Where do I get Photo Memory Quilt Patterns?

Now that you have decided to investigate or make a Photo Quilt, one of the first questions becomes: Where do I get Photo Memory Quilt Patterns? This can be hard as blocks that look perfect for Photo Blocks may be a pieced together block, which makes it unsuitable for a Photo Quilt.

There are various sources where you can find patterns for photo quilts, ranging from online platforms to books and quilting communities. Here are some places where you can explore and obtain patterns for your photo quilt:

  • Online Quilting Websites – There are many of these to choose from! PhotoQuiltBlocks.com has a pattern section that has been vetted and is perfect for Photo Quilts. They list what size blocks the photos need to be and how many for each size!
  • Quilting Pattern Shops – We have found Etsy to be a wonderful resource for patterns and inspirations!
  • Quilting Books – Search the quilting books you have at home and see which ones are perfect for your photo blocks. Larger block sizes, such as 5×5 and larger, are perfect!
  • Quilting Magazines – You can find these at local Quilt Shops, Barnes & Noble, and there are even online Quilting Magazines you can subscribe to.
  • Quilting Workshops and Classes – Check your local quilt shops for classes on Photo Quilts and how to make them.
  • Online and Local Quilting Communities – American Quilt Study Group, Quilt-Alongs, Local Quilt Guilds, Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc., Quilt Retreats, Block Swaps, and Social Media are all excellent sources to become part of a community.
  • Charity Sewing Groups – Search your local town for these groups. Springfield, Missouri, for instance, has a Newborns in Need group that is very active!
  • Local Quilt Shops – Local Quilt shops are the best because you can actually get inside the pattern and make sure what size blocks you need and that the area you are wanting to set a photo is one piece and not a joining of pieces.
  • Create your own – This can be a lot of fun if you are adventurous, good with measurements, and have the ability to make “lemons out of lemonades” with any failures you may have in this journey!

Please, grab a cup of coffee and take a seat while we dig into this matter a little more deeply. We have a few more questions to cover before we are ready to send you on your way!

What is a Photo Quilt vs a Picture Quilt?

While you might think a Photo Quilt and a Picture Quilt are the same type of quilt, they are two different quilt types with some common attributes. A Photo Quilt is a quilt that prominently features photographs. These photographs are typically transferred onto fabric squares or panels, which are then incorporated into the quilt’s design. Photo quilts are a creative and sentimental way to showcase memories, events, or people, allowing individuals to wrap themselves in a cozy blanket filled with personal moments captured in pictures. Photo Quilts are also more generally used as a quilt that is used, cuddled, and can be washed.

When talking about a Picture Quilt, the term “picture” is more general and may encompass a range of visual elements beyond just photographs. It can include illustrations, graphics, or any printed images that hold significance for the quilt maker or recipient. A Picture Quilt usually has mementos and 3D elements added to it that make it more of a showpiece or a wall hanging.

What is a Photo Quilt vs a Memory Quilt?

A photo quilt specifically emphasizes the use of photographs as the primary design element, while a memory quilt is a more inclusive term that allows for the incorporation of a broader array of materials and memories. A memory quilt can be a multi-sensory experience, engaging not only the visual senses through images but also touch and emotion through the inclusion of various materials and mementos.

This is an example of a PHOTO QUILT:

PHOTO QUILT: a type of quilt that prominently features photographs as the central design element. The primary purpose of a photo quilt is to showcase and preserve visual memories captured in photographs. Each fabric square or panel in the quilt typically contains an image transferred from a photograph. Photo quilts are a creative way to celebrate specific events, people, or moments in time by incorporating visual representations directly onto the quilt.

This is an example of a MEMORY QUILT:

Image via Andrea Smith on Pinterest

MEMORY QUILT: this is a broader category that encompasses various elements beyond just photographs. While a memory quilt may certainly include photos, it can also incorporate other symbolic or meaningful items such as fabric from special clothing, handwritten notes, embroidery, or any material that holds sentimental value. Memory quilts are a way to capture and preserve a range of memories and emotions, creating a textile collage that tells a rich and personal story beyond what can be conveyed through images alone. Examples of materials used in memory quilts would be: men’s shirts, ties, dresses, embroidered blocks, baby clothes, t-shirts, and any other textile that was special to a certain person.

Ultimately, the choice between a photo quilt and a memory quilt depends on the storyteller’s preferences, the desired level of personalization, and the range of materials they wish to include in the quilt. Both types of quilts serve as beautiful and meaningful ways to commemorate and celebrate the stories that make up our lives.

Specific Resources for Photo and Memory Quilt Patterns:

Make sure to bookmark this page, as we will be adding to this list as we find suitable sources!

PhotoQuiltBlocks.com is curating a collection of patterns just for Photo Quilts. Make sure to check back often as they are always adding new patterns to their “approved” list. They also list out the size and number of photos you will need for each size of quilt. Now that’s a big help!

Photo Memory Quilts by Lesley Riley is a book published by CT Publishing in April of 2023. This book has a very eclectic feel and focuses on heirloom and ancestory themes.

How Do I Know if a Pattern Works for a Photo Memory Quilt?

The main thing you are looking for when deciding on a pattern is that the block where you want to put your photos is all one piece. In the below example, in a finished quilt with this pattern, the larger white squares might look like nice photo slots, but when looking at the pattern and how it is pieced, it would not work as the block is actually pieced together.

There are several ways for you to discern if a pattern is right for a photo quilt:

  • First, you can look up close at the photo of the quilt. If you have access to a quilt that is already made, you can get up close and see if the blocks you want for photos are all one piece.
  • Second, open up the patterns and see how a quilt is pieced together and what size the blocks are. Of course, this has to be done in person, so ask permission if you are in a store.
  • Third, if you are buying a pattern online, you may need to message the seller so they can give you size and piecing information about a pattern.
  • Fourth, choose patterns from a source that has checked out the patterns and can tell you they will work for a photo project.

You also want to make sure the size of the block in the pattern is nice for a photo. Photos show off the best at 5×5 or larger. The other thing to consider is how many subjects are in the photo. One person in a 5×5 block is great, but a family picture with 12 people in it so going to be too busy and the people too small for a 5×5 block, and the people will be so small it might not show their faces as clearly as you would like.

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Happy quilting!

May your stitches and photos continue to tell tales

of love and laughter, and keep your memories alive!


Lori McCroskey is the principal creator of PhotoQuiltBlocksBlog.com, a website dedicated to quilts, projects, and gifts created with photos printed on fabric. She also has a business PhotoQuiltBlocks.com where you can have her print your photos on fabric for you! Inspired by her love for sewing, scrapbooking, and family, Lori has a passion for capturing memories in useable gifts, quilts, and crafts that get your photos off your phone, out of the album, freed from a frame, and into memorable keepsakes that your friends and family will treasure. Learn more about Lori here!

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