Sewing Snowball Quilt Blocks — a Tutorial | New Quilters

Photo of Snowball quilt block with child's handprint

Snowball quilt blocks: they’re not just for winter or Christmas quilts! You can make snowballs at any season, with any combination of fabrics you want, from traditional to fanciful. Here’s a mini-gallery of snowball blocks in several different fabrics:

In this post, I’m going to show you how to sew snowball blocks in two different ways:

  1. By sewing together individual fabric squares
  2. (The faster method) by strip piecing the blocks from fabric strips

Method #1: Sewing the Blocks from Individual Fabric Squares

Use this method when you want to make scrappy snowballs from a variety of different fabrics. For each block, you will need one square of the center fabric and four smaller squares of contrasting fabric for the corners. Here’s how large to cut the squares to make a snowball block of various sizes:

Method #2: Strip Piecing the Blocks

Use this method when you want to make a number of identical snowball blocks from two fabrics. To strip piece the blocks, you will first cut a set of fabric strips, then cross-cut the strips into squares. Learn more about strip piecing.

How Wide to Cut the Fabric Strips

You will be cutting two different sets of strips to make this block: one set for the center squares, and a narrower set for the corner squares.  Here’s how wide to cut the strips for various size finished blocks:

How Many Strips Will You Need?

I usually assume that I can get 40” of usable fabric from a strip cut across the entire width of the fabric. (Some fabrics are actually a little wider.) Based on that assumption, here’s how many squares you can cut from a single strip: The number of strips you will need to cut depends on the quilt pattern you are making.

Once you get the math out of the way, you can start cutting!

Cut the Fabric Strips and Squares

This part is simple. First, cut the fabric for the center squares:

  1. Fold the fabric with selvages together.
  2. Use your rotary cutter and cutting ruler to cut a strip across the fabric from selvage to selvage.  Cut Fabric
  3. Crosscut the strip into squares that are the same width as the original strip. (For example, if the strip is 3½” wide, crosscut the strip into 3½” segments.)
  4. Cut the corner squares the same way you cut the center squares: by cutting a strip, then cross-cutting the strip into squares. You will need four corner squares for each center square.

You should end up with one center square and four corner squares for each block.Snowball Block fabric squares

Sewing the Blocks

  1. (Optional) mark a stitching line on the corner squares either by pressing the squares diagonally in half, like this: Snowball Quilt Block folded squareOr draw a faint line with a pen or pencil on the wrong side of the fabric, like this: Snowball Block square with lineAfter you make these blocks a few times, you may be able to just eyeball the sewing line without marking it.
  2. If you are strip piecing the blocks, arrange the squares in two stacks next to your sewing machine: one stack of center squares and  and another stack of corner squares.Snowball Quilt block stack squares
  3. Put a snowball square and a corner square with right sides together. Sew the corner square diagonally from corner to corner, like this. Snowball Blocks Stitch SquaresThe photo below shows all four stitching lines in red. Snowball Quilt Block Stitching Lines
  4. Trim the excess corner fabric ¼” from the stitching line. Snowball Quilt Blocks trim cornersWhen you have trimmed all four corners, the block should look like this:Snowball Block corners trimmed
  5. Flip the corner fabrics over and press them away from the center of the block.  Snowball Blocks Press

The snowball blocks are now complete and ready to assemble into a quilt. Here’s a beautiful snowball quilt from Soksia of Flickr:Photo of snowball quilt by Soksia,

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