April 26, 2015

Do You Want to Build A Snowball Block?

Hello, Friends!

Buds are blooming,
birds are singing,
but I'm in the mood for making
SNOWBALL blocks!

You know what I'm talking about, right?
When you take a quilt block
and round off the corners a bit,
by adding half-square-triangles,
it becomes a "Snowball" block.

It's a fun design element that is seen
all over quiltland.

These are some blocks I've made,

If you're short on sewing time,
like I am, you might enjoy some tips
for sewing snowball blocks.

I love to precut my precuts...
if you follow me...so that I've got a couple of blocks
ready for sewing.

{I've been able to stitch 2 of these Jump Ring blocks in less than 30 minutes.}

As you can see from the off-white pieces above,
as well as the tiny squares below,
I like to use an iron to "mark" the sewing lines.
I just press the pieces diagonally,
right sides out.
They are ready for stitching in no time.

When I begin my stitching,
I always use a fabric scrap at the beginning
and again at the end,
stopping with the needle down.
This eliminates loose threads that need trimming later!

{It also makes the stitching nice and even, start to finish.}

Another time-saver is chain-piecing.
Just keep the needle down between pieces,
and butt the next set up against the last one.

For snowball blocks,
it helps to alternate the direction of each block.
See the photo below.
I've started stitching the corners
from a different direction each time.
The pieces line up perfectly this way.

I like to snowball all four corners,
before trimming and pressing the finished block.

{Because I've already pressed the sewing line,
there's less distortion of the block.}

Have you ever made "bonus" half-square triangles...
a.k.a. HST's...
from your snowball blocks???

If your corner squares are at least 2 1/2" square,
this is a really cool tip to try!

BEFORE trimming away the layers
that are not needed for the finished block:

You can use a ruler to mark 
a SECOND line of stitching parallel to the first,
in the part of the square that will be cut away.
I make my second stitch line about 3/8" from the first,
to maximize the size of my bonus HST's.

Stitch this second line along all of the corners of the block.
I usually "eye-ball" the 3/8", to save even more time.
Just be sure the seam is parallel to the first stitchline.

NOW it's time to trim away the excess,
cutting in the space between the two stitchlines.

Take those formerly wasted edges to the ironing board,
and now you have a set of little bonus HST's!

Trim them to size,
and you've got a headstart on a new project.

I trimmed these to 1 3/4",
but you could make them into 1 1/2" HST's if you like.

I hope you'll stop by again soon
for more sewing tips and projects.
Wouldn't you like to see what I'm making
with all of those snowballs?

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