Saturday, April 18, 2009

Photo Memory Quilts

In 2004 I made to very special photo quilts. The first was to commemorate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. The second was to commemorate my daughter and son-in-law's marriage. Both were a great challenge for two reasons. All the photos came in different sizes and colors, and photo transfer to fabric using a computer was still newer technology. The wall quilt that I made for the folks was first. I gathered pictures for almost a year before I even started. I might have been thinking I could do some kind of framed collage or something, but then I discovered the photo transfer paper and a quilt was born. Laying out the photos was made easier with the help of my husband. We matched different time frames and subjects. While I was adding the finishing touches, my husband and his brother made the quilt holder. It was a very special gift for two very special people.

Once Jamie saw Grammie and Grandpa's quilt, she had a plan. She collected photos from her husband-to-be and dug through all of ours matching up different time frames and topics. Then she sent me some blue striped fabric and told me those were her colors. I panicked for a few days because I was sure I could not work with the stripe. I asked if I could add any other fabric to make it work and was told "okay." Using the stripe for borders and binding seemed to work out well. At the reception it was hung near the guest table for everyone to view. Now it hangs in their stairwell. It is much bigger than the folks' quilt, but then the request was for one that would cover a large section of the wall at the reception.

For those of you that want to make a photo memory quilt, there are now lots techniques and sources to help you apply the photos to the fabric. Check out a few before you decide. Some of the transforns hold up better for washing than others, so if it is going to be a well used quilt this is an important consideration. Use you computer skills to resize the photos, but remember if it looks grainy on paper, it will look even more grainy on the fabric. All photos may be turned to black and white with the click of a button, or you can try other options to create the color palette you love. You can consider adding small sentimental objects if the quilt is going to be used as a wall hanging. When you are ready to start, feel free ask me questions, and I will share what I learned.

Personal note: I was not a longarm quilter when I made these quilts, and I had very little experience with any machine quilting, so I selected a good cotton batting and tied the quilts with embroidery floss. This worked fine, but, this winter, I did notice a little sagging in the bigger quilt. I recommend that you use in-the-ditch quilting or a simple all-over quilting pattern to keep everything from shifting. these types of quilt designs will not take away from the main focus of the project.

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