Quality Photo Fabric Paper- Use your own Photos for Fabric Projects

by Susie Tilton
We've come a long way baby! I remember as a kid going to the t-shirt shop on vacation and picking out a design and a t shirt and having that huge hot press come down. They'd carefully peel back the paper and there was my souvenir. I still have one of those t-shirts. It is 32 years old, mustard colored with an owl that is cracking and peeling with age.
It seemed only natural that eventually, someone would figure out how we could do this at home with a photo.

The iron on photo paper has been around for a number of years, unfortunately it hasn't improved much. Your home iron is hardly hot enough or heavy enough to make it stick, and the design is likely to crack or peel after washing. Plus, the decal doesn't absorb ink color well, so the design never really saturated.

A few years back at a sewing show, Lori and I met a very creative gal also named Lori. Lori 2 was an artist and a chemist. She had perfected the greatest craft item I have ever seen. Fabric that is backed in paper and runs through a printer like paper. Your image is printed on the fabric from your computer or ink jet copier, you peel away the paper and voila. Scrap booking for sewers! What makes this product truly unique is the absorption of ink jet colors. If the photo was clear on the computer, it will print clear on the fabric. And Lori 2 created loads of fabric choices. Cotton denim, cotton poplin, a number of silks and linens. There is a fabric for every project. I have made neckties, silk scarves, pocketbooks, pillows, vests....so many terrific projects.

But don't limit yourself to just photos. We uploaded some great vintage images for Christmas and Halloween. The Christmas ones would make cute door hangers, ornaments or seasonal throw pillows. You may not know that my first passion is cooking, so I took my favorite Halloween image and embellished an apron!

The most popular use for the fabric in my sewing room is the throw pillow. It makes a great gift. A baby photo with the birth announcement embroidered on it, a picture of buddies and a happy birthday banner, or just a photo of a beloved pet. Whatever you choose, make sure the photo is clear. I like a 5x7 for a 12 x 12 pillow. Print the picture first, then dig around your scrap bin for colors and patterns that coordinate well. I like to make a quilt type pieced border around the outside of the pillow, a bold solid or small print in the center as your mat and then applique the photo on with a good complementary thread color. Fringe and a one piece back and you have a great personal gift in no time.

Anyone who has visited the Hip Line Media booth at a sewing or craft show over the last 5 years has seen the family quilt. It's a large quilt done in the Looking Through a Window pattern (just like the DVD), and each block has a family photo whip stitched on. What I especially love is that many of these photos are from the 60's and we love taking all of our relatives on the road with us! Our ice breaker is usually asking someone to find the famous person on the quilt. No, it's not me, but I am working on that. It's Tom Hanks, even though he is in costume for the movie The Road to Perdition, you can't miss him (click on the quilt to see a larger photo - he's in the third row, fourth photo). So, it is truly a diverse piece of art/scrapbook/sample. What fun to make one for your own family and take it on the trip to Grandma's, the family reunion, or even off to college.

My other job is in retail, (yes, I'm sorry too), and every day I see these little handbags with the dogs on them. I guess when your kids are grown and gone, the dogs become the perfect replacement. There are many online retailers that will make a handbag with your dogs photo on it, but I know this audience, and with the photo fabric, you can make your own. Applique works well, the piecing like a quilt would work, I even experimented with laminating the fabric and making a "plastic" purse. It needed a little refining, those corners were sharp!

The most "out of the box" use I found for the fabric was school elections. My daughter was running for secretary and her all girls school had rules for what they could pass out. No stickers was the cardinal rule. So how do you get your name around without spending $50 on something ? (I did that for the first kid). I made a word document that said basically Vote for Christina about a hundred times. We printed it in blue and pink fun fonts and then cut them up into strips with a pinking shear. We also cut strips of her school uniforms which are pink, blue or yellow jumpers and put them all on a safety pin and the election button, for the kid with the terribly inventive mom, was born!

The possibilities are endless. We'd love to see what you've done! Show us your work, and Happy Sewing!

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