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!


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!


July at Shiny Happy World

Happy July!

Here’s what’s going on this month at Shiny Happy World!

And here are all the links I mention in the video. . .

Have a fabulous July!


How to Make Your Applique Bust Out of Its Frame – video tutorial

Last week I showed you how to frame your applique with an easy wonky faux sashing technique.

Today I’m going to show you how to make your applique bust out of that frame!

It’s so much fun. πŸ™‚

Here’s the video showing how.

See how easy that is? The hardest part is remembering that those loose bits are there so you don’t accidentally iron them somewhere they don’t belong. πŸ™‚

Here are some more examples of critters busting out of their frames. . .

This is so much fun to do! Here are a few more I’m eager to play with – to make busting out versions. . .

I want to make this moose head bigger so that his antlers encroach into the next blocks. (The moose is a free pattern here.)

I want to make this bunny’s ears twitch into the next block. (That bunny is also a free pattern!)

I want to put this crocodile on a square background block, letting the extra length of his snout flow into the next block. (He’s one of the blocks from the Safari quilt pattern.)

I want this nosy goose (from the Noisy Farm quilt pattern) to poke her beak into the business of her neighbor’s block.

I want to add tall hats (from the Fancy Doodads applique accessories pattern) to all the blocks and let it stretch into the block above.

The possibilities are endless! I can’t wait to see what you do with this technique!

Happy stitching!


How to Make Wonky Faux Sashing for QAYG Blocks

I get a lot of requests about adding sashing to Quilt As You Go quilts. I’ve got a tutorial here showing how to add traditional sashing to a QAYG quilt, like this.

But my favorite method is actually to add fake WONKY sashing to my blocks. That makes blocks that dance around in your quilt, tipping slightly in different directions. It makes the appliques look like they’re peeking out of slightly Seussian windows. πŸ™‚

It’s really easy to do! Here’s a video showing how. . .

Here are those dimensions. . .

  • Cut your background blocks 10 1/2 inches square
  • Cut your batting 13 inches square (you’ll trim it later to 12 1/2 inches square)
  • Cut your strips for the sashing 2 1/2 inches wide

And here are the rest of the links I promised. . .

Of course – once you make some wonky sashing to frame your applique, your next step will be to sometimes make your applique bust out of its frame – like these silly monsters.

That’s what we’ll learn in the next video. πŸ™‚

Happy stitching!


How to Minimize Show-Through on White Eyes

When you use fusible adhesive and layer a light color (like white) over a boldly patterned fabric, the print below can show through.

In this video I show you how to minimize that show-through. It’s really easy!

I rarely use light-colored solids, so this isn’t often an issue for me – but it does come up when I want to make big googly eyes. πŸ™‚

Here’s the interfacing that I recommend. It’s one step thicker than the one I use in the video – still nice and flexible, but with better hiding properties. πŸ™‚

Want to make your eyes extra-googly? Use this faux-trapunto technique.

Calling them "faux trapunto eyes with needle sculpted pupils" makes them sound really hard to make - and they're not - so I just call them googly eyes. :-)

Do you like that frog pattern? It’s the current Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club pattern! You can join the club here.

Happy stitching!


Let’s Make a Quilt! – a Free Workshop to Learn Quilt As You Go and Applique

There are a LOT of free lessons here at Shiny Happy World.


That’s awesome – but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.

Do you want to learn to make a quilt using my super easy Quilt As You Go method, paired with painless applique with fusible adhesive?

Then I’ve got the perfect free workshop for you!

It pulls all of my QAYG and applique lessons together in one place, and arranges them in the best way for you to learn the whole process from start to finish. We cover everything from fabric and supplies, to picking a pattern, and all the strps of the process – including binding your quilt!

This class is for you if. . .

  • You’ve never made a quilt of any kind.
  • You’ve made pieced quilts but have never tried applique.
  • You’ve made applique quilts but want to try a new method.
  • You’ve made pieced and applique quilts but you’ve never tried Quilt As you Go.
  • You already know how to make all kinds of quilts and you want to make one with some new friends.

This class will take you step by step through everything you need to know to make a cute and cuddly quilt!

You work through the lessons at your own pace – using any pattern you like. There are even several free block patterns you can download to give it a try!

The class is organized on the Teachable platform, designed especially for online workshops. When you follow the link below you’ll be prompted to create a Teachable log in and password. You can use that same log in to sign up for any of the classes and workshops I host on Teachable.

Sign up for the class here.

Happy quilting!


