The Family Ties Quilt


Here is a picture of our Family Ties quilt that our family gave to Mom & Dad on their 45th Wedding Anniversary on June 20, 1998.

The quilt began in March of 1998. Each member of our family came over to my house and looked through our family pictures to weed out the ones we didn't want for the quilt, and then they brought about 50 pictures each from their own families. I have 6 brothers and sisters, and a nephew and niece that live outside of their families, and each one came over to contribute pictures and their time in helping.

After the pictures were selected, I scanned them into the computer, then edited them by resizing, cropping and correcting the lightness, darkness and color. Each picture took at least 5 minutes to do, many of them longer. Then I placed them on 11 x 17" pages in PageMaker, put them on a zip disk and took them to our service bureau where they printed them out on a color copier onto photo transfer paper in reverse.

Then we had about 5 quilt parties at my house where my brothers and sisters came over to cut the pictures apart and iron transfer them onto a white 230 thread count sheet. Actually I used 4 twin sized sheets for this project, cutting them into managable strips about a foot wide.

To iron transfer, we covered our dining room table with a table pad, and then an old sheet. Then we heated up about 4-5 irons and placed a picture face down on the sheet and ironed it for at least 30 seconds. This transferred the picture onto the sheet without being in reverse. Then we peeled off the paper, and there was the picture!

Then another person would use a quilting rotary cutter (looks like a pizza cutter) and ruler to cut out the picture from the sheet with 1/4" margins for sewing.

When all the pictures were done, all of different sizes, I had to plan how to sew them together using 1-1/2 inch strips of fabric in about 26 different colors. First,
I decided on a 17 x 22" rectangle to make a quilt "block" (this was totally spontanious--I had a piece of cardboard that size and it looked right). I started sorting the pictures into similar sizes, and then started placing them onto the cardboard template until they somehow formed a rectangle with some space in between to connect fabric strips. I had to make 31 blocks and figure out how to sew each block separately--it was like working a jigsaw puzzle. I used every single picture. They miraculously all fit!

We cut the fabric into strips, then I placed one strip of each piece of fabric in a paper bag. To connect the pictures, I pulled one piece out of the bag at random and connected it to another picture, then threw it into another pile. That way, I didn't have to think about what color to pick next.

Once each block had been finished, they had to be trimmed to uniform sizes and then connected together with the Blue sashing strips. I also made the center block (which depicts my Mom and Dad's wedding picture) out of my mother's satin, white netting and buttons that made up her wedding dress.

Once everything was connected, it had to be spread out and basted with the backing, batting and top. My sister, Barb, helped me baste the quilt. Then I also needed help in getting it through the sewing machine. We had to roll up the 10 foot-long sides and hold them in place with quilting clamps and more of my sisters helped me guide it through the machine--it looked like a boa constrictor!

I had to machine quilt it because I didn't have months to hand quilt it, and no one would be looking at the quilting stitches anyway with so many pictures to look at, so I did enough quilting (about every 10 inches around the frames of the pictures) to hold the quilt together. I used invisible thread at the top and navy blue thread in the bobbin, so you have to look hard to see any quilting stitches.

Then my sisters helped me to sew the outside binding on around the entire quilt, and then I sewed on labels on the back of the quilt that held a dedication and pictures of all the quilting people.

If I knew what I was in for, I probably wouldn't have attempted it, but that's how we started Video Watchdog too, just jump in and live the experience or you won't do it.