Home » Winding Ways– Lots of Ways

Winding Ways– Lots of Ways

Over the past year, I’ve grown more enamored of the Winding Ways (or Wheel of Mystery) block.  It all started with a picture of the blocks used on point to make flowers on the Inklingo blog.  I made a block like that, then the little quilt for AAQI, and then I took a deep breath and made an entire Winding Ways quilt (more on that soon!)

Now I’m turning that quilt into a pattern, so I thought I’d try several methods of making a Winding Ways block. It has been enlightening, to say the least!  Below are the three methods I’ve tried.  Just a caveat, this quilt uses small blocks, so that’s why you won’t see From Marti Michell templates, or Accuquilt listed in my comparisons.  They’re just too big for what I need here.


Method 1- Inklingo Winding Ways 4.5″ shape collection, $20

This is the method I used for my quilt, and it produced excellent results. PROS: The pieces fit together and were fun to sew.  The design book includes a piecing order and pressing method that works well.  CONS:  Inklingo is very time-consuming in the preparation of fabric, freezer paper, and printing.  Unlike EPP, you can’t just grab a couple scraps of fabric, baste them to shapes, and see if the idea in your head is going to work.  It takes time to get everything ready to print.  And for this quilt especially, I had to cut out each shape by hand with scissors.

Once your shapes are printed and cut out, it is lovely to stack them up and sew happily along the little lines.


Method 2- John Flynn Wheel of Mystery acrylic templates (3″ or 4″), $7.00

PROS:  Very inexpensive templates, unique instructions for seam pressing.

CONS:  These were really difficult to work with.  The templates have a notch for matching the center of each seam, and the instructions recommend using a rotary cutter or xacto blade to make the notches.  I couldn’t get either one to fit in that tiny notch.

I think these templates would be better suited to tracing pieces with a marker and then cutting out by hand, as the templates are very, very thin.  If you’re already experienced with making Winding Ways quilts, these templates may work wonderfully for you.  I struggled with them.



Method 3- Paper Pieces Winding Ways 3″ paper pack, $5 (pieces for 15 blocks), $14 acrylic templates for rotary cutting

PROS- very accurate, quick to see how your block will look finished

CONS- no instructions provided for basting or sewing these teeny-tiny shapes

I’m intrigued by this method, and planning a tutorial on basting and sewing these.  I think it has a lot of potential, once I get it down.  As you can see from the picture, I’m already working on a second block.  I think the key here is smaller seam allowances.  You can purchase acrylic templates from paper pieces, but they have a 3/8 inch seam allowance, which is WAY too big for that tiny pointed piece.

How about you?  What’s your preferred method for making a Winding Ways block?

Happy Stitching!



  1. Linda Franz says:

    Hi Emily, Why did you cut the Inklingo shapes with scissors? These curves are easy peasy to rotary cut. I am disappointed that you found printing the shapes “very time consuming.” I have a feeling you might be missing some shortcuts. 🙂 For example, are you cutting the freezer paper and the fabric separately and then lining them up? That is the SLOW way.

    • Emily says:

      I’m sure these are my shortcomings, not Inklingo’s. Rotary cutting those curves really sacrificed accuracy for me, I found a good sharp pair of fabric scissors much easier (and less likely to cut off my fingers, LOL). I cut strips of fabric either the length or width of the freezer paper, press the freezer paper on, and then cut the remaining two sides. Inklingo is fantastic once you have a plan for a quilt, but sometimes when I’m playing with designs, I really enjoy the efficiency of cutting up scraps, glue basting them to EPP shapes, and instantly seeing how the finished block will look (with the seam allowances in Inklingo, you kinda have to sew a block before you can see it finished). Again, these are simply my experiences, I know there are as many ways to make a quilt as there are quilters, and everyone finds different tricks that work best.

  2. Emily, I havn’t done a Winding Ways yet, however I have done lots of curved piecing with Inklingo and I also did John Flynn’s WW with a batik laser cut kit!!! It was long before I discovered Inklingo and I think, if I was doing another one today…I would definitely use Inklingo! It’s cheaper than John Flynn. ( I can use lots of my batik scraps).
    I like you have only ever cut my printed fabric with scissors too, so the last few days …I’ve been searching everywhere to find Linda’s 28cm ergonomic rotary cutter, with no luck!!!! So let us know what you decide to do!

