Patriotic Pinwheels

What kid doesn’t love a good pinwheel at a parade or summertime barbecue?  Pinwheels call to mind our early childhood when we used to wave them in the air or blow on them to make the colorful wheel spin like windmills or turbines.  Whether or not they were used for a particular festive holiday, pinwheels were a toy many of us enjoyed.  For me, I think it was the variety of colors that always caught my attention.    

These days one can find pinwheels at just about any store that carries toys, and all craft stores sell them as DIY kits.  They’re fun and inexpensive, but they’re also very simple to make at home with only a few tools & materials.  Customizing color combinations and embellishing the sticks is all part of the pleasure of creating your own.  You can use a child’s special piece of artwork (have them create something playful & unique) or you can buy colorful paper from a craft store or stationery store.  

I thought that creating a few pinwheels for Independence Day using the colors of Old Glory, while putting my own spin on them, would be fun for this month’s crafting project.  Although the ones I made are meant to be used on the 4th of July, I think they’re charming enough to have as decorations on a covered porch throughout the summer.

Get your materials ready!

Crafting Materials
  • 1/2” diameter poplar dowels, 12” long
  • 180 fine sanding paper or sponge
  • 1/2” wide fabric tape (36” for each dowel)
  • round brass furniture nails
  • text weight paper (4 white, 2 red, 2 navy blue)
  • scissors or straight-edge paper cutter
  • double-sided tape

Yield: 4 pinwheels

Dowels tend to come in lengths of 36" or even 48", so for this project they will have to be cut to a length of 12".  With 180 fine sanding paper or sponge, sand the edges of the cut dowels so that you don't have splinters or rough tips. 

Using your fabric tape, begin winding it around the tip and immediately maneuver it so that it comes down on a spiral.  I love this red and off-white striped fabric tape.  It's very Americana.

Do you see how easy it is to pull and bend downward.  It's going to take approximately 36" of this tape per dowel.

Cut the text weight paper into 8"x8" squares.  Since these pinwheels are two-toned, each one will have a white square attached to a red or blue one.  Using your double-sided tape, cover the perimeter of each white square with it.

Carefully align a colored square over it and tape it flat.  If you have any excess tape sticking out, simply use some scissors to snip it off.

Using a pair of scissors or a straight edge paper cutter, cut down along the diagonal of each corner and stop when you get to about 1" from the center.  If you're a baker, this is exactly what it's like when creating danish.

Put a small piece of double-sided tape in the middle of the cut square and pull in one corner from the square.  Tape it down well.  Add another piece of tape and pull in another corresponding corner, creating the pinwheel (above).  Put a small piece of tape over the middle of the pinwheel when you've finished with all 4 corners.  Construct your 4 pinwheels in the same manner. 

Note: for variety, I pulled some colored sides toward the center and others had white sides pulled in.

Using the hammer, gently tap in a furniture nail into the top of the dowel to create a hole.  Remove the furniture nail.
Push the furniture nail through the center of the pinwheel and nudge into the dowel where you created the hole.  Using the hammer, tap the nail in so that it's secure.  Make sure to leave enough space in between the nail and the dowel so that the pinwheel spins.

Patriotic Pinwheels!

I know that the 4th of July is right around the corner, but you still have time to construct these simple toys.  Use them as decorations for your get together this Thursday or hand them out to the little ones.  They're going to have fun using them!

Happy 4th!!


  1. What a wonderful craft, David! What really makes your pinwheels unique (and much better than any others!) is the use of the striped fabric tape. Genius!

    Happy Independence Day!


  2. What a great, easy craft! Festive, too! I could see a whole row of them along a fence... hmmmm

  3. Thanks Janet! I fell in love with the fabric tape too!!


  4. Yes, Kenn these are easy!! A few along a fence would be wonderful. I can see that working!


  5. Love these! Hope to do these next year for my country's birthday on July 1st (Canada)

  6. I can see red & white ones for a Canadian celebration for sure! They're so simple.

    Have fun with them Paula!


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