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Measure, Cut, Trim! How to frame a fabric photo into a quilting block

by Paul Leger

Yesterday, I demonstrated how you can easily print photos onto fabric, to make a memory quilt, with the help of the OLFA 1212″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler and Sew Easy Freezer Paper for Quilting and Applique.

Today I’ll show you how I framed and trimmed the photos. To do so, I needed the help of the following tools.

·         OLFA 1212″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler

·         OLFA 6″ x 12″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler

·         OLFA Splash Rotary Cutter 45mm

·         OLFA Square Rotating Cutting Mat

OLFA rulers, cutter and blades on a cutting mat; OLFA Splash Rotary Cutter 45mm, OLFA Tungsten Tool Steel Rotary Blade 45mm, OLFA 12.5″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler, OLFA 6″ x 12″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler, OLFA 6″ x 24″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler, OLFA Square Rotating Cutting Mat

OLFA essential tools

With all the photos printed, I purposely cut and trimmed all the photos in different sizes. I like the idea of having photos with a variety of shapes and sizes, because it adds interest and makes it less formal looking. Think of grandma’s mantle with all the photos, small, big, wide, in color and black and white. What fun it was to look at.

Multiple photos trimmed ready to be framed with fabric.

Trimmed photos

Adding a frame around a photo is no different than adding a border around a quilt. You add the frame to the sides first. Then you add the top and bottom frame pieces.

With every photo measuring a different size, there is not a one size fits all when it comes to cutting the fabrics for each photo’s frame pieces.

Note: Read the next two steps and suggestion prior to starting.

I decided when I started this quilt, that each framed photo (block size) would measure 12½” x 12½” unfinished. With the block size in mind, the first step was to measure each photo individually. This photo measure 6½”x 8½” unfinished.

Step 1

Because the photo is 8½” wide, I needed to add pieces measuring 2½” x 6½” to both sides of the photo, this made the block 12½” wide.

Note: All seams are ¼”.

Strips of fabrics are added to each side of the photo.

Add frame to sides of photo first.

Step 2

To add the top and bottom frame pieces, I again looked at the size of the photo, which is 6½” in height. Adding a fabric strip measuring 3½” x 12½” to the top and bottom gave the block it’s needed height of 12½”.

Frame pieces are added to the top and bottom of the photo to completely frame the photo.

Add the frame pieces to the top and bottom of photo.

TIP Cut the frame pieces a bit wider than needed. I’ve learned from past experiences to add at least ¼” more than is needed because if I measure or cut wrong, or sew a bit more than a ¼”, that little bit of extra fabric ensures I’ll have a 12½” x 12½” block after trimming. Looking at the example for this photo, the pieces I cut measure 2¾” x 6½” for the side and 3¾” x 13” for the top and bottom frame pieces.

OLFA makes two rotating cutting mats. The OLFA Square Rotating Cutting Mat measures 12’ x 12” and the OLFA Square Rotating Cutting Mat measures 17” x 17” which is a great size for cutting the 12½” x 12½” blocks safely with the help of the OLFA 12½” x 12½” ruler.

With the rotating mat, you can cut one side, then rotate the mat without having to move the block or ruler. This reduces the chances of cutting mistakes, and injury.

A quilting block with a black and white photo is trimmed to a 12½” x 12½” size; OLFA Splash Rotary Cutter 45mm, OLFA Tungsten Tool Steel Rotary Blade 45mm, OLFA 12.5″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler, OLFA 6″ x 12″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler, OLFA 6″ x 24″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler, OLFA Square Rotating Cutting Mat

Trim blocks to 12½” x 12½”.

Now to add the frame to the remaining photos. Remember my TIP. Cut the fabric pieces a bit wider than needed to make sure the blocks are the desired size when trimmed.

Multiple family photos printed on fabric, each framed in blue green fabrics, are laid out to view.

Photos printed on fabric

OLFA does make great cutting tools such as the ones I used to frame and trim my photos for my memory quilt.

·        OLFA 1212″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler

·         OLFA 6″ x 12″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler

·         OLFA Splash Rotary Cutter 45mm

·         OLFA Square Rotating Cutting Mat

Tomorrow I’ll put the quilt top together. Come back to see how I do it!

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: The right tools make a memory quilt a fun and easy project (rulers RULE!)

Go to part 3: Cutting strips with OLFA rotary cutters – it’s SHARP!

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