Make an Easy Applique Rag Quilt – tutorial

Several years ago my mother-in-law made us a fantastic flannel rag quilt. We use it all the time, and every time I look at it I think that it would be super easy to add applique to that style of quilt.

I finally did it!

And it was just as fun and easy as I thought. πŸ™‚

I made mine using the Bunches of Bears quilt pattern, but you could use any quilt pattern you like. All the square quilt blocks in my own patterns are already sized for 10 inch blocks. If you’re using someone else’s pattern you may need to enlarge or reduce the images.

So let’s go!

My quilt is nap sized – 50 x 60 inches – perfect for using on the couch. It’s 5 blocks wide and 6 blocks tall and the blocks all finish at 10 inches.

You can resize the pattern by changing the size of the blocks or by changing the number of blocks. πŸ™‚

I used ten flannel colors (one of each color in the Dash Plaid collection from Dear Stella Fabrics) and bought one yard of each.

I prewashed my flannel. I think people don’t usually do that for rag quilts, but flannel is notorious for shrinking a lot and I didn’t want the shrinking to distort the applique. Don’t use fabric softener in the wash – it can resist the fusible adhesive. Dryer sheets are fine.

Each block is three layers of flannel, so you’ll need to cut 90 blocks, each 11 inches square. You can get nine from one yard of fabric.

Sneaky tip – if you have some ugly flannel that you can’t figure out how it got into your stash, cut 30 of the squares out of that and hide it in the middle of your layers. πŸ™‚

Applique 30 of the squares using any method you like. I used my favorite fusible adhesive method. There’s a video tutorial here. I use these Heat & Bond Lite printable fusible adhesive sheets and all my fabrics are from the Warm Neutrals fat quarter bundle. You could use flannel here too if you like, but I love my Warm Neutrals. πŸ™‚

When you position your faces, line up the bottom edge 3/8 inch up from the bottom edge of the block. That way, when you sew the blocks together using 1/2 inch seam allowance, you’ll catch the bottom edge of the applique in the stitching and it will be nice and secure.

Fuse the face into place.

Layer a second square of flannel behind the one with the applique (both facing right side up).

Stitch down all the edges on your applique. Outlining through both layers of flannel adds just a little bit of poof and dimension to your block – not as much as quilting with batting, but similar.

I used the “scribbly” method of going around each bit three times with regular weight black thread and a simple straight stitch. There’s a post here with more detail about that, and one here with more info about using a heavier weight thread if you prefer that.

This post has tips for stitching the tight curves around the eyes, and also for stitching the mouths. And this one has tips for making dark eyes show up on dark faces, like this cutie.

After you get all 30 blocks appliqued, it’s time to sew them together. This was actually the hardest part, because it’s backwards from any other kind of sewing you’ll do normally.

Add a third layer of flannel to each block, this time with the right side facing the back of the quilt. (It’s going to become your quilt back.)

Using 1/2″ seam allowance, sew two blocks wrong sides together so that the seam allowance is on the right side of the quilt.

Here’s what it looks like from the back.

See? That last layer of flannel makes a nice quilt back, and you have a nice clean seam.

I joined all of my blocks into rows of five, then sewed those rows together for the finished quilt.

The intersections can get very bulky, so I snipped into the seam allowance 1/2″ from each edge and sewed my crossing seam through that slit so I wasn’t stitching the seam allowance down.

And look – my seam secures the bottom edge of each bear, just like I planned. πŸ™‚

I found it helpful to use my quarter inch foot, but adjust it out to 1/2 inch for sewing all those layers together.

I also lengthened my stitch to 3.0 and reduced the pressure on my presser foot to keep the layers from creeping. If you can’t make that adjustment on your machine, just use a lot of pins or clips, as if you were sewing napped fabrics together.

Once all the blocks are sewn together, sew all the way around the outside edge of the quilt, one half inch in from the raw edge.

Now it’s time to snip all those seams.

Snip 1/2 inch apart all along all the seam allowances, almost up to the stitching line. Be very careful not to cut into your stitching. If you slip and snip it, repair it now by sewing over the snipped seam.

If you’re trying to snip with regular scissors, you’ll need to take a LOT of breaks. They’re really not designed for this kind of work.

If you can afford to buy a special set of snips just for this kind of work, it is absolutely worth it. I tried several brands and these Fiskars Easy Action Tabletop Rag Quilt Snips were by far my favorite. They have a spring action, so their default setting is open, which saves a surprising amount of strain on your wrist. They’re super sharp, and the blades are slightly serrated, so they really grip the fabric well, helping them cut right up to the tips of the blades without “pushing” the fabric out at all.

