Polaroid Block Sew-Along Guide: Fabric Requirements and Trimming

Sew Along 2017

To find the other Polaroid Sew-Along posts and tutorials, please head over to the Polaroid Sew-Along Page!


I think one of the best aspects of this Sew-Along is how you have complete control over the finished product. Are you interested in making a mini quilt? Awesome! Do you want to make a clutch? COOL! Are you all about pillows? Yes! Do you want to create a circle skirt with all polaroids just above the hem? So cute! You absolutely have the creative freedom to follow your vision.

For all participants, I recommend using the following materials:

  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • rotary cutter (45mm will make it easier for some of these smaller cuts)
  • acrylic rulers
    • If you don’t have a 2.5″ square acrylic ruler, I recommend picking one up. These are really great for fussy cutting, and are the perfect size to cut the center of your polaroid.
    • I also recommend a square acrylic ruler that is somewhere in size from 4.5″ square to 6.5″ square. This will not only be the perfect size to trim your polaroid to size, but it is also an easy size to handle to create either drop-shadow blocks or tilted polaroid blocks.
    • When I first started quilting, I picked up this pack of omnigrid rulers. It really does offer an amazing range of rulers that you can use for a wide variety of projects. Highly recommend!
  • washi tape or painters tape
  • a sewing machine that you can sew an accurate 1/4″ seam and a scant 1/4″ seam on.
  • an iron that gets nice and hot and has steam

Step 4: Admire your fun new block! Oooooh. Aaaaah!

Fabric Requirements (per block/polaroid):

Below you will find the fabric requirements needed for your polaroid block, adding a drop shadow and background sashing, and creating a tilted block with and without sashing. At the end of Section 1 and Section 2, there are photos showing you how to line up your ruler to trim the polaroids. This step is necessary in preparing the block to use in projects. Trimming for both the Drop Shadow Block with Sashing and the Tilted Block (with and without a drop shadow) will be explained later on in their respective guides.

Please Note: Today is only fabric requirements and trimming. Full, step-by-step guides on piecing your polaroids, adding drop shadows, and creating tilted blocks will be released over the next two weeks. These guides will be the perfect aid for beginning sewists who need a little extra guidance beyond the pictures below.

Section 1: Polaroid Block

Each Polaroid block needs the following:

(1) 2.5″ square (the cute little fussy cut center)

(2) 1″ x 2.5″ strips

(1) 1″ x 4.5″ strip

(1) 1.5″ x 4.5″ strip

Polaroid Sew Along 2017 Block Measurements

This will yield a block that measures 3″ x 3.5″ unfinished || 2.5″ x 3″ finished.

TIP: Before moving forward, please note that you absolutely need to make each layer larger and then trim down, and this is true regardless of how many steps you are taking to make your blocks (just adding sashing to your polaroid, adding sashing on a tilted block with a drop shadow, or any other combination). You are working with very small measurements on these blocks. Depending on which Polaroid Adventure you choose to follow below, you may be working with strips that measure only 1/4″ finished! My blocks are nice and crisp because after every single step, I square/trim my block. If you don’t take the time to do this, you will have a block that is a bit more organic and wonky.

Trimming your Polaroid (gallery view):

Trimming your Polaroid (text only):

Step 1: Lay your ruler on top of your untrimmed block, making sure that the 1/2″ line on the top and right side of your ruler are lined up with the top and right seam of your fussy cut square. You can see the two blue marks that I made for myself as a guide in the upper right hand corner of the fussy cut square. This cut is important! You will know that you are lined up correctly if the 45 degree line on your ruler passes through the top right corner and bottom left corner of your fussy cut square. You can also see that a 2″ “box” on the ruler surrounds the fussy cut square (the 1/2″ line on the right, the 1/2″ line on the top, the 2.5″ line on the leeft, and the 2.5″ line on the bottom).

Step 2: Trim away the fabric to the right and top of the ruler.

Step 3: Flip your block over, lining up the two edges that you just cut with the 3″ line and the 3.5″ line respectively. You can see how the washi tape on my ruler makes it easy for me to quickly identify those lines. You can double check that your ruler is in the right place by making sure that the 1/2″ line on the right side of your ruler is in line with the right edge of the fussy cut block, and the 1″ line at the top of the ruler in in line with the top ede of the fussy cut block.

