Sew it up

If you’re anything like me, you have stacks of boxes filled with family photos sitting in your basement, waiting to be organized, labeled and eventually placed into a picture-perfect scrapbook. And if you’re anything like me, that day is a long way off.

So with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, why not use a few of those pictures to make a photo quilt? It’s a perfect gift for a holiday that’s supposed to be about love (rather than chocolate), and it’s a fun way to reminisce about fond memories with your kids as well as teach them some basic sewing skills.

Gather your photos. These will be your quilt"squares.” You have some options here. If you’d rather not use original prints, you can scan the pictures into your computer or take them to a photo lab to be copied. With digital photos, of course, just print them out.

You can leave the photos the same size and shape or crop them, depending on the look you want. With digital photo printouts, it’s fun to leave a white border around the edge of the photos to provide a framing effect.

Just be aware-the more photos you and your kids select, the longer the project will take. So choose carefully.

Lay out the quilt. Arrange your photos on a piece of stiffened felt (it’s much easier to use than regular felt because it won’t bunch up when you start sewing). You can cover up the entire piece of felt with photos, or leave spaces to sew on decorative felt cutouts, such as hearts or stars.

Tip: To make the sewing easier, use a needle or straight pin to punch holes in the edges of your photos before you start sewing-just like old fashioned sewing cards. You may also want to pin the photos to the felt so they stay in place.

Start sewing. Unroll a long piece of thread and cut it off at an angle to make threading the needle easier. Once you (or your child) have threaded the needle, fold the thread in half so you have a double strand and tie the ends into a secure knot. Starting from the back of the quilt, help your child push the needle through the felt and the corner of one of the photos. Work in a straight line up and around the edges of the photo with even, taut stitches. Shorter stitches will have a more delicate look, but will also take longer. As you finish each photo, tie off the thread on the back of the quilt, rethread the needle and begin the next picture.

Leave the quilt as is or turn it into a wall hanging by sewing the ends of a piece of ribbon to the top corners.

Wrap it up. Help your kids package their quilt and present it to someone special on Valentine’s Day.

Possible quilt themes:

A special family vacation School/family photos from different years Holiday/birthday celebrations Visit from grandparents


Photographs Stiffened felt Needle Thread Scissors

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