Printed Pictures for Memory Quilts

Once again, I needed to print pictures for a memory quilt. Once again, I had to jog my own memory and struggle through the fog to figure it out. Then I realized this would be the perfect time for a tutorial!!

I did try to use the new Fill-A-Yard feature for my project, but it didn’t center my pictures in each square. I’m assuming it’s because of the tiling feature. I did try several settings to no avail. If you’ve been successful, I’d love to hear from you!

For my tutorial, you’ll need:

  • A Spoonflower account
  • Digital pictures and/ or
  • printed, traditional pictures
  • a scanner if you have traditional pictures
  • photo editing software such as Paint Shop or Photoshop
  • basic knowledge of your photo editing software

Spoonflower has a FAQ and Help page which can be very helpful if I don’t answer your questions and is where I located the information I needed to complete my project. They also list the printable area of each fabric they carry. For the purpose of this tutorial (and my own use), I used the basic cotton ultra which has a printable area of 42 inches wide, and a yard being 36 inches long.

Let’s start with the pictures! If you have only digital forms of photos, you can skip this part. You’ll need to find your DPI settings on the scanner you use and set it to 150 DPI as well basic photo settings. Most scanners have these as a preset. Spoonflower also recommends using the PNG or JPG file types. Make sure to save them on your computer where they can be easily located. My scanner asks where I would like to save my files.

Once your photos are all digital, open your photo editing software and work on one at a time. They don’t need to be in any order, you’ll be able to cut them apart once they’ve been printed. Using your selection tool, select the portion of your photo you’d like to use. If you’d like to use the whole picture, skip the selection part. Next, either copy and paste as new image or crop your selection.

Next, we’re going to change the size of the picture and the DPI (if needed).  In my software, it’s found under the image tab as resize. Since I’m working with a picture that I’d like to keep rectangular, I’m changing the larger measurement to 5 inches. If I were squaring my picture, I’d change the smaller measurement to 5 inches.

Now is the time to change the DPI to 150 if it isn’t already. In my software, the DPI (dots per inch) is also known as resolution.We’re going to turn our picture into a square. Under the same image tab, look for canvas size.

We want our pictures to be no bigger than 5 inches square, so change the other number to 5 inches and select the center button for placement.

If you were trying to keep your rectangular shape, you should see a blank border on the top and bottom of your image.

If you were trying for a square image, it would look like this.


If you want to square up a different portion of your picture, select one of the other buttons in the placement section. For example, if I want more of the left portion of the picture included, I’d select one of the buttons on the left side in the placement section.

Now we want to add a seam allowance to our pictures. This is done with canvas resize as well. The target size in our yardage is 6 inches so we’re going to add a quarter inch around the photo. Resize the canvas at 5.5 inches square.

A square photo should look like this.

Once you reach this point, save the file in PNG or JPG formats to your computer and repeat this process with all your photos.

Our yardage will contain 42 images. You can choose to repeat photos if you don’t have 42 or use the extra space to create labels! I’ve created a grid for you to download and use as​ a guide to place the photos. Open it in your software as a separate tab. Then, open your edited photos in another tab, one at a time, and copy them to your clipboard. Go back to the grid tab and paste the photo in the desired space.

You can use the move tool to position the picture in any square you like. if the black lines disappear, you know you’ve placed the picture outside of the seam allowance.

Once you have copied and pasted all your pictures into the grid, save the grid file (change the name so you can reuse the grid if you’d like) to your computer.

The hard work is finished and it’s time to visit Spoonflower‘s website!

Upload your picture grid following their instructions (it’s really easy). Once the design has uploaded, you’ll be taken to the page to select your fabric and yardage options.

If it doesn’t look right, DON’T PANIC!

You’ll need to select at least one full yard to see the whole grid displayed here.

All that’s left to do is to add your selection to the cart and check out!  Soon you’ll have gorgeous high quality prints to add to your memory quilts or special projects. I’ve made several quilts with Spoonflower and with home printed fabric pictures. All started out great but Spoonflower’s prints hold their color much better than other options by far. Oh, and they didn’t bleed or run like my home options have. Did I mention since you designed your own fabric panel of pictures, you’ll also receive the designer’s discount?  😀