Friday, December 17, 2010

Printing on Fabric Sheets

Like me, there are probably tons of people out there who have digital cameras and take hundreds of pictures and then wonder how to use them all. We can print the photo, or have it printed and buy a nice picture frame but then everyone can do that. Maybe we want to make something a little bit different?

A year or two ago, I watched a friend do something very interesting with her photo and I just had to try it myself. She printed the photo onto a fabric sheet and then sewed cotton fabric around it to create the frame.

This is the finished result of my efforts!

If you have ever made a quilt before, you will no problems at all making one of these. Like a quilt, where you normally have your quilt block, you have your photo. There is a frame or border around the photo or quilt block, a small band of colour and then the outside binding. The binding is folded in half, sewn onto the front and then turned to the back so that you have a finished edge, just the same as a quilt.
For this project you will need:
digital photo
June Tailor or similar type photo sheets
inkjet printer
1 1/2 inch strip of fabric for inside border (width of fabric, usually 45 inches)
2 1/2 inch strip of fabric for outside border or binding (width of fabric, 45 inches, more or less)
3/4 inch strip of fabric in a contrasting colour (width of fabric, 45 inches more or less)
First of all, make sure you have a fairly good inkjet printer and your ink cartridges have lots of ink in them. I am using a HP Photosmart C6280 All-in-One printer to print my pictures. I have only ever used one kind of fabric sheets and it is the June Tailor sheets. The instructions for using these sheets are fairly simple and on the package. Print your photo onto the sheets. Let them dry, peel off that paper backing and then heat set the colour by ironing the sheet with a hot dry iron (no steam).
To make them colourfast for washing later, put the sheet in water, DO NOT WRING OR SQUEEZE OR RUB, and then iron till dry, again with a hot dry iron. I carefully iron the front and then turn the sheet over onto a sheet of paper towelling to iron the back. In the photo below, you can see that I printed 4 copies of the same photo on one 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch fabric sheet. The reason why I put the photo side down on the paper towelling is because some of the colour might come off of the photo when ironing and you may not want to discolour your ironing board cover.

You might be able to see in this photo that some of the red has come out of the sheet and discoloured the paper towel. I found that the amount of colour that comes off does not affect the colour in the photo at all in any of the photos I have printed.You can print your photograph any size that you want, up to the 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches which is the size of the fabric sheet. You can print one large photo or do what I did and print four photos on one sheet. I printed the photos and cut the photos apart to create 4 separate photos.

I then take the black 100 % cotton fabric and cut a 1 1/2 inch strip across the width of the fabric and also a 2 1/2 inch strip, again, across the width. ( giving me a 45 inch by 1 1/2 inch strip and a 45 inch by 2 1/2 inch strip). I have used black fabric because I like the look of the finished photo using black. In the past, I have tried to match various coloured fabrics to my photo but what I found was, if I used a coloured fabric for my borders, my photo got lost in the colour and was not the hi-lite of the project. By using black, the photo stands out which is what I want. You can "audition" or try different fabrics for your own project/photo and decide what you like best. Also, I generally use only cottons for my sewing but you can try mixed blend fabrics, silks, etc.

I then take my 1 1/2 inch strip of black fabric and sew it right sides together onto the top and bottom of the fabric photo, trim off any excess off the sides and iron the black borders away from the photo. I then add the 1 1/2 inch strip of fabric to the sides to completely frame my photo, again trimming to cut off any excess.

I like a little bit of colour in my frame so I then I took a 3/4 of an inch strip of a yellowy/orange cotton fabric and ironed it in half lengthwise. Take the yellow strip, cut it into 4 pieces to match the 4 sides of the framed photo and sew the 4 strips onto your photo frame putting the raw edge of the yellow strip against the raw edge of the black border. I stitched as close to the edge as I could using a basting stitch on my sewing machine.

This is a picture of my photo with the 4 yellow strips sewn on top of the black inner border.

One thing to watch out for is that you take some time to make sure that your yellow strips are sewn on evenly. What I mean is that be careful of what strip overlaps. In the photo below, if you look at the two corners of the project you can see that my outside yellow strips overlap the top and bottom yellow strip.
I then took my 2 1/2 inch strip of black fabric and ironed it in half lengthwise so you end up with a folded strip that is 45 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide. If you have ever put an outside binding on a quilt, you know that when you join the two ends together where they meet, you don't want alot of bulk or fabric so you cut the two ends on an angle so that there is less fabric and thus, less thickness. I start my binding with the angle cut, folded and ironed, to make the finishing easier. I also sew the binding doing mitred corners on my project. I will let you do a google search for demonstrations on how to do a mitred corners on quilts. They might seem difficult to do but if you just go along slowly, they aren't difficult at all and you do get better each time you do one.

This is a photo of the outside border (or binding) has been put overtop the yellow strip and sewn using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
I then take my backing, which in this case is a fall print which I have ALOT of, right side facing OUT or to the back, and then put the quilt batting on top of that, and then put my framed photo that I have just sewn. Again, I sew around the framed photo using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, basically sewing ontop of the line of stitching I just did to sew on my binding.

When I have sewn through all 3 layers, on all 4 sides, I trim the edges so they come out perhaps 1/8th of an inch outside the edge of my framed photo.

Flip the binding out to the outside and around to the back.

Pin the binding at the back so that it goes slightly beyond the line of stitching and then hand sew the binding in place. And you have your almost finished piece!!!

I say "almost" finished because the only thing left to do is put a hanger on the back. What I have done in the past is make a sleeve in which to put a hanger and hand sew it into place. What is much simpler is, before putting your backing, quilt padding/batting and front together, you can machine sew a sleeve onto the your back, making sure it is centered and won't be interfered with when you sew on the binding. This is a sample of a sleeve I put on an older project with the hanger shown as well.

And who says you can only use one photo?? This is a project I am in the process of completing now for my parents that has 4 photos in it.

I have never done one of these demonstration blogs before, so have a feeling that I left alot of stuff out but as I said at the beginning, I am assuming that you have some quilting/sewing knowledge and so won't find the instructions too bad. In either case, it is a fun project to do and is a lovely gift or just something different that can be done with photographs.

Well, with Christmas being only a week away, wow!! Lots to do so, Merry Christmas to all and much happiness and laughter in the New Year!


  1. Ab so lute ly perfect!!!
    Even I understood everything, so take it as a proof that it is very well explained.

    and NOW I need a tutorial on how to take photos as good as yours...


  2. hey! I saw your tutorials!! You need no explanations at all on how to work a camera!!! Your photos are great, as is your sewing!!! but thanks! :-))

  3. Une bien sympathique mise en pages de tes photos.