Block of the Month

Snowballs

Here are directions for making two different snowball blocks and you can make then whatever size you need them to be.

The snowball block is a great block for setting off a variety of nine-patch blocks, but you can use it for other blocks too and even all by itself. (see below!)

What size snowball do you need? That will depend on what you want to put it with. If you want to use the snowball as a joiner block, then the snowball needs to be the same size as the other blocks. Let's say you are making 12 inch finished (in a quilt) blocks. Then you want your snowball to be 12 inches also, so you would cut a 12 1/2 inch square (12 inches plus 1/2 inch seam allowance.)

To determine the size of the smaller snowball corners you would divide the size by the number of blocks wide the other blocks are. If you are joining the snowball to a nine-patch block you would divide the finished size of 12 by 3, (because the nine-patch block is 3 by 3), which gives you 4 and then add 1/2 for the seam allowance. So a 12 inch finished snowball block would be cut 12 1/2 inches, and the corners would be cut 4 1/2 inches. (Other sizes are listed below.)

 Sewing the snowball blocks is easy. Place a corner square on each corner of snowball square. Sew corner to corner through each corner square as shown. (You may mark the wrong side of the dark squares diagonally though the center to make it easier or you can just fold each square in half diagonally and pinch them to mark them in the center.) Cut the excess corners off as shown, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press carefully to the dark corners.

Snowballs and nine-patches
 For a plain snowball block in different sizes (IF the joining block is a nine-patch block)       For a finished snowball of 3 inches cut your snowball squares 3 1/2 inches and the corner squares1 1/2 inches.       For a finished snowball of 4 1/2 inches cut your snowball squares 5 inches and the corner squares 2 inches.       For a finished snowball of 6 inches cut your snowball squares 6 1/2 inches and the corner squares 2 1/2 inches.       For a finished snowball of 7 1/2 inches cut your snowball squares 8 inches and the corner squares 3 inches.       For a finished snowball of 9 inches cut your snowball squares 9 1/2 and the corner squares 3 1/2 inches.       For a finished snowball of 10 1/2 inches cut your snowball squares 11 inches and the corner squares 4 inches.       For a finished snowball of 12 inches cut your snowball squares 12 1/2 inches and the corner squares 4 1/2 inches.       For a finished snowball of 15 inches cut your snowball squares 15 1/2 inches and the corner squares 5 1/2 inches.       For a finished snowball of 18 inches cut your snowball squares 18 1/2 inches and the corner squares 6 1/2 inches.
Snowballs and Perpetual Motion blocks

 Sometimes you might want a nine-patch snowball and those corners are a little different. You need to make triangle squares for them, made using squares cut 3/8 inches larger than the solid squares in the nine-patch snowball. For the 12 inch finished nine-patch snowball block you will need:       From the snowball color, cut two five 4 1/2 inch squares and 4 7/8 inch squares (4 1/2 + 3/8 = 4 7/8)       From the corner color, cut two 4 7/8 inch squares. (other sizes below)

To make the triangle corners put a snowball and corner 4 7/8 inch squares right sides together. Carefully draw a line down the center, corner to corner, diagonally across the square. (Or you can pinch it to mark it; this will be a cutting line when you are finished.) Sew 1/4 inch on either side of your corner to corner to line, and then cut the square in half on the cutting line. You will now have two diagonal half-squares, which should measure exactly 4 1/2 inches. Repeat with the second 4 7/8 inch squares and assemble as shown at the top of the page.

Finally assemble your nine-patch snowball as shown above.

 Nine-Patch Snowball and Shoo Fly To make a nine-patch snowball in different sizes:       For a finished block of 3 inches cut your squares 1 1/2 inches (1 7/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 4 1/2 inches cut your squares 2 inches (2 3/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 6 inches cut your squares 2 1/2 inches (2 7/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 7 1/2 inches cut your squares 3 inches (3 3/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 9 inches cut your squares 3 1/2 inches (3 7/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 10 1/2 inches cut your squares 4 inches (4 3/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 12 inches cut your squares 4 1/2 inches (4 7/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 15 inches cut your squares 5 1/2 inches (5 7/8 for triangles).       For a finished block of 18 inches cut your squares 6 1/2 inches (6 7/8 for triangles). These are finished sizes, after the block is sewn into a quilt.

What to do with snowballs --

 Here's the basic nine-patch block which goes great with the snowball. Here's a printable snowball/nine patch pattern
To make the quilt on the right you would need 25 nine patch blocks and 24 snowball blocks. It would take 221 darker 2 1/2 inch squares. You would need 24 light 6 1/2 inch scrappy light squares and 100 light 2 1/2 inch squares. (It would take 1 1/2 yards of the light fabric if you used all the same fabric.)

With a 1 inch border (cut 1 1/2 inches) and the binding your quilt would finish about 45 inches square.

 Snowball blocks are a great way to show off a special fabric. In the quilt on the left are flower snowballs showing off some large floral prints. Snowballs make a beautiful quilt all by themselves. I borrowed the photo above from this blog because I think this is a truly striking scrappy snowball and I had to share it with you all. Snowballs are wonderful regardless of what season they show off!

 This is my own Purple Scrappy Snowball quilt.

 My friend Vic in NH made this Snowball Nine Patch quilt and reversed the values, more dark than light, and I think it is a beautiful change!

 Here is a nine-patch snowball quilt my friend Kim made as a baby shower gift. I asked her permission to use her photo and asked her what inspired her in making it. She replied "I sat down with a pile of fabric and started with the 9 patches and thinking all cream blocks were too plain decided to make the snow balls- is it my design? Probably not since 9 patch and snow balls are a classic design. Have I seen one done the way I did it? No." The design is very simple really, all the same nine-patch blocks and snowballs, just two blocks and look how gorgeous. (Thanks Kim for allowing me to use it!)

 On the left is a diagram of a Calico Puzzle block made to coordinate with a four corner snowball. Each one of the four corners of the snowball is a different color, and the Calico Puzzle uses those same colors. If you simplify that as shown on the right, it gives you a different look.
 And how's this for a good looking quilt, made with a simple Shoo Fly block alternately set with a Snowball.
 Ribbon Quilt block goes nicely with Snowballs. And look what happens when you reverse the light and dark on the snowballs, a whole new look.

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Updated June 25, 2014