The spinner was the hardest part of the quilt, but it’s a challenge I set myself, and now I know how to do it! There was a lot of trial and error, so here are the detailed steps showing how I did it, and the problems I faced.
The main problems with getting a spinner to work are the flexibility and friction of fabric. Flexibility means that the arrow points might touch and bend, dragging on the quilt, and friction means that the spinning piece would drag on the fabric if it touched it in any way. So, this is what I did:
The front of the quilt was complete and sewn down to stiff piece of 10″x10″ Timtex interfacing to hold it flat. I also cut the same size of Timtex on which I was going to build the back.
To build the spinner, first I cut some circles out of washed yogourt tubs from the deli/market. (I’m a bit of a yogourt fiend, so I had lots of tubs lying around.) The idea was to sandwich the spinning works in between two shiny circles of plastic so that they would turn without catching on the fabric (the friction problem).
Cutting the disk of plastic.
I bought some split-pins or paper fasteners at the local stationery store, and I checked that they would fit through the centre of the grommets I had. I did a few practise grommets just in case.
I took one of the plastic circles I’d cut, and with an Exacto knife, I cut a little hole in the centre to snap the grommet through. I made sure it would fit tightly.
Cutting the hole to fit a grommet.
Once I was happy with that, the scary part was cutting a hole through the centre of my quilt. The hole is very slightly off-centre because the four-patch meets in the centre, and I didn’t want to have the entire bulk of four pieced seams inside the grommet. You didn’t notice, right?
Carefully cutting a tiny hole, slightly off-centre, and inserting the grommet through the layers.
At this point, I took a deep breath and closed the grommet through the quilt front and the plastic disk. Then I tried fitting the paper pin through it all. It didn’t spin as freely as I’d wanted, so my husband suggested that we file down and compress the flat edges of the pin to make them more round. That should, we thought, make it spin better, and it did!
Here’s the first of the dials in place:
Spinner inserted – the front half of the quilt is now complete.
After this, I started making the arrows. I wasn’t entirely sure of the best shape and size, but I was looking for:
- A shape that looked good – not too big, not too small.
- A shape that would balance on top of the pin – because if it was heavier at one end than the other, it would bend and flop and drag on the front of the quilt. So it needed to be equally balanced as well as stiffened.
So I cut several possibilities out of fusible interfacing and I tried them out.
When I had a shape I liked, I zig-zag stitched around the edges to hold it to the fabric, and then carefully cut it out (taking care not to cut the threads of the zig-zag). Then, I hand sewed in a little ‘hourglass’ of metal underneath (it came off a new pack of socks I bought!), and that held the pointy ends up off the quilt when I balanced it on the pin.
Finally, I cut another piece of stiff Timtex to the same size and shape of the arrow. I sewed it to one side to hold it tight, and then I checked and marked exactly at the balance point, which is where I cut a tiny ‘keyhole’ slit.
This meant that I was able to slip the ‘keyhole’ over the round head of the pin, checking that it grabbed snugly. I took it off and sewed the rest of the way around the arrow with zig-zag stitch, then popped it back on. A few tiny hand stitches to keep it closed, and the grip of the keyhole keeps the arrow locked to the pin. No glue needed!
This was good, because I had been worrying about glue coming through the fabric or about it actually sticking hard enough to enable the arrow to spin without popping off!
That’s it for the front half of the spinner – compared to this, the back was easy!
I assembled the owls and their tree (fusible raw-edged applique)
Arranging the applique for ironing.
When it was done, I basted the edges tightly around the second 10″x10″ piece of Timtex, because I was planning to slip-stitch the front to the back (no binding strips).
The completed back, before quilting.
Then, adding the wadding: this is where I had to take into account the question of friction again. I didn’t want the pin to show through to the back, but if it was touching the wadding, it would snag and possibly rip the wadding. So I cut a hole in the wadding to fit the second circle, punched holes around the outside of the second disk, and sewed it down in three places so it wouldn’t slip.
The hole in the middle of the back.
Detail of the second disk sewn to the inside of the back half of the quilt.
Et voila! The two halves were carefully matched up and slip-stitched around the edges.
One finished quilt, with working spinner and hidden mechanism.