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Awash With Color Mystery Sampler -- Block 5

Greetings! Our skill-building Awash With Color Mystery Sampler continues to get a great response from our readers. In this update you will find the block pattern and tutorial for Block No. 5, Snail Trail. We are well on our way to a beautiful quilt, but it's not too late to play catch-up if you would like to make this mystery sampler quilt. You can find all the past block patterns on the Quilter's World website in the past updates. Just click on the "Select an Issue" pull-down menu at the top of this page and select the update issue you need. I designed this mystery sampler, Awash With Color, not only as a fun project but also to be a great scrap and stash buster. So, I hope you'll play along with us, build up your skills and, in the process, use some of your favorite fabrics all while making a lovely quilt.

Let me introduce myself: I'm Carolyn Vagts, editor of Quilter's World magazine and writer of this update. That's my day job, and at night, I'm an addicted quilter. I tend to eat, breathe and sometimes sleep with my quilting. I have a beautiful studio with my work space right in it. How convenient, since I work at and with quilting. As editor, I am very hands-on with every issue. I'm also very hands-on with this update. I love to share my thoughts, inspiration and my experiences with other quilters in hopes to inspire them on to another project.

With each update I select a book or pattern to accompany it. While we're working on the Awash With Color Mystery Sampler for the next few months, I will continue to suggest patterns and sometimes books I feel will be of value to anyone who wants to improve her or his quilting skills. This time I'm suggesting Color Burst Baby Quilt, a downloadable pattern that I feel goes along with Block No. 5. It is a great pattern to work on your piecing skills while at the same time make a lovely gift for someone special.

Color Burst Baby Quilt
The Color Burst Baby Quilt pattern can be purchased at AnniesCraftStore.com.

For the fifth block in this mystery sampler series, Snail Trail, you will need your chosen background fabric (mine is black) and two other contrasting fabrics. This might be a good time to look over your previous blocks to see if you like the colors you've chosen so far. You may find you need to add some more contrast, or possibly, you may want to change the direction you are going. Now is the time to consider what you've already used and what you may want to use next to make it all come together.

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Diagram of Block No. 5 -- Snail Trail. Make three blocks.

Cutting List for Block No. 5 -- Snail Trail

(Makes three blocks)

From the background (black) fabric cut:
  • 3 (6 7/8-inch) A squares, then cut once diagonally (HST)
  • 3 (3 7/8-inch) B squares, then cut once diagonally (HST)
  • 2 (7 1/4-inch) C squares, then cut twice diagonally (QST); discard 2
  • 6 (2 5/8-inch) D squares

From aqua cut:

  • 2 (6 7/8-inch) A squares, then cut once diagonally (HST); discard 1
  • 2 (3 7/8-inch) B squares, then cut once diagonally (HST); discard 1
  • 1 (7 1/4-inch) C squares, then cut twice diagonally (QST); discard 1
  • 3 (2 5/8-inch) D squares

From lime green cut:

  • 2 (6 7/8-inch) A squares, then cut once diagonally (HST); discard 1
  • 2 (3 7/8-inch) B squares, then cut once diagonally (HST); discard 1
  • 1 (7 1/4-inch) C squares, then cut twice diagonally (QST); discard 1
  • 3 (2 5/8-inch) D squares

Notes: You can easily substitute your color choices. The only one I would suggest you should keep the same all the way through the Mystery Sampler is the background fabric. All the rest can and should be pulled from your stash if possible.

HST is the abbreviation for Half-Square Triangle. QST is the abbreviation for Quarter-Square Triangle.

In the case where there are more triangles cut than needed for this block, set aside the extras for another project. Saving all your scrap pieces from each of the blocks is a really good idea. You may want to use those pieces in one of the upcoming blocks to help pull all the colors in the quilt together, or you might possibly use them in a border or binding.

I laid out my finished blocks from previous updates and made the decision to go with aqua and lime green for my contrasting colors this time. These were a nice addition to the colors I had already chosen and in keeping with my plan to use scraps.

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My chosen fabrics for Block 5, Snail Trail, and cutting out the needed pieces.

I cut out the pieces I needed from the cutting list for the three blocks. I was then ready to begin making my first Snail Trail block.

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Cutting the aqua QSTs (Photo 1) and all the pieces ready to begin piecing the Snail Trail blocks (Photo 2).

The first thing to do was make the four-patch unit for the center of each block. I stitched one aqua D square to one black D square then repeated using one each black and green D square. I made three units of each. I pressed these and then stitched one aqua/black D unit to one black/green D unit to make a four-patch as shown in Photo 3. I pressed the four-patch units and laid them out with the B triangles for the next round to be added.

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Making the center four-patch unit (Photo 3) and preparing to add the first round of triangles using the B HSTs (Photo 4).

With the center four-patch unit ready and the B triangles laid out (Photo 4), I first pinned the aqua B HST on top and made sure that the triangle point was lined up with the center seam of the four-patch unit. You can either mark the triangle's center with a water-soluble pen or fold and finger-press each triangle in half to find the center. This will keep your piecing centered and make it easier to square up each round on this block. After the aqua B HST was stitched in place, I repeated to add the green B HST to the opposite side of the four-patch and then pressed both triangles open. I then added a black B HST to the two remaining sides in the same manner. Then I trimmed off the dog ears and squared up each of the units.

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Adding the B HST round to a four-patch unit (Photos 5 and 6).

Oops! Do you notice anything wrong in Photos 7 and 8? I stitched all of the second round of black, aqua and green C QSTs in the wrong direction. So, it was time for a break and a cup of coffee along with my trusty seam ripper. It happens to us all now and then, so don't despair when you make a mistake. Sometimes it's best to take a step back for a short time to get over your frustration before continuing. But just because you've made a mistake is no reason not to continue. Be brave and carry on!

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With the second row of C QSTs added in the wrong direction (Photos 7 and 8), I had to use my seam ripper. Do not repeat this mistake!

With all of the second round of piecing removed and pressed again, I laid out the second round yet again. There's nothing like "unstitching." Even so, God bless the person who invented the seam ripper! Even the best of us make mistakes; at least I caught it before I put it in the quilt top. This time I made sure the triangles were placed correctly before I began to stitch again.

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The second round of C QSTs added in the right position (Photos 9 and 10).

After I laid out the third and final round of A HSTs, I double-checked to make sure I had placed them correctly. Only then did I begin to stitch them into place. I stitched the aqua and green A HSTs into place first and then the two black A HSTs.

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Laying out the third and last round of A HSTs to complete the block (Photos 11 and 12).

Once all of the round three triangles were in place and pressed, I squared up my block to 12 1/2 inches and trimmed of the dog ears. Snail Trail blocks are not so hard if you pay attention to the direction and placement of each round. Now to finish the other two blocks!

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One completed Snail Trail block (Photo 13). Two more to make!

OK! We have finished the fifth block in this mystery sampler. I hope you are enjoying this skill-builder quilt. I know I am!

Please let me know how you feel about participating or if you have any suggestions for how to present the instructions. I'd love to hear from you at Editor@QuiltersWorld.com.

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