Friday, April 22, 2011


One of the most unique and enjoyable projects I do is making a photo quilt. They are instant heirlooms. They portray a family's history, genealogy or any story all on fabric. I love putting the photos together-old and new. We usually combine several photos in collage form on each block so a lot can be told in the space of the quilt with accessories.
Here is a family quilt ordered for the matriarch of one family. It has 8 generations in several hundred photos on the quilt along with a pillow scarf that featured generations of times past. 

with its matching pillow scarf
2 blocks from quilt

another heirloom 7 generation quilt
with matching pillow sham

If you have thought about making a photo quilt or wallhanging but didn't know how to get started, here is how to begin with preparing fabric for inkjet photo printing.

 Being dissatisfied with purchased printable fabric sheets, I started preparing them myself. The printed sheets have been washed several times to check for color fastness. I would suggest test washing a printed square in mild detergent or the suggested quilt wash on the treatment solution to check for colorfastness. The printed sheets are completely washable but these projects are usually not the type that would be washed frequently. Through several washings, the treated fabrics have shown no noticeable fading, however. Treat the fabric as any fine textile by keeping out of direct sunlight as fading will occur. i would also suggest spraying the quilt with a fabric shield to reduce the chance of spills and stains. To remove dust from quilt:shake, tumble in dryer or vacuum gently with brush attachment.

The Bubble Jet Set allows the ink to grip the fabric. The 16 oz. bottle will treat 40-50 [8 1/2" x 11"] sheets. This translates to 4- 5 yards of 100% cotton. I usually treat the 5 yards since I am at the task anyway and will have plenty on hand. This is enough squares for 2 of my queen size quilts or several wallhangings or accessories.

I hope the following video helps you to get started making your one of a kind masterpiece.


Bubble Jet Set [16 oz.]

5 yards high thread count 100% cotton [I have had good success also with broadcloth-you need to test this for yourself]

rubber gloves
wax coated freezer wrap

tub large enough for soaking fabric

rotary cutter/ruler/cutting mat



step 1: cut fabric into one yard pieces [easier to manage]

step 2: place 1-2 folded yards at a time into tub, pour portion of Bubble Jet Set solution over,
until all fabric is in tub, all solution poured over. Wearing rubber gloves, turn fabric to insure solution is thoroughly distributed. Soak 5 minutes

step 3: wearing rubber gloves, lay fabric flat or hang to dry. Do not wring or use dryer.
step 4: while fabric is drying, cut freezer wrap into 8 1/2" x 11" sheets
step 5: cut dry fabric across width into 11 1/2" strips.
step 6: press shiny side freezer wrap sheets onto 11 1/2" fabric strips.

step 7: cut fabric/freezer wrap strips into 8 1/2" x 11" sheets. [each fabric strip yields 4 or 5 printable sheets]


tip: all edges must be pressed securely together so they will not jam the printer. Make sure there are no loose strings on edges or on body of fabric [loose strings may jam printer and ink will not print under loose strings causing blotches]

tip: heat set blocks after printing is dry

Now the easy part is done, get those photos out and get them organized. Use your software to edit as you wish and start printing. Photo quilts are instant heirlooms and a once in a lifetime gift to yourself or others.

---------Happy Quilting---------
Carolyn Wainscott, the quilting granny
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