Polaroid Quilt

My Polariod quilt top is done and it was such a fun finish!! 

I joined the Polaroid Greeting Swap 3 this summer, hosted by Johanna Weidner on Instagram, and received a lot of great blocks.  This was the third time that she’s hosted the Polaroid Greeting Swap but it was my first time participating. 

The swap divided everyone into teams of 12 and you were responsible for making two Polariod blocks for each of your team members, a lot of people were nice enough to send a few extras also.  I received some wonderful fussy cut blocks and was also lucky enough to join several side swaps with people on other teams!  I made a lot of extra blocks to keep for myself and when the swap was done I ended up with about 90 Polaroids total. 

In order to make the fussy cutting a little easier I made myself a template out of stock paper.  I cut a 2.5” square and then cut out the center leaving a quarter-inch frame.  I was able to place this on my fabric before I cut it to make sure that each print was centered.  Once I had the template where I wanted, I laid my ruler on top and cut the 2.5 inch square. 

I knew I wanted to make a quilt with all of my blocks and I loved the shadow effect I’ve seen on other projects.  Johanna has a blog post for how to make the Polaroid blocks and also how to add the shading effect.  http://polaroidgreetingswap.blogspot.com/

I decided that Grunge by Moda would make a good background fabric, I wanted something bright but simple that would also match all the different colors in the blocks.  I ended up choosing the Grunge Basics New Cabana as the color.

After playing with a few possible layouts I decided to make simple square blocks with the Polaroids angled in different directions, I wanted it to resemble a messy photo album.  For each block I cut 2 background strips measuring 2.5” x 3.5” for the sides and 2 strips measuring 2.5” x 7″ for the top and bottom.  I used a little over 4 yards in order to make the border on 110 blocks (I ended making even more blocks after the swap so I could get the quilt to have a layout of 10 x 11). 

Once I had the borders sewn on I divided the blocks into 3 even stacks.  I then cut down all of the finished blocks to 6.5” squares with one stack angled to the left, one angled to the right, and one stack centered.  I didn’t measure the “centered” blocks perfectly, some still had a slight angle one way or the other and some had thicker borders on one side, I didn’t want it be too symmetrical. 

When I had all of the blocks cut down to 6.5” squares I started sewing blocks together randomly, I only had a few duplicate or similar prints so it was pretty easy to sew without planning!  I ended up with 10 blocks per row, and 11 rows total. 

I found the perfect fabric for the backing – black and white vintage cameras!!  I love this backing so much since it fits the theme but helps neutralize all of the different colors on the front.


I can’t wait for the quilting to be completed, this has probably been the most fun quilt I’ve made yet!!  I really hope there is another swap next year, I’d love to participate again!

Bargello Quilt Tutorial

One of my friends made a quilt last year using Fig Tree Quilt’s Strawberry Fields Revisited fabric line and as soon as I saw it I knew I needed that fabric.  I bought two jelly rolls but didn’t have any plans in mind on how I would use them.  I pulled the jelly rolls out over the winter and decided to make a simple bargello quilt; I had made a similar quilt years ago and I love the design!


A bargello quilt is a very easy quilt to make and there are lots of different layout options – you can vary the width of the strips for an optical illusion effect or arrange the fabric so the colors zig-zag back and forth.  I kept mine nice and simple and used a diagonal layout.  Jelly rolls are great for this type of design since much of the initial cutting is already done for you.

I started by arranging the strips from one jelly roll out on my table in an order that I liked, there were lots of red and brown prints in this collection so I separated those into two different sections and tried to keep 4-5 strips for each color section.  Since I used a jelly roll I had a total of 39 strips (I removed one piece of fabric that was a solid white and kept just the prints).   Once you have a layout you’re happy with you can sew all the strips together. 

The key to making a bargello quilt is making sure you press the strips properly; you want to make sure you press towards every other strip and don’t press them all in the same direction.  If you press towards every other strip then it helps nest the seams later and allows the quilt to lay better.  An easy way to keep track is to number the strips and press towards the even numbered strip.  Numbering the fabric will also help you later in the process.   


Once you have all of the strips pieced and pressed together you need to sew the two end strips together in order to make a large tube.  Place the tube on your cutting table and make sure it lays flat, depending on the size of your table you may have to fold the tube in half.  The selvage ends will likely not align but you want to make sure the top and bottom of the strips are as straight as possible. 

Cut off the selvage ends of one side to square up the piece and then cut the tube into 2 ½” strips.  You should be able to get 16 or 17 strips from one jelly roll tube.  If you are using two jelly rolls you will need to repeat the above steps with the 2nd roll. 

To start piecing the quilt top you will need to un-sew the seam between two pieces of fabric, I started with the seam between the first and last piece of fabric from my strip set (Fabric #1 and #39 in my case).  This strip will be your first row.  You will then need to remove the seam between fabric #1 and fabric #2 for your second row.  Seam #2 and #3 for the third row, and so on.  Sew rows 1 and 2 together, I use pins at every seam to make sure that they line up properly.  If all the seams were pressed towards the even numbered row then they should nest together well.   Once row 1 and 2 are sewn together press the seam towards row one.

You will need to repeat this process for the remaining strips and sew the rows together. 

Row 4 – Remove the seam between fabric 3 and 4

Row 5 – Remove the seam between fabric 4 and 5, etc.

This is an easy pattern to adjust the size for; each strip will finish at 2”.  Since I used 39 strips from a jelly roll my quilt is 78” long.  I used two jelly roll strips sets and was able to get 33 strips (16 strips from one set and 17 from the other), my width is 66”. 

Below is another bargello quilt that I made about ten years ago.  I used two mini rolls with 24 fabrics in each and made two strip sets using the same method above. The bargello pattern alone measures about 48″ x 66″ so I added an 8″ border to make the quilt larger.  This fabric is Charleston IV 1850-1865 by Marcus Brothers Fabric.  

Easy, right?!  Bargello quilts are a quick and fun way to use up some of those jelly rolls that you have gathering dust in the closet. If you’ve made a bargello quilt that you would like to share I’d love to see it!  If you have any questions or suggestions let me know in the comments. Happy quilting!

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