Printing of photographs on fabric

There are several methods for doing this and lots of websites giving lots of advice on the subject. One very good website is Their focus is primarily on online sources where you can order fabric printed with your own images. Other sites will discuss methods for printing images on fabric at home with your inkjet printer.

Most of my fabric printing has been done at home using my inkjet printer with self-treated fabric using Bubble Jet Set (again, lots of info on the web about its use). This results in quite good images, although I would not want to subject the resulting fabric to a lot of washing or exposure to the sun. I have seen some quilts with photo images that have faded significantly, although I haven’t had the problem myself. Another disadvantage is that this process can result in a printer jam if you are not careful; printers are not really designed to feed the fabric through the rollers. Also, the size of the image is limited by the size of your printer.

A local art quilter recently had a large fabric print made of a photo on fabric. She used a service called Fabric On Demand ( Her large image (about 28 by 40 inches) looked very good. She selected this service because their process is known to produce better blacks than some other services such as Both services have a selection of fabrics available, including 100 percent cotton. Fabric on Demand has two different weights of cotton – 4 oz and 6 oz. The 6 oz is probably better for doing a large piece that will be framed; 4 oz is closer to the usual “quilters” weight of fabric.

I have used spoonflower and been pleased with the results, but I have only used them for a “repeating” design, not just printing a single large image. In my research I found that Fabric On Demand allowed me to order a single image printed on a “fat quarter” rather than forcing me to purchase one yard at a time. Also, the size of the image can be specified in the order.

So recently I placed an order with Fabric On Demand for three fat quarters, each with a different photo image. During my interaction with them, I specified that I wanted the longest dimension of the photo to print 9 inches long on the fabric, and I wanted the image centered on the fat quarter.

What I received, while good for my purposes (which was to test their service), wasn’t really what I ordered. I had a brief discussion with their staff about what I received. They were very willing to have the order re-done at no cost, but I chose not to do this since what I received was OK for the purposes of my test.

The actual printing of the photo on the fabric is very good; the image is clear and the colors very true to the original photos – at least for my purposes.

Here is what I was expecting – three fat quarters with a single image in each:

I received the order twice (not sure why), and each order looked like this – about 59 inches wide and 18 inches long:

So I actually received four copies of each image when I was expecting one. Two of the images (the elephants at the right end) were not usable because the image was printed over the selvedge. And as you can see, the 18 inch dimension is rather irregularly cut, and was not always a full 18 inches.

The sizing of the images was not completely consistent, and was not exactly the 9 inches I specified. The actual images varied from 8 ½ inches wide to 8 ¾ inches wide on the longest dimension. In addition, the images were not square. As you can see in the photos below, one of the orders I received was out of square about ½ inch and the other was out of square by about ¼ inch.








I cut off the elephant images on the ends that went over the selvedges to use for further testing. I have put one of them through the wash with my laundry, and I will be using the other one to test for sun fading. In the first and second wash process, the image shrank slightly more than 1/4 inch – not unexpected for cotton, of course. Over the next few weeks I will send that piece through the wash several more times and see if there is any noticeable fading of the colors (none so far), and if it shrinks any more. I have put the second elephant image outside in the sun and will wait a few weeks to see if there is any noticeable fading.

The shrinkage and the dimension problems, once known, can be anticipated and compensated for by cropping the image with some extra around the edges, to allow for squaring it up and getting an accurate final dimension (probably only necessary if making multiple images to use in quilt blocks where the size is important). If my original image had strong vertical lines (such as a flagpole or a building), I would need to be prepared to rotate and crop the image to get the vertical line truly vertical.

In summary, so far so good – but proceed with caution. The images look good, and the fabric is good. We have to be prepared for size issues resulting from the shrinkage, the out of square printing process, and the fact that the printing fabric did not have the exact size of image as originally specified. I will post again when I am finished with the washing test and the sun fading test.


Washout markers vs Crayola Ultra Clean Washable Markers

Recently I have seen some blog posts about using Crayola Washable Markers for marking quilts instead of the blue washout markers we quilters have been using for years.  In the same discussions the Frixion pens, where the marks can be “removed” with heat are sometimes also discussed.

I decided to run some tests comparing the markers.  Recently I have been using the Frixion pens more than any other marker.  I recently learned that the Frixion pens contain two kinds of ink.  One is heat-sensitive and the other is not.  The heat sensitive marks can be removed with an iron, but will come back if the fabric gets very cold. This is an indication that the chemicals from the ink are still in the quilt.  Pilot, who manufactures the pens, states that the pens were not designed for use on fabric.  Therefore they make no statements about the long term effects of the inks on fabric. And, as I have blogged earlier, a white mark will be left on a bright colored fabric after the dark lines are ironed away.  This is because the ink is still in the fabric.  The white marks can be removed with an ink remover but will not wash out.

