Snapshot: Putting the Quilt Top Together

Here’s my Snapshot Quilt, in the requisite rustic pose drooping over a gate with rusty wheelbarrow.  Go yard work for great props.

This is the third and final post in my tutorial of how to make the Snapshot Quilt, constructed from lots of Polaroid blocks.  And at the end, my little giveaway.  I have three sets of 10 blocks each to giveaway, but hey! you must be a serious Polaroid-er to get them.  Leave me a comment telling me what you’ll do with them–have you started your collection?  Do you have a few and want more?  Do you have plans for them?  And for fun, tell me about your favorite vacation photo, since this quilt is, after all, a tribute to vacation photos everywhere.

Here’s a close-up of some of the Polaroids.  I received the truck Polaroid in the swap.  Love it!

And that German-looking couple on the right was cut from my Barbie-doll dress.

Now back to work.  I have made a PDF to help guide you with cutting, and it includes the basic bones of the quilt.  Download it: PolaroidQuilt

Start throwing up blocks onto your pin wall.  This was my first attempt. I knew I wanted a stacked coins effect, but was playing around with inserting blocks into the middle of the stacks.  Meh.

Second try.  I like this one better, but not keen about the four blue blocks across the top, so I switched them around.  Check the previous post for the doctors-office-view of the quilt, which shows how I ended up arranging all my blocks.  I also checked to make sure that there wasn’t a glob of orangey-red blocks, or too many of one type or color.

After getting the blocks the way you like them, sew them together.  My row tags, made from embroidery holders, indicate which row it is, and which is the top. I pinned them all together in a row, then stitched them.

Cutting the white internal strips and borders:
Internal rows are 4 x 52″ (w/o s.a.) so cut three strips that are 4-1/2″ by 52-1/2″.  I’d STRONGLY advise cutting them on grain, that is, cut them parallel to the selvages of your white fabric.  All these double-Polaroid blocks are slightly on the bias, so they need the strong stable edges of an on-grain piece of fabric.

Borders (seam allowance included):
Border #1, top/bottom: cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 40-1/2″; for the sides, cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 56-1/2″” long
Border #2 (print), top/bottom: cut  two pieces 2-1/2″ x 44-1/2″; for the sides: cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 60-1/2″” long
Border #3, top/bottom: cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 48-1/2″; for the sides, cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 64-1/2″” long
NOTE: I’d cut the border pieces slightly longer, to give allowance here and there for ease needed when sewing on borders.

Matching centers and edges, ease the stacked quilt blocks onto the white on-grain strip of white fabric.  Repeat until four rows of stacked quilt blocks and three strips of white fabric are sewn together.  I sewed the seam with the quilt blocks to the throat plate of my sewing machine, allowing the motion of the feed dogs to help ease in any extra fabric.

Sew on the first top border, then the bottom.  Then, matching centers and edges, sew on the side borders as you did above, keeping the white strip UP and the quilt block stack to the feed dogs.  Press seams toward quilt blocks.

Attach the print borders next in this order: top, bottom, side, side.  I was exacting on the lengths and matching edges and centers, but I should have given a little more ease to the side borders.  It’s a challenge sometimes, as you don’t want to get the borders too small so that the quilt “bows” with a curved edge, but you also don’t want it so loosey-goosey that it ripples.  Pin and check, is my advice.  Then press the seams toward the print fabric.

Lastly, attach the last white borders in the same order: top, bottom, side, side.  Press toward the second (print) border.

You’re done!

How do I plan to quilt this?  I’m thinking I’d first stabilize those long stacks with either stitching in the ditch white white thread, or a quarter-inch away into the white.  I’d like to outline along the Polaroids to make them pop.  The white sections call out for some sort of overall pattern, like this pattern from Leah Day of Free-Motion Quilting, Bow-tie Parade:

Go and visit Leah’s site for lots of ideas and a stimulating blog.  I love reading her posts.  I do plan to bind this with more of that print shown in my border.

