The sixth block of the 2016 Quilt Extravaganza is here—the Spinning Top. We’ll take advantage of the direction of the sewn strata lines and machine appliqué to give the block the appearance of spinning. Use the Carefree Curves Template to create the shapes easily and without setting in any curved seams.

Have you selected fabrics and created the strata for your 2016 Block of the Month? Check out the details in the January 9 blog. I encourage you to use as many scraps from your stash as possible. I’m using bright and neutral fabrics in this quilt.

All blocks for 2016 will be created from pieced fabric strata. Read more on this blog post.

2016 Block Of The Month Quilt Extravaganza by Nancy Zieman | Sewing With Nancy
2016 Block Of The Month Quilt Extravaganza by Nancy Zieman | Sewing With Nancy

Block #6: Spinning Top


Cut Fabrics

Cut the following fabric and interfacing pieces:

  • From each bright and neutral strata cut two 6-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ fabric squares (background).
  • From each bright and neutral fabric strata cut one 9″ x 9″ fabric square (for circles).

  • Cut two 9″ x 9″ squares of interfacing to create circles.

Note from Nancy: Cut an additional 9″ x 9″  square of interfacing to apply behind the 9″ x 9″ square of the neutral strata if the background may show through when appliquéd.

Create the Circles

  • Optional: Apply a 9″ x 9″ square of interfacing to the wrong side of the neutral strata to prevent show-through of the bright background fabric.
  • Using the 9″ x 9″ squares of fabric and interfacing, pin the smooth side of the interfacing on the right side of the fabric. Make two pair; one bright strata and one neutral strata.

  • Use a fine tip marking pen to trace the 8-1/2″ circle onto the interfacing. (This is the pink ring on the template.)

  • Straight stitch, using a short stitch length, 2.0—2.5, directly on the marked curve.
Note from Nancy:
Use a short stitch length to ensure a smooth stitching line when sewing a curve. I often compare using a short stitch length to driving in the mountains. To maneuver the curvy road, a slower speed ensures that you’ll stay on course.


  • Use a rotary pinking blade to remove excess fabric.


  • Remove the excess interfacing from within the circles, leaving approximately 1″ of interfacing.

  • Turn the interfacing to the wrong side.

  • Press.

Divide the Circles

The circle shape is divided into fourths and, thanks to the strata, appears to spin on top of the background. Here’s a trick to create a perfect 45 degree angle:
  • Position the template on the finished circle aligning the horizontal line parallel with strata seams.
  • Mark the 12 o’clock and three o’clock positions on both bright and neutral circles.
Note from Nancy: You may opt to add pins at the marked location, if the marks are hard to see on colorful fabrics.
  • Fold circles in half matching marks and wrong sides.
  • Place a pin at the fold.
  • Open both circles.
  • Position the template on the finished circle aligning the single pin with one of the straight lines.

  • Mark the straight lines in both horizontal and vertical directions on both bright and neutral circles.

  • Remove the template; make sure the marked lines are visible.

  • Using rotary cutting tools, cut the circles into fourths along the marked lines.

Build the Quilt Block

  • Pin quarter circles to the 6-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ backgrounds matching cut corner edges. Alternate the colors: bright quarter circle onto neutral background and vice versa.
Note from Nancy: You will have two quarter circles of each bright and neutral left over. Save those to use on a later block or to create additional Spinning Top blocks.
  • Edgestitch with monofilament thread.
Note from Nancy:
Notice in the photo I used an Open Toe Foot and a narrow blanket stitch to stitch the circle to the background. Each point takes a small dip into the circle itself. Choose a blanket stitch, decorative stitch, or straight stitch to appliqué the shapes.
  • Arrange the block.
  • Fold the top left onto the top right square and repeat for the bottom squares. Match right sides.
  • Pin along the edges.
  • Use a 1/4″ seam allowance to join pairs.
  • Press seam allowances open.


  • Fold the top unit onto the bottom unit.
  • Pin along the top edge.
  • Join using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

  • Press seam open.
Note from Nancy: This block will have unavoidable bulk in the seam allowances. To really flatten the seams, press with steam and then apply even pressure using a wooden Tailor’s Clapper while the fabric is warm. It’s magic!
  • Ta-dah! Another block is complete.
 If you are on social sites, let all your friends know you are working on The 2016 Quilt Extravaganza Blocks by tagging your post with the hashtag: #NZBoM.

What would a Quilt Look Like?

Suppose we were to make a quilt using only this one block style, what would it look like?

  • This first digital concept is a table runner made from five Spinning Top blocks. You’ll notice blocks consistently place a bright strata background in the upper right corner.
  • The second digital concept quilt uses the background strata to create a secondary design. The quilt itself is structured in a 5-block by 7-block grid. Turning every other block creates the illusion.
  •  The last digital quilt is large. When finished this 8-block by 8-block quilt measures 96″ x 96″. The design uses neutral strata cut to 12-1/2″ x 12-1/2″ to create interest in the negative space.
We’ll be using the Carefree Curves Template throughout the entire 2016 Quilt Extravaganza. Watch episodes online for more tips on using the templates in my two-part series featuring the Trace’n Create Carefree Curves tools on Sewing With Nancy.

Watch Quilt with Carefree Curves (Part One and Part Two) on Sewing With Nancy online.

To watch Sewing With Nancy on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, download the app.

Sew and Share

Send in a photo of your blocks and quilts and we’ll share with others in upcoming blogs and on Facebook. I’d really like to see what fabrics you’re using! Send the images to [email protected]
Bye for now,
Nancy Zieman The Blog

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