Being a graphic designer, I use photo editing tools on a daily basis. This is how I used these applications to make a photographic quilt. It's pretty simple, just takes a bit of patience.
The items you'll need to make one for yourself is:
• sewing machine
• photo editing software
• color printer
• iron and ironing board
• 2 rolls of white thread
• 1 roll to match the backing of the quilt
• fabric (amount based on the size of the quilt) for the front and back
• batting for the padding of the quilt
• cutting board
• cutter and ruler
• 1 tapestry needle
• 1 all purpose needle
Step 1: Choose Your Size & Image
For my quilt, I choose the size 54X76 which is a little bit larger than double size matress measurements. Once I determined my size, I made an image size of 27X38. Each one of my squares in the quilt will be 2 inches. I then proceeded to set up my design, in this case, it was a rubber duck in water. Now that I have that finalized, I take down the resolution until it's 27 pixels by 38 pixels.
The image will be scaled down drastically. I zoom in so that I can see all the pixels which will later be the 2 inch squares of fabric. As you can see, there are a lot of colors. The next step will be stripping them out.
Step 2: Stripping the Extra Colors Out
Now that I've got the image selected and scaled, I start to remove some of the colors to make it more manageable. I am able to get my image down to 26 colors.
The next thing I do, is print out the picture of the rubber duck and then make a screen shot of the color palette. I will print both out as large as I can.
Step 3: Preparing to Buy Fabric
Now that I've printed out the picture of my image, I drew a grid so I can see the individual squares and begin to label them against the color matrix I've printed out.
This lets me know how much of each color I'll need. I take the square and add .5 inches on them for sewing a .25 inch stitch on each side. Each square will now be 2.5X2.5.
To quickly know how much fabric I'll need, I'll take the width of the roll of fabric, in most cases, 44 inches, and do some quick math and know that I can get (17.6) 2.5 inches squares per width. For example, if I need 63 squares, I divided it by 17.6 which is 3.57 rows. I'll round up to 4. 4X2.5 is 10 inches of fabric. When I have then cut it, I'll round it up again to 12" just in case.
I'll do this with all the colors.
Step 4: Picking the Colors
This part requires a bit of subjective decision making. I took the color matrix, folded it so that the color extended to the edge of the fold and squinted as I held it up to fabric, looking for a similar color.
Step 5: Preparation
This is the most tedious part. I took all the colors I just bought, and cut then into the number of squares I needed of each color.
Step 6: Sewing the Squares Together
Once finished with the cutting of the squares, using the print out with the listing of the colors, I assemble them in order and sew them face to face. What I did to save time and thread, is to chain them. So I'd group them in pairs and then add another pair without cutting the others off. After those were finished, I'd cut them apart and pair them up again and repeat until they were one compete line.
Step 7: Sewing the Rows Together.
Now that I have a few rows put together, I start to join them. I iron the raw sewing edges in the same direction per row. Then for the next row that I sew on to it. I sew the raw edges the other direction so that I don't have to sew over six layers of fabric if they both decided to fold over in the same direction. This also helps to keep the quilt smooth. When sewing rows together, I manually align the square seams so they line up between the two rows.
Step 8: Sewing the Backing and Batting
When I'm finished with the sewing of all the squares, it's now time to add the batting and the backing. This part is one of the easiest. Lay down the backing fabric, printed side down (the backing fabric is the underside which is just a large piece of fabric, nothing fancy), then the batting, and finally add the top layer of the quilt. Then cut around the quilt to trim the batting and backing and pin the layers together. Once I've finished with this, I sew them all together around the whole quilt.
Step 9: Preparing the Edges
Using a different color fabric for the edges, I cut them into 2 inch strips. I'll need enough material to go all the way around the quilt with about 6-8 inched to spare. To do this, I'll sew then together at right angles and sew 45 degrees so there is a diagonal seam. I'll keep doing this until I have enough fabric to go around the quilt.
Step 10: Sewing the Edge to the Quilt
I then attach the edge to the top of the quilt. (most of my pics are on the bottom because many of the pics didn't come out well, so I re-shot them on some test fabric). I sewed for about 3-4 inches on the edge on the quilt and cut the thread. I then folded over the edge in the middle and sewed from where it meets the quilt.
Then I sew the edge towards the corner of the quilt, stopping .25 inch from the corner. I stopped stitching where I stitched the backing and batting together. Once I've reached the corner, I folded the edge 45 degrees back away from the direction of the edge of the quilt. Now I fold it back and align it with the edge and continue sewing to the next corner and rinse and repeat.
When I meet up where I started. I trim the excess off at an angle and tuck it into the pocket I made at the beginning of this step. Then I sew along the edge to close it.
Step 11: Finishing the Quilt
With the edge sewn to the front, I roll it over and hand sew it to the backing with the thread that matches it. Once that is done all the way around, I take a larger tapestry needle and sew yarn in a pattern on the quilt to fasten the layers together so that when it is washed in a machine, it won't bunch up making it all lumpy.
Wha-la, it's done!