Step 4: Trim!


If you are interested in adding sashing to your Polaroid:

The size of your sashing really depends on the size that you want your finished block. Above you can see that we trimmed our blocks to 3″ x 3.5″ unfinished. This should be the size of your polaroid regardless of how wide you make your sashing.

Sashing for the Polaroid Sew Along 2017

The following measurements are for a 4.5″ unfinished block. Within the next week or so, I will be updating this post with a free download for how to adjust the size of the size of your sashing for a range of block sizes. In the meantime, for a 4.5″ unfinished block you will need:

(1) 3″ x 3.5″ Polaroid, trimmed (see above)

(2) 1.5″ x 3.5″ strips

(1) 1.25″ x 5″ strips
Sashing for the Polaroid Sew Along 2017This will yield a block that is around 5″ square. Trim down your block to 4.5″ square using the following pictures as a guide.

Trimming the Sashing (gallery view):

Trimming the Sashing (text only):

Step 1: Lay your ruler on top of your untrimmed block, making sure that the 1″ line on the right side of your ruler is lined up with where the right edge of the polaroid meets the sashing. The 3/4″ line on top of the ruler should be in line with where the top edge of the polaroid block meets the sashing. You can see where I marked blue lines in the top right corner of my ruler to use as a guide. I also marked blue lines at the bottom left corner of the polaroid where the 3.5″ and 5.75″ markings intersect.

Step 2: Trim the right and top sides of your block.

Step 3: Flip your block over, and line up the two sides that you just trimmed with the 4.5″ lines on your ruler. You will be trimming 1″ away from where the edge of the polaroid and the sashing meet on the right side, and you will be trimming 3/4″ away from where the edge of the polaroid and the sashing meet on the top.

Step 3: Trim!

Drop Shadow Block

Step Section 2: Drop Shadow Block

If you are interested in creating a piece that uses the drop shadow technique, but you aren’t crazy about a black/gray color scheme, you are in luck! In terms of color selection, you are only limited by the fabric colors manufactured! Since Robert Kaufman now has 303 colors available in Kona, and other manufacturers are starting to roll out tons of colors in their own lines of solids (Cotton + Steel, Riley Blake, Art Gallery Fabrics… you name it!) your choices are nearly endless.

So, keep an open mind and check back tomorrow for more on color. Full, step-by-step guides on piecing your polaroids with drop shadows will be released on 5/11. In the meantime, drop shadow block specifications!

If you are interested in adding a drop shadow to your Polaroid, you will need the following:

(1) Polaroid Block, trimmed (See Section 1)

(2) 1″ square of “background” material

(1) 1″ x 2.5″ strip of “shadow” material

(1) 1″ x 3.5″ strip of “shadow” material
Polaroid Sew Along 2017 Drop Shadow Measurements

Trim the bottom and the side down 1/2″ using the following as a guide. Your block now measures 3.25″ x 3.75″

Trimming the Drop Shadow (gallery view):

Trimming the Drop Shadow (text only):

Step 1: Lay your polaroid on your cutting mat so that the drop shadow is on the right and top sides. Ooooops! You can see here that I didn’t cut a long enough strip of shadow for the right side of my polaroid. Good thing we added in more fabric so that we can trim down!

Step 2: Lay down your ruler so that the 1/2″ markings are laying on top of the seam of the polaroid and shadow. You can see here that the blue markings I made for trimming my polaroid earlier on work as a guide for the drop shadow as well! The 1/2″ intersection should be right on the corner of the polaroid. YES!

Step 3: Trim!

In order to add sashing around your polaroid block with a drop shadow, you will need the following background fabric:

(1) Drop Shadow Polaroid Block, trimmed (see Section 2)

(2) 1.5″ x 3.25″ strips

(1) 1.5″ x 5.75″ strip

(1) 2″ x 5.75″ stripPolaroid Sew Along 2017 Sashing Measurements

The above background fabric will give you an unfinished block around 5.75″ square. I realize that this is pretty large, but it will really allow you to trim your block down square. You can always use strips that are a bit more narrow if you don’t want to trim so much off! I cut down my blocks to 4.5″ from the 5.75″ square.

