Make Picture Perfect Photo Quilts

In the old days of making photo quilts, several years back, I felt lucky if I was able to achieve a decent image transfer, let alone worry much about cropping the image in an 'artistic' way.

photo quilt lesley riley
Photo quilt by Lesley Riley, using TAP image
transfer paper and modern piecing.

With the ease of taking good quality pictures with cameras, the ability of almost everyone with a computer to scan and digitize old photos, and products like Transfer Artist PaperTM (TAP) to use for image transfer techniques, the options for making picture quilts or fabric colleges that really tell a story are better than ever.

Fiber artist Lesley Riley is the queen of the image transfer, and recently I watched her demonstrate how to make a quilt with pictures. She has made quilts this way forever, but in recent years she's been playing more with scale and color, and creating machine-pieced background that, all together, give her quilts a more modern look. In fact, she calls them modern memory quilts.

Lesley begins with her stash of photos and ephemera such as old letters and scans them into her computer. Here are some of her tips for preparing the photos to make sure you get the results you want for a one-block picture quilt:

• Use photo-editing software to crop the photo to eliminate unnecessary background, adjust the resolution, and enlarge it to the desire size.

• Enhance the photo with one or all of the following options: auto-contrast, curves, vibrance, hue, saturation, selective color adjustment.

• Test the edited photo for size and color by printing it in draft mode (this conserves printer ink). Readjust the image size to balance the composition, if needed.

• You don't want the image to be too small for the block or to overpower the block. It can take 2-3 tries to get the size just right.

• If possible, print out a small test on TAP to verify that the colors transfer as you wish. I often have to oversaturate the image to get the colors to pop the way I want for a high saturated look on fabric.

• Print in reverse onto TAP, following the manufacturer's directions. Transfer the image onto the white fabric.

Lesley demonstrates her entire process from start to finish in her Quilting Arts Workshop video, Modern Memory Quilts: Tell Stories with Image Transfers, Crazy Quilting, and More. She is such a generous artist and teacher, and you will learn so much about how to tell stories and keep memories with fabric and photos.



Other topics you may enjoy:


Quilting Daily Blog