Worry-free Quilt Designs with Digital Photos: 6 Tips

frog quilt design from photo
My frog quilt design started as
a digital photo.

pokey boltonI've been using digital photos as a basis for my quilt designs for quite some time now. Digital technology has improved so much, too. It's easier than ever to turn a photo into a quilt design, from a basic cotton quilt with a geometric quilting design or an art quilt with complex quilting motifs

So it always surprises me when artists tell me they don't use photos in quilt design because their afraid of making a mistake, they think they need a fancy camera, or they believe the whole process is too complicated.

I mean, there are apps for that!

To help you get over your anxieties and join in on the digital fun, I asked fiber artist Diane Rusin Doran to offer some of her tips in digital quilting design and photo collage. She is an expert in using photoseven ones taken with her phoneto create beautiful digital collage art quilts.

Here is what Diane says:

photo for flower quilt design
flower quilt design
Diane's flower photo, top, served as the
inspiration for her photo collage quilt
design, above.

1. Have fun! Give yourself permission to play around with your design in the software.

2. If you like what happens after using a filter or modification, save it for later use. You can always come back and modify it more.

3. Be creative. Look around you at shapes, colors, and lines, and photograph them for use in your collages.

4. Think outside the box. Use photographs in your collages, but also consider scanning in drawings, paintings, old documents or photos, even fabric that you've painted, dyed, or screen printed.

5. If you make a "mistake" just undo it.

6. Think of the computer screen as your virtual design wall. Just as you use a physical design wall to study your composition, your virtual design wall can serve the same purpose.

I think those are great tips. I especially like tip #3: sometimes a brick wall, a grate, or peeling paint makes a nice background, or you can use your photo-editing software to turn the photos into line drawings to use as a quilting templates for your free-motion stitching.

There are so many possibilities. Diane demonstrates many of the ways you can use digital photos for quilt design in her new Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, Digital Collage for Quilt Design: From Start to Finish, now available.

P.S. Do you use photos in your quilt designs? Why or why not? Leave a comment below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Quilt Designs, Quilting Daily Blog

5 thoughts on “Worry-free Quilt Designs with Digital Photos: 6 Tips

  1. I used photos to make a quilt for my family reunion. I took photos or everyone there doing our typical activities and made a quilt with the names of the people in the picture so that newbies could maybe figure out who everyone was! Meg

  2. An additional way to use photography is in creating a teensy weensy digital image of your finished quilt and print on to printable fabric. From there, it’s up to you how to display it.

    I’ve done this twice to celebrate really special quilts. One I scaled to 1″=12″ and put it into my dollhouse. The other I scaled to 1/2″=12″ and put on a tiny brass bed I got at a dollhouse store. I added a ribbon so we can hang it on our Christmas tree.

  3. I am new to quilting arts, and relatively new to plain old quilting, but I can see so many new ways to go! I would like to learn how to make a quilt block pattern from a digital photo, I have some great flower images I would like to convert to quilt blocks, can anyone point me in the right direction to get started? I love Quilting Arts newsletter, it has opened up so many new ideas to me!