when you are finished.  Now you can move onto cutting out a second row.
  Once again, align the cross bars on the tool with the intersecting seams
 on your quilt and cut out around the tool.

Continue until you have cut all 9 squares out of the second intersection row.
   You can trim off the little remaining center squares and toss them or scrap
 them. (Depending on how small of scraps you like to keep.)  Now go ahead
 and set your grid quilt aside for a minute.  (I found it best not to get to far
 ahead in the cutting so as not to create confusion on aligning my blocks.)

And you are ready to align your rows.  Simply twist each square about
 45 degrees so that your whirly-gig's line up and the color prints all match.
  Super easy and oh so super cute!!!!

Once you have your first two rows lined up it is just like quilting our square
 grid from before.  Start with Row 1 and lay square 1 onto square 2 with
 right sides together. Pin if you like, and then sew a 1/4" seam along the edge.

Continue adding square by square until all 9 blocks are sewn together 
creating your New Row 1.  Now just repeat with the other 9 squares to
 create your New Row 2.  And now you are ready to sew the two rows

Lay your Row 1 onto your Row 2.  Once again, make sure to align each 
of the seam sets and pin them so they "nest".  Once all the seams are pinned,
 sew a 1/4" seam along the pinned edge removing pins as you go.  And
 lastly press.

 Now you can just continue to repeat the process over and over.  Cut a
 row, Sew a row together, and then sew it on your "Whirly Gig" top.

And when you no longer have any of your 8 x 8 Quilt Grid top left you 
should have a top that looks similar to this!!  Yippee Skippee!!!  Wasn't
 that just so fun, and so very easy!!


Just about all done.  Personally, I like to use up most of my charms in a 
charm pack so I added one more border.  So . . . grab 15 more charm
 or 5" squares and cut them in half so they are 2 1/2" x 5".

Now we are simply going to sew them into a long line.  Just start with two
 pieces laid with right sides together and sew a 1/4" seam along the short
 edge.  Just keep adding pieces on to the end until all the rectangles are 
sewn into 1 long line.

Now, lay your border strip along the edge of the quilt.  (It doesn't matter 
which side you start with, just pick any old one :)  Measure the length 
needed to be equal to the length of the top and trim at the edge.

Now, lay the border along the edge of the quilt with right sides together.  
Pin along the edge and then sew a 1/4" seam along the pinned edge.  Go
 ahead and press your new seam.

Now grab  your border strip once again and this time you are going to align
 it up along the next side of your quilt.  So it will start aligning up along the 
border you just sewed on.  Once again, measure the length you need for
 that side of the quilt and trim the excess.  Then lay your border with right
 sides together along the edge of the quilt, pin, sew 1/4" seam, and press.
  You get the idea right.  Repeat for the final 2 sides.

And TaDa!!!  Your Whirly-Gig Top is complete!!!  Now just finish it up,
 whether you like to tie it, free motion quilt it, or sent it off to be done.  
Wasn't that just so much fun!!  Seriously, I had a blast making mine and I
 hope that you have an equally wonderful time putting your own
 "Whirly-Gig" quilt together :)

This completed top measures 30" x 30" and works perfect for a wall 
hanging or a quilt for a new little wee-one.  And the great thing about the 
Lil' Twister is you can make any size you want, just start with a smaller or
 larger Quilt Grid :)  Oh, and one last thing . . . If you want larger 
Whirly-Gig's you can use the big brother of the Lil'Twister called the 
Twister.  It uses the exact same method it just starts with 10" squares
 instead of 5" squares.

So that is is from Me :)  I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and it inspires
 you to make your own Whirly-Gig Masterpiece.  If it does, I would love
 for you to add it to my Flickr Tutorial group.  Have a Happy Quilting Day!!!
Pin It!


  1. Pleased youhad a great time.
    Thanks for the link

  2. I'm on my way over to check out your tutorial right now :)

  3. I just ordered one of those Lil' Twisters a couple of days ago. I have been eyeing it off for a while now and finally decided to do it. It will take a bit of time to arrive in Australia but thats ok. When it does I will be back to check out the tut again as it is very well written and clear.
    Thanks Melissa.

  4. Just checked out your great tutorial over at Sew We Quilt...thanks Melissa!

  5. Just looked at your tutorial on Stash Manicure - Wonderful job & the quilt was just beautiful
    Thank you so much :)

  6. I love it!! And congrats on the 5th baby!! I have 5 also!!

  7. Hurray! I get it now! I am so happy to see you elsewhere as well. It's like running into a friend from the library at the grocery store.