Even with the fancy snips I took a break between snipping the horizontal and vertical seams. It took about two hours total.

Don’t forget to snip around the outside edges too.

When you’re done snipping, throw it in the wash and tumble dry.

Ta daa!

All those snipped edges fray in the wash and you get a really soft, fluffy ridge between each block. This blanket is just begging for someone to snuggle under it.

If you make an applique flannel rag quilt, we’d love to see it! Post a photo in the Shiny Happy People group so we can all oooh and aaah. πŸ™‚

Happy stitching!


New Colors for the Noisy Farm

I get a lot of emails from people asking for advice choosing quilt colors. I always point them to the Shiny Happy People group where they can see many, many different quilts made with my patterns – usually using different colors than what I used in my samples. Really – seeing a finished quilt is the very best way to imagine it in different colors!

So I’ll be making more of an effort to show my quilt patterns in new color combinations – just to show as many options as possible. πŸ™‚

I recently remade the Noisy Farm quilt, using it as an example to how you can add sashing to any of my quilt patterns. While I was at it – I changed the colors too!

Here’s the original quilt in a crib size.

And here’s the new version.

In addition to adding the sashing – I used radically different colors!

I made the original sample before I had fabric bundles in my shop, so it’s not easy to say exactly what fabric packs they’d use now, but the Warm Neutrals would be the best choice for those natural-colored animals. The backgrounds are mostly greens and blues, so the closest match would be the Green Batiks and Blue Batiks.

The new version uses the Rainbow Sherbet bundle for the background blocks – pretty pale pastel solids. They really do look like soft sherbet colors. πŸ™‚Β 

For the animals I went totally UNnatural with all kinds of fun colors and a wobbly, hand-painted gingham print. Here’s a close-up view of a silly pink sheep with a little turquoise mouse popping into the frame.

I love it!

That fabulous gingham print is called Gingham Play from Michael Miller fabrics. I sell fat quarter bundles of my favorite Gingham Play colors here.

For the sashing I used Hash Dot in linen, also Michael Miller Fabrics. I liked how it has a slightly barn-ish feel while still balancing nicely with the soft pastel background fabrics. Sorry – I don’t sell that one in my shop, but you can search for Linen Hash Dot and lots of online sellers will pop up.

So there you go! New colors and a new layout for a totally new look for a favorite quilt pattern.

Want to know how to add that sashing? Here are the posts you’ll need for that.

Happy stitching!


Adding Sashing to (Almost) Any Shiny Happy World Quilt Pattern

I’ve had people ask me for years if you can add sashing to a Shiny Happy World quilt pattern.

That’s an easy question.


You can always modify any pattern to add (or take away) sashing.

Sometimes they have another question. How does that change the yardage they need to buy for the quilt?

Well – that’s a whole other question that requires a much longer answer. πŸ™‚ And here it is!

First – let me clarify. I say almost any quilt pattern because these measurements will only work for square blocks. If you want to add sashing to a quilt with double blocks or half blocks – you’ll need to do a little extra math for that. But the measurements below work for any of my quilt patterns that have 10 inch square blocks – and that’s almost all of them. πŸ™‚

I’m using the Noisy Farm quilt pattern for all the examples below, using only the square animal blocks and leaving off the half blocks with animal sounds.

For each of my standard quilt sizes I’ll show you a diagram of the quilt with sashing, the new dimensions of the quilt, new fabric requirements, and cutting instructions for the sashing.

Remember, there’s a general post about adding sashing or borders to Quilt As You Go quilts here.

So let’s jump in!

Crib Size

This is the smallest quilt size I make – a very generous crib size. With sashing it’s 53 inches square.

For the sashing fabric you’ll need 1 1/4 yards. Quilt that to the batting, then from that cut 12 strips 3 inches wide.

Sew those strips together (a straight seam is fine – it doesn’t need to be angled) and press the seams open.

From that looooong strip, cut the following rectangles (all 3 inches wide). . .

  • 12 strips 10 1/2 inches long
  • 5 strips 47 1/2 inches long
  • 2 strips 53 inches long

For the squares. . . you’ll only need 16 squares, so get 2 1/4 yards of fabric for the background blocks, and at least 4 fat quarters for the animals. (You may want more fat quarters for variety.)

The version with the sashing is only a tiny bit bigger than the version without, so you can just barely get away with the same amount of fabric for the backing and binding. If you’re shopping at a store that cuts things to the exact inch (I’m more generous with my cuts) you might want to get just a little extra for the backing fabric.

