Monday, February 6, 2017

A Quilt Revisited

Sue here. I thought it might be interesting to share a quilt that I made 20 years ago.  I'm currently spending a week with my mother; the quilt in question is one that I made for her 75th birthday and hangs in her living room.  Most visitors comment on it and are pretty amazed, say they've never seen anything like it.  (Of course, in the quilt world it's not so unusual.) It's a photo collage quilt, and features family pictures, including grandparents, aunts & uncles, my parents wedding, my siblings and I growing up, our marriages, and our children.
The part that amazes me, however, is how labor intensive this was, and how much easier it would be to make now than it was 20 years ago!  Twenty years ago, there were no EQ Printables fabric sheets, or any other brand for that matter.  Photos were still in print form, not digital.  It's hard to believe it's been less than 20 years since the digital revolution has so completely changed the way we do things.  

Here are some of the details.  There's a total of 76 pictures on this quilt!  Each one was transferred to fabric using a transfer medium called Picture This by Plaid.  I was a little surprised when I did a web search and found that it's still available. 
The process for transferring photos first requires a mirror image photocopy of the original photo.  If it's a color photo, of course you would need a color photocopy.  The transfer medium is brushed onto the photocopy, and the fabric you are transferring to is placed on top.  The photo needs to be evenly covered with the medium and the fabric smoothly layered.  Then it is left to dry; the medium transfers the ink from the photocopy to the fabric. After they are dry (I recall letting them dry over night, probably 24 hours), the paper needs to be removed.  That means soaking them in water and carefully rubbing off the paper as it softens.  Sometimes you get a perfect transfer, others may not turn out quite as well, and sometimes the paper doesn't wash off completely.  So some may have to be done over.  At any rate, I think by the time  I got to the end of the 76 pictures I had ironed out the wrinkles in the process!
As you can see, there are 5 traditional quilt blocks mixed in with the photos.  Each has some significance.  The spool block obviously represents a connection to sewing; my mother is an accomplished seamstress and spent most of her working life doing piece work in factories and was also a sample maker.  The shoo-fly block is literal - we are of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and making shoo-fly pies was part of the weekly Saturday baking agenda.  The tulip block represents my mother's green thumb and love for flowers and her garden.  The Fox and Geese block had to be included because our family name is Fox.  And finally, a Dutchman's puzzle block because, again, the PA Dutch thing.
It's fun to look at all the pictures and reminisce.  Some before I was born, some when I was a child, and then pictures of my own children and their cousins as they were growing up.  A family history in a quilt.
There are also a few embellishments added - bits of lace around some of the photos, some crocheted pieces that my mother did that were languishing in a linen closet.  In the photo below is a butterfly done in an ombre crochet thread.
When I think about it, I'm not sure I'd tackle a project like this again, at least not using this method of photo transfer!  I would definitely use printer ready fabric sheets if I did something like this again.    This was definitely a labor of love!


  1. Thank you SO much for sharing your family quilt. It is wonderful. I have to say that hearing that it is still in great shape with the pictures holding up was incredibly motivating.

  2. What an incredibly beautiful. I hope you included all of the above information on the label. Beauty and history.