So– with some reservations about the long term effects of Frixion pens and some unwanted short term effects (think of shipping the quilt and exposing it to cold temperatures that way) — I was interested to see if the Crayola Markers (NOT crayons!) would be a viable alternative.

My conclusion is that I will not use the Crayola markers, and that I will use the blue washout markers even though I am not in love with them either.  I would be interested to hear from any quilters who are successfully using the Crayola markers.  Perhaps there are ways to do it that work.

Here are my tests:

First, I marked some white fabric with the blue washout marker and with a blue Crayola marker.  The blue marker I used was the Dritz Mark-B-Gone, graciously given to me by Susan Travis of Creative Union Fabrics who was interested in my testing.   I don’t know if all blue markers will yield the same results, but I would expect something similar from other brands.

Dritz Mark B Gone on the left, Crayola on the right

Dritz Mark B Gone on the left, Crayola on the right

Then I spritzed both sets of marks with a generous spray of cold water. As you can see, the blue washout marks disappeared.  The Crayola marks just bled and made a mess.

Mark B Gone disappears, Crayola bleeds out.

Mark B Gone disappears, Crayola bleeds out.

I then applied a paper towel to the Crayola marks to see if I could blot up the ink.  A lot of the ink was absorbed into the paper towel, but there was plenty left in the fabric.

Even blotting with a paper towel didn't help; lots of ink on the towel, but plenty left in the fabric.

Even blotting with a paper towel didn’t help; lots of ink on the towel, but plenty left in the fabric.

I was in a hurry to finish my test so I ironed the damp sample.  The Crayola marks stayed about the same- ironing doesn’t seem to have any affect on the marks – but the blue washout marks re-appeared. The photo below is from another sample with only the Mark B Gone, but shows the result.

Oops! I ironed it dry and the marks came back.

Oops! I ironed it dry and the marks came back.

Then I took the sample to the sink and rinsed it in cold water.  Although the marks became faint, they were still left in the fabric.  Then I scrubbed the fabric with warm soapy water.  Finally the blue washout marks were permanently gone.  The Crayola marks were nearly gone, but there was a faint shadow remaining that doesn’t show up in the photo.

Scrubbed with warm soapy water, and finally all the marks disappeared. There were faint shadows left by the Crayola markers.

Scrubbed with warm soapy water, and finally all the marks disappeared. There were faint shadows left by the Crayola markers.

If you plan to run all of your quilts through the washing machine when completed, then you can probably use the Crayola markers.  You should also seriously consider doing so if you mark heavily with the blue washout markers.  My personal solution is going to be to minimize marking if at all possible. Some temporary marking can be done at the last minute with chalk, since it comes off easily.  For a complex pattern that required marking, I might seriously consider copying the pattern onto tissue paper and sewing through it on the quilt.  And of course, changing the quilting design so it doesn’t have to be marked is even better.  The ruler templates I blogged about a couple of months ago are another option.  Proceed with caution!

Quilt Show at Uptown Dental Clinic, Port Townsend

This show includes quilts from a number of my quilting friends.  The show was originally planned to be a two person show with myself and Charlie Petersen.  Due to Charlie’s sudden and unexpected death in September, I invited several other quilters to participate.  Fortunately Charlie’s family gave us permission to include some of her quilts in the show, so we all get the opportunity to see Charlie’s latest work.

The show runs until January 7, 2016.   Quilts can be viewed during the Clinic’s normal business hours:  Mon-Thurs 8-5 pm and Friday 9-2 pm.  The Clinic is at 642 Harrison Street.    A reception with the artists will be held Friday, October 23 from 4 to 6 pm.

Besides myself and Charlie Petersen, other quilters participating in the show are Fabienne Farley, Nona Giersch, Helen Oakland, Susan Sawatzky, and Jo Ellen Thompson.  Some photos from the show are included below.

Reception area 1

Uptown Dental reception area 2

Uptown Dental hallway left (2)

Uptown Dental hallway right (2)And Charlie’s last quilt, quilted and finished by her friend Carol Olsen.  We named it “After Impracticalities”.

Charlies last quilt (4)If you are in our local area, we hope you will be able to visit the show!

