Monday, December 19, 2011

Polaroid quilt block

Polaroid test block

I can't claim the original idea for this block, that stroke of genius goes to Corey from Little Miss Shabby, but I can share my method for making this sort of block. Once you get the hang of it, it's really quite quick & easy to put together, not to mention addicting!

First of all, if you want accurate & consistent ¼" white borders around the center picture, I recommend using paper piecing. I've put together this template if you'd like to use it. It includes four templates, I just cut them into individual pieces & work on each separately. The background isn't marked since you can make it any size you would like.

For each Polaroid, you'll need one 2 ½" x 2 ½" picture, three 1" x 3 ½" white strips, & one 1 ½" x 3 ½" white strip, plus your background fabric.

So start out with one square from your template. If you've never paper pieced before, we're going to be doing a very easy version of it here. This block could easily be done without paper piecing, but I prefer it to get a consistent border around the picture.


The first thing you want to find is your center "picture" portion of the block. You will end up with a 2" x 2" square visible. I've cut a little template out of a scrap piece of paper. The "window" is 2" x 2" & the whole square is 2 ½" x 2 ½". This way I can see what will show & since I'm using a lot of scrap pieces, I can easily tell if they are big enough.


You can also easily play around with the placement of the part that will show before cutting anything. Then just use it as a cutting guide to cut your 2 ½" square.

Next you want to line up your square on the back side of your sewing template in area 1. So one side of your template should have your lines that you'll sew on, the other side will have your fabric right side up. I like to hold my fabric & template up to the window or a light to make sure it's centered & I have enough overlap for my seam allowances.


You can see I've cut this square bigger than 2 ½", which is fine. You just don't want to go smaller.

Now lay your first 1" white strip on the fabric side of your template in area 2. You'll be sewing on the line between 1 & 2, so again hold it up to the light to make sure you have it positioned correctly.


If your fabric had a right & wrong side, you would want it & your center block right sides together, but since this white has no right or wrong side, it's much easier.

Flip your block over to the printed side & make sure you have everything pinned in place so it doesn't shift while you are sewing it.


Make sure to turn your stitch length way down, it will better perforate your paper which will help make it easier to tear off later. If you forget (I have a time or two!), it's not the end of the world, but your paper will be harder to remove without pulling on your stitches too much. My normal stitch length is 2.5, so I go down to 1.4.


Like I said before, you'll be sewing that line between areas 1 & 2. I do like to backstitch a couple stitches at the beginning & end of each line.


Turn it over & make sure your fabrics didn't shift or fold & get caught in the stitching (happens to me all the time!). Then trim the allowance down to about ¼". It doesn't have to be exact.

Before trimming

After trimming

Next we will do the same process for the 1" white strip in area 3. Unlike most paper piecing patterns where you would sew a line between 2 & 3, they don't touch on this template, so sew on the line between 1 & 3.


Finger press both seams, then pin (from the printed side) in place to make sure they don't shift while you sew on piece 4.


Piece 4 is the last 1" strip, sewn along the top where 4 meets 2, 1, & 3.


Once again, finger press 2 & 3, then pin in place where they meet piece 5 (1 ½" white strip).



This time you'll be sewing along the bottom, where 5 meets 2, 1, & 3.


Make sure you're still trimming your seam allowances.


Finger press pieces 4 & 5. Sorry this is difficult to see, white fabric on white paper doesn't photograph well!


Now you'll start adding your background pieces. You can easily do this the same way you would do a log cabin, or any border of your choice, but I recommend still using the template since you want to keep that nice ¼" white border. Draw your lines directly onto the template for the background pieces.


Then number them if you need. I originally numbered these backwards (oops!), so ignore those crossed out numbers.


Here's a better (and easier) arrangement that works the top & bottom first, then left & right.


Sew along each line to add your background pieces, finger pressing & pinning overlapping seams as you go. If you don't finger press and/or pin your pieces as you go, they can easily get tucked in a bit & mess up your white border.

Here it is with the full border. I didn't bother trimming it, since I would trim it after adding it to the other blocks. I also didn't worry about making sure my border pieces are the same size since I want my blocks to have varied borders, but you could make them all the same size if you prefer.


If you look close, you can see on the lower left of the Polaroid where my grey got tucked in just a bit because I didn't pin it in place, so my white isn't a perfectly straight line. This time wasn't terrible, but do be careful!

Another thing to watch out for is where you sew on the lines. Try to be consistent, whether you sew down the middle of the line, or on one side or the other doesn't really matter as long as you're consistent. Here you can see I veered from one side clear to the other between areas 2 & 8.


On some paper piecing projects this won't make much of a difference, but with only ¼" of the white showing, it's pretty obvious. See how it flares out at the bottom here?


In the grand scheme of things, it shouldn't be too obvious mixed in on an entire quilt, but it's definitely something to look out for!

Once you've got multiple photo blocks put together, it's time to sew them together into bigger blocks.

Polaroid test block

Have fun with the arrangement of your pictures. You could group similar ones together like I did here, or go totally random & scrappy. Maybe you could use the pictures to tell a story. It's also a fun alternative way of making an I-spy quilt.

