Fabric Art

Turn Your Photo into a Quilt – Part 1

I love to quilt and am always trying new ways to make unique quilts. I have found that creating a quilt from a photo gives me this opportunity and makes a fun and interesting way to preserve memories.

So you may ask, why use photos? Simply put, I was never blessed with the talent to draw. I do have a talent for utilizing design software for more than creating marketing pieces. I use Adobe Photoshop to simplify the photo I want to quilt. Photoshop allows me to create shapes and grids to help me translate the image into the type of quilt I choose to make.

In this article, I will walk you through the steps of taking a photo and preparing it as a quilt pattern. You will need Adobe Photoshop. Any version will do. You will also need to choose a photo that has some contrast, although I will walk you through enhancing the contrast so that creating shapes in later steps is easier.

STEP 1: To begin I open my original file Photoshop. I recommend saving this file as a different name or in a different location. This allows you to preserve your original file.

Step 2: Duplicate background layer by right clicking the background layer and choosing Duplicate layer. A window will pop up and this is where you will name your new layer. I normally name mine working. Next, turn off the visibility of your background layer. To do this, click on the eye icon to the left of your background layer thumbnail turn off the visibility – or hide – this layer. This will allow you to keep your background layer in it’s original state and make adjustments to your working layer. By comparing these layers, you ensure to not lose too much of the photo, but can simply enough to create your Photo Art Quilt.

Step 3: In the Adjustments panel, choose the Brightness & Contrast. Here we will create more contrast in the photo to get less shapes, yet keep the the objects in our photo recognizable.

The image above shows how I have turned the contrast in this photo up quite a bit, but did not distort the photo. The higher contrast has brightened colors and allows more details to pop. At this step you will have to play with your contrast see make sure you don’t have too much or too little.

Be sure to save often to prevent any mishaps or lost work.

Step 4: Once you have your contrast set you will need to merge your working and adjustment layers.

To do this you will hold the Shift key and select each of the two layers. Once selected, you will right click on the selected layers and choose Merge Visible. This option will do exactly that. This is why we turned the visibility off on our background layer in Step 1.

Step 5: Now to break down the photo into shapes, we will posterize it. Go to Image – Adjustments – Posterize. At this point you will want to play with the different levels to see what works best for your style.

The lower the level you choose, the less shapes and somewhat more distorted your image will be. The higher the level you choose, the more shapes and less distorted your image will be. The image above shows what the photo I chose looks like from level 3 on the left, level 4 in the middle, and level 5 on the right.

This is the time to decide how detailed you want to make your quilt. When looking at the level 5 image you see more shapes, which means more fabrics, more time, and more layering. Looking at the level 3 image, you will use less fabrics, not as much time, and won’t have as many layers. No matter which you choose, you will have to make sure you have enough shades of fabric of the colors in your photo to help show depth. You will not want to choose any large prints either because you do not want your quilt to be too busy.

At this time you can print your you photo that you have made into a quilt pattern. You will want to print the size of the quilt you are planning to make. Begin to gather fabrics that you will want to use to quilt your photo.

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of Turning Your Photo into a Quilt! I am not quite finished with the quilting my this photo, so I will post a Part 2 with step-by-step photos of how to take the print out of your photo and turn it into a quilt!

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