Tammie Bowser's Quilted Photo Xpress is a software program that helps you turn your photographs into mosaic quilt patterns. You can design your mosaic quilt with straight-set squares or with squares placed at an angle. The software also includes an option for using rectangles instead of squares, and in her related book Tammie explains a technique that lets you overlap patches to create quilts with a very painted look.
Getting Started with Quilted Photo Xpress
Tammie's mosaic software is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems. I had some problems with the fabric library option when using a Mac, but otherwise the software was very similar on both types of computers. I didn't contact Tammie for help because the fabric glitch wasn't a significant design element for me and did not affect the program's patterning skills.
Open a digital image from within the mosaic software and you'll discover that you can manipulate it in many ways. Choose the way you want the photo to display: as a realistic image, in grayscale or in sepia. I used the sepia option to process the photo of Samantha cat that you see farther down on this page. Now's the time to choose the orientation of your patches, straight or angled.
Tammie recommends you use 24 fabrics, eight darks, eight mediums and eight lights. Move a bar if you would like to tell the program to use more or less fabrics.
You'll slide another bar back and forth to choose the amount of detail you'd like the photo to have. More detail equals (lots) more pieces of fabric, but the finished quilt will be well worth the extra time you spend creating it.
Printing the Pattern
Sammy's pictured converted to a sepia drawing for quilted photography. This version of her photo would contain 3657 squares of fabric
Spend some time playing with the options before you print your pattern. When you're ready, the software compiles pages of grids that you can link together side by side to show where fabrics are located in the quilt. An accompanying printout shows you how many squares you'll need of each fabric.
Your fabric squares will ultimately be arranged onto a gridded fusible web, and Tammie offers several options for assembling it.
Arranging Your Fabric to Create the Mosaic
Tammie's book, Simply Amazing Quilted Photography
, is a good companion to the mosaic software because it helps guide you through the process of selecting fabrics and getting them into place on your grid. I recommend you read the entire book before getting started. There were a few things I felt were a bit out of place in the text, but they became clear after I read all chapters.
You'll find instructions for the fuse, fold and sew method in Tammie's book, but sewing pieces together is optional. Fusible web holds fabric in place, and quilting stitches later on will secure any edges that might pop up.
Other Supporting Materials
PFC Paulson, USMC - See a Large Version of this Quilt in Our Themed and Novelty Quilts Gallery© Marine Mom
Tammie sent me a DVD of her guest appearances on Sewing with Nancy. Watching the 3-episode video is the perfect way to quickly develop a very good understanding of the process, from start to finish. If you're a visual learner, I highly recommend that you order the video with your software.
Can I Make a Mosaic Quilt?
Yes, you sure can. Marine Mom made the quilt you see on this page for her son who had just entered the armed forces. It was only her second quilt ever, and her first in twenty years. The quilt was assembled with 10,000 1-1/4" squares that were sewn to finish at 3/4" -- not a quick project, but definitely a quilt that she can be proud of
You can make a wonderful photo quilt even if you're not ready to assemble a project with as many pieces as Marine Mom's quilt contains. Import several images and experiment with the software's options until you find one that works for you.
Brush Up On Color Value
In her tutorials, Tammie explains that mosaic quilts don't require specific color choices -- it isn't even necessary to use the same colors that are in your photo. Instead, you'll focus on color value
when you make a photo quilt, so get comfortable with it before you begin, and then follow Tammie's tips for selecting fabrics.