I've created a Flickr group for any projects you've made from my tutorials, so I'd love to see the blocks you make!

Until next time...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Just a quick little note to announce the winner of the Sew Mama Sew giveaway. First of all, thanks to everybody who entered! I'm sorry I wasn't respond to all your comments, but I enjoyed reading each & every one of them.

And now, what I know you're all here to see:


Congrats Tiffany!


I'll be sending you an e-mail shortly.  If I don't hear back from Tiffany by Tuesday, I'll be drawing for another winner.  

Thanks again to everybody who entered. 

Things are probably going to be pretty quiet around here through the holidays.  I hope you all have a very happy holiday season, and get to spend some time with your friends & family!

Until next time...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Don't forget...

Don't forget, you've got just a little over an hour left (sorry, I completely forgot to put up a reminder earlier today) to enter for your chance to win this coin purse!

Dec Giveaway Day

In fact, since I did forget, I'll go ahead & leave the entries open until midnight tonight.  So head over to enter.  Remember you can enter as many times as you like, as long as someone else is asking/answering questions too.  Oh, and please make sure you're looking at the newest comments for the most recent question.  There have been a lot of answers to the last question on page one!

Until next time...

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Giveaway Day!

Woo-hoo! It's December Giveaway Day over at Sew, Mama, Sew! I had so much fun this spring, I just had to participate again.

I know there are a ton of giveaways to enter, so I'll keep this short & sweet. Enter for your chance to win this sweet little coin purse.

Dec Giveaway Day

Dec Giveaway Day

Dec Giveaway Day

I do hope you'll come back & take a look around once you've finished entering all the other giveaways. Later this week I'll be sharing a tutorial for this fun quilt block. Update: tutorial is finished & can be found here!

Polaroid block

And this spring we'll be picking up on the Amy Butler Style Stitches Sew Along to finish up the last three patterns in the book. I hope you can join in!

For entries, I really enjoyed the question game from this spring, so I'm going to do the same thing again. Each person must answer the question from the comment before them, and ask the next question. You may answer & enter as many times as you like, except you cannot answer your own questions, so you've got to wait for someone else to ask a question.

I will be monitoring the comments, so if you don't answer/ask a question, your entry won't count. But it's not a big deal if multiple people post at the same time answering the same question.

You do not need to be a follower to enter, but hey, why not? I think we have fun around here. :)

Comments have gone to a second page - please make sure you click the "newest" link to make sure you're answering the most recent question! Remember to keep this in mind if/when you come back for more entries. :)

I'll kick things off with the first question - Do you prefer white or colored holiday lights? Hubby & I recently saw a house with very simple, all white lights, which I thought was simply gorgeous, but hubby insisted it would be better if it were broken up by some color.

Entries are open until Friday, December 16 at midnight. I'll announce the winner by Sunday, December 18. Please make sure you either leave your e-mail in your comment, or have your e-mail on your profile. International entries are welcome. Winner will be chosen at random by

Make sure you head over to Sew, Mama, Sew to check out the rest of the giveaways!

Until next time...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sneak Peak

Just a quick sneak peak of something I'm working on because I'm too excited to wait to share it!

I'll be back later this week (or beginning of next) with a tutorial for this fun block.

Polaroid block

I so, SO wish I could claim this genius idea, but the original is from Corey at Little Miss Shabby for the amazing Ringo Pie bee. Her version is much better than mine! When I first saw it I knew I needed to use something like it for my upcoming month in the String Me Along bee.

This is actually a surprisingly quick & easy block to put together the way I did it.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Well, the votes are pretty even between a coin purse & the elephant pouch for the giveaway next week, so I did the most logical thing - combined them!

Dec Giveaway Day

I hope you'll agree that it was a success. I'm absolutely loving this pouch! It's got the contrasting fabric on the outside and inside.

Dec Giveaway Day

Dec Giveaway Day

Those of you who commented on the previous post will get two extra entries next week (no need to do anything extra, I'll be taking care of this). Thanks for your opinions!

Until next time...

Friday, December 2, 2011

December Giveaway Day

I plan to participate in Sew, Mama, Sew's December Giveaway Day coming up in a couple weeks. I had a lot of fun with it this spring, and plan to play the same "question game" since everybody really seemed to enjoy it.

The giveaway will be open to everybody (international included!) December 12-16. That's right, you'll have a full week to enter!

But first is the tough part, deciding what I should give away! So I'd like a little input from you - what would you like to win?

A fun coin purse?

purse frame coin purses

Another of the elephant zip pouches?

Elephant pouch

A Viking hat of your very own (cute baby boy not included!)?

coop's viking hat

Or maybe I'll dig way back into my sewing days & make the pillow case messenger bag that really got the blog started?


Or something else entirely? I won't have a lot of time to make anything super extravagant between now & then, but I'd really like to hear what you think. You never know, there might even be an incentive for giving your opinion (hint, hint), so let me know what you think (update: comments are now closed)!

Until next time...