Wednesday, July 4, 2012

WIP - Polaroids and Old Italian progress

White trimmed and ready for gray

EDIT: If you are reading this post as part of the Perfect Picture Polaroid Swap  or Say Cheese Swap - I've noted below where to stop as they are mailed with the white UNTRIMMED - feel free however to scroll down further for suggestions on what to do with your blocks once received and to leave me a comment - do you own a Polaroid picture and if so what is it a photo of?

I know each month I go on and on about what great choices the gals at F+F=AMSB have in blocks but it's TRUE!  Ever since the Polaroid blocks started popping up on flickr I've been drooling and thanks to Nicole I got to make some. These were the links given to the group: Paper piecing tutorial by My Crafty Crap, this post from Rachel from Stitched in Color , and of course the wonderfully talented Little Miss Shabby. For more inspiration, check out Debbie's flickrdeb50's gallery.
At our July SBAMQG meeting I brought them to share - big hit - and one of the ladies asked about how I made them.  A few were paper pieced but most were made using a modified method of Rachel's instructions so as well as providing the links to her, I explained the chain piecing steps I used and thought I'd share them with you all.
use a template made of cardboard to help fussycut
2.5" x 2.5" cut size and once sewn in only 2" will show
  • Fussy Cut 2.5"x 2.5" squares of feature fabric.
  • Cut the white WOF 1" for SIDES and TOP sashing and 1.5" for the BOTTOM but do not sub-cut, just leave them long.
1" WOF cut for sides & top
1.5 " WOF for bottom
  • Place the 2.5" fussy cut center face down on the 1" WOF white strip and chain piece all the centers on the left side, ironed towards the white then cut the strip apart by lining up the ruler to the center square. (I found my small square ruler more manageable for this than the long one)
  • Repeat these steps for the right side.
  • As you can see, at first I didn't pile my stack oriented the correct direction but later decided it was helpful to streamline the process.
  • 1" WOF can be kind of wiggly so I used medium speed and my start and stop button between placement of the next square.  

Set Press the stitch line

  • Take care while you are pressing to be sure the strip does not warp.  Setting the seam line first is another step but worth the time.
  • When trimming the white from the sides, use the fussy cut square to line up the ruler. 
Press out & Keep it straight

  •  Repeat these steps for the TOP, however for the top when you cut the strip apart you can just freehand it since the white is trimmed down and that cut isn't critical.  (see pictures below)

sides on and trimmed
chain stitch the top white
cut apart freehand - no ruler - no worries
  • For the bottom I chain pieced a WOF 1 1/2" white strip, ironed towards the white and freehand cut them apart. It's important that the center measure a nice straight square 2" sewn in but the white edges will be trimmed so don't waste time making them uniform.

White attached and untrimmed
  • To trim them correctly I used as a point of reference the stitch line of the center square which is now 2" sewn in  and trimmed them to 3"x3 1/2". I found it easiest to trim the bottom last.

  • For the gray, I cut WOF 2 1/2" (you might get away with 2") again chain piecing but this time I attached them clockwise: bottom, left, top, right because I think they attach to one another better with less bulk.  I also ironed out towards the gray.
12.5x12.5 block
  • I used a small square ruler to cut them 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" and played around with tipping them slightly keeping in mind to leave the 1/4 seam allowance and to not get too close to the white when sewn in. 
  • Using my 12.5x12.5 ruler I made sure that the final block squared up and was true to size - which it was - yeah!
Mixed with 4.5" solid gray squares

Nicole asked for the second block to be mixed with shades of gray and the number of Polaroids of four or more - so I picked 7 to feature the mermaid.

Not to get all mushy and sentimental, but making these blocks brought to mind an actual Polaroid of my hubby and I taken when we first met.  It measures 3.5" square which might be an interesting alternative size to sew them. 

My Favorite Polaroid - early '80's

Pulling, Ironing, Cutting...

My friend came by and helped me pull lights/mediums to go with the dark batiks for the Old Italian block wedding quilt. Things are always more fun when you do them together and she's got such an artful eye.  The stack is HUGE and the ironing and cutting slow but here's my progress:
Didn't even make a dent in my stash...hhmm
Just a portion of the pull

Old Italian block parts
Happy 4th of July. Linking up to Jess also known as SewCraftyJess who is this week's guest blogger for WIP at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Weekly Status Update:

MQG/Quiltcon Block Challenge (all done and mailed)
F+F=AMSB Polaroid blocks (done & need to mail)
Wedding Quilt - Old Italian block (some progress)
Alpaca Pillow (no progress)
Swoon (no progress)
Not your Granny's Bee (no progress)

If you've stopped by - thank you - please let me know by leaving a comment:


  1. Thanks! I love those poloroid blocks, though I don't have many prints fussy-cut-worthy....maybe some day!

  2. Aren't you clever with your time saving tricks, while stitching together your polaroids! They are very cute!

  3. Love how you have done the polaroid blocks = great idea!

  4. Those polaroid blocks are cute, the horse is my Favorite . I looked back at some posts and I love the weave star block you did.

  5. Love these polaroids!! Thanks for linking up and the tute :-)

  6. Great tute for the polaroid blocks, Karen! What a great idea to chain piece them all. Thanks again for the blocks you made. I love them!!

  7. Ok seriously the best part is the polaroid from the 80s but your tutorial is great too :)

  8. Your polaroids are so much fun!!! What a great way to show off favourite fabric details.

  9. I'm catching up, having been away from my computer for 10 days, and there's so much to see! I love your polaroids, and wish I could jump on the bandwagon. I must stick to my resolution to not join any more groups for the summer; I'm not home enough! (Love the sweet polaroid of you and your husband, so cute!)

  10. Okay, I'm hooked. Just signed up for Debbie's swap on Flickr, and after dinner roared through about 60 of these Polaroids. Need to go and adjust my numbers after I get them all pressed, but boy! am I having fun!!

    Thanks for the tutorial--
    Elizabeth E.

  11. Had never seen them prior to your post, but they are beautiful!

  12. Kristy of Quiet Play sent me over. Thanks for a great tutorial. My first batch of polaroids is now done and dusted, second batch is half made!

  13. I came over here because of Kristy at Quiet Play too. Your process makes making the Polaroid blocks a piece of cake! I love making them. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  14. Hope you don't mind, but I've pinned this for future reference to make an I Spy quilt. They look so effective and not too hard to do. I have some Polaroids from my wedding.

  15. Love your tutorial and your blog.! We plan to use it in Flickr to make Bitty Blocks to swap (hope this is ok, if not tell me and I'll drop the link right away!) We are here: . I think I will use the blocks I receive in an I Spy quilt too. Plus maybe doing some blocks in just Halloween fabrics for fun.

  16. thanks for the great tutorial! These are such fun blocks (:

  17. Hi! I stopped by from the KCMQG blog to see your process. I never had a poloraid camera, but I love your blocks!

  18. Chain piecing! of course!! I have some mendocino fabric and some other really cute fabrics I want to fussy cut and this polaroid quilt will be perfect!

  19. Just made a name tag for my guild (RIMQG) using your Polaroid tips... Thanks! I posted it to instagram if you'd like to see :) I'm @taracceleste

  20. Your tutorial for the chain piecing is very helpful! Love your blocks and thank you for the great tips!

  21. I loved your tutorial!!! I looked through so many posts to find a good way to put them together, and your post was my favorite. Here's the one I made

  22. Here it is 10 years later and I am finally getting to sewing mine together from the swap!!!!


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