For the past two days I have been piecing together Snail Trail blocks. I have tried foundation piecing and cutting the pieces from strips and I keep ending up with blocks that are either not the right size or have a wonky edge that does not allow enough seam allowance to sew another block to it. I am really frustrated and have searched the internet only to find all kinds of blogs and tutorials, none of which offer any solid information on how to piece this block so you end up with the size you desire. I can calculate the size triangles necessary, measure twice and cut once, be AR about my seam allowances and still cannot get two blocks the same size produced. If anyone can offer some sound advice and solid construction tips for creating this block in multiples to make a quilt, I would be truly grateful and thankful. Thanks so much!
Klaudeen Hansen has a pattern that does what you need. Her snail mail address is P.O. Box 253, Sun Prairie WI 53590, phone 608-837-2298. The pattern doesn't give an email address, but you might be able to google her.
Hi Sue... are you sure that yr needle is in the correct position? I was working on a similar quilt, then had to make a dress, and forgot to move the needle back into position... also, double check yr seams when you are ironing :)
HI alliegalinoz........I am not sure what you mean when you say the "correct" position. I have my needle set so the seam allowance is a scant 1/4". I make sure the needle is in position before sewing each section. I am pressing every time I add a triangle but am finding that positioning the triangles in exactly the right spot is very tricky. I have starched the fabric before cutting to help cut down on the bias seams stretching and am VERY careful to let the feed dogs on the machine carry the fabric. The last two sections of the block are problematic. The very last triangle added always seems to come up short, despite my best efforts to keep everything in line. There MUST be a way to properly piece this block!
i'd say paper piecing, but that would drive me to drink ....
this link has an optional cutting guide http://quilting.about.com/od/quiltpatternsprojects/ss/snails_trail.htm
good luck, :)
Thank you to all those that responded. My guess is that this is a tricky block and others are experiencing the same issues I am. I figured out how to piece it so the block comes out square and have made about 15 blocks now. This is a fiddly block, and attention to detail is critical. I am curious why the people who publish this pattern do NOT tell a few of the tips I have learned to make this block work each time. Well, I must say, the patterns I have seen published. Perhaps there is a pattern published that does indeed offer construction tips that will keep the quilter from being frustrated and I have not seen it. Anyway, I wanted to thank those that offered assistance! It is much appreciated!!
Another thing to check is which seams you are putting on the bias. Certain blocks get really fiddly when the bias is not in a particular place! I had a block I had to remake 3 times before I figured that out.
Cheryl / Muppin
HI Cheryl......Can you elaborate on which seams need to be on the bias? I am piecing this as a four patch surrounded by half square triangles, all sewn on the bias. Are you referring to the method of piecing this that is sixteen small squares, some half square and some quarter square triangles? Can you elaborate on where the "particular place" that the bias need to be located please? Any help greatly appreciated!!
I'm talking about the half square triangles. The straight of grain should be the 90 degree angle and the bias should be the 'slant' part. I hope this helps!
Thanks Cheryl......I have been cutting my half square triangle this way. I did manage to figure out how to do this block, but I suspect others have problems with it too. I found by starching the fabrics first the bias tended to stay put instead of stretch and my squares ended up more square. Thanks for your replies!
As a help, Eleanor Burns, Quilt in a Day, has a video tutorial on this very design, also known as Pig's Tail and Virginia Reel. We are currently doing this as part of our local quilt class monthly project. I am in a Secret Sisters year long class to create EB quilts in El's Kitchen book at Sewing Solutions Quilt Shop in NE Indiana. GoodLuck with making the blocks. They do look harder than they are.
Check out the video on this very block on Eleanor Burns web site. We are currently doing this very block in our Secret Sisters Class at Sewing Solutions Quilt Shop in NE IN. hblock is alo known as Pig's Tail and Virginia Reel. Patten is part of EB book of El's Kitchen Quilts.
Thank you Vic. I did manage to get this block figured out, and am able to sew them identically now. The tips in this video would have helped me so much at the beginning, so I thank you for directing me to them! Hope your Secret Sisters class is super successful!!
hope you have the block figured out by now.
there is a much easier way of sewing half square triangles. cut strips - on the straight of grain. at least a half inch wider than you need them (including the seam allowance). starching, before cutting also helps. cut a strip from each of the 2 fabrics needed for the full square.
sew the 2 strips together, long sides together. press . now you can cut an appropriate size square from the pieced strip. you will need to trim all 4 sides. keep thediagonal of the square on the stitched line. this is easier and more accurate - because you are no longer dealing with a bias edge when putting the square into the block. plus, you have already sewn the bias edge, and pressed the bias, before cutting to size.
i admit it has been a long time since i made a snail's trail block - but i don't remember it being a problem. did you draft a pattern - full size, on paper, before going to fabric ? and double check the size of the pieces (including seam allowance) before cutting pieces ? starching always helps. and i always make the half triangle squares, as a square, before putting it into a block; that way the bias has already been dealt with; and is not a problem when putting it into the block.
i love snail's trail block . the way it looks like curves, but using all straight lines. i love the movement it creates over the surface of the quilt. and LOTS of ways to color it. curved snail's trail blocks are interesting also. ckquilter