Red and White Snowball Quilt image

How to Sew the Vintage Snowball Quilt Block

I’ll admit it.  I have not always been a fan of the Snowball Quilt block.  I mean, it’s not very exciting.  Take a piece of printed fabric or a piece of solid fabric and sew little squares of fabric to each of the four corners.  It’s such an easy block to construct that you might think it is too plain. But, sometimes plain and ordinary is just what you need. This little block can stand alone or make other blocks stand out. It is a vintage design still widely used today.

Learn how to make the vintage snowball quilt block and use it in a variety of quilt patterns and you will have an endless list of design ideas.

Simple is Good

Didn’t someone once say that simple is good?  For instance, let’s consider cooking.  Aren’t recipes that require only 4 -5 ingredients sometimes favorites because they taste great and are easy to make?  It’s no different when making quilts.  Sometimes, you just need something easy that turns into something beautiful.

Plus, practicing the same technique over and over again no matter how simple it might at first appear is a great way to perfect your skills.  Learning to sew diagonal lines precisely will prepare you to master other quilt blocks like the Flying Geese block.

So, I’m learning to love the simplicity of the Snowball block and embrace what I once thought was boring.  What changed my mind?

  • It is a simple, easy block to create
  • A layer cake or charm pack is the perfect starting point for these blocks
  • It makes a great alternate* block in a quilt
  • It is stunning by itself or combined with other blocks

When used as an alternate block, the Snowball block gives your eyes a place to rest when looking at what might otherwise be a busy quilt top.  In many ways, it accomplishes the same thing as negative space.  I guess you could say that it provides small patches of interesting negative space.

Just a Little History . . .

The Snowball block pattern dates back to the 17th century.  Based on the information I’ve found, it was and perhaps still is a popular Amish quilt block.  From a distance the block looks round due to the optical illusion created by its 8 sides.  It is a technique used to make a block look round without actually sewing curved fabric pieces together.  I’ve also read that popular blocks during the 1800’s were often named for things in nature because it was a part of every quilter’s life.

How to Use the Snowball Block in a Quilt

Use the Snowball block alone to create a simple quilt.  A few color adjustments and the same pattern takes on a new look.

snowball variation 3
snowball variation 5
snowball variation 2

Or mix the Snowball block with another block and create a gorgeous quilt top.

Snowball and Friendship Star blocks
Snowball & Friendship Star Blocks
Snowball and Shoo-Fly Quilt Blocks Green
Snowball block & Shoo-Fly Blocks
snowball wnine patch
Snowball and Nine-Patch Quilt blocks

Friendship Quilts

One of the most creative uses of the Snowball block is in Friendship quilts. Gather a group of friends, co-workers, or guild members to sign each Snowball block.  Stitch the blocks together and you have a lovely gift to give to someone as a remembrance.  What a lovely gift for a friend who is moving away, getting married, or dealing with illness or loss and needs to be reminded that others care.  The Snowball block also makes a great block in which to pen a Bible verse or words of encouragement.

*An alternate block is used in a quilt top to accentuate the other blocks in the top.  It is the plain and simple block that lets the others shine.

Try Our Use-It-Up Layer Cake Snowball Pattern

Do you have a Layer Cake that you’ve been saving for just the right pattern? Our Use-It-Up Layer Cake Snowball Pattern won’t waste any of that precious fabric. Click here to see how we made it.

use it up layer cake snowball quilted angled

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