Picture Quilt

Make this picture quilt from copies of treasured, family photographs. This is a great gift, that will be cherished forever.

Age: Adult

Difficulty: Medium-Hard, depending on quilting experience

Time scale: 5+



  • 5 yards of 45 inch width colored cotton fabric
  • Approx. 1 yard of White cotton fabric
  • 2.5 yards of beige cotton fabric
  • 4 yards of 36 inch width, beige cotton fabric or 4 sections of picture frame design material. (these are 31 inches wide
    each, plus quarter inch seam allowance.)
  • quilt batt
  • heavy thread color to match fabric
  • off white thread
  • needle
  • pins
  • narrow off white ribbon
  • binding in off white
  • sewing machine
  • iron/ironing board
  • scissors
  • ruler/ measuring tape
  • fabric marker
  • photographs
  • computer
  • scanner/printer
  • photo transfer paper

This picture quilt was made for my Mom for a Christmas gift. This would also make a nice birthday, anniversary or Mothers Day present. The pictures I used, were vintage, family photographs.

I am not a quilter and when I started, I wondered what I had got myself into. Keep in mind, these are just a few tips and basic instructions, from a novice. I believe if you set your mind to something, anything is possible. 

It would be much easier to have a proper quilt frame to stretch the material out on. This is something I didn't have, so I ended up stretching it out on the CLEAN living room rug and pinning it down. Primitive I know and also a big pain, when visitors showed up at the door!

Picture Quilt How to:

Prewash and iron all material.

Start by scanning your choice of photographs, you would like on your picture quilt. Adjust them to the proper size and then print them on to photo transfer paper. Don't forget to reverse the image.

Cut 16 rectangle shapes out of prewashed, white cotton material. They should be larger than the size of the photo frame outline, on the main
quilting material to allow for seam allowance. If you don't have the patterned material and you are doing your own, you will have to measure out the size you would like and cut out the openings. Leave an extra edge on these for seam allowance. Measure out with a ruler and mark with the fabric marker. 

After printing the photos on to the transfer paper, iron them on to your rectangle pieces of white cotton material. Follow the directions on the photo transfer paper, for best results. This requires some patience and possibly a few screw ups before you get it just right. I know I have said before, I have no patience but sometimes managed to dig some up from somewhere, when necessary. Now that's determination!

The temperature of the iron has to be just so. Not too hot, not too cold, no steam etc. etc. You may want to experiment by printing a small test photo and ironing it on to a scrap piece of material. If you go to peel it off and it isn't coming off easily, it wasn't heated up enough.

I was able to find material that had photo frames printed on to it. These were cut open and the inside corners were cut at a 45 degree angle, leaving a seam allowance.

The pieces were folded back and pressed open with an iron. Each section had a spot, where four pictures could be added.

The photos were sewn into each one, using the sewing machine. If you can't find this type of material, you can cut a bunch of equal size squares and use those, instead. These will then need to be sewn together.


One section had pictures of Dad with his name and birthdate. Another with Mom. The other two were of them together. Now, after the fact, I wish I would have put some family pictures. I'm not sure why I didn't.

Since the material with the design on it, wasn't big enough to make a full sized blanket, I cut 6 inch wide strips of beige cotton material and with a sewing machine, sewed around the outside edge. The corners were cut at a 45 degree angle and sewed together. 

Lay out the material for the back of the quilt with the right side of the material facing down. This material should be cut with an extra 1.75 inch all the way around.  *You may actually want this edge to be wider to make the picture quilt bigger. The finished size of this one ended up being 76 wide by 78 long. It should have been a bit longer.

Put the quilt batting on top. The batting should be cut to the same width as the top material, minus a quarter inch for seam allowance.

Put the material with the pictures on top, with right side up. Make sure everything is smooth and straight. Start pinning. Use lots of pins. This is where a quilt frame would have been really handy. Since I did this on the living room floor, I pinned the corners to the rug, so I could try to get the material smooth. I'm sure real quilters are shuddering right now! The rug was clean and NEW.

After everything was pinned, I unhooked it from the rug and started hand stitching around the frames. I used heavy thread that matched the color of the material. Make sure to stitch all the way through the quilt batting and the back material.

Use an iron, to turn under a quarter inch seam on the back material. Fold the back material and bring it forward and attach to the front piece. Fold the corners on a 45 degree angle. Pin and sew a seam all the way around, using the sewing machine. Sew another seam a quarter of an inch in, from the edge.

Birthdates and the marriage date were put on transfer paper and then ironed on to off white seam binding tape. They were then sewed into the corners of the appropriate picture.

There were also messages done on the seam binding that said Love, Honor, Cherish and Forever.

Ribbon roses were made by winding, folding and sewing narrow ribbon. These were attached to the ends of the dated seam tape.


This picture quilt ended up being quite a lot of work, especially since I wasn't an experienced quilter. It turned out even better than I expected and was the best present I ever gave my Mom. It was definitely worth the effort!

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