Now! Leave a message if you are interested in scooping up some of my Polaroid blocks, and mention what you’ll do with them–have you started your collection?  Do you have a few and want more?  Do you have plans for them?  And for fun, tell me about your favorite vacation photo, since this quilt is, after all, a tribute to vacation photos everywhere.

Mine favorite vacation photo is from when Dave and I were newly married (under a year) and we took all the kids to Zion National Park.  We are standing there in the middle of red rock country in our slightly dirty T-shirts, a group of 2 adults and 4 children who were on their way to becoming a family. Now let me hear about yours.

 

UPDATE:  Congrats to the winners of the Polaroid Blocks: Mary, Cindy and Marilyn.  I’ll look forward to seeing what they do with their blocks, so send those photos over to my email when that future finish day arrives.

Snapshot: Constructing the Double Polaroid Blocks

First, let me say a thank you to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics, who is hosting WIP Wednesday for us.  Click *here* to return to her blog and see other fabulous Works-in-Progress.

If you missed yesterday’s post about Snapshot, my latest quilt (above), scroll down as there is information for fabric requirements and a basic How-To for Polaroid Blocks.

The first picture (top) is Snapshot in a beauty pose.  This one (above) is the one where she’s in under the fluorescent lights in her doctor’s office, wearing only a flimsy gown that opens in the back.  You know the feeling.  But we need to examine the quilt to see how it’s put together, so I thought you needed a clinical kind of picture. Here you can see some of the variety in the tilting, and in stacking the blocks.  I had some scraps of fabric at the end and late one night made the one at the bottom left into two colors. (I should go to bed earlier, I think.)

I did these in sets.  You’ll end up making about 4 sets, alternating the blue fabric with the green fabric (only use one color at a time), as each stack is made up of 13 blocks.  However, I made a few more of each color, because I doubled up on some colors for variety (you can see it above where there are two blue blocks together).  So make 4 1/2 sets.
For each set of 13 double blocks, you’ll need:
8 strips of either blue or green (don’t mix), cut  1 and 1/2″ wide
2 strips of either blue of green (don’t mix), cut 1 and 1/4″ wide
26 Polaroid blocks, in pairs of two (take some time to match up the ones you want together)

Start by sewing the Polaroid blocks to to the wider  (1 and 1/2″) strip, placing Polaroids face down.  You are sewing this to the TOP of the blocks.

Lay out the strip of blocks and cut the blocks apart.  With scissors.  Remember those?  We finished up our discussion of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Your Brains in class, and the last section talked about tools; when we adapt and adopt a tool, it become an extension of us and we may leave older tools behind if the new one suits us better.  So if you feel like the rotary cutter is an extension of your hand, you may need to practice using scissors again.  Kidding.

Press the fabric away from the block, like this:

Now sew another wide strip on the bottom of your Polaroids.

Here’s four blocks, with the top and bottom borders sewn.  Again, you are using the 1 and 1/2″ width fabric.

Lay out a strip of the narrower fabric (1 and 1/4″) and place your blocks side by side, matching up your pairs.  Separate them by about 1/4″ at the bottom.   I pinned them so it would be easier to transfer to the sewing machine.  Sew the first set (one side) onto the center strip. You should be able to get about 7 Polaroids per strip.

As you sew on the first set, pay attention matching the edge of the Polaroid block to the edge of the center strip, letting those little bits of borders stick out.  You can cut them off in an earlier stage if you need to, but I did mine after sewing them.

NOW trim off the little edges if they bug you.  For sure, trim off the big overhangs!  Just lay out the strip as shown, and cut the overhangs off, even with the long strip.  DO NOT CUT THEM APART!!!   Let me repeat.  DO NOT CUT THEM APART!!

