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How to make a snowball block from a 5″ charm square


Yesterday on QUILTsocial I talked about the different precuts that are available to quilters and a little bit about how to use each of them. Today I’m using the Dreamweaver XE to sew some of my 5″ charm squares into snowball blocks.


The Dreamweaver XE
The Dreamweaver XE


The first thing to do when working with precuts is to measure them to see how accurately they are cut. If you’re only sewing the precuts to each other then this step doesn’t matter that much, but when sewing them to other fabrics that you cut yourself, then you need to make sure that they are accurately sized. As you can see from the picture below, my charm squares are a smidge larger than 5″. I’ll trim the charm pack squares to exactly 5″ to ensure that my piecing is accurate.


Measure and trim.
Measure and trim.


After trimming, I’ll cut my 5″ charm square into four 2½” squares.


Cut into 2½” squares
Cut into 2½” squares


Last month I made a diamond quilt with this gray fabric as the main color and had quite a few triangular pieces left over. I’d like to use it up, and cut 2½” and 6½” squares from these leftover pieces. Set the 2½” squares aside for now – these will be used on Friday.

If you want to use yardage for your snowball blocks instead of leftovers, just cut strips 6½” across the width of fabric and then sub-cut into 6½” squares.


Using up leftovers
Using up leftovers


Here are my piles of 6½” and 2½” squares.


6½” and 2½” squares of background fabric
6½” and 2½” squares of background fabric


Assembling the snowball block

The 2½” squares that were cut from the charm squares are placed on the corners of the 6½” square of gray background fabric.


Placement of the 2½” squares
Placement of the 2½” squares


Now we need to get the Dreamweaver XE set up for sewing. Select the ‘Sewing’ button on the opening screen.


Select 'Sewing'
Select ‘Sewing’


The sewing stitch selection screen shows up on the screen. We want to select 1-03 “Straight stitch – middle”. Once pressed, this button turns blue to show that it’s engaged.


Select "Straight stitch - middle"
Select “Straight stitch – middle”


Now, the “magic”!! Press the “Guideline Marker” key on the Dreamweaver XE to activate the laser pointer.


Press 'Guideline Marker' key
Press ‘Guideline Marker’ key


The screen on the Dreamweaver XE shows that the guideline marker is aligned with the stitching line of the selected stitch. The laser will show us exactly where the machine is going to stitch!


Guideline marker aligned with stitching line
Guideline marker aligned with stitching line


Now we just have to line the laser up across the diagonal of each small square and sew!! No marking needed – isn’t that a great timesaver?


Sew along the diagonal
Sew along the diagonal


Now sew along the diagonal of the remaining three corner squares with the Dreamweaver XE.


Sew all four corners.
Sew all four corners.


Usually, when you use this method to make a snowball block you just trim away the excess fabric and throw it away but I HATE wasting fabric, so tomorrow I’ll show you how to use the laser pointer on the Dreamweaver XE to make ‘no-waste’ snowball blocks. Sew up a few more blocks like we’ve done above and tomorrow we finish them off.


This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: Taking the mystery out of precuts

I have been designing and publishing quilt patterns for the last 16 years under the business name Fairfield Road Designs. My patterns range from fusible applique and piecing to felted wool applique and punchneedle. You can see all of patterns on my website


  1. Peggy Pirillo

    I have to say the laser on this machine, is a pretty darn cool idea!

    • It IS Peggy! And lots of the different Brother machines have one. It’s SO helpful.

  2. Linda

    Great Snowball tutorial! Charm squares make this a breeze.

    • Thanks Linda! Wait till you see the finished quilt next month!

  3. Anna brown

    Very cool tyty for the tutorial. ….great job…

  4. Linda Cartwright

    I need to find one of those lasers.

    • Check out the Brother website – lots of their machines come with them now. I just LOVE it!

  5. Rhona

    Beautiful machine, and the laser I need that in my life!

    • I think you need one too Rhona! The more I use it, the more I think of new ways to use it!

  6. Karen Addleman

    Thanks for the great tutorial on the snowball block.

    • Thanks Karen – I’m glad that you found the tutorial useful!

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