  3. Linda Franz says:

    You are right. Everyone has their own preferences. I guess I would be more likely to use the worksheets in the Inklingo Winding Ways design book (free with the shapes) or Electric Quilt (which I know you use too) to save myself from ever basting anything ever again. LOL

  4. Karen says:

    I have not done a winding ways quilt. I find it nice to experiment also with different ways to do things. With some quilts that I have done I have found Inklingo really great to use and others like you say time consuming on the prep -my printer doesn’t always want to work properly and I get hot standing over a hot iron for the prep – I thought it was just me – maybe there are tricks I do not know – I also sometimes use scissors to cut and not rotary cutter for accuracy also – I am not super duper at rotary cutting. Saying all that though I do love Inklingo but I like to experiment with templates also – I have never gotten into EPP though.

  5. Cathi says:

    I’ve made one small wallhanging with Inklingo Winding Ways and am working on another WW top, using the smallest size, and absolutely loving every second of it. Having those perfect stitching lines and following Linda’s instructions on how to assemble and press a Winding Ways blocks makes them oh, so easy and there are no volcanoes in the centre at all!

    You can easily use scraps with Inklingo. I run a piece of regular paper through the printer so I know where the shape will print and then use it as a template to position my scrap on the freezer paper. If it’s really small and I end up with some ink on the plastic side of the freezer paper, it can be wiped off quickly and the freezer paper used again.

    Watch Linda’s video on cutting curves with a rotary cutter — it really makes it easy. After I watched it, I cut all the curved pieces for the Inklingo mystery quilt by rotary cutter. And then there’s this little fingertip rotary cutter– it makes it oh, so fast and easy to cut the little shapes: http://www.amazon.ca/Fiskars-01-002352J-Fingertip-Rotary-Cutter/dp/B001IDYT78 The accuracy you have using it is incredible.

    I’ve never been fond of English paper piecing as to me it’s just too many extra steps. I know I would never have made the POTC quilt top I’m working on or many of the others if I had had to go through the process of basting and then whipstitching.

    • Emily says:

      Thanks, Cathi! I’ve been looking in stores for that rotary cutter after reading your blog post about it. I hadn’t even thought about Amazon. I can’t wait to try it out!!

  6. Cathie in Ut says:

    Joining in and thanking you for your comparison of different methods for making those Winding Ways blocks…I agree that when you are experimenting with a design Inklingo isn’t always the best way to start but once you figure it out I’ll bet you will enjoy the accuracy a whole bunch.
    I always tell those that I teach a different method to in a class situation that not every method will be best for every person and all I ask is that you try it once and see.
    Good luck with your project

    • Emily says:

      I agree, Cathie 🙂 That’s one of my favorite things about quilting, that there’s so many tips and methods to try. Inklingo is definitely one of my favorites!!

    • Emily says:

      Yep– I always think of Gramma and cutting out paper dolls. Especially the idea of always cutting into a corner from both directions. 🙂

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I haven’t done Winding Ways yet, but I’m still working mostly with EPP even for hexies, jewels, and diamonds because my printer has not decided to behave yet and I haven’t had time to discipline it. Replacing it is not an option right now. So, I am very glad that there are many ways to accomplish these blocks and thankful that you taught me to EPP. 🙂

  8. Kathy says:

    I received my paper pieces yesterday and there were basting instructions included. I am shocked at how tiny the tip of that pointy piece is. I really would like to make a Winding Ways mini, and between a temperamental printer, the problems you identified with John Flynn’s templates and my love for EPP, I was opting for EPP. But trying to handle the paper and the fabric without damaging the pointy tip is overwhelming … and trying to add basting stitches to a teeny tiny seam allowance (I’m currently EPP a 4″ bow tie and am having trouble keeping the paper centered on the fabric with a 1/4″ seam allowance). I’m beginning to think that I may be kissing my dream of a mini Winding Ways out the window. 🙁

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