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Thread: Snowball Blocks

  1. #1
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    Snowball Blocks

    I am making a Garden Twist quilt and am not happy with the way my snowball blocks are turning out. I tried drawing a diagonal line on the small square and also just ironing on that guild line. I really tried to be exact in stitching, but the blocks look so wonky and are hard to square. Has anyone found another method that gets better results? I do have an Angler and have tried it in the past, but wasn't crazy about it. I did triple check my squares and they are the correct size per the In the Beginning pattern I used. Any ideas? Thanks Donna

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    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Start with squares, not triangles or octagons. What I did was mark the diagonal on the small square and place it in the corner of the larger square. DON'T sew on the line, sew parallel to the line, just a bit to the corner side. Do not trim, but finger press the triangle back. This will tell you immediately if it's in the right place. If it is, then you can trim the seam. If not, you can either take it out & try again or if you think you can live with it, cut the excess of the small square, but leave the large square in place and trim the small triangle to match.
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    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    I also just sew a square on the corner of the square block. However. I don't care for the snowball blocks that have really thin tops and sides so I make my corner squares a little smaller. (so I have a fatter snowball) I think the thinner ones tend to look wonky. The first picture is of the thinner snowball and the 2nd picture is of a fat one on a baby quilt that I made.
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    Senior Member cmw0829's Avatar
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    I recently took a class where we had to make snowball blocks. Some ladies had really wonky blocks even though they said they were very careful with the construction. We think it might have been the pressing as one lady confessed to ironing rather than pressing.

    The other thing I found is that I'm not really good at sewing a straight line without a guide. I used a tool called The Angler II but you could achieve the same think with a strip of take. It has a line leading to the needed. You put the starting and ending corners on the line and as you sew, keep the ending corner moving up the line. By doing this the sewing line is straight which reduces the wonkiness.

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    Super Member Crqltr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    Start with squares, not triangles or octagons. What I did was mark the diagonal on the small square and place it in the corner of the larger square. DON'T sew on the line, sew parallel to the line, just a bit to the corner side. Do not trim, but finger press the triangle back. This will tell you immediately if it's in the right place. If it is, then you can trim the seam. If not, you can either take it out & try again or if you think you can live with it, cut the excess of the small square, but leave the large square in place and trim the small triangle to match.
    This is the way I was taught also, never cut the corner off your large square only middle layer from the small corner block. It gives you the tru block to square it up.

  6. #6
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Cut out only the middle fabric of the snowball, as Paper Princess mentioned. This allows the 'base' square to retain its correct shape for sewing against the next segment/block, and that keeps things squared up.

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    Senior Member GemState's Avatar
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    Stitch just to the side of your marked line. I try to begin on the line, then I arc up a thread or two until I get to the end. When you press, make sure your sewn-on square corner matches exactly with your base square.........When it does, then trim out the center fabric, leaving two layers of fabric that line up perfectly!

  8. #8
    Senior Member hoppyfrog's Avatar
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    If all else fails try paper piecing them. Every block will turn out perfect.

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    Super Member willferg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by auntpiggylpn View Post
    I also just sew a square on the corner of the square block. However. I don't care for the snowball blocks that have really thin tops and sides so I make my corner squares a little smaller. (so I have a fatter snowball) I think the thinner ones tend to look wonky. The first picture is of the thinner snowball and the 2nd picture is of a fat one on a baby quilt that I made.
    I like the fatter snowballs, too!
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    Great tips. Thanks to all.
    Linda

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    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I paper piece snowball blocks. It takes less time then all the fussing to be accurate that may work or not.
    Got fabric?

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    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    when you flip the fabric over toward the corners, press flat. then turn the whole block over and trim the edges down to the backing block exactly. and use that edge for sewing them together. if you are off a bit with your triangle fabric corners, the base block fabric will be your guide always.