Now, take your “right leaning” and “left leaning” PDF printouts from the last post, and set one of them at a time on the table while you do the next step.  I made all the greens to lean to the LEFT. All my blues lean to the RIGHT.  It feels backwards, but here we go.  I used the picture to get in my mind which Polaroid should be 1/4″ up and which one should be 1/4″ (or the width of that top border) down as I’m lining them up along that center strip.

Notice in this high-quality illustration that the blocks lean to the right.  To accomplish this, you have to offset them when you sew them to the center strip.  The left block is “lower” on the strip, and the block on the right side is “higher.”  This is why I used two colors: to keep things straight.

But my greens tilt the OTHER way, so I used the “left leaning” diagram to help me.

(Diagram in action!)

Again, to get the tilt, you need to jog the one on the top down about one-fourth inch.  What I did was line up the edge of the green border  with the top of my center picture in my Polaroid block.  (I know this sounds confusing, so just look at the pictures.) This will give you that offset you need in order to tilt your block.  Do this with the remainder of your pairs.  Pin, then stitch.

When working with the blue, I reversed the sewing, stitching the blocks on the right-hand side of the center strip first, then the left.

Here it is sewn.  You can really see the slipped alignment here.  Press this seam toward the center strip.  See two steps down, for the why of pressing.

Cut these blocks apart now; the cut will be angled to fit the skewed alignment.

Here’s one that’s been cut apart after sewing.  Here you can see the shift.

And in comparing these two blocks (the one directly above and the one below), you can see the difference the pressing makes.  The pressed edges can either make a block look like it’s resting on the top or like it’s “sunken” into the strips surrounding it.  I wanted my Polaroids to have that look of being bordered by strips, not the strips “supporting” and “lifting” up the Polaroids.  So that’s why all the pressing directions indicate which way to press the seams.

Here you can see the different pressing.  All right Goldilocks, you are through the deep scary forest and just about to claim that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Using the wider (1 1/4″) strip again, sew the outer borders onto both sides of your block assemblage. Cut apart.

You should have 13 blocks that look like this.  Now comes more fun, more forest.

Get out that PDF picture again.  Lay it at the top while you trim your blocks.  The size you want to trim to is 4 1/2″ by 7 1/2″.

You need to tilt your ruler a bit, making sure you leave at least 1/2″ space between the edge of your white Polaroid interior block and the planned cutting line on the outside edge of your ruler.  (This is why you make extra blocks, if you get my drift.)  I tried to vary my cuts, because I think one of the charm of these Polaroid blocks is their wonkiness when set into their frames, much like a child would paste vacation photos into an album.  So sometimes I was just over 1/2″ from that edge, and other times I was closer to 3/4″.

Keep at eye on that 4 1/2 line, as well as the 7 1/2″ line.  Be a juggler, keeping all these things in mind as you go for your first cut, slicing off the top of the block.  Then flip it around, putting the cut edge at the bottom.

Lay the 4 1/2″ line of your ruler at the bottom, lining up your freshly cut edge.  Check your measurements.  You want the bottom lined up, but you also have to check that the block is centered so when you cut off that right side, you’ll have an evenly centered  7 1/2″ block.  If you are good to go, slice off that right-hand side.

At first, I flipped it around again, as I’d only have to pay attention to one last side (shown above).  But after a while I became confident enough to slice off the top, >flip<, slice off the right and top edges again, then >flip< cut the last edge off.  Which is what I’m doing in the picture above.

I took this photo mid-cutting to show you how the block can feel skitty-wampus when you look at the first two cuts.  But then you slice off the two side edges and you are Through The Forest Again!  In the arrangement of my quilt, I used 28 blue double-Polaroid blocks and 24 green.  Make enough that you have some to play around with, and if you like decorations on the back of your quilts, include some for that too.

NEXT POST:  Putting the quilt top together, and one day closer to my surprise giveaway.

Snapshot!

I present. .  . Snapshot!

