Block 2019: Snail Trail

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Snail Trail quilt block

Welcome to Block 2019! We’re exploring classic quilt blocks all year, and the fourth block is Snail Trail. Part of the challenge of Block 2019 is to try different techniques and construction methods to grow and hone our skills as quilters. This month’s block can be made a few different ways, and it’s up to you to decide what you’d like to use.

Construction Choices

The first method is rotary cutting and piecing with sizing throughout. This method uses the most common skills but requires a little extra attention to maintaining points because the math for the block has been simplified. The instructions below are for this method except for where noted otherwise.

The second method is Foundation Paper Piecing. We are providing paper piecing patterns for this block. This method is helpful on blocks like Snail Trail that have more complicated math. We have videos explaining how to Foundation Paper Piece down in the FPP section along with the downloadable pattern.

The third method is template cutting. Before rotary cutters, everyone template cut. I still have treasured block templates my great-grandmother cut out from cereal boxes. It’s how newspapers like the Kansas City Star shared quilt block patterns. The only downside is the extra steps added to the cutting process. To template cut, use the FPP pattern and trace the unique shapes in the block (4 different sized triangles and a square) onto a piece of thin template plastic or sturdy cardboard. Add a quarter inch around the traced shape and cut out your template. Trace around the template onto your fabric and cut out. Sew as instructed below, ignoring any steps to cut up squares.

Finally, you’ll see there are four Snail Trail blocks within the block for this month. This means you can make all four using your preferred method, but it also means you can experiment and play around with different cutting and piecing methods. Have fun with it and find what works for you.

Fabric Requirements:

Gray (Includes quilt-as-you-go backing)  — 3/8 yard
Aqua — Fat Eighth
Dark Blue — Fat Eighth
Coral — Fat Eighth
Batting — 12″ x 12″ (For quilt-as-you-go method only)

Cutting Instructions:

From the gray fabric, cut:
(1) 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ (For the quilt-as-you-go method only, do not cut otherwise.)
(6) 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
(6) 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
(8) 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″

From the aqua fabric, cut:
(2) 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
(2) 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
(2) 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″

From the dark teal fabric, cut:
(3) 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
(3) 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
(4) 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″

From the coral fabric, cut:
(2) 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
(2) 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
(2) 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″

Cutting Guide:

snail trail block

Assembly:

If Foundation Paper Piecing

Download the FPP pattern by clicking here and print. Remember to measure the 1″ guide for accuracy in printing.

The cutting instructions above are large enough for FPP, but you can cut the pieces larger to fit your comfort level.

Make the Four Patches for the centers by following the instructions below. Then secure the Four Patches in the center of their respective patterns and begin to paper piece the rounds in numerical order. The dark gray is equal to dark teal, the light gray to aqua or coral, and white to the background/gray.

Make 2 dark teal/aqua 6 1/2″ blocks and 2 dark teal/coral 6 1/2″ blocks. You can remove the paper from the four blocks before sewing them together following the Block Assembly instructions.

To watch a video on how to Foundation Paper Piece, click here.

Four Patch

Sew a gray 1 1/4″ square to a dark teal 1 1/4″ square. Make 4.
Repeat with gray and aqua squares. Make 2.
Repeat with gray and coral squares. Make 2.
Sew units together to make (2) dark teal/aqua Four Patches and (2) dark teal/coral Four Patches. Four Patches measure 2″ x 2″ unfinished.

snail trail block

Round 1 (Square in a Square)

Take (2) gray 2 3/4″ squares and cut them in half diagonally twice. Repeat for (1) aqua square, (1) dark teal square, and (1) coral square.
Sew a gray triangle to the dark teal/aqua Four Patch oriented as shown below. Trim the ends even to the Four Patch. Make 2.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for the dark teal/coral Four Patch. Make 2.
Sew a dark teal triangle and an aqua triangle to the dark teal/aqua centers, as shown below.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for with a dark teal and coral triangle to the dark teal/coral centers.
Trim the blocks to 2 5/8″ x 2 5/8″ unfinished.

Round 2

Take (4) gray 2 3/4″ squares and cut them in half diagonally once. Repeat for (2) dark teal squares, (1) aqua square, and (1) coral square.
Sew a gray triangle to the dark teal/aqua center oriented as shown below. Trim the ends even to the center. Make 2.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for the dark teal/coral center. Make 2.
Sew a dark teal triangle and an aqua triangle to the dark teal/aqua centers, as shown below.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for with a dark teal and coral triangle to the dark teal/coral centers.
Trim the blocks to 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ unfinished.

Round 3

Take (2) gray 4 1/2″ squares and cut them in half diagonally twice. Repeat for (1) dark teal squares, (1) aqua square, and (1) coral square.
Sew a gray triangle to the dark teal/aqua center oriented as shown below. Trim the ends even to the center. Make 2.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for the dark teal/coral center. Make 2.
Sew a dark teal triangle and an aqua triangle to the dark teal/aqua centers, as shown below.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for with a dark teal and coral triangle to the dark teal/coral centers.
Trim the blocks to 4 3/4″ x 4 3/4″ unfinished.

Round 4

Take (4) gray 4 1/2″ squares and cut them in half diagonally once. Repeat for (2) dark teal squares, (1) aqua square, and (1) coral square.
Sew a gray triangle to the dark teal/aqua center oriented as shown below. Trim the ends even to the center. Make 2.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for the dark teal/coral center. Make 2.
Sew a dark teal triangle and an aqua triangle to the dark teal/aqua centers, as shown below.

snail trail block
Repeat in the same manner for with a dark teal and coral triangle to the dark teal/coral centers.

snail trail block

Trim the blocks to 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ unfinished for (2) dark teal/aqua blocks and (2) dark teal/coral blocks.

Block Assembly

Orient the dark teal/aqua and dark teal/coral blocks as shown below and sew together  in pairs and sew the pairs together to make the Snail Trail block. Block measures 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ unfinished.

Snail Trail quilt block
To prepare the block for quilt-as-you-go, sandwich the 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ backing square, 12″ x 12″ batting centered on the backing square, and your block. Baste using preferred method. Quilt as desired inside the 12″ finished size of the block.

Check back later in the month, when we’ll share ideas for quilting the block.

A quick tip…

Remember to sew to the inside of the Square in a Square points, not over the peak of the point.

If you used the Foundation Paper Piecing method, try removing the paper before sewing the four blocks together into one block. This makes it easier to manipulate the fabric and get sharp points.

Finally, try glue basting the points of the square in a square where the four blocks come together.

And you’re all set!

Check back next week for some fun variations on the Snail Trail block. You can always find links to all the Block 2019 posts and see when the next installment is coming out in the main Block 2019 article, just click here.

As you finish your blocks, share them in the AQS Project Parade Facebook group, or use the hashtag #Block2019 and tag us @aqsonline because we can’t wait to see what you do!

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