Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Piecing the Snowball Blocks

As I mentioned yesterday, I decided to scale down the snowball blocks for my Hen Party quilt to 6" finished.  When I looked around I found snowball blocks made with different sizes of corner triangles.  I like the block best when the corners are 1/4 of the size of the block, so I needed 1.5" corner triangles.

The block is easy to make.  I cut a great many 2" squares, which is 1.5" plus the seam allowances on both sides.  I drew a diagonal line from corner to corner, and pinned all four corners to the block at once:

Then I sewed right around the block, stitching on the lines, in one pass.  After all the blocks were sewn I went back and trimmed all the seam allowances down to 1/4 inch.

Some people will recommend that you don't trim the seam allowances here, but just iron up the corners so that there are 3 layers of fabric.  I tried it, and it does help to keep the block square.  However, I really wanted to be able to iron the seam allowances towards the dark fabric, so I opted to trim off the excess.  I was glad that I did it, too, because the blocks nested together beautifully when it came time to assemble them.

There is no doubt, though, that keeping these blocks square when you are ironing them is the biggest challenge. I was finally able to use the mini iron and Steady Betty pressing surface that I bought from Keepsake Quilting a few months ago:

I had my doubts about these when I first got them, but they turned out to be very helpful.  The Steady Betty pressing surface is covered with thin foam, which clings to the block.  It also drags a bit on the iron, which is a drawback, but not a huge one.  So it helps keep the blocks square when you iron them.

The mini iron is also great.  It gets very hot, so I was able to just let the heat do the work rather than using a lot of muscle.  Because it is so easy to handle, I didn't burn my fingers once!  And because the iron is very lightweight, I was able to press all those corners while seated, which is another bonus.

Tomorrow I'll show you the borders!


  1. When I make snowball blocks, or any other block that uses the stitch and flip method, I press before cutting off the extra fabric layers. This helps with keeping the block square. I don't know if this will work with pressing the seams in the directdion you want, though.

  2. I couldn't make it work for me, but everyone has their favourite method, don't they?

    My goal in future is to plan smarter and avoid those small bias triangles wherever possible. I will probably stick with foundation paper piecing!

  3. Good luck, it looks like a fun quilt!

  4. what a great and easy way to make a snowball block! Love the chookies prints too.

  5. Love the chickens and colours. I am very admiring of the accuracy of piecing. It's a skill I haven't mastered!
    It's going to look terrific.

  6. Thank you very much, Katherine and Jillian!


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