The Snail's Tail
The Snail's Tail is another well-known
block that is great for beginners. It is a great block to
practice your math, as it has three rounds of
This block gets it's
"personality" from the placement of the color. It looks a lot
more difficult than it is. It is just
Let's begin with the
4-patch in the center.
Cut the squares for this patch 2-inches. Sew the top row and the bottom
row together. Then sew the horizontal seam.
4-patch lesson, we
pressed the seam in one direction. However, in a patch this small (it will
finish at 3 1/2 inches), there is just too much bulk pressing the seams in one
you learned about pressing seams open when there is too much bulk.
However, there is another way to handle this.
You can press half the seam one way, and half the other
way. In the picture you are looking at the back of the 4-Patch. The
horizontal seam on the right has been pressed down. The seam on the left has been
In order to do this, you have to rip out
about three stitches. (Sometimes you can gently pull on the fabric to remove
them). You are not removing any stitches from the horizontal seam.
The three stitches you remove are below the
horizontal seam, and were part of the vertical seam that connected the bottom
row. These stitches were crossed with the horizontal seam, and are no
longer necessary. If you remove them, you can split the horizontal seam to
it is just a matter of adding
Half Square Triangles
to the sides, trimming , and adding more.
There are three rounds. The dark and light colors will
always be placed opposite each other on the square.
Next you need to figure out how big to
make the squares that you are going to cut in half for the
Half Square Triangles.
To review the math- the first square finishes at
3 1/2 inches. To find the length of the long side (the bias hypotenuse),
you just divide 3 1/2 inches by 1.4142. When you do that, you get 2.47.
We are working with a raw block, so we just
add another 3/8 inch for the seam ( or .375). This measurement ends up at
2.85. You can round off that number (higher), since you will be trimming after
So cut your
squares for this round
at 3 inches. You will need one White Square and one Batik Square.
You will cut them in half diagonally for your triangles.
When you put your triangles on the 4-Patch,
be sure that they align so that the points meet, as depicted in the
picture above. Sew both sides, and then press them, pressing away from the
Here is how your square will look after the first
round. Your 4-patch
squares should meet in the center, but notice the black line also. There
are two square points you must watch on every round to make sure you have the
1/4 inch space from the top of the square to the fabric edge.
Trim your block after
each round so that it is even, being careful to leave the
1/4 inch at the two square points.
Now it is time to add another around of
Half Square Triangles.
We need to do math again. Measure the side of the square. It should
be approximately 4 1/2 inches. (Yes, I did say approximately!)
You are going to be trimming, so you don't
have to be exact.
4 1/4 inches divided by 1.4142 is equal to
3.18. Add your 3/8 or an inch, and you have 3.56. So a good size for your
square is 3.75 or 3 3/4 inches.
Cut these squares diagonally, and go around
the block again same as the last round.
For the final round, again
measure your square and do the math. (I'm going to let you
figure it out this time). Just be sure and add the triangles
to the correct side.
You are done....and hopefully
by now you are a "triangle expert" .