Saturday, 23 January 2016

Polaroid Quilt Blocks for Cancer Relief Quilt #1 - Call for Helpers

Up-date: THANK YOU for your kind words, blocks and polaroids. I have had immediate responses and offers for help. If everyone lives up to their word - and I am sure they will - I should have enough block elements to put this quilt top together. So thank you for stopping by and your consideration and willingness to help out. 

Also anyone who is currenly already sewing but has not gotten the mailing address yet, please leave a comment beneath this post and I will get back to you.

Hello there,
This blog post is a call for volunteers. It is a bit of an unusal forum to discuss my request for assistance but I would be grateful if you could see yourself helping me out. 

The Background: 

Good friends of mine, who have three lovely children aged 8, 5 and 3, found out just before New Years Eve that their middle child Hanno has a brain tumour. It is a rare form of a malicious cancer that only occurs about 35 - 45 times in a million annually in Germany. It mostly befalls children between the age of 3 and 10, while grown-ups are seldomly afflicted.
Hanno had neurosurgery twice already in the last two weeks and is looking ahead to at least eight months of chemo and radio therapy. Luckly, the cancer has not yet spread beyond the initial tumour. As Hanno will have to spend a lot of time in hospitals waiting around for and in-between treatments, I would like to make him a type of 'I spy with my little eye' - quilt, namely a 'Polaroid Photo' quilt.

The Request:

I am however not the fastest sewer and do work full time, which leaves little time for sewing. Additionally, I do not have the necessary amount of novelty print fabrics to accomodate that many polaroid fussy cuts without repeating them over and over. Therefore, I would appreciate assistance in making the blocks. I had initially asked my quilting bee to allow me to swap months to bring my turn forward from June but was not allowed. I could wait until it is my turn in June but that feels frivolous in the given situation.

This is where you might come in. If you feel you have the time and capacity to construct and donate a block towards this project, I would be, well ... I would be rather grateful.
Please get in contact with me by leaving a comment beneath this post for the postal address.

In case you have not seen them before, 'Polaroid' quilts mimic the look of polaroid photographs. Pretty fussy cuts are being framed in a white solid and then assembled to blocks with a solid in the chosen background colour. Here a few examples of this type of quilt:

polaroid quilt, polaroid block, polaroid photo quilt block
1. Oona run amok @ flickr - 2. Polaroid Swap @ occasionalpiece - 3. Love in Polaroids @ Stitched in Color


- various novelty prints for 3.5 x 3.5 fussy cuts 

- white solid for the ‘polaroid frame’ 

- yellow solid for the quilt background
(for ease of reference, I use the Kona Cotton Solid in Grellow)

Up-date: Feel free to work from your stash. There is no need to go out and buy extra fabric. That includes the yellow solid. I only mentioned Kona Cotton Solid in Grellow as point of reference. 

Block Construction: Work with a ¼ inch seam throughout. The final block size including seam allowance is 15.5 x 15.5 inches. The block may display as few as 6 and up to 9 polaroids. 

The Polaroids:

The polaroids (fussy cut and frame) once assembled in the final block will have an individual size of 3.5 x 4 each. This includes a fussy cut of 3 x 3 inches and a white frame of ¼ of an inch at the sides and the top of the picture and ¾ of an inch at the bottom of the picture.

As the fussy cuts are meant to have a final size of 3 x 3 inches, I prepared a 3.5 x 3.5 template (cut from an old postcard) to help me finding suitable motifs. You could equally just use builders tape on your quilting ruler as visible in one of the tutorial pictures below. Find, mark and cut your motifs at a size of 3.5 x 3.5. Press with a hot iron, should they be crinkly. The motifs may be of any colour or theme: typewriters, fruit, vegetables, cars, houses, ships, spacecrafts, landscapes, dinosaurs, critters, chairs etc. as long as you can find a pretty detail in the print. 

The polaroid, once assembled, will have a ¼ inch frame width at the top, to the left and to the right. The bottom part of the frame will measure ¾ of an inch. I used a chain piecing technique to frame the fussy cuts in white. Have a look at the pictures below. They should give you a fairly accurate impression of how to go about it. If not, here is another tutorial, that illustrates the process.

Take your solid white fabric and cut a long continuous strip. As I find it difficult to work accurately with fabric strips that are too narrow and like a bit of wiggle room anyway, I cut my fabric strips the width of 1 ¼ inches for ease of sewing. If you are good at precision piecing and sewing feel free to work with narrower fabric strips for the sides and top of the polaroid. For the bottom part you will need 1 ¼ inches of width (including seam allowance) anyway. 

I pressed the fabric strip and placed it under the needle. I then aligned the fussy cuts right sides together on the edge of the fabric strip and chain pieced all the fussy cuts. I cut the pieces apart, pressed the seams open and repeated that process on all sides.

tutorial pictures by Kat @ Cheeseandcrackerjacks

Once the fussy cuts were framed they looked like this. I trimmed them down to a size of 4 x 4.5 inches for final assembly.

Block Assembly:

I am aiming for a loose grit. The polaroids are not required to line up perfectly. Therefore, you are mostly free to assemble the block with the yellow background fabric as you like as long as you observe the below parameters. 

Imagine a 9 patch grit and try to place the polaroids in this grit. Place 1 polaroid per patch so to speak (or leave ‘blank’ spaces should you work with less than 9 polaroids) They do not have to be exactly evenly spaced. Some may or snuggle up to each other. One block may lean towards another block a bit or there may be gaps between some. The finished block may display up to 9 but no less than 6 polaroids. 

However, please refrain from doing anything of the below:

The finished block should have a size of 15.5 x 15.5 inches. 

I am looking to receive assistance throughout February in order to have the quilt finished by the middle of March. 

OK, this was a seriously long blog post. I hope I managed to convey how to go about making the block. Feel free to ask questions if something remains unclear or to point out obvious mistakes I might have made writing this up

Many thanks for your help!

Here is my first block yet un-trimmed. I am currently assembling the second.

The above displayed spacing and measurements I used are not mandatory. I only included them because some people specifically asked for some directions. Feel free to deviate.


  1. I'll make one and mention it on my next post.

  2. I will make one as soon as I can!

    1. And I'll send photos to be sure I'm correct in my layout and fabric choices!

    2. Thanks June, I am sure the block will be just fine.

  3. I will make one, too - if you still need volunteers, that is...let me know asap so I can get the fabric/background...

  4. Hi! I'd love to help my Beemate! I'll make block, if you still need one!

  5. Fantastic, thank you and yes please


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