This is where I’ve been for a while, trying to work out the kinks of this crazy idea I had for my Polaroid Quilt Blocks.  I didn’t use them all, so at the end of this series of how to make this quilt, (it will take a couple of days, sorry–but there are lots of photos), I’ll have a little surprise drawing to get you started on your Polaroid Quilt.  Watch for it.

It all started here.  I made a few and joined the swap group run by Debbie of A Quilters Table, and soon had over a hundred of these very cute little Polaroid Blocks.  So I HAD to do something with them but everyone was showing this:

or this:

. . . which are both very cute, but I wasn’t keen about bordering each block. So late one night when I couldn’t sleep, I decided I would try to figure out how to do TWO blocks at once.  So I did.  First, if you haven’t made some Polaroid Blocks, start here:

It takes just five easy steps, repeated over and over, to get a batch going.  And please press all seams AWAY from the center square.  I have some fabric in one of my Polaroid blocks, cut from one of my first sewing projects when I was a child–a Barbie doll dress.  I found that dress (really nothing more than a tube with gathering for the waist), took it apart and fussy cut a piece from it.  So have fun as you gather your centers.

As for the white, I used KONA white.  I do like KONA’s other neutrals, but this quilt just needed that bright white.

Here I’ve lined up the centers, sewn the 1″ by WOF (Width of Fabric–a shorthand way of saying, cut a strip from selvage to selvage) on one side, then the other and now I’m cutting them apart.

The top goes on now, and then I’ll cut a 1 1/2″ by WOF strip and sew that on the bottom.  That’s what makes the Polaroid “look.”

And. . . here I’m trimming them down to 3″ across by 3 1/2″ in length.  I’m using the center block as my guide, placing the 1″ mark of the ruler on that edge (note that my blocks are upside down), then centering the ruler for the 3″ in width.  Press them all again.  One quilter’s blocks were starched pretty heavily and hers didn’t ravel as much as the others, so if you like spray starch, now’s a good time.

This quilt measures 52″ wide by 64″ long.  It has three borders surrounding the four stacks of double-Polaroid blocks.  I tried to use interesting centers for my Polaroid blocks, along with the swap blocks I found most interesting.  Here’s the basic ingredients:

For blocks:
about 1  yard blue
about 1  yard green
104 Polaroid blocks (have a few more, as when you are matching them together, you’ll need some options)

NOTE: Sorry to be so inexact; I’ve measured and measured and this is what I’ve come up with (well, actually I’ve come up with that you need 31″) but I don’t want you to run out of fabric, so get that extra.

For the print border:
1 and 1/2 yards–you are buying for the length.  If you don’t care to put your border on the straight-of-grain, buy 1/2 yard.
I used a yard of fabric, but ended up piecing it, so if you want it all in one piece, buy at least a yard and one-half.

For the white border:
You MUST cut this on the straight of grain for the center strips of the quilt and the first borders.  The joined quilt blocks are all slightly skewed off grain and you need something to stabilize them.  So buy about 2 yards white, but MORE if you are going to buy for the Polaroid blocks (and you’re on your own for that one).

But peeeples!  You NEED a good white fabric hanging around your sewing room, so do what I do: buy it in five-yard lengths.  I should really do what Cindy does: she buys it by the bolt.

Now print out these two PDFs: one is “right-leaning,” and the other is “left-leaning.”  rightleaning  leftleaning  Just keep them hanging around until you need them.

Next post I’ll start on the construction of the blocks, but here’s a couple more pictures of my Snapshot quilt lounging around the backyard.  For some reason, our summer just won’t quit.  Here in Southern California we have something called the Santa Ana winds, and they are hot blowy hair-dryer-feeling winds that come out of the desert.  It makes us all cranky to be doing HOT SUMMER, when everyone else is doing pumpkins and fall leaves and crisp apples.  But it does make for nice pictures of quilts, resposing on the rose bushes, which still have blooms.

NEXT UP: Constructing the Double-Polaroid Blocks.