One quilt block, so many possibilities: day 1, Snowball (+ sale)

Posted by on August 4, 2014, in quilting & sewing,

Snowball blocks from the book Snowball Quilts

What’s one of the most useful tools a quilter can have?

A favorite quilt block.

Why? Because specializing in one block offers the twin benefits of familiarity and surprise. Once you’ve made a block repeatedly, construction is a breeze. When you want speed and predictability, your block delivers. And when you want to try something new, your favorite block provides a gentle springboard into the unknown—whether that means a new-to-you color scheme, a novel style of border, or an untried companion block.

Join us this week as we celebrate the glories of versatile quilt blocks—those wonderful patterns we can sew, and sew again, without running out of beautiful quilts to make from them.

The Snowball block

Snowball QuiltsToday’s focus is the quick and classic Snowball block. To get a feel for the possibilities, we turned to Tammy Kelly’s book Snowball Quilts. Tammy uses the folded-corners technique to make her Snowball blocks, and it’s super easy. Just place four small squares at the corners of a larger square, and then stitch across the diagonals. Trim, press, and you’re done!

How to make a Snowball block using folded squares - from the book Snowball Quilts
How to make a Snowball block

Snowball quilt patterns, option 1: Make a block, repeat

A simple quilt can make a striking statement, as in the colorful Snowball-block quilt pattern below. An easy repeat-block design, it wows through pops of color on a blue background. And you even get to use the trimmed-away triangles from your Snowball blocks in the borders!
Snowball block quilt pattern from the book Snowball Quilts

Snowball quilt patterns, option 2: Make a block, and make a friend

You can see why “Wings of a Dragonfly,” below, is one of our most popular ePatterns. A sew-in-a-day quilt, all it takes is pairing straightforward Snowball and Bright Hopes blocks to get the look of intricately woven circles.

Snowball quilt pattern with Bright Hopes blocks from the book Snowball Quilts

Find your next Snowball-block quilt pattern


501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks by Judy HopkinsGet the Block You Want in the Size You Need
Looking for more pieced block patterns? You’ll find gobs of them in Judy Hopkins’s 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks. Judy’s gargantuan quilt-block reference offers 501 block patterns in 6 sizes each!


Coming Tuesday: Don’t miss tomorrow’s post, where we explore timeless Nine-Patch quilts!

Do you stick to a favorite block, or do you like to change it up? Tell us in the comments—we love to hear from you!

18 Comments (leave a comment)

  • The oh! so versatile pineapple block is my go to design inspiration. Changing up color placement creates a never-ending surprise and fulfillment.

    —Ginger on August 4, 2014
  • I like to learn new things, so for me I seldom make a quilt in which every block is the same.

    —Rosemary on August 4, 2014
  • I love changing it up! I must add that my favorite go to block is the D9P and recently I’ve been making a lot of snowball blocks also.
    I figured out a quick and easy way to do the snowballing; no marking, folding, pressing, etc. so they are fun and fast!

    —Linda aka wildyard on August 4, 2014
  • Being a new quilter I have made it my quest to try something new with every quilt. So far I have tried log cabins, a civil war block, whirly gig, applique, and english paper piecing to mention a few. I figure if I do not try it at least once I will never really grow into the quilt maker that I want to be. So bring it on. I am up for trying anything!

    —Tina on August 4, 2014
  • I love to explore new ideas. They may be based on a familiar quilt block but can be changed by placement, colours or size. Who knew you could make a curved line by the placement of straight lines?

    —Nancè W on August 4, 2014
  • I recently received a stack of different Oriental fabric and decided to use a snowball pattern, similar to your "Wings of a Dragonfly" quilt. I have two neutral tone-on-tone fabrics to offset this special fabric.

    I’ve also used this same pattern and used several different fabrics, for a more scrappy feel. I love the inter-woven pattern that looks circular, but is simple to create!

    —Ann Barlament on August 4, 2014
  • I change the blocks to fit the need and fabric.

    —Linda Christianson on August 4, 2014
  • 1st quilt had snowball blocks. I change it up, every quilt is different.

    —Quilting Tangent on August 4, 2014
  • The block I’ve used several times is Broken Dishes, set so it forms interlocking light and dark stars. It always makes an interesting quilt.

    —Dot on August 4, 2014
  • I love to try new blocks all the time, but, I do tend to gravitate back to those beautiful basic blocks, like the snowball and nine-patch. So far, the classics can’t be beat!

    —Kathy on August 4, 2014
  • While I don’t have one favorite block, I do love log cabins – especially pictorial ones. I am trying to figure out how to do a butterfly with 4 LC blocks.

    —lynne on August 4, 2014
  • I enjoy making many different blocks, some more than others. I like the snowball block, because it makes a quilt look more difficult than it is.

    —Carol Sc on August 5, 2014
  • I have way too many favorites, so I’m always looking for new things so I don’t get bored. Since I make about 100 quilts a year, I get to try LOTS of block patterns!

    Barbara Winkler on August 5, 2014
  • I like the idea of making lots of different blocks in the same colour scheme for a quilt on my bed….. would love to start making in next year after I have finished my Christmas projects.

    —Suzanne Keal on August 5, 2014
  • It sort of depends. For some things, I’ve made the block as is, and Snowball is one. My only quilt I have made by my mother is this block, and so it’s special to me. I’ve also made some blocks and changed them in some way, such as the elongated churn dash quilt I’m making. I saw a painted window and loved the block, and churn dash is my second favorite block, so it was natural to make the quilt.

    Susan on August 8, 2014
  • I love scrappy quilts so am constantly on the lookout for new, easy patterns to use up my precious scraps and show them off. I am also ‘gifted’ orphan blocks, scraps or ‘ugly’ fabric and I try to make them look their best. I have shown the previous owners how their discards were used and made to shine to try to inspire them to use their scraps but it usually means I am only gifted more. LOL

    —Linda on August 8, 2014
  • I like to design my own quilts, but usually combine 2 or more old standby blocks to make the sewing easier. I love Snowball and 9 patch together, but my go-to blocks are Pineapple, Square in a Square, and Mosaic #6. Hope to make a Storm at Sea quilt soon. Many more are in my head or on my computer program.

    —Linda Towers on August 9, 2014
  • Nine patches will always be my favorite because of its versatility, however the usage of Half Square Triangles are running a close second.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on August 9, 2014

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