The Snowflake Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

They say no two snowflakes are alike. And that seems the case for this Snowflake quilt block design.

The Snowflake quilt block tutorial starts here...

I found this unusual block in Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs—one of my favorite quilt block resources.

The center 'Economy' unit is paper pieced for perfection (there's a free download for it). Half square triangles made 8 at a time and a handful of squares are all it takes to complete this curious block.

Let it snow!

It's time to start our Snowflake block.

General Instructions

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Several common abbreviations are used in this tutorial:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • HST - half square triangle(s)

I use an open toe applique foot for both the paper piecing and for making the HSTs. This foot provides and unobstructed view of my presser foot.

For assembling the block, I then switch to my favorite 1/4" foot with a guide.

You'll need a paper piecing pattern for the center of this block. 

From the chart below choose your finished block size and then click the link to the corresponding 'Economy' quilt block (that's the common name of the center unit).

One unit is all it takes for each block you make.

You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.

On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

PRINT the Economy Paperpiecing Pattern
for the center of your Snowflake block
Block Size
Link to
PDF Download
5" Economy 3"
7-1/2" Economy 4-½"
10" Economy 6"

Step 1: Cutting

Snowflake quilt block designSnowflake block design

I've used batiks for these blocks.

Absolutely love working with them because they finger press so nicely and take a crease so well.

The other nice thing about batiks is I can see no visible difference (usually) between the front and backsides. All I have to do is choose the prettier one. 

However, I do recommend prewashing or at least pre-testing to make sure they don't bleed.

There's nothing worse than getting a quilt finished, only to have the fabrics run the first time it's washed.

Snowflake cutting chart

Learn more about my favorite, new quilting tool, the Magic Pressing Mat. A valuable addition to your quilting tools—regardless of the piecing technique you use.

And these are all the cut patches. Remember to subcut #2 and #3.

The patches for our Snowflake blockYou can see where I've already marked the #5 patch in preparation for making HSTs 8 at a time.

Step 2: Creating the units for our Snowflake block

Center - An Economy block

Make 1

Square in a Square unit

If you haven't already, print an Economy Block pattern for the center of your Snowflake. The printing links are here.

Install an open toe applique foot if you have one—it makes it so much easier to see where you're stitching. Reduce your stitch length to 15-20 stitches/inch. This makes it easier later to remove the paper.

Cut out 1 Economy block from the sheet you downloaded above. No need to get fancy. A rough cut is all you need do.

With a tiny dab of Elmer's washable glue stick, stick the wrong side of your #1 fabric patch to the unprinted side of the paper. Center the square between the dashed placements guides.

Position #1 between the dashed lines on the patternThe dashed placement guides make this so much quicker.

Align the long edge of a #2 triangle with one edge of the #1 square.

Layer #1 and a #2 right sides togetherFor perfect placement, line up the edge of the #2 with the edge of #1. The point of #2 should be directly opposite the corner of its patch on the pattern (red arrow).

From the printed side, stitch starting a good quarter inch before the printed line and ending a good quarter past the printed line.

This is so your stitches won't come undone. The next sewing lines secure the ends.

Stitch on the line between #1 and #2ALWAYS start and end a line of stitching a generous 1/4" before and after the solid line. This prevents your seams from coming undone.

Repeat for the opposite #2 patch. At this point press the #2 patches as sewn (to set the seam) and then open. 

Add the final two #2 patches and press.

For easy alignment, position the point of the #2 triangle with the corner of the patch on the pattern (red arrow).

Trim away any dog ears now. They'll be much harder to get at after the next round of stitching.

The first five sewn patches

Trim away the excess fabric and establish your next placement lines for the patches. (I'm using an Add-A-Quarter Plus to do this - my new favorite!)

With paper side up, fold back the paper on the solid line between #2 and #3 (the next patch you'll add).

If you sewed past the solid lines as instructed, you will need to pull the stitching away from the paper a bit (see that little V of holes  below the red arrow—that's where I've pulled the stitches away from the paper.)

Fold the paper back on the solid line between #2 and #3 on all sidesUsing my Add-A-Quarter Plus ruler to fold back the pattern.

Now place the lipped side of the ruler over the folded edge. The ruler's edge is exactly 1/4" away from the fold. Trim.

Trim to create the next placement line for a #3 patchThe Add-A-Quarter Plus Ruler makes this trimming foolproof!

Repeat for the remaining three sides.

