The right tools make a memory quilt a fun and easy project (rulers RULE!)

Many see a quilt as a blanket to put on a bed, we quilters know better. A quilt is love that brings comfort in so many ways. One way I bring comfort with my quilts is by making memory quilts using t-shirts, clothing, and photographs.

Family photo memory quilts

The memory quilt I’m showing you this week was made as a Mother’s Day gift for Delfina. It measures 58½” x 72½”.

Here’s a list of all the great tools I used to make this quick and easy quilt.

·         OLFA Splash Rotary Cutter 45mm

·         OLFA Tungsten Tool Steel Rotary Blade 45mm

·         OLFA 1212″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler

·         OLFA 6″ x 12″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler

·         OLFA 6″ x 24″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler

·         OLFA Square Rotating Cutting Mat

·         Oliso Pro TG1600 Pro Plus Smart Iron

·         Sew Easy Freezer Paper for Quilting and Applique – 12.1m x 38.1cm (13.2yd x 15″)

·         UNIQUE quilting 12 Clever Clips Small

Tools for this week’s quilt

Important note: Read today’s post prior to starting.

Other essential materials for this week’s project:

  • 20 digital photos
  • 1⅓ yards [1.5m] white fabric (read today’s post prior to getting fabric.)
  • 2¼ yards [2.0m] for lattice work (or use scraps to add a variety of colors to the quilt.)
  • ⅝ yard [0.5m] for binding
  • 3½ yards [3.25m] for backing
  • 1 double size batting

When selecting the fabrics for this project, consider using the recipient’s favorite colors. I used aquas to frame the photos and a blue which has a hint of aqua for the lattice, as these are Delfina’s favorite colors.

The first step in creating this quilt is to transfer the photos to fabric. I transferred the photos to a document I created using a word processing software. Once the document was created, I played with the photo’s size, by this I mean I enlarged the photo as big as I could. Normally one photo per page. If the photo was of poor quality or low resolution, then I didn’t use a whole page for one photo.

When the photos and documents were ready to be printed, the fun began.

Printing photos on fabric can only be done using an ink jet or bubble printer. DO NOT use a laser jet printer.

Here are two ways I transfer photos to fabric.

Method 1

1.    Using the OLFA 12½” x 12½” square ruler, cut 20 – 8½” x 11” rectangles of the Sew Easy freezer paper.

Cut 20 pieces of freezer paper measuring 8½” x 11”.

2.    Cut 20 – 8½” x 10¾” rectangles from the white fabric.

3.    Press fabric rectangles onto the freezer paper leaving a ¼” space at one end. Do not center fabric on the freezer paper. The purpose of leaving a ¼” of freezer paper is to simply make it easier to feed into the printer.

Press freezer paper onto fabric leaving a ¼” space on the paper.

4.    Print photos to the fabric. When printing, I always do a test print first to ensure all is working well. Also, I don’t change any of the printer settings.

Photo printed on white fabric

5.    Separate the freezer paper from the fabric.

6.    Heat set ink by using the iron’s hottest cotton setting. I do this step on both sides of the fabric.

Press using the highest cotton setting.

7.    Trim fabric with photo to the desired size.

Trim photo to the desired size.

Important note: Ensure you follow every step in Method 1 prior to printing multiple photos. I’ve had photos where the ink didn’t set properly and came out when washed. I don’t know if the issue was the fabric, the iron not hot enough or the batch of ink. Now when I use this method, I use it for a project that will not be washed.

Method 2


I also use fabric sheets that are already prepared for ink jet printers. The fabric is a bit thinner with a backing to make it easy to feed in the printer. Ask the local quilt shop for these specialty photo sheets.

Once the photo is printed and the backing removed, the fabric is ready to be trimmed.

Both methods are great. However, with each method, remember to test, test and test.

Family photos printed on fabric

The idea to print photos on fabric can be nerve-wracking the first time you attempt it. The important thing to remember, as I mentioned earlier, is to test.

Sew Easy Freezer paper and OLFA’s 12½” x 12½” ruler

Having the right tools makes the whole process easy. Today with the help of the OLFA 1212″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler and Sew Easy Freezer Paper for Quilting and Applique, I was able to cut and trim as needed.

I look forward to coming back tomorrow to show you how easy it is to border each photo. Have a great day!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: Measure, Cut, Trim! How to frame a fabric photo into a quilting block

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