Colorized Photo Quilt

Today, I have one last photo quilt for you – a rather unusual idea, but one that worked out very well as you will see from the photos in just a moment.

The quilt designer, Carol, wanted to make a quilt for her husband that could be hung on the wall of their cabin/retreat. She wanted it to be in colors that would coordinate well with the design of the room, and didn’t want the photos to detract from the quilt’s colors.

So, she took several black and white pictures of landscapes and images around the cabin, and took them to a printer to have the photos professionally recolored. If you have access to a good photo editor and are familiar with it’s operation, you can do the same thing at home using your computer (more on this later).

The photos were recolored to coordinate with her fabrics, a subtle green for one set of images, and an orange that is almost a pumpkin color for the other set. She then bordered each picture with two different frames (in their coordinating colors), as you can see below.

Here is an orange/pumpkin block – picture is of a barn.


And a sage green block – the cabin itself.

As you can see, the colorization of the photos adds a nice subtlety to the images. Since this quilt was made not with several small photos, but with nine large blocks – it makes the pictures the focus without making them stand out too harshly.

And here is the finished quilt!

Okay, I promised more about the idea of colorizing blocks. This is for those of you who are willing to experiment a little bit. If you want to colorize photos like this, you will probably need an editing program other than the one that came with your digital camera.

For this blog, the images are all cropped, brightened, and so-forth by my secretary/assistant using a program called Gimp (she tells me it is very versatile, and best of all it is a free program).

Here are the steps she took to colorize the image of a stuffed bear she had on hand when I asked about pictures.
Original Image
Changed to Black and White photo, using the “Colorify” command (no color was chosen so it defaulted to black & white)
A purple hue applied to the black & white image, using the “Colorize” command (the Gimp program uses sliders in this section, simply adjust until you like the color – if colorizing multiple images, make a note of the color values to repeat the exact color).
In this image, the “Colorize” command was used, adjusting both the hue and lightness sliders – to show more of the background the bear is sitting against.
If “Colorize” doesn’t provide the result you like, you can also try the “Hue Saturation” command – which is how this image came about.
Or perhaps red is more the color you are looking for? The choices are truly endless!

If you want to manipulate photos this way, then I suggest trying out the Gimp editor before investing in a more expensive program. The free download can be found here: GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Or, if you prefer to leave such things to the professionals, just about any location where you can make copies or get photo prints can assist you with this.
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

FREE Quilt Pattern – A Framed Life

“A Framed Life” Photo Quilt

Finished Quilt Size – Approx. 93” X 115” (Queen)

This is a great gift for a graduate – the quilt is designed to hold 48 pictures, imagine it with pictures of your grad from birth to cap and gown! For the story of how this quilt came to be, and pictures from the quilt made by my daughter using this pattern, see the post A Framed Life.

24 sheets June Tailor Colorfast Computer Printer Fabric™
1 2/3 yards brown – 1st picture border
3 yards lt. blue – 2nd picture border
3 yards dk. blue – 2nd picture border
1/2 yard 1st border fabric
1 1/3 yard 2nd border fabric
2 1/3 yard 3rd border fabric
3/4 yard Quilt Binding
Backing Fabric

