Interesting quilts can be created by alternating simple patchwork blocks with other patchwork blocks, rather than solid squares.  The two blocks interact with each other to create secondary designs.  Snowball is one familiar pattern of this type.  It is a very simple patterneven for beginners and one of my favorite designs, because it's simple and because it scrappy.

Since this is a scrap quilt, no specific yardage is given.  The scrappy blue and cream quilt is made using 6" (6" unfinished) blocks that are set 11 blocks across by 13 blocks down.  It has two borders:  the inside border is made from strips cut 3" wide; the outer border has strips cut 4" wide.  The finished quilt is 79" x 91" and easily fits a full-size bed. 

If you look closely, you can see snowflakes hand quilted in the snowball blocks. 

For most quilters, scrap quilts can be a challenge, finding it difficult to place fabrics at random places within their design.  A true scrap quilt pays no attention to pattern or colorthe more variations in fabrics, the more "sparkle" in the quilt.  For these, we tend to rely not so much on the fabric colors as we do the value of the colors; separating the fabrics into three categorieslights, mediums, and darks.  Following this rule you can create some beautiful scrap quilts.

However, you may want to gather fabrics for a "selective scrap" quilt like the bed-size blue and cream snowball at the top of the page or a more "scrappy" wallhanging (right) using dozens of fall-colored fabrics.  (Maple leaves quilted in the snowballs.)  

To the left is is a close-up of a pretty snowball quilt made by Mary Anne Brown.  It was made using only pink & blue fabrics plus a white-on-white print.  Notice the quilting in the snowball blocksthe shells are hand quilted using blue threada very nice touch!

Additional Resource:  For more information about quilts with just two blocksthe snowball and nine patch, see the book, Nine Patch & Snowball Quilts by Elsie Campbell.  Published by Chitra Publications, the book features Elsie's clever use of colors to make these two simple blocks look like ribbons, baubles and beads, stars and more.  Even beginning quiltmakers have the skills to do the surprisingly simple piecing for making these quilts.  Click here to order the book from

A snowball quilt is comprised of two simple blocks:

Directions for nine-patch block: 

For each nine-patch block, cut the following pieces (" seam allowances are included):

     (9) 2" squares assorted light and medium/dark fabrics

Using the nine squares above, sew together to make three rows of 3 squares (Fig. 1).  For the top and bottom rows, press the seam allowances toward the center; for the center row, press seam allowances away from the center.  (This will give you alternating seams for easy matching of rows.) Then join the 3 rows together to complete the nine-patch (Fig. 2).   Press seam allowances toward the center.  The block should measure 6 " square.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Directions for snowball block:

For each snowball block, cut the following pieces (" seam allowances are included):

     (1)  6" square muslin
     (4)  2" squares assorted medium and/or dark fabrics

Draw a diagonal pencil line on the back of each 2" square; this will be your stitching line (Fig. 3).  With right sides together, place a 2" square even with the corner edges of a muslin square and stitch diagonally following the pencil line; trim seams to " after stitching (Fig. 4).  Repeat for all 4 corners.  Press seam allowances away from the muslin.  This block will also measure 6 " square.

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Suggested Snowball Quilt Sizes
(includes cut width sizes for borders)


Block layout 3 x 3
Finished size 22" x 22"
No. of Blocks (9):
(4) Snowball
(5) Nine-Patch

Border #1 is cut 1"
Border #2 is cut 2"


Block layout 7 x 9
Finished size 59" x 71"
No. of Blocks (63):
(31) Snowball
(32) Nine-Patch

Border #1 is cut 2 "
Border #2 is cut 6 "


Block layout 10 x 14
Finished size 77" x 101"
No. of Blocks (140):
(70) Snowball
(70) Nine-Patch

Border #1 is cut 2 "
Border #2 is cut 6 "


Block layout 12 x 14
Finished size 89" x 101"
No. of Blocks (168):
(84) Snowball
(84) Nine-Patch

Border #1 is cut 2 "
Border #2 is cut 6 "