Karen’s Quilt Shop has moved

One of the shops where I teach classes is Karen’s in Sequim, Washington.  Karen Kester owns the shop and she is the Bernina dealer on the Olympic Peninsula, in addition to having a great selection of fabrics and other items. In order to provide even better service and selection, she has moved – just a little ways — to a bigger and nicer space.

I stopped by this week to check it out.  The new place is at 271 South 7th Ave, #26.  It is just west of her previous location.  I think of it as west (behind) the Rodda Paint Store and diagonally behind the McDonalds at Washington Avenue and 7th Avenue.  The mapping information on the internet is still a little confusing because it isn’t all updated yet, so don’t panic.  Just call the shop at 360-681-0820 and they will help you find it.

Here are a couple of photos I took while there:

First, the outside of the building

Karens Quilt Shop exterior (2)

Then, the main inside area

Karens Quilt Shop interior (2)And finally, the expanded sewing machine area.

IMG_5841 (2)

There’s a nice big classroom also. They have just moved so are still getting settled in.  There will be more signs on the street soon — these things all take time!  But do stop by and check out the new location next time you are in Sequim.

Clamshell quilting with template

Well — here they are.  My very first blog videos!  These are REALLY rough — totally unedited .  Just me talking and demonstrating.  Bear in mind, not only are these my first videos, they are basically unrehearsed.  And I am just learning how to use these templates, so there are some glitches along the way.   I could have waited to post these until I got better at this and had them carefully  edited, but decided not to.  Perhaps it will be helpful to you to see the glitches and know that I am just beginning to learn how to use these tools.   Maybe later I will make some better videos and replace these.

If you have come directly to this post and not read the previous one from a few days ago, please go back and read it.  Lots of information there that I am not repeating here.

I really must get my hands on some sticky tape to put on the back of these templates.  As you will see in the videos, I am having some trouble with the templates sliding around.  The sticky tape is supposed to help solve that problem.

In the videos, I called the special presser foot a “hopping foot”.  I think that is not a good name to use, because it doesn’t really “hop”.  I think “ruler foot” is a better term and I will try to use it in the future.

But here goes with the videos.  The first two are really just two parts of the same one;  I got a little stuck with positioning and had to stop and regroup until I figured out what to do next!

Video one – large clamshells, starting row

Video two – large clamshells, second and third rows

Video three – small clamshells

And I have discovered another blogger, Amy Johnson,  who has been using  these templates way longer than me so has lots of expertise to share:

Domestic Machine Ruler Templates for Free Motion Quilting

Long-arm quilters have been using templates for many years and getting beautiful results. It is possible to use the long-arm templates on a domestic sewing machine if you are very careful, but you risk damaging your machine because of the thickness of the templates.

A clever quilter in Australia, Leonie West, has developed a series of templates for domestic sewing machines that are thinner and make it easy to quilt a wide variety of patterns. Her website is . Sew Steady, the Eugene Oregon company that manufacturers acrylic sewing machine extension tables, is the exclusive US licensee and manufacturer for these templates. Their website is .

These templates are a new hot trend for quilters. I have seen them advertised a few times and wanted to try them. This week I purchased the hopper foot and an assortment of templates from Quality Sewing and Vacuum in Silverdale. Brace yourself for the price of these things—even on sale, they were not cheap!

The hopper foot comes in high shank and low shank versions. The low shank can also be used on high shank machines with an adapter. I already had the adapter so purchased the low shank version.

Here is what the hopper foot looks like mounted on my Brother machine.

Low shank hopping foot installed on Brother Dreamweaver 3000

Low shank hopping foot installed on Brother Dreamweaver 3000

There are online videos showing how to install the foot on your machine, and how to use some of the templates. Be sure to watch them; the written instructions that come with the foot and templates are very brief. You can find links to the videos at both the websites I listed above.

In general, these things work by lining up the hopper foot on the edge of the template, and then moving the template and the quilt sandwich under the needle. The hopper foot is ½ inch across, so the needle is always stitching ¼ inch away from the template.

Here is a photo of one of the templates – just a plain circle- in place and with part of the design stitched out.

circle template in place for stitching

circle template in place for stitching








I found the templates quite easy to use and was very pleased with the results. The quilting goes quickly and the marking needed is very minimal.   Of course I am an experienced free motion quilter, but I think the templates might make free motion quilting easier for less experienced FM quilters also.