Suggested Tools
Rotary Cutter
Cutting Mat
12 1/2″ square ruler

  1. Choose 48 images for the quilt – you can repeat pictures if you want, but it’s more fun if you have 48 different images!
  2. Size pictures on computer to 5” square, you should be able to get two pictures on each sheet of printer fabric. Make sure to leave 1/2” between the two pictures so you will be able to have a 1/4” seam allowance around each picture.
  3. Process the pictures onto the fabric according to instructions on the packaging. Cut fabric pictures to 5 1/2” square, leaving the 1/4” (seam allowance) around each side of each picture.
  4. Create the first frame around your each of your pictures following these steps:
    • Cut fabric WOF (width of fabric) 4 strips 5 1/2”
    • Sub-cut these 4 strips into 96 strips 5 1/2” X 1 3/4”
    • Sew to both sides of 48 pictures
    • Each of your picture blocks will now be 8” wide, by 5 1/2” long
    • Cut WOF (width of fabric) 4 strips 8”
    • Sub-cut these 4 strips into 96 strips 8” X 1 3/4”
    • Sew to both top and bottom of pictures
    • You will now have a block that is 8” square
  5. Create the second frame around each of your pictures following these steps
    • Cut WOF from each of the two different blue frame fabrics
      • 4 Strips 8” WOF – Sub cut to 48 8” x 3 3/4”
      • 4 Strips 15” WOF – Sub cut to 48 15” x 3 3/4”
    • NOTE: when you are finished, you will have 96 sub-cuts that are 8” long, and 96 that are 15” long (48 from each of the two blue fabrics)
    • Sew 8” strips to sides of bordered picture
    • NOTE: Sew side borders on first 1/2 of blocks with one fabric and the other 1/2 with second fabric.
    • Sew 15” strips to top and bottom of the picture blocks. If you used fabric A for the side of the frame on a picture, use fabric B for the top of the frame.
    • You will now have 48 blocks that have light blue fabric at the top and bottom, and 48 blocks that have dark blue fabric at the top and bottom.

  6. Using the 12½” square ruler, you will be cutting an 11½” square on the angle as shown with the bold line n the image below. (I find it helpful to put blue masking tape on the ruler for a visual of the 11½”.)
  7. Make sure your block is square on your cutting mat before you lay the square ruler over it. The square should not cut into the brown borders at all, and the corners of the ruler will touch each of the edges of your blue fabrics.
  8. OPTIONAL – When cutting your blocks at an angle, you may want to alternate the rotation of the photos on the blocks (this provides another bit of visual interest and breaks up the pattern slightly). The easy way to do this is to cut two blocks at a time.
    • Lay a block with the dark blue fabric with the photo (right side) face up.
    • Lay a block with the light blue fabric on top of it, with the photo (right side) face down.
    • Cut through both squares at the same time. Your photos will be at different (mirror) angles to one another.
    • If you choose this method, make certain you are consistent. You want all of the blocks with dark blue tops angled one direction, and all of the light blue tops angled the other direction.
  9. Sew the quilt together 6 blocks across by 8 blocks down. (The image of the quilt that follows shows a quilt that was made using the optional step 8.)
  10. Add your quilt borders –
    • 1st border cut 8 strips 2” wide
    • 2nd border cut 9 strips 5” wide
    • 3rd border cut 10 strips 8” wide
    • Binding 10 strips 2 1/2” wide

If you would like a PDF copy of this pattern, click here. But be sure to read the fine print below! Thank you!

Pattern by: Sheila Reinke, 2008
All rights reserved. A copy of this pattern may be made for personal, home use. You may not copy for commercial use without prior written permission. If you are a teacher who wishing to use this pattern for quilting instruction, please contact Sheila Reinke at

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

A Framed Life

I’ve been promising you a look at the quilt my daughter has been making, a photo quilt using pictures of important moments in her life. Some of you have been asking about this quilt in the Q&A section because you have heard me mention it at seminars recently – now, at last here it is, I hope you enjoy!

My daughter wanted to capture people and moments in her life that reflected her journey from birth to her senior graduation. This is the 5th quilt she has made like this, the other 4 were made as gifts for special friends and given to them as graduation presents. What a great way to capture those moments and what a special gift! When she decided that she wanted one of these quilts as well, she wanted to make it herself.

We came up with this pattern when she made her first photo quilt, because the blocks are fast to make and no seams have to match in the block – making it pretty ‘goof-proof’ to make the block.

Every photo album has a tub picture – and this quilt is no exception

First new car – independence day for a 16 year old.

Capture those moments from the getting off the bus on the first day of school to their graduation picture. Where did all those years go?
Thank you to photographer Carl Anderson of Images by Carl for the permission to be able to copy the senior picture in the quilt. If you ever need a professional photographer – check out his website ImagesbyCarl

What a great way to capture those special moments with family and friends – and preserve the memory for years to come.

And here is a picture of the full, completed quilt – not very clear, but you get the idea.

If you would like a free copy of this pattern, designed by me, check out the next post!
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing