Using a Photo for Fabric Art ~ Part 1

This is the post I wanted to do last Monday – during the washing machine fiasco!  Since I also wound up with a cold last week, I spent this weekend catching up.  I did get to do a little creating, so that was good!  Today I’m going to show you how to take a photo & create fabric art with it.  This is similar to what I did to create the elephant on my Splash quilt.  I’m breaking this up into two parts, so it’s not quite so long.  Part one is about getting the photo ready, cutting & labeling pieces, & attaching the fabric to a background.  This would be a great project to do for a Mother’s Day gift!

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There’s probably a computer program out there that can do this in a snap, but I work at the computer enough!  When I’m making things I prefer more hands on work.  : )

The Photo

I’m starting out with a photo I took of a rose in my yard.  Make sure it’s okay to use the photo you choose for this project.  There are many places online to find copyright free photos, but I prefer to use my own if possible.

I used my phone, a Samsung S6, to take this photo.  This photo was edited using Paint in Windows & the basic photo editor on my computer.  I had to use PicMonkey to change it to a sketch.  The sketch editing feature is only available with the paid version of PicMonkey.  They have many, many useful features that are free and I used the free version for a while.  I needed some of the paid features for blog purposes, so I upgraded to the $7.99/month plan.  Totally worth it!

In the photo above, you can see how the sketch feature can be adjusted to show more or less detail.  I like to adjust it to show the outline clearly & use the least ink when printing.  After printing, I use an ultra fine tipped sharpie to outline what I want to use.

If you look at the leaf on the left, you can see I added a little bit to the end because it’s hidden behind the stem.  I use Heat’n Bond Lite to trace the pieces because the heavy stuff gums up the needle more.  Just noticed they have printable sheets available!

Outlining with the Sharpie makes it easy to see it through the Heat n’ Bond paper.  Make sure to flip the printed image over before tracing so your pieces are facing the right way in the end.

I forgot that part, as you’ll see in my photos!

Making the Fabric Pieces

I trace each individual element onto the Heat’n Bond giving it a number, so I can remember where it goes.  This is not a super smooth transition since the glue on the bottom makes for a bumpy surface.  I also add “tick” marks where the piece meets another piece.  Doing this will help to realign the pieces & make sure you add some overlap for the fabric.

Here’s the photo & pieces all traced out & numbered.  I used letters for the leaves to make sure I keep my colors straight.  I also black out or draw in any areas I plan to stitch on with thread.  This helps with aligning & placing the pieces.  My piece 8 has a hole in the middle which I’ve marked with an “x”.

Also remember to trace from the back of the printed image!  My photos don’t reflect that & you will wind up with a mirror image if you don’t do this.

After I have all my pieces traced & marked, I cut them out with a sharp pair of paper scissors.  I do not use my fabric scissors for cutting this!  Next, I pick out fabrics in the color families I want to use.  Scraps are great for this!

Now, iron on the Heat n’ Bond pieces on the back of the fabric.  Sometimes it’s fun to place them in certain areas of the fabric design.

Okay, now you can use the fabric scissors to cut out the pieces!  : )

Attaching Pieces to a Background

You’ll need to use a fabric that allows you to see the printed image through the fabric.  Think muslin, lighter cottons, or a lighter linen.  This doesn’t have to be the back ground your using for the whole project.  You just need something lightweight to attach the pieces to.  It can be trimmed away later if necessary.

This will allow you to see the image while placing the pieces, so you don’t have to trace it onto the fabric.  You also don’t have to guess where things go!  I also suggest using some tweezers to help with placement.  Oh yeah, don’t forget to remove the paper on the back of the fabric!

This will take a little time and will go faster if you study the picture to see what needs to go down first.  I usually just wing it & dive right in!  I don’t recommend ironing things in place until you have everything where you want it.  You may want to sort out the pieces at the ironing board.  This way nothing gets moved if you accidentally bump it on the way there.  Wonder how I know that!?!  ; )

When I get everything ironed down, I go back and sketch in little details with a fabric pencil.  This just helps me see some details I want to add when sewing.

Now, everything’s ready to sew!  I will have another tutorial next Monday (May 8th) about stitching everything down.  There will be tips on adjusting stitch length & using different stitches to decorate your fabric art.  I’ll also show you how to make it into a gift for Mom!  See y’all then!

Also, don’t forget about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!  Today is the LAST day to order because, like Cinderella’s dress, it will disappear at Midnight EST tonight!  You can see a recording of my live Facebook video below just be prepared to hear some country talk!


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