Let's Dance snail trail quilt top finished

The Tale of the Snail Trail

In 2016, Quilt Projects by S Adams

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I’d had a Snail Trail quilt on my bucket list for some time.  I also had some “challenge” fabric that had been lingering for a while.  The combination was irresistible.  The challenge fabric was a gorgeous batik that Sally, Jackie and I all picked up at the NW Quilting Expo a few years back.  Sally of course had her challenge quilt done within a few weeks.  I took years to finish mine and Jackie hasn’t started.  All quilts in their own time… 🙂


I had two snail trail patterns to choose between.  One called Let’s Dance had the center of each block “on point” like a diamond, and the other called Romantic Trails had the center of each block oriented as a square.  I liked the square orientation because the center square was all one piece, so less sewing.  But I really liked the look of the “on point” blocks, so I ended up using that pattern.  I briefly toyed with trying to adjust the “on point” pattern to have an uncut center square, but gave up when it came to sizing the partial blocks on the outside edges.  I figured the pattern was already complicated enough.

One of the hardest parts of this quilt was deciding the layout of the colors ahead of time.  It’s not one of those quilts where you can make some blocks and then arrange them however you want, because they are all interconnected.  So I spent a lot of time on the computer doing mockups.  First I had to make my own graph paper in PowerPoint using the outline of a single snail trail block I found online.  Then I started coloring in each block.  After settling on a color arrangement I finally got around to cutting and piecing.


It went pretty fast, as long as I stayed organized.  When I finally got all the blocks on the design wall correctly, I was pretty darned happy!  The inner border was quick and used up my last yellow batik.

Then I started on my outer borders made from the challenge fabric.  I was in for an unhappy surprise.  When I opened up the fabric to iron it there was some kind of gunk that I assume was leftover wax from the batik manufacturing process inside the fold, covering large parts of the fabric.  I tried washing a section to see if it would come off, but no luck.  None of my other fabrics had been prewashed so that probably wouldn’t have worked too well anyway.  In the end I had to cut out and throw away the bad sections and make my outer border a tiny bit smaller.  But the top came out fine and I was thankful that I had purchased extra fabric.

The finished top, with some very fluffy rose colored minky backing, went off to Karen for longarming.  We chose the pantograph Good Vibrations #1 because the simple pattern didn’t fight too much with the very busy pieced pattern.  When the quilt was done, I washed the whole thing in synthrapol and was very impressed.  There was absolutely no bleeding, even from the dark purple into the adjacent light yellow.  I was so relieved!  I shipped the finished quilt off to my dear friend ScubaBabe Jean with some Shout Color Catchers for future washings.

So the learning continues!

  1. Always check your fabric for rips, tears, snags, stains, or any other unwanted blemishes before you have it cut.  Or at the very least check it before you leave the store.
  2. Buy extra fabric.  Like I need an excuse.  😉
  3. I’ve stocked up on synthrapol.  I was really pleased with the results.  I was just sure that the dark purple would bleed onto the light yellow, but it didn’t at all!

The Project Photos


The Project Details…

Pieced By: Me
Piecing Done: December 2015
Quilted By: Karen Walker
Quilting Done: March 2016
Pattern: Let’s Dance” by Bea Lee, Fons and Porter’s Easy Quilts Summer 2015
Fabric Line: Various batiks
Size: 50 x 70 1/2 inches
For: ScubaBabe Jean
Occasion: Nothing in particular!