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The Snail's Trail Quilting Block

the snail's trail quilting block

The Snail's Trail Quilt Block is one of my favorite quilt blocks.    I like it because it looks like it has curved piecing, yet it is all straight sewing.  Use a fabric with a lot of movement in it, like the batik in the above picture, and you really get a lot of movement.

I've never seen a scrappy snail's tail block.  It would be more frugal if it was made scrappy.  This block makes use of value , so I don't see why it wouldn't work.  I think the block is just more impressive with 2 fabrics.

This block was a close call as to whether to include it on the Frugal Quilting site, because you do have to cut off excess fabric after each round.   You can get into a lot of trouble trimming or squaring up a block.  You need at least 2 lines on your ruler matched up with your quilt block for accuracy.  You have to be careful to leave the 1/4 inch piecing allowance on the outside.

I decided to include this block because it is an opportunity to learn this skill and practice using your ruler.  Just be sure you cut and sew accurately, and take your time with the ruler and squaring up the block. 

There are several ways to make this block.  I find the triangle method the easiest. 

construction of snail's trail quilt blockYou begin by making a 4-patch.  For the pictured block, I used 2 inch raw squares.  You can see the 4-patch in the picture to the left, made from the solid black and the batik fabric.

Now it is only a matter of calculating the sizes of squares to cut in half to make triangles for around the edges.  You do opposite sides first.  The triangles are laid out in the picture to the left how they will be attached.  First sew on one color, and then do the other color.

Also, make sure they go around the 4-patch  as pictured.

Here is how you calculate the size of the squares that you will be cutting on the diagonal to make the triangles.

Measure the raw size of the width of the square.  In this case, the 4-patch measures 3 1/2 inches.  Now divide that number (3.5) by 1.4142.  Add 3/8 of an inch (.375) and that is your number.  Round it up if necessary.  Cut your square, and then cut it on the diagonal for the triangles.

( In the above example, 3.5 divided by 1.4142 = 2.47.   2.47 plus .375 = 2.845.  Rounded up, that is approximately 3 inches.  You will be trimming your block after each round, so you always want to round up).

You can make this block larger by adding more rounds.  Just measure the new size of the square, and do the same calculations for the triangles.

Follow good piecing and pressing rules.

The effect of this block can be stunning.  Don't be afraid of the math.  You will be using somewhat similar math when making setting triangles for the edges and corners of quilts set on point.  Many simple blocks look wonderful set on point.  You want to develop this skill.




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