Nap Size


This is my favorite quilt size – perfect for curling up on the couch. With sashing it’s 53 inches wide x 65 1/2 inches tall.

For the sashing fabric you’ll need 1 1/2 yards. Quilt that to the batting, then from that cut 15 strips 3 inches wide.

Sew those strips together (a straight seam is fine – it doesn’t need to be angled) and press the seams open.

From that looooong strip, cut the following rectangles (all 3 inches wide). . .

  • 15 strips 10 1/2 inches long
  • 6 strips 47 1/2 inches long
  • 2 strips 65 1/2 inches long

For the squares. . . you’ll only need 20 squares, so get 2 1/2 yards of fabric for the background blocks, and at least 5 fat quarters for the animals. (You may want more fat quarters for variety.)

The version with the sashing is only a tiny bit bigger than the version without, so you can just barely get away with the same amount of fabric for the backing and binding.

Twin Size


This fits a twin bed with some overhang on all sides. With sashing it’s 78 inches wide x 90 1/2 inches tall.

For the sashing fabric you’ll need 2 3/4 yards. Quilt that to the batting, then from that cut 29 strips 3 inches wide.

Sew those strips together (a straight seam is fine – it doesn’t need to be angled) and press the seams open.

From that looooong strip, cut the following rectangles (all 3 inches wide). . .

  • 35 strips 10 1/2 inches long
  • 8 strips 72 1/2 inches long
  • 2 strips 90 1/2 inches long

For the squares. . . you’ll only need 42 squares, so get 4 7/8 yards of fabric for the background blocks, and at least 11 fat quarters for the animals. (You may want more fat quarters for variety.)

The version with the sashing is a little bit bigger than the version without. You should be able to just barely get away with the same amount of fabric for the backing, but you’ll need 3/4 yard for the binding.

That’s it!

Other than that the instructions are pretty much the same. When it comes time to sew all the blocks together, I like to do the following order. . .

  • Sew the blocks into rows with a sashing strip between each block. (Start and finish each row with a block, not a sashing strip.)
  • Sew the rows together with a sashing strip between each row.
  • Sew a sashing strip to the top and the bottom of your quilt.
  • Sew a sashing strip to each side of your strip.

Press all the seams open – just like a normal QAYG quilt.

These tutorials will be helpful. . .

And one more reminder – all of these measurements only work if you have an accurate 1/4 inch seam. If you don’t have a quarter inch foot on your machine, I strongly recommend getting one. It will make your life sooooooo much easier. πŸ™‚

Happy quilting!


Divide and Conquer – How to Pin Long Seams

I’m moving right along on my version of the Noisy Farm quilt with sashing added, and I realized this is the perfect time to share a little tip with you about pinning long seams.

I’m not very bossy about pinning most of the time. Some people pin, some don’t, and I’m mostly a live and let live kind of person. πŸ™‚

But when it comes to long seams (like the ones attaching those looong sashing strips to rows) you’ll find that pinning – and actually pinning in a very particular way – will save you a lot of headaches.

Here’s the problem. If you just slap a long strip on your strip of blocks and just start sewing without pinning – there’s a really good chance that when you get to the end of the long seam, one of those pieces is going to be significantly longer than the other. This happens even if you use a walking foot and even if you’re really careful about keeping your tension even. It just happens.

You know what keeps it from happening?

Pins. πŸ™‚

I’ve got a specific method I use to pin longs seams. I call it Divide and Conquer.

Here’s a seam I just pinned. (Actually clipped. When I pin already-quilted layers together I prefer to use these clips. They distort the fabric less.)

I loaded up a really large image size here so you can click on it to see it even bigger on your screen.

Those numbers show you the order in which I placed those clips.

First I start by clipping the ends – 1 and 2. That way I know that my ends are going to be perfectly lined up.

Next I want to divide that space in half (Divide and Conquer) and I place the clip right in the middle. That’s #3.

That leaves me with two large spaces – the one between 1 and 3 and the one between 3 and 2. I divide those spaces in half by adding clips 4 and 5.

Finally, I divide all the remaining spaces in half by placing clips 6, 7, 8 and 9.

It’s always the same – I start by securing the ends, then just keep dividing the remaining spaces in half over and over again until my clips are close enough together to take it to the machine.

Divide and conquer. πŸ™‚

I hope this is helpful!

The post with all the information about adding sashing will be up tomorrow!