Sunday, 13 October 2013

How to make a Photo Quilt - A Tutorial

A few months back I was asked if it would be possible to make a photo quilt/wall hanging made up of family photos.  This is not something I'd done before, but I jumped at the chance to make something different and truly unique.  It was going to be going to Afghanistan as a special keepsake so it had to be perfect.  Here it is!

So if you've never made a photo quilt before, and would like to know how, this is how I did it. 
1) First, the photos needed to be converted to fabric.  There are two options here.  
a) Purchase some fabric sheets, specially designed to go through domestic printers, and print your photos that way.
b) Use a specialist company to convert your photos to fabric. 

I opted to go the professional route, as I was not sure that my printer would provide high enough quality fabric photos.  I used a company called Pictures to Fabric based in the UK, who were excellent throughout all stages of the process.  After some discussion it was jointly decided to have the photos printed onto faux suede, as this had a lovely feel to it, the photos came out really clearly and it was easy to stitch with. 
2) In order to get the  photos to the printers, I used my Dropbox account.  There were 25 photos in total, which my customer emailed to me, and I put them into my Dropbox account.  I've you've never used Dropbox before, it's a great way of sharing a large collection of photos.  You simply invite the recipient to access the folder.  So Pictures to Fabric were able to access and print them.  I had all the photos printed on one piece of fabric, with a gap in between them.  My customer chose colour photos but you could also opt for black and white or sepia. 

3) I cut all the photos down to 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" fussy cutting them, to capture the best part of the photo.  I then stitched them all together in the normal way.


4) Next, I needed a border for my quilt, and my customer chose fabrics from Tula Pink Salt Water collection for a scrappy border.  A Good choice!


Of course you can have great fun playing with layouts and fabrics and colours here, the world is your oyster :-)

6) I basted the quilt using quilting pins and stitched in the ditch around all of the photographs.  You don't want any fancy quilting here, as you may obscure all your lovely photos!    I put my stitch in the ditch foot to the test for the first time, and it made the job much easier.   

7) For the scrappy border, I decided to add some hand quilted detail.  I reached for my favourite Anchor no. 8 pearle cotton thread and did a loopy design all around the edge.

If you look closely you can see the subtle hand quilting

But of course you could quilt this any way you like. 
8) Bind the quilt in the normal way.  For this quilt I used a coordinating Salt Water fabric. 


9) As this quilt is going to eventually going to be a wall hanging, I created a hanging sleeve to go on the back.  I watched the this tutorial on Youtube for guidance.  

Here you can see the opening. 

This is the back of the quilt. 

And here it is, finished!

I hope you like it and found this tutorial useful.  If you ever have a go at making one, I'd love to hear from you!

Finally I would like to say thank you to the family who asked me to make this quilt.  Firstly for trusting me to make it, and secondly for allowing me to share their family photos and the quilt on my blog.  I feel honoured to have made it for them, and very excited that it's going to be travelling to Afganistan.  What a wonderful way to feel close to your family and take them with you. 

Sarah x

Linking up with:

Handmade Harbour



stitch by stitch


  1. Hi Sarah, What a fantastic idea for a keepsake!! It's beautiful, and I am sure it's going to be treasured forever! How brilliant that you are so close. Do you do any craft fairs here?
    Sarah x

  2. What a fantastic idea. I love the fabrics you have used for the border too.

  3. Oh that is so much nicer than a bunch of paper photos getting scrunched up!

  4. What a great way to take photo memories to far flung corners of the world. You did a beautiful job.

  5. Wow that is amazing. So much love and hard work. And such lovely fabrics. I ams ure it will be treasured.

  6. Wow! Sarah, What a wonderful quilt :-) I've seen photos quilts before, but never one that I like as much as this one. You have done a brilliant job!

  7. It's beautiful, and I'm sure it will be treasured for years to come.

  8. Beautiful quilt and great tutorial, thanks for sharing the step by step process.

  9. It's absolutely beautiful and a lovely keepsake to be kept and hopefully handed down through the generations.


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