  13. #13
    Super Member burchquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by auntpiggylpn View Post
    I also just sew a square on the corner of the square block. However. I don't care for the snowball blocks that have really thin tops and sides so I make my corner squares a little smaller. (so I have a fatter snowball) I think the thinner ones tend to look wonky. The first picture is of the thinner snowball and the 2nd picture is of a fat one on a baby quilt that I made.
    I LOVE Snowball blocks & I really like the way you did your "fat" ones. What is the ratio you use for them? For instance, if you were doing a 6" blocks, normally I'd use a 2" corner block. What size would you use?
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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    Auntylpn, yes, what size block is the big block and what size is the little block in your fat block. I, too, love it and would like to make my blocks look like that.
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    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I also sew just on the inside of the drawn (or pressed) line. Then I press the corner back but I do not trim both back pieces. I only trim the back of the corner color and leave the background piece intact. If things got a little wonky, I always have the background square to use as my guide.
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    Thanks for the ideas. One tip I found quite some time ago for pressing was to marry the seam and then use the tip of the iron in the middle of the seam to press it over. The iron does the work of evenly pressing the entire length of stitching from the center out to each side. I hope that makes sense because it does work well. I am always very conscientious about pressing because of a bad experience I had in a lonestar class as a very new quilter. I was struggling to keep up so a friend offered to press my strata. She got it so out of shape I couldn't use it. Then I was REALLY behind! Donna

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    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burchquilts View Post
    I LOVE Snowball blocks & I really like the way you did your "fat" ones. What is the ratio you use for them? For instance, if you were doing a 6" blocks, normally I'd use a 2" corner block. What size would you use?
    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    Auntylpn, yes, what size block is the big block and what size is the little block in your fat block. I, too, love it and would like to make my blocks look like that.

    Okay, it's been a while since I made this quilt. What I know for sure is that I used a 5" charm square. I believe that I used a 1 1/2" square in the corners. I can whip one up tomorrow to make sure!
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    Quote Originally Posted by clements View Post
    Thanks for the ideas. One tip I found quite some time ago for pressing was to marry the seam and then use the tip of the iron in the middle of the seam to press it over. The iron does the work of evenly pressing the entire length of stitching from the center out to each side. I hope that makes sense because it does work well. I am always very conscientious about pressing because of a bad experience I had in a lonestar class as a very new quilter. I was struggling to keep up so a friend offered to press my strata. She got it so out of shape I couldn't use it. Then I was REALLY behind! Donna
    Ok, I understand that you are only using the tip of the iron to press out the seam in the direction you want it, from the center out in each direction. What I don't understand is what "marry" the seam means. And are you pressing from the front then? (I think you are...) Thanks in advance for any clarification.

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    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crqltr View Post
    This is the way I was taught also, never cut the corner off your large square only middle layer from the small corner block. It gives you the tru block to square it up.
    I agree with Auntpiggylpn. This is one I made using that method:

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    I also used a nine patch between the blocks and a 10 minute block in the border.

  20. #20
    Super Member southernmema's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great info!

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    Senior Member calicojoan's Avatar
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    I suggest starching the bejeebers out of both the corner fabrics and the snowball. It may help with the wonkyness.

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    Marry the seam is what my beginning teacher called pressing your stitch line before you pressed the piece open. It embeds the stitch thread into the fabric. I just press it flat without wiggling the iron and then turn back the small square from the top side and press it to the corner using the tip of the iron in the center of the stitch line. Some people use the side of the iron, but that part of the iron is curved so it doesn't press the seam as evenly. I personally use steam, but that's a whole new can of worms for some people.

  23. #23
    Super Member Pat G's Avatar
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    Oh my gosh, my first lesson of the day. I haven't done anything with snowballs yet but they seem so simple. I didn't know they could go wonky on you. This info. will sure save me some grief in the future.
    Thanks so much.

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    http://www.straw.com/quilting/articles/snowball1.html Link show to make a snowball block any size you want. When I make these blocks for baby quilt, I use the "cut off corner blocks" for the border. No waste and really cute.
    If you don't work on it you'll never finish it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clements View Post
    Marry the seam is what my beginning teacher called pressing your stitch line before you pressed the piece open. It embeds the stitch thread into the fabric. I just press it flat without wiggling the iron and then turn back the small square from the top side and press it to the corner using the tip of the iron in the center of the stitch line. Some people use the side of the iron, but that part of the iron is curved so it doesn't press the seam as evenly. I personally use steam, but that's a whole new can of worms for some people.
    Thank you for the explanation. In my experiences, that has always been referred to as "setting the seam". I know what it means---I just never heard it referred to as "marrying" and didn't recognize what it meant.

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