Add the #3 patches just as you did the #2s—two opposites at a time, pressing in between.

This is the sewn Economy patch.

The untrimmed Economy blockA wee bit messy, don't you think?

All that's left is to trim it to size. 

Do this by lining up the 1/4" mark on your ruler with the solid outside line. Trim with your rotary cutter.

The red arrow points to the 1/4" line on the ruler and solid line on the pattern

Repeat for the three remaining sides and you have this.

The completed Economy blockStraggly thread tails and wonky edges are all gone!

Sometimes I choose to leave the paper on until the block is finished. Sometimes not.

Regardless of when I pull the paper, I do like to use my secret pressing technique to perfectly flatten this unit after it's stitched and trimmed to size. 

It makes putting the block together so much nicer.

Half Square Triangles

Make 8

HST unit

The 8 at a time method of making HSTs is PERFECT for our Snowflake quilt block and efficient, too!

On the backs of either the #4 or #5 patches (choose one or the other) mark either:

  1. Two diagonal lines from corner to corner, OR...
  2. Two pairs of diagonal lines a quarter inch away from the center diagonal

Because I didn't have my regular quarter inch foot with me when I made the Snowflake quilt block sample, I choose Method 2 above and used my Quick Quarter Ruler for marking...

...then installed my open toe applique foot to stitch them.

Sewing the seams for the HSTsThis nice, fine lines were drawn with my Bohin mechanical chalk pencil.

With RST, layer a #4 and #5, stitching on the marked lines. (If you only marked the two center diagonal lines, use your quarter inch foot to stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of both lines.)

Press the unit flat. It's sometimes a wee bit wavy after stitching the bias lines.

Use the chart below to determine your MidPoint Measurement. (For this 10" sample that number is 3⅛".)

HST Measurements
Block Size
Trim HST to…
5" 2¼" 1½" sq
7-1/2" 2⅝" 2" sq
10" 3⅛" 2½" sq

Align this line of your ruler with the edge of your block (red arrow) and cut. This cuts your square in half from top to bottom.

Cut the sewn HST patches in half from top to bottom.

Align this same line of your ruler with an adjacent edge and cut. This cuts the patches in half from side to side. (If you've got a smaller mat, it's much easier to turn the mat than the patches.)

You now have four equal sized squares equal to the MidPoint Measurement. All four pairs of squares have two lines of diagonal stitching in them. 

Cut these squares in half between the stitching lines to create a total of 8 HSTs.

Press with the SA toward the dark.

Referring back to the chart, find the 'Trim HST to' measurement and trim your HSTs as needed. (For the 10" sample, they are trimmed to 2-1/2" x 2-1/2".)

This is what you have after trimming.

The finished HSTPerfect HST every time!

For more detailed instructions for this technique (and ones for marking just the single pair of diagonal markings) click here.

Side Centers

Snowflake side units

Make 4

Arrange two HSTs and one #6 as shown.

With RST, stitch the units together.

Make the units for the sides, top and bottomMake a total of four for this Snowflake block

SA can be pressed either way; however, if you press toward the #6 (like I did) you may need to grade the seam allowance—trim away a little bit of the darker fabric—so that the dark doesn't shadow through to the top of the quilt block.

After stitching and pressing, your side units should match the measurements in the chart below. Make adjustments if needed.

Side Measurements
Block Size
after stitching
5" 1½" x 3½"
7½" 2" x 5"
10" 2½" x 6½"

Step 3: Assembling our Snowflake block

Arrange the sewn and cuts patches into the Snowflake design.

Pay particular attention to the side units. The top side the dark HST points point in. On the sides they point out.

Lay out the patches into the design

Stitch units together to form rows. SA are pressed toward from the Economy block and away from the side units.

Stitch the rows togetherPress SA in the direction of the arrows

Pin as needed to hold things in place. There's 5 points in each seam  that you don't want to cut off if you can help it.

This is our finished Snowflake quilt block—in all its pointy-goodness ready for a quilt.

The completed Snowflake blockThe finished Snowflake block

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

For even more blocks to make...

These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas. 

Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs is my all-time favorite quilt block resource!

Can you tell?

It's in color.

It's got a ton of blocks.

What's not to love?

Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.

This book is no longer in print. If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive.


BlockBase is the computerized version of the Encyclopedia.

It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.

Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.

Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.


Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.

It does make a fabulous coffee table book though.

If you're in the mood for snow, check out our recommendations for Snowman quilt patterns.

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