Thursday, February 22, 2018

Free Block of the Month 6: Snail

February has flown by, and I can't believe that we are already on Block 6! This month's block is the common garden snail, or Schnecke, here in Germany. While I wouldn't want these critters in my garden, they are interesting to look at while hiking in the woods. I saw the two below while walking with the dogs this past summer.

At a restaurant in France this past weekend, I was tempted to order the Escargot on the menu, but I wasn't brave enough. In the German bakeries, you can usually find a "Schnecke" pastry, which is definitely more my speed. Stitching a snail is less calories than eating one, so today we offer a calorie-free Schnecke just for you.

Cotton Block

This block goes together quickly, and you can do as much or as little embroidery as you want. I started by gathering my fabrics, which included a piece of gold shot cotton, and a brown hand-dyed cotton, along with a few threads I thought I might use. You might notice that the brown isn't pictured. Apparently, while I was in France last weekend, the gremlin that lives in my sewing room hid that piece of fabric. I'm sure I will find it someday, but after searching for 20 minutes, its presence eluded me.

The body was back-basted and appliquéd first, followed by the shell. Before I finished appliquéing the shell, I left about an inch gap and carefully inserted a small circle of batting and a little stuffing. This gave the shell a little dimension.

Once I was pleased with the stuffing, I appliquéd the shell closed. The next step was to stitch the shell swirl. I marked my embroidery lines and used a stem stitch, making sure I brought my needle through the background to help shape the shell swirls. For his antennae, I made two chain-stitched lines and added two French knots at the top. (Only two French knots this month!)

I used my Sewline Trio to mark my embroidery line.
All stitched, but I felt he needed something more.

I thought he looked fine just with the stem stitch, but then I came across some brown straw silk that I thought would add a nice texture on the shell.

The finished cotton block

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Weeks Dyeworks floss, Rust: stem stitch and French knots
The Gentle Art floss, Chamomile: chain stitch
Silk Road Fibers, straw silk, Whiskey: straight stitch

Wool Block

The wool block went together quickly as well, and I kept to the same color scheme with a brown and tan wool. With the hand-dyed brown, I tried to find a spot that had a good variety of brown shades.

When I cut out my templates for wool appliqué, I print out my pattern, and with a glue stick, I glue the pattern to a piece of freezer paper. Then I cut out the pieces I need, and they are ready to be ironed on to the wool. If you have 8.5" x 11" freezer paper that you can run through the printer, that would save a step. (Make sure you use an ink jet printer if you choose to print the pattern directly onto the freezer paper.) Once my pieces are stitched on to the background, I traced the shell swirl onto a piece of Press and Seal with a white roller ball pen. I then put the Press and Seal onto the shell and used a #12 pearl cotton thread to blanket stitch the swirl.

Ready to stitch

The seed stitch is one of my favorite stitches to add texture to a flat piece, so I used it on the snail's body with two strands of floss. The antennae are done with a chain stitch, and then topped with two French knots.

The finished wool block!

Stitches and Threads Used (Wool Block)

The Gentle Art floss, Chamomile: chain stitch and seed stitch
Weeks Dyeworks #12 pearl cotton, Tiger's Eye: blanket stitch
Weeks Dyeworks floss, Rust: stem stitch and French knots

As this is posted, I will be in the air, on my way to the states to teach with Teri at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, Virginia. We wanted to make sure that you had this month's block, so Teri has posted it on my behalf. Hopefully, you will enjoy stitching this simple snail to add to your collection of blocks in this series. Better to stitch him than to find him in your garden! 

You can download the Snail HERE.

To see the other blocks in our Stitch-Along:


  1. Love both versions. I really should do this block since I feel like quilting is at a snail's pace this month. Thanks for sharing your fabulous work!

    1. Thank you! So glad you like it! Sometimes we have those slow stitching times.