It’s one thing to hang a child’s beloved artwork on the fridge for all to admire, but how cool would it be to incorporate that artwork into a quilt? In this tutorial, guest blogger Erin Jones of Squirrel and Co. Quilts returns to teach us how to make a quilt using kids’ artwork! This quilt makes an excellent gift for parents, grandparents, caretakers, and anyone else with a kid in their life.
When making a quilt with kids’ artwork, there are a number of things to consider. Do you want to use existing artwork or recruit some kiddos to create new art? What colors do you want to use? How do you want to showcase the artwork? And what quilt patterns work best?
Here are Erin’s answers to all your burning questions, including instructions for making your own fabric out of kids’ artwork, and turning it into a Stars Hollow quilt!
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Materials for Making a Quilt Using Kids’ Artwork:
Step 1: Select or Create Kids’ Artwork
The quickest way to choose art when making a quilt with kids’ artwork is to use existing masterpieces.
If you need to commission new art, the path of least resistance is to provide kiddos full creative freedom in choosing the medium, subject, and colors used in their new artwork. The result will undoubtedly be original and fun!
But what if you have a specific color palette in mind? That might require gently guiding little artists with specific colors or mediums. If that sounds like a total headache and/or completely impossible, a simple game can keep the creative process fun while making use of well-coordinated colors!
The game is fast-paced and involves timers (kids love timers), so it should keep young artists engaged:
- Decide on a medium (this set of washable markers offers a wide range of colors) and group desired colors into cups. I grouped markers into shades of blue, pink/purple, etc.
- Provide a clean sheet of paper and a group of colors.
- Set a timer for 2 minutes and let the child create anything they want using the provided group of colors! If they’re having trouble, you can suggest they draw as many things that are blue (or whichever color) they can think of.
- When the timer ends, switch out the newly created art for a fresh sheet of paper and a new cup of colors.
- Repeat until the fun runs out or you have what you need!
There are lots of other ways to have fun creating unique art! Use washable paint to have children create silly handprint animals, or make potato stamps and have fun creating different patterns together.
If all else fails, there are always snacks—the most valued currency of many children. Trade ya a granola bar for a painting?
Step 2: Coordinating Kids’ Artwork with Other Colors and Fabric
For this tutorial, I used the Suzy Quilts Stars Hollow quilt pattern, solid fabrics, and custom fabric from Spoonflower that I designed using my kids’ masterpieces. For each quadrant of the quilt, I wanted to use my boys’ artwork and a coordinated solid. This step is crucial for making a quilt using kids’ artwork that shines!
I used my Art Gallery Fabric (AGF) Pure Solids color card to help pick colors. Some of these colors would serve as my background for my kids’ artwork and the others would remain solid.
To get similar AGF-inspired colors to use for your printed fabric backgrounds, I used an online color picking tool (like Image Color Picker) to find the Hexadecimal (or HEX) codes using websites containing images of the AGF solid. Color codes, like HEX or RGB values, are unique to every shade imaginable and make it easy to pick and replicate exact colors in design programs.
This might seem very technical, but once you get started using the color-picking tool, you’ll get the hang of it! To use Image Color Picker, just copy a URL that has a picture of the fabric you want to color match. You can find all of the AGF solids on their website.
Next, click the “Use Your Image” button and then choose “Website URL” from the top navigation. Paste your URL, and once the website has loaded on Image Color Picker, you can click anywhere in the image to find the HEX code!
Remember that colors can look different when printed on different fabric types. If you need to be more precise with your background colors, Spoonflower offers a printed color map on your fabric of choice so you can see nearly 1,200 printed color options and corresponding color codes.
If you don’t have specific colors in mind, you can play around with the Google “color picker” to find colors you like and their corresponding color code values.
Step 3: Scanning the Kids’ Artwork and Adjusting Fabric Colors
Once you have some masterpieces in hand, you’ll need to get them scanned into an image file (.jpg or .png) in order to upload them to Spoonflower to design and order your fabric.
