From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
They say no two snowflakes are alike. And that seems the case for this Snowflake quilt block design.
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.
Several common abbreviations are used in this tutorial:
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
| Link to|
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.
There's nothing worse than getting a quilt finished, only to have the fabrics run the first time it's washed.
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.
Center - An Economy block
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.
Align the long edge of a #2 triangle with one edge of the #1 square.
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.
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.
Trim away any dog ears now. They'll be much harder to get at after the next round of stitching.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Repeat for the three remaining sides and you have this.
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
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:
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.
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".)
|Trim HST to…|
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.
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.
For more detailed instructions for this technique (and ones for marking just the single pair of diagonal markings) click here.
Arrange two HSTs and one #6 as shown.
With RST, stitch the units together.
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.
|5"||1½" x 3½"|
|7½"||2" x 5"|
|10"||2½" x 6½"|
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.
Stitch units together to form rows. SA are pressed toward from the Economy block and away from the side units.
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.
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
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. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
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.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!
If you're in the mood for snow, check out our recommendations for Snowman quilt patterns.
Don't forget to PinIt! for later.