The Snail's Trail Quilt Pattern
The snail's trail is a popular quilt pattern that has a modern flair and tons of movement. It's a fun project and a bit of a challenge. Each block has a spiral pattern that can be a little tricky to construct, but once you get the hang of it, each subsequent block is easier.
This version is sewn in a neutral theme, but the quilt can be constructed with any fabrics you choose. Don't hesitate to add extra colors or to make a scrap quilt with the pattern.
Quilt Size and Blocks
As written, the size of the snail's trail quilt pattern is 70 inches by 77 inches.
One of the components is measured in sixteenths of an inch—not a size that can be rotary cut with absolute accuracy. The patches are not difficult to estimate, and estimates will work just fine. However, you can also download an optional cutting guide to tape to a rotary ruler.
Snail's trail quilt blocks can also be foundation pieced. That can be a good option for miniature quilt blocks but is probably not worth the trouble for the 9-inch version in this quilt pattern.
Light Neutral and Darker Neutral for Quilt Blocks: 2 yards of each fabric
- Dark Inner Border: 5/8 yard
- Outer Border: 1 1/4 yard
The outer border illustrated is the same fabric used in quilt blocks. Change this if you wish.
- Backing: 4 1/2 yards
- Batting: About 80 inches by 87 inches
- Binding: About 315 running inches of double fold binding
Cutting the Blocks
As with any quilt, start by making a sample block before you cut all the patches needed for the quilt.
Cut from each of your two contrasting fabrics:
- Three 1 5/8-inch wide strips, cut from selvage to selvage
- One 1 5/8- by 16-inch strip
- Three 2 1/2-inch wide strips cut from selvage to selvage; cut (42) 2 1/2-inch squares from these strips
- Three 3 1/8-inch wide strips cut from selvage to selvage; cut (42) 3 1/8-inch squares from these strips
- Four 4 1/16-inch wide strips cut from selvage to selvage; cut (42) 4 1/16-inch squares from these strips (estimate the size or use an optional cutting guide)
- Six 5 3/8-inch wide strips cut from selvage to selvage; cut (42) 5 3/8-inch squares from these strips (you might need an additional cut if the fabric is narrower than normal)
You may need to cut a few squares from remaining fabric to reach a total of 42 for each size and color.
Cut each square in half once diagonally.
Make the Quilt Blocks
Make Four-Patch Block Centers
Refer to the diagram as you assemble the quilt block.
- Sew a 1 5/8- by 42-inch light strip lengthwise to a dark strip of the same size. Press the seam allowance towards the dark strip.
- Square up one end of the strip set and cut (25) 1 5/8-inch segments.
- Combine remaining like-sized 1 5/8-inch wide strips to make a total of 84 segments.
- Make a four-patch unit by sewing two segments together, placing like colors diagonally from each other. Press. If the patches are bulky, try fanning out the seam allowances when you press.
Make 42 four-patch units total.
Finish Assembling the Snail's Trail Quilt Block
The triangles increase in size around the center. Speed up assembly by chain piecing one triangle position at a time once you've become accustomed to the sewing order.
Fold triangles in half to find the midpoint along their longest edge. Match the midpoint to the midpoint of the patchwork it is matched to.
- Sew a light triangle cut from 2 1/2-inch squares to opposite sides of the four-patch center, orienting it as shown. Press seam allowances towards triangles.
- Add dark triangles of the same size to the remaining four-patch edges. Press.
- Continue adding triangles in pairs around the block, working from smaller to larger triangles and referring to the diagram for placement.
- Your block should measure 9 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches. If it doesn't, press and remeasure. If it still isn't quite right, inspect the block, looking for inconsistencies in sewing. Adjust for the next block.
Make a total of 42 snail's trail quilt blocks.
Assemble the Quilt
- Assemble the snail's trail quilt by placing the blocks in seven horizontal rows. Each row contains six quilt blocks as shown. Use the diagram to help you align the blocks to create a larger "O" of like colors where the quilt blocks join.
- Sew blocks in each row together. Press the seams between blocks in opposite directions from row to row and join the rows, matching all seams carefully. Press the quilt.
- Add straight borders to the quilt. Make the inner border from 3 1/2-inch wide strips cut from dark border fabric. Make the outer border from 5 1/2-inch wide strips. Use the straight border instructions to construct the borders and sew them to the quilt. Don't be tempted to make borders that match the measurements along the sides of your quilt—the edges are likely skewed a bit.
- Press the quilt and mark for quilting if necessary. Sandwich the quilt with batting and backing. Quilt by hand or machine. Trim excess batting and backing and square edges slightly if necessary. Sew binding strips around the quilt edges.