Single Block Quilt Tutorial Series - Snowball - Part 2, Cutting

Single block quilts-page-001

Now that  the snowball quilt is planned (see previous posts 1 and 1.1) it's time to start cutting fabrics.  No matter what size snowball block is made, two factors are important:

1. The finished block block is square.
2. The eight, finished sides of the snowball (center octagon) are equal.  This is what allows the octagon to be called a "ball", as the equal sides read as a ball or circle from not too far of a distance.

The above diagram represents the simplest way to make an equally sided center octagon.  Four small squares are placed in the corners of one large square.  The small squares are diagonally stitched to the large square, the block is trimmed, pressed and done!  Yep, it's that simple, but it is imperative to cut the squares to the properly proportioned sizes.

The above chart indicates what sizes the center and corner squares need to be in order to make a proper, equally sided finished snowball block.

Mark Squares
Cut out the snowball blocks.  I'm making 8" finished blocks for my quilt, each with a different snowball fabric.  Since I am only cutting one center square from each fabric, I've chosen to go a bit "old school" and made a cardboard template, 8-1/2" square, to trace around, then I cut out my squares with scissors.  Alternatively, a ruler and and a rotary cutter could have been used however, I find the old trace and cut method to be a little more efficient for single shapes.

Tip:  Use mat board and cut out templates with an acrylic ruler and a rotary cutter.  It is best to reserve a dedicated rotary cutter to do this with as the blade will dull quickly and will no longer be suitable for cutting fabric.

Tip: Use either a pencil, a proper fabric marking tool or a permanent marker to mark fabrics as ink pens and water soluble markers can bleed with steam from the iron. 

Snowball quilt block centers stacked

Fold Fabric to Cut Strips
Cut strips as a basis for the corner squares.  Since many corner squares are required, it is more efficient to rotary cut them.  My quilt will be five blocks by seven blocks for a total of 35 blocks, and four corner squares are needed for each block.  That's 140 squares.  I'm using two colors of corner squares so I need 70 of each color.  To cut numerous squares, it is most efficient to first cut strips, then cross cut the strips into squares.  The diagram above shows how strips can be cut from fabric yardage.  First, fold the yardage in half, matching the selvages.  Rotary cut strips to the required width, ensuring that cuts are perpendicular (90 degrees) from the folded edge of the fabric.  A confident rotary cutter, can fold the fabric twice and cut through four layers at one time, just so folds are parallel to one another and perpendicular cuts are maintained.

Cut Strips
Since my finished blocks will be 8" square, my corner squares need to be cut to 2-7/8", so I cut my strips to 2-7/8" wide.  My fabric is 44" wide.  This, divided by 2-7/8" gives me 15 squares per strip.  I need 70 squares, so I need to cut five strips of each fabric.

Mark squares
Cross cut the strips into squares and diagonally mark them for sewing.  I've cross cut my strips into 2-7/8" squares.  I have a total of 140, 70 of each color.  Mark each square diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner to identify the sewing line.

Pin squares to corners
Pin the small squares onto the corners of the  large squares.  Since I am using two colors for my corner squares, I've arranged the colors diagonally from one another.  Ensure that the marked sewing lines are properly positioned.

Tip:  Pin in two different directions to keep the fabric from shifting in either direction when sewing.

It's time for you to cut, pin and get prepared to start sewing.  The next post in this series will address sewing and pressing!

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