  8. Melissa ~ You have done yet another awesome tutorial. Thank you. When I arrived at the local quilt shop two weeks ago for my beginning quilt piecing class I noticed she had just gotten the Lil' Twister templates in stock. I haven't been able to buy one yet but had planned to go back this week when I get paid again finally. Your awesome tutorial came at the perfect time for me since I had planned to buy that this week already. (a few things came up though which may prevent me from getting it this month but I'm crossing my fingers I still can)

    Thank you so much for doing such a thorough tutorial on exactly how to use this template. You always do such a great job which is why I keep coming back. :)

  9. Melissa, thank you for your email with the link. I follow you now here! I loved your tutorial over at sew we quilt blog. I hope it will show up in my folowers list now that I follow you! I can see it but not always Bloggers shows all the foloowers you list. I found out the bad way lately through sew we quilt. It didn't show up at m,y list I was following them. Well, that's life! Keep going with those lovely tutorials! I hope you will have a good time at your retreat!

  10. First, congrats and best wishes on baby number 5!!!!

    Great tutorial at Sew We Quilt!! Just finished my first Lil'Twister quilt yesterday..all that's left is to add the binding. :o)

  11. Melissa this was a wonderful tutorial. I love the whirlygig and hope that my Joanne's has it. I will send a pic to you when I finish it...I also love your blog and am a follower...have a wonderful day.

  12. Hello there Melissa!

    You are AMAZING! Blogging while birthing, not something you hear about - if ever. Love the tutorial and the way you paced the twist was fabulous. I am inspired and I think I have to get that tool too!

    Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your new addition to your family. I hope all goes smoothly for you.

  13. Thank you for the link to get here ~ I now follow via email! I really appreciate the descriptive tutorial! Dawn ~ ~

  14. Thanks for the tutorial!! I now follow and am a wantobe and would love to win this fabric!

  15. Interesting tutorials. I'm now a follower and would love to win the goodies trio. Thanks!

  16. dear Melissa,
    what a wonderful quilt and a great tutorial, thank you!
    I know this pattern als flicflac, I have sewn a wallhänging once, but I´ll like to sew a quilt out of 2 or 3 charm packs, thanks for the idea and inspiration.

  17. Darling tutorial over at Madame Samms! They look like Pinwheels to me and I luv Pinwheels! Congrats on your new sweet Baby Girl!

  18. Such a great tutorial - thank you for taking the time. Congratulations on the newest addition!

  19. Thank for this wonderful tutorial. It's amazing!!! Have a great day!!

  20. AWESOME, EASY FUN! THANKS for sharing with the wantobes campaign!

  21. I saw your tutorial over at Sew We Quilt - Stash Manicure! I must say thank you so much for making it look so easy! Nice Work!

  22. Thanks for sending me the link. FIVE! Holy smokes, my 3 were a handful. But...I never tire of babies - and they are the best when they're grands!! :)

  23. newest follower thanks to your sweet email. Thanks so much.

  24. The tutorial is super cute! I have to go hunt for a lil twister. I hope you had a good time at sewing summit. I wish I could have gone!


  25. Thank you! Your tutorial is terrific!

  26. I never would have guessed by looking at the pictures of the completed quilt.

  27. Great tutorial! I can't wait to try this!

  28. Thanks Melissa on the wonderful tutorial at Sew We Quilt.
    You quilting gals are amazing!
    Like your blog and will follow it.

  29. Thanks for the great tutorial. I've really been wanting to try that Lil Twister. I can't quit buying charm packs, so I have to have a way to use them. Congrats on baby #5. I have 5, too, 4 boys & a girl & they are grown & the best of friends. They were all such a blessing to us.

  30. Nice posting, what I am exactly searched is available in your website. Thanks Bye

  31. Really nice documentation for this quilt - thank you so much for doing this!

  32. I bought the Lil Twister some time ago and now with your tute I can finally make one for me! Thanks.

  33. Love the tutorial - going to give it a try. I was a little confused when you didn't like to cut angels (heavenly bodies) as opposed to angles (which you find frequently in quilting). Need a new proof reader ?

  34. How you continue to create such amazing projects is wonderful and that you share them with us is beyond generous. My little notebook of tutorials is filled with your ideas and I treasure each one. Thank you for all that you do.

  35. Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the good work.
    Feel free to surf my webpage :: piano lessons

  36. If I wanted to make a larger quilt how would I go about that. Equal number of rows and columns?

  37. Thanks, this was very helpful and I am inspired to start my twilley thingy quilt.

  38. This pattern made me laugh. It looks like fun. I'm gonna give it a try, but probably with larger blocks.

  39. Such great instructions and photos! Thanks, Melissa!


Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I just love hearing from you!!
Have a Happy Quilting Day :)