How to Make a Polaroid Quilt

I’ve been working on this for quite a while now and it’s finally here.

Instructions to make a Polaroid frame for any of my square applique patterns!

Not only that – I’m including instructions (and yardage requirements) for making a whole Polaroid quilt!

Let’s jump in!

Note – the instructions that follow are for my Quilt As You Go method and applique with fusible adhesive. There’s a free workshop teaching both methods here.

Step 1

Choose any of my square applique patterns. They’re all designed to finish at 10 inches, so they’ll all fit in the Polaroid frame dimensions we’ll be working with here.

If you don’t have any of my quilt patterns, you can buy one here, or choose one of the free patterns available here.

Step 2

Prep your materials. For a single block (good for a pillow cover) you’ll need. . .

  • 1 piece of cotton batting cut 18 inches square (or a little larger)
  • 1 piece of fabric for the background of the “photo” cut 10 1/2″ square
  • scraps of white fabric (I like using white on white prints for a tiny bit of texture) cut into the following strips
    • two strips 1 1/4″ x 10 1/2″
    • 1 strip 1 1/4″ x 12″
    • 1 strip 3 3/4″ x 12″
  • 1/3 yard background fabric (the part around the Polaroid frame) – for best results, use a fabric that is a random scattered pattern that works in all directions. I love the speckly polkadots I used and I’ve got them on order in a bunch of great colors for the shop.
    • two 5″ strips cut the full width of the fabric
  • scraps of fabric for the applique
  • fusible adhesive (I use Heat & Bond Lite for all my quilts)

Step 3

Press your batting square (with steam) and let it cool before you move it.

Layer your “photo” background at a slight angle (you’ll want to vary the angle a bit in each block of your quilt) and quilt it to the batting.

There’s a post here showing some of my favorite no-marking straight line quilting patterns here, and wavy quilting patterns here.

Press the block again and let it cool.

Step 4

Layer, fuse, and outline your applique.

Making sure that the raw edges at the bottom of the shoulders are lined up with the raw edge at the bottom of your background block.

Note – I’m zoomed in now to the “photo” that will be inside your Polaroid, just to get you the closest view possible. Your “photo” will be surrounded by bare batting – for now.

Let’s start building the frame!

Step 5

Using your 1 1/4″ x 10 1/2″ white strips and 1/4″ seam allowance, sew a strip to each side of your block.

Flip both strips out and press.

If you want to see this “stitch and flip” method of adding strips to a QAYG block in action, you can watch this video.

Step 6

Sew the 1 1/4″ x 12″ strip to the top of your block, opening and pressing the strip like the side strips.

Step 7

Complete the Polaroid frame by adding the 3 3/4″ x 12″ strip to the bottom of the photo.

See how the raw edges at the bottom of your applique are all hidden now? It looks just like a photo!

Now it’s time to cover up the rest of the batting.

Step 8

Pick any side of your Polaroid and sew on a strip of the background fabric, using the same “stitch & flip” method.

The rest of the photos will be zoomed out like this one so that you can see the whole block. The background fabric should completely cover the batting and there will be some overhang.

Step 9

Continue adding strips to cover the batting. I moved on to the right side next.

And then the top.

And finally the last side.

You can go in any order you like – just continue until the batting is covered.

Oops! I still have a little sliver exposed!

I’m not going to worry about it. I know I cut my batting square on the big side, and my next step is going to be to trim the block down to size. I’ll keep an eye on that sliver. If it doesn’t get trimmed away, I’ll use a scrap of the same fabric to add one more strip to cover it.

Step 10

Trim the block to 17 1/2″ square. That way when you sew it together with other blocks to make a quilt, it will finish at 17″ square.

My first step in trimming is always to flip the block over and trim away the excess background fabric from the batting edges. That way I know exactly where the batting ends.

I just use my rotary cutting tools to cut away those red triangles showing around the batting square.

Then flip your block back over and trim to size. make sure you leave at least 1/4″ of background fabric around each corner of your Polaroid frame. You don’t want those corners to get buried when you sew your blocks together!

Done!

I was careful to trim away that uncovered sliver of batting.

There’s a video here showing how I trim and square my blocks. I invested in a special 20 1/2″ square ruler especially for these big blocks – the biggest square ruler I could find – but you can use regular rotary cutting tools.

Make a Quilt

Here’s a little mockup showing just four blocks together. If you use the same fabric for all the backgrounds, it looks like a page in an album with a bunch of Polaroids scattered on it!

Here are some dimensions and yardage requirements for all three of my standard quilt sizes.

Crib Quilt

My crib quilts are usually 50″ x 50″ but for the Polaroid version it will be 51″ square. Make 9 blocks total, arranged 3 x 3.

  • 1 1/4 yard total of fabrics for the “photo” backgrounds
  • 3/4 yard white fabric
  • 2 3/4 yards background fabric
  • at least 3 fat quarters for applique, though you’ll probably want more for variety

Napping Quilt

My napping quilts are usually 50″ x 60″ but for the Polaroid version it will be 51″ x 68″. Make 12 blocks total, arranged 3 x 4.

  • 1 1/2 yards total of fabrics for the “photo” backgrounds
  • 1 yard white fabric
  • 3 1/2 yards background fabric
  • at least 3 fat quarters for applique, though you’ll probably want more for variety

Twin Quilt

My twin quilts are usually 70″ x 90″ but for the Polaroid version it will be 68″ x 85″. Make 20 blocks total, arranged 4 x 5.

  • 2 1/4 yards total of fabrics for the “photo” backgrounds
  • 1 1/2 yards white fabric
  • 5 3/4 yards background fabric
  • at least 5 fat quarters for applique, though you’ll probably want more for variety

You can get a lot of the fabrics you need in my shop.

The fat quarter bundles are all shown in the shop as a stack of fat quarters and are ideal for the appliques.

Fabric bundles (shown in the shop as color-coordinated strips of fabric) are all precut 12″ strips perfect for the “photo” backgrounds. The bundle sizes are all based on my normal quilt layouts. For Polaroid quilts a crib-sized bundle is enough to make all the photo backgrounds in a twin-sized quilt.

For the white fabric, I really like using white-on-white prints. The White Architextures print I have in the Warm Neutrals fat quarter bundles is perfect, and I have some leftovers available. You can get that here.

Finally – I’m adding some great fabrics for the backgrounds to the shop. I’ve got that terrific scattered speckly polkadot print like I used in my sample coming in in lots of great colors. They’ll be available by the half yard.

I can’t wait to see your Polaroid blocks!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

9 COMMENTS

  1. Robin SAYS...

    This is the sweetest designs! I think I’m going to make my four grandsons pillow cases and put a polaroid on each one. I especially like the simplicity of your designs! I think I need to re-retire to get some of my projects done!

  2. Anonymous SAYS...

    Thank you Wendi

  3. Anonymous SAYS...

    This is an interesting technique. Thank you for sharing.

  4. tuffster SAYS...

    this is the sweetest! is the cow pattern available somewhere?

  5. Martha SAYS...

    so sweet! is there a pattern for all the fun faces?

  6. Kay Patrick SAYS...

    These blocks finish @ 17 inches. When adding the back fabric (I am using Minky) don’t I need stitching lines closer than the 17 inches? For regular sized blocks – 10 inches seems OK. Your thoughts, please.

    • I haven’t made a full quilt yet with these blocks, but I’ve got one in progress. My plan is to try my normal final round of quilting just on the seams joining the blocks and see how it goes after I wash it. I suspect it will be fine, but if there’s any bagging or sagging on the back, I’ll add quilting around each “polaroid.”