Here are some examples:

Spinning Wheel Pattern—completed pattern, and the template placed on top of the pattern showing its position during the stitching.   As each petal of the flower is completed, the template is rotated to the position for the next petal. The stitching is continuous and the template is well marked. Be sure to watch the online video of this one before you start.   It is easy to do but the video shows you the overall process which won’t be obvious before you have done one of these rotating patterns.


spinning wheel pattern completed

spinning wheel pattern completed

spinning wheel template placed over stitched out design

spinning wheel template placed over stitched out design








Clamshell pattern- again, the completed pattern and the template placed on top of the pattern. The little rounded “hook” at the end of the template is great for positioning the hopper foot when you need to move the template after stitching a couple of clamshells. The lower edge of the template is used for tiny clamshells, which I haven’t stitched out yet.

Completed clamshell quilting

Completed clamshell quilting


clamshell template placed on completed stitching

clamshell template placed on completed stitching



Feathers – my sample here is pretty good but one of the feathers came out too short. It can be picked out and replaced with a better one, so it’s not a fatal mistake. Still not sure exactly how I made that mistake! There is a good online video that shows many variations on the feather pattern. Several sizes of feather templates are available and they can be used within the same design to make smaller and larger feathers.


feather pattern stitched out

feather pattern stitched out

feather template placed on stitched out design

feather template placed on stitched out design








Spiral – this is a very simple use of this 6 inch spiral template. This design could be enhanced by adding free motion work either inside or outside the design. Lots of other variations possible also but I couldn’t find an online video explaining how to use this tool effectively so I still need to learn more.


Simple pattern using spiral template

Simple pattern using spiral template

6inch spiral template on top of completed design

6inch spiral template on top of completed design









Another quilter who has done some interesting work with templates is Patsy Thompson. She has a couple of good videos on her website: . I think she is working with the thicker long arm templates, but the methods should be the same.

I encourage you to ask your local quilt shop about these templates, or your local sewing machine store.  I purchased the Domestic Ruler Foot – which includes a couple of templates – and also the 6 piece sampler set.  This is enough to get your started and explore this new kind of quilting.


Cutting your fabric to achieve accurate ¼ inch seams

One of the common problems all quilters have is achieving an accurate ¼ inch seam allowance. Using the ¼ inch piecing foot or a ¼ inch mark on our sewing machines is not enough. Depending upon the thickness of our fabric and thread, folding the seam over “takes up” a little width. Most of us try to compensate by sewing a “scant” 1/4 inch seam.

Of course it also depends upon how many seams are going to exist in a block. For a simple block like a four patch, there is only one seam in each direction so it doesn’t matter so much if the seam takes up a little extra. But for blocks with many seams, it can be a major problem.

Here’s an alternate approach: cut the strips or pieces in your quilt slightly larger. And I do mean slightly. You can use the lines on your rulers to do this.

Here is an example. I am using an old ruler I own manufactured by Quilter’s Rule. It has rather wide lines. For newer rulers with narrow lines, you will have to develop your own method and run tests to figure out the amount of adjustment needed.

For the purposes of this test, I cut six 1 ½ inch wide strips, each about 6 inches long. First, I cut them aligning the fabric edge with the middle of the 1 ½ inch line, as shown in this photo.  Ignore the fact that the ruler line shown is the 1 inch line; I took the photos after completing the test and placed the wrong line on the fabric edge.  Just pretend it is the 1 1/2 inch line!

Cutting with half of the line thickness

Cutting with half of the line thickness

I then sewed these six strips together using my ¼ inch presser foot and being careful to sew accurate seams. Afterward I pressed the seams carefully, using “Best Press” to get the “block” nice and flat. The resulting block is shown below. The extra fabric taken up in the five seams results in a block that is too small – 6 ¼ inches instead of 6 ½.

Finished test block using half the line thickness is too small

Finished test block using half the line thickness is too small

The second test was done aligning the fabric with the left edge of the line, shown here.

Cutting using all of the line thickness

Cutting using all of the line thickness

Again the six strips were cut and sewn together. Now the block is 6 5/8 inches, slightly oversized. But it can easily be cut down to 6 ½ inches if needed.

Finished test block using all the line thickness produces a big enough block

Finished test block using all the line thickness produces a big enough block

I have also done this test with a newer “thin line” ruler and learned to judge where to line up the fabric edge to make the strips slightly wider.

I really like the idea of solving this size problem in the cutting of the strips, rather than trying to solve it later in the sewing. I am going to try to make it a habit in the future, especially when constructing pieced blocks with many seams. Maybe you will find this a useful tip also.