Memory Quilts Made Easier with TAP

Recently, I was looking through pictures of bird art I've made over the years. After the winter we've had, just seeing this bird building its nest on the flowering apple branch makes me happy! Spring has arrived (by the calendar, at least), and that means that even if it snows again, the wintry remains will soon melt away.

robin with apple blossoms by vivika hansen denegre
My 'Robin with Apple Blossoms' quilt.

I made this little Robin with Apple Blossoms piece a couple of years ago. I scanned the image and printed it out onto Transfer Artist Paper TM or TAP for a client who was making a custom quilt for a new baby in the family. She wanted to use the image, but it had to be washable.

The transfer came out great. I'd not used the product before, but could tell that it is much easier than any other method I have used for transferring images. In the past, when you wanted to make a photo quilt or a memory quilt with images, you could use  iron-on t-shirt transfers, but they made the fabric stiff and didn't always hold up to washing.

Another popular way to make transfers on fabric is with gel medium and an inkjet printout. But the success of the transfer often relied on serendipity and they were only suitable for art quiltsyou couldn't wash them.

TAP is different. It's an iron-on transfer paper, but the inks combine with the polymer coating on the paper. When heated, the inks fuse into the fabric and become part of it, rendering the image permanent and washable.

easter bonnet by lesley riley, photo memory quilt
'Easter Bonnet' by Lesley Riley. Lesley used TAP and paints to
create this charming vignette, perfect for a photo memory quilt.

TAP works on all types of fabric plus paper, leather, and more. And, you can draw and paint on TAP using inks and acrylics, markers, and pencil. In the April/May 2009 issue of Quilting Arts, TAP developer and fiber artist Lesley Riley explained how to use TAP with other supplies to enhance your custom quilts and other fiber art.

For example, in the "Easter Bonnet" sample shown here, she painted a sheet of TAP with Golden® fluid acrylic and used Portfolio Series® oil pastels to create the lawn area. On a separate sheet of TAP, she printed a photo and some bird ephemera. After trimming the excess white areas around the images, Lesley used a glue stick to tack the images in place over the painted background, flipped it over, and ironed the composition onto fabric.

When you want to turn treasured photos and drawings into memory quilts, or just want to transfer an image onto fabric to use as a focal point or tell a story, I definitely recommend TAP.

In upcoming issues of Quilting Arts, we have articles on how to transfer your paintings onto fabric with fusible web and gallery quilts using photo transfers. You won't want to miss anything, so be sure your subscription is up to date!

P.S. How do you prefer to make photo transfers? Leave your tips below.

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7 thoughts on “Memory Quilts Made Easier with TAP

  1. I have my photos printed at FotosOnFabric.com. The original image quality is the only limiting factor. I’ve seen soft, cotton, custom photo fabric as large as 58″ be printed by them. The clarity is amazing!! I think they have a Facebook page too. They’re a memory quilters dream come true!!!

  2. My favorite way to transfer images onto fabric is to scan the photo/picture into the computer and then print it on Painted Treasures, fabric that can go through my home printer. The fabric is cotton and comes in white or ivory. It comes in packs of five sheets. I’ve also had success using Bubble Jet on colored fabric. You soak the fabric in Bubble Jet, let it dry, then iron an 8 x 10 piece onto freezer paper. You can then run it through a home printer. This fabric then has to be set with another liquid…don’t have the name of that one with me, but they can be purchased at the same place…look online.

  3. My favorite way to transfer images onto fabric is to scan the photo/picture into the computer and then print it on Painted Treasures, fabric that can go through my home printer. The fabric is cotton and comes in white or ivory. It comes in packs of five sheets. I’ve also had success using Bubble Jet on colored fabric. You soak the fabric in Bubble Jet, let it dry, then iron an 8 x 10 piece onto freezer paper. You can then run it through a home printer. This fabric then has to be set with another liquid…don’t have the name of that one with me, but they can be purchased at the same place…look online.

  4. I love to make “old tintype” photos using TAP on 36 gauge aluminum metal foil sheets. The photos are quick to adhere to the metal and they come out looking almost exactly like aged tintype pictures to be used as embellishments on my collage art quilts.

  5. I like to use “photo fabric,” which comes in 3 varieties: cotton broadcloth, twill and silk hatori — I can manipulate my photos any way I like – Photoshop is great for special effects – and then print using an inkjet printer. To print on my own cotton fabrics, I make a mixture of alum, washing soda and liquid fabric softener then dip in fabric, squeeze out and dry, iron onto freezer paper & run through the inkjet printer.

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