How to Make a Photo Image Quilt

Blend a beach scene image into quilt fabric with these steps.

Note: The finished size of the quilt is 32½ by 38½ inches.


Materials and Tools:

8-by-10-inch beach-scene photo image on paper
8-by-10-inch beach-scene photo image on fabric
3 sky fabrics in ¼-yard increments
¼-yard of beach-grass fabric
4 sand and pebble fabrics in ¼-yard increments
1 to 3 water fabrics for a total of ½-yard
2½-inch strips of small amounts of miscellaneous fabrics to blend in with the nine-patch border blocks
1/3-yard of binding fabric
1¼-yard of backing fabric
18-inch roll of freezer paper


1. On the paper photo, draw an 8-by-10-inch rectangle around the finished area of the picture. Mark off a ¼-inch seam allowance inside the edge of the photo and trim to the seam allowance. The picture now measures 7½ by 9½ inches.

2. Cut two 2-foot lengths of freezer paper. Tape the freezer-paper strips together lengthwise on the shiny side, overlapping them a bit to form a 24-by-35-inch rectangle. The paper represents the center medallion area of the quilt and is larger than needed for the moment.

3. Lay the freezer-paper rectangle on a table, dull side up.

4. Place the paper photo off-center to the right. Because you're working on a larger scale than ultimately needed, the photo's position can be adjusted later when trimming the final rectangle.

5. Lightly tape the paper photo to the freezer paper. It will be removed later.

6. With a pencil, draw over the five main lines that divide the picture horizontally. Stand back from your work or use a reducing glass to determine the main lines.

7. Lightly continue these lines out in gentle curves across the freezer paper. Erase and repeat as needed. The gentle curves will serve as seam lines.

8. When satisfied, draw more distinct lines over the curves from edge to edge on the freezer paper, going right across the paper photo.

9. Trace the left and right edges of the picture onto the freezer paper.

10. Trim the top and bottom of the picture to match the curved lines.

11. Label the sections around the picture with the chosen fabrics.

12. Remove the taped picture from the freezer paper.

13. The shapes on the freezer paper are the templates for the sections of the quilt top that surround the picture. Cut each fabric piece from the template, adding a ¼-inch seam allowance.

14. Stitch sections and assemble.

15. Square up this center area of the quilt to measure 20 by 26½ inches.

16. Make 18 nine-patch blocks. Foundation-piece these blocks, using colors that blend with the part of the quilt where each block will be positioned. Fill in any gaps with three-patch strips.

17. Embroider sea grasses on the fabric area of quilt.

18. Quilt in lines flowing horizontally across the quilt.

19. Quilt pebble areas in a pebble pattern.

20. Assemble the quilt.

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