Section 3: Tilted Block

Tilted Block Polaroid Sew Along 2017

Full, step-by-step guides on creating tilted blocks with and without drop shadows can be found here.

Turning your Polaroid Blocks into tilted blocks is a great way to add some interest to your overall design. The great news is that even though the polaroid in the middle of the block is tilted, your block is still square, so you can chose to do only 1-2 tilted blocks if you want! You can also easily change the direction that the polaroid is tilting, as well as how severe the tilt is. Full, step-by-step guides on creating tilted blocks with and without drop shadows can be found here. Enjoy!

tilted polaroid sew-along 2017

In order to create a tilted block with a drop shadow, you will need:

(1) Polaroid Block with Drop Shadow, trimmed (See Section 2)

(2) 2″ x 3.25″ strips

(2) 2″ x 6.75″ strips

Tilted Block Polaroid Sew Along 2017

In order to create a tilted block without a drop shadow, you will need:

(1) Polaroid Block, Trimmed (See Section 1)

(2) 2″ x 3″ strips

(2) 2″ x 6.5″ strips

Tilted Block Polaroid Sew-Along 2017

 Full, step-by-step guides on creating tilted blocks with and without drop shadows can be found here.

But I Don’t Want Creative Freedom!

I understand how too much creative freedom and too many options can be really intimidating for some folks, and that is ok. For those of you who would like a more concrete project, I’ve calculated the amount of fabric you need to make approximately 30-36 blocks. You are still going to have the freedom to choose the size block that you want to end up with (within a couple of inches), and how many polaroids you commit to making. These two factors will determine how large or small your quilt will end up being (mini quilt? baby quilt? crib quilt?). If you are at a place right now that you want to just make a bunch of blocks, and see where the project takes you, then I say go with it! The following measurements will give you a whole bunch of blocks to work with.

In order to make approximately 30-36 polaroid blocks, you will need:

2 Fat Quarters of White

1 Fat Quarter of Black/Dark Gray

1 Fat Quarter of Light Gray

Remember: Urban Sewciety has bundles available for anyone who is interested in purchasing a Polaroid Kit!

Congratulations if you made it through that entire post! Phew! I have some great tutorials coming up that will explain different techniques for piecing the blocks, step-by-step guides for calculating custom sizes, and full tutorials on how to make drop shadows and titled blocks!

Happy Sewing!


  • Jen U.

    Meg — Muchos mahalos for this awesome, well-written (grammatically AND technically) and thorough tutorial.  I have a heap of Polaroid blocks accumulated from the recent IG swap and did not know where to start with the trimming process. so all the detailed info with photos is super helpful.  I definitely want to try some tilted, drop shadow block layouts, so looking forward to the May14th post on this topic.  Rock on, sister!

  • […] In my last post I gave you a very thorough run down on the pieces needed to make individual blocks. Although this is a great way to use up scraps and various cuts that you may have laying around, it isn’t the most efficient way to piece these blocks. Not only does it take more time to individually cut the strips and piece the polaroids, it also creates a lot of waste. If you know that you are going to be making a lot of these blocks (and by “a lot” I mean more than say… 5 or 10), then you may want to consider chain piecing them. Be aware, this is not your average chain piecing! I recommend chain piecing them on an uncut strip. […]

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  • This is such a great, exhaustive post.  Thank you so much for all of the information.  I was hoping to do a polaroid block that had a 4.5″ center square and I know all of the measurements.  If I made these blocks during/for the QAL- would that be okay?  Thanks!

  • Actually, the polaroid size I have in mind is 3″ square(just the middle/picture) and the whole polaroid is about 4.5″ x 5.5″ I am pretty sure!

  • Hi Laurie! That sounds great! I’m going to be doing a post next week all about changing the sizes of your blocks to any size you’d like, so feel free to use dimensions that work for your project. Just make sure to follow the posting guidelines and you’re good to go!

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