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All About the Snowball Quilt Block

Discover the history of the snowball quilt block, quilting tips, snowball quilt patterns, and more!

By: Anna Deen, Editor, FaveQuilts.com
All About the Snowball Quilt Block

Despite having a name reminiscent of the colder months during the year, the snowball quilt block looks beautiful in both winter and summer quilts. Sewing a snowball quilt block is quick and simple, making this design a wonderful quilt project for beginners.

This easy quilt block tutorial is ideal for showing off your favorite fabric prints within the frame of the snowball block. If you are planning on sewing your blocks together to create a snowball quilt pattern, try experimenting with using varied scraps for the corners to create an eclectic and beautiful scrap quilt pattern.

In this article, we will cover an array of topics centering around the snowball block, including a basic tutorial for creating a snowball block, a brief history of the snowball block, quilting tips and tricks for using this design, and quilt block tutorials for snowball quilt patterns. We are sure that by the end of this article, you will love this quick and easy quilting pattern as much as we do, so pull up a chair and get ready to learn all about the snowball block!

What Is a Snowball Quilt Block?

Snowball blocks are traditional quilting patterns that originated with Amish quilting designs. According to the Nebraska Historical Society, snowball quilts are a form of medallion quilt and are in the same family as the drunkard’s path quilting pattern, Boston puzzle design, and mill wheel pattern. While each style may vary in the number of sides each cutout has, what they all have in common is that all contain pieced designs with central features and borders.

So what is a snowball quilt block exactly? These traditional quilting designs are optical illusions designed to resemble circles from a distance. Luckily, these patterns are far simpler than they look. This design is made by simply attaching four triangles to the four corners of a large square by using a half square triangle quilting technique to create an octagon shape framed by four triangles. The snowball block is a wonderful and versatile quilt block for beginners.

Snow Ball Block Pattern

Snowball Block Tutorial

Now that you know what a snowball block is, are you ready to learn how to sew your own? Okay, let’s go!

Be sure to watch the Snow Ball Block Pattern video below by Carolina Moore to learn how to make a snowball quilt block step by step. Additionally, we have written out the steps below for you to refer to as you work.

  1. Cut one large 12.5” by 12.5” square and four smaller 5” by 5” squares.
  2. Draw diagonal lines on the backs of your smaller squares.
  3. Place one small square in the corner of your large square, aligning the edges.
  4. Sew the two squares together along the diagonal line of the smaller square.
  5. Repeat on the three remaining corners.
  6. Cut away all four corners, leaving a ¼” seam allowance.
  7. Press the fabric open.
  8. Congrats—you’ve made your own super simple snowball quilt block!
Follow along with this step-by-step video tutorial on how to create a basic Snow Ball Block Pattern!

Tips for Sewing a Snowball Block

If you're not sure how and when to use the snowball block pattern, then check out the following tips and tricks for sewing with this block!

  1. This block is great for showing off your favorite patterns, especially ones with big prints, central motifs, and directional designs. Anne from SpringLeaf Studios has her own wonderful tip for fussy cutting fabrics in order to use the exact sections you want: “My favorite way to use the snowball block is with large scale floral prints. I love to fussy cut the flowers and fill the entire quilt with blooms. I devised my own method to help with the fussy cutting which helps keep the flowers just where I want them. Read more about the technique I use here.”
  2. Try alternating snowball quilt blocks with other simple quilt blocks, like the nine patch pattern, to create a quilt design. Discover ideas for quilt block patterns to pair with the snowball block in a section below, called Ways to Use Snowball Quilt Block Patterns.
  3. When using snowball blocks with other quilt block patterns, you must tailor the size of the snowball block to suit the other pattern. Anne from SpringLeaf Studios has great advice for us when using snowball blocks in conjunction with other block patterns: “An important thing to be aware of when using the snowball block is that the corners can be adjusted to fit a companion block if you are using one. I especially like how the snowball block pairs with a simple 9-patch in an alternating layout. Read more about making block adjustments here.” For an additional list of snowball block sizings, please check this Delaware Quilts page on snowball blocks!

Quilting Fabrics

Ways to Use Snowball Quilt Block Patterns

Since this versatile quilt block can easily be paired and alternated with a variety of other quilt block patterns, we thought we would include some ideas for quilt projects that use this easy year-round quilting design for inspiration! Feel free to mix and match your snowball block with any other block pattern from this list to make for a beautiful quilt design. Be sure to check out Janet Wickell’s article, “Snowball Quilt Block Patterns” from The Spruce, and this “Special Snowball Project” article from Delaware Quilts for inspiration on quilt blocks to use with snowball quilts!

  1. Nine Patch Quilt Block
  2. Double Nine Patch Quilt Block
  3. Friendship Star Quilt Block
  4. Churn Dash Quilt Block
  5. Shoo Fly Quilt Block
  6. Ribbon Quilt Block
  7. Calico Puzzle Quilt Block

Prairie Pinwheel Baby Quilt

Snowball Quilt Patterns

Below we have included some of our favorite quilting tutorials in order of skill level. All of the designs use the snowball block in some way to create a gorgeous pattern. We have all sorts of tutorials from basic blocks, like this Snowball Quilt Block to entire winter quilts like this Peppermint Snowballs Quilt. We have also added some projects with beautiful variations on this traditional pattern that will allow you to create daisy chain quilting patterns, Irish chain quilting patterns, or half snowball quilting patterns, such as with this summery Citrus Mint Baby Quilt. No matter what you’re looking for, we’re sure you’ll find a pattern you love in this collection!

Beginner Snowball Quilt Tutorials:

  1. Snowball Nine Patch Pattern
  2. Snowball Quilt Block 
  3. Citrus Mint Baby Quilt
  4. Bonnie Rose Irish Chain Quilt
Easy Snowball Quilt Tutorials:
  1. Snowball Fight Pillow
  2. How to Make a Snowball Quilt
  3. Poppies Quilt Tutorial
  4. Peppermint Snowballs Quilt
  5. Snowballs for Colleena Baby Quilt
  6. Lovely Laura Baby Quilt 
Intermediate Snowball Quilt Tutorials:
  1. Mimi’s Daisy Chains Quilt
  2. Polar Vortex Quilt Pattern
  3. Snowball Fight Layer Cake Pattern
  4. Jumping Jacks Quilt

Poppies Quilt Tutorial

Have you ever made a snowball quilt block or snowball quilt pattern? Let us know in the comments below!

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