A scanner will provide the highest quality image (which offers more flexibility when determining size and scale later on), but there are also great apps that you can download to a smartphone or tablet that will capture the artwork as an image file.
I used PhotoScan by Google and found it gave me similar results to using my scanner. To capture quality images, take photos in natural light (outdoors is best!) and make sure there aren’t any shadows cast across the artwork.
Next, you’ll need to remove the background of the image so that only the immediate outline of the artwork itself is present. This will allow you to change the background color of your fabric. Remember those color codes you picked out earlier?
You can remove the background of an image using an image editing tool like Adobe Photoshop or PicMonkey, and then add a new layer in the color code (e.g., HEX, RGB) of your choice from Step 2.
If you don’t have access to a program with those features, there are many free editing tools, like RemoveBG, that will remove backgrounds and allow you to change background colors to custom HEX codes before downloading the edited image.
Step 4: Creating Fabric on Spoonflower
Spoonflower offers endless designs from talented artists in a wide array of fabric types and textures. You can also upload your own designs for free to have printed on the fabric of your choice! Here’s where that priceless kid art comes in.
Upload the edited artwork image file to Spoonflower, following the directions provided on the website. From there, you can adjust the design size and how it’s repeated. This is the big benefit of creating your own print instead of using fabric markers for kids to draw on your fabric. Making your own fabric gives you more control over color, size, and the repeat, turning your kids’ artwork into a sophisticated surface design.
I found that I liked the half-brick layout for artwork that featured more recognizable pictures, like my kid’s flamingo sketch. For more abstract artwork, like toddler scribbles, the mirror layout can create a fun and elevated pattern effect.
Pay attention to those ruler markings when adjusting the design so you know how big or small the artwork will be printed! If you have a specific quilt pattern in mind, be sure to reference the size of the required cuts as you resize the artwork.
When making a quilt with kids’ artwork, smaller sized images work well for most quilt patterns. I opted for a smaller design size where the artwork image was repeated every 1-3” or so to ensure it was visible in my pieced blocks.
If you would like to feature a larger panel of artwork in your quilt, you can increase the design size. This is where a higher-resolution image would be beneficial so the artwork quality doesn’t diminish as you make it larger.
In terms of choosing a fabric, the Petal Signature Cotton works well for quilts. You could also print your design on an extra cozy fabric, like Minky, to use as a backing!
Step 5: It’s Time to Make a Quilt with Kids’ Artwork!
When making a quilt with kids’ artwork, be sure to consider the scale and pattern of the printed fabric as you choose a quilt pattern.
For artwork that you would like to feature on a larger scale or frame individually, consider patterns like the Stars Hollow quilt (imagine the center of each star as a feature space!) and Triangle Jitters that use larger pieces of fabric.
For artwork printed in a more repetitive or abstract design, patterns with strip piecing can work well, like the Sugar POP or Campfire patterns.
Fussy cutting is another neat way to showcase artwork printed on fabric. A fussy cut quilt using the Mod Mountains quilt pattern would be absolutely darling! If you go the fussy cutting route, you might consider ordering some extra fabric just in case.
Why stop at making a quilt with kids’ artwork? A wall hanging or pillow pattern like the Maypole or Reflections patterns can be a really fun way to make use of fabric featuring kids’ artwork too!
Now for the easy part, right? Assemble your quilt using your beautifully printed custom fabric, making sure to be mindful of your cuts so that the artwork is visible throughout the quilt.
Lastly, don’t forget to label your masterpiece! Have kiddos sign their name with a fabric marker on a precut piece of fabric to serve as a quilt label.
Show Us Your Quilt Made with Kids’ Artwork!
Making a quilt with kids’ artwork is a really fun and unique way to create an extra special heirloom piece that will be snuggled and cherished for years to come. It would make a great gift for relatives who live far away, a new baby from an older sibling, or for teachers as an end-of-year gift from all of their students.
You could even make a quilt for a child using their own art to make their bedroom decor exceptionally original. The possibilities are endless! After you make a quilt using kids’ artwork, post your picture to Instagram using the #SuzyQuiltsPatterns hashtag!