Photographing Quilts

Headshot Photographing QuiltsBy Shayla Wolf, QM Associate Editor

Taking photos of your quilts has become an integral part of the creative process. Whether you want to share your creation with your quilty friends on social media, submit photos for a quilt show or just document quilts you have given as gifts, having nice photos is important. You put all that time, effort and money into making the quilt, and you don’t want blurry photos!

Title1 Photographing Quilts

Now, I must admit, I love taking photos of quilts. It adds another fun creative piece to the quiltmaking process for me. I am hoping this love is contagious and that some of you might catch it! Here are my best tips and tricks for taking photos of quilts.

TruckClose Photographing Quilts

I like to scout unique locations to shoot my quilts. This was an old yellow Studebaker that was begging for a quilt to be draped over it!

Use What You Have
With all the technology out there today, there are infinite possibilities for cameras. But you do not need an expensive camera to take great photos. A point-and-shoot camera or your cellphone will work just fine!

iPhone Photographing Quilts

This photo was taken with my iPhone and without a tripod or any fancy equipment.

Be Prepared
Make sure your quilt is camera ready! Trim stray threads and iron stubborn creases. These things stick out like a sore thumb in photos.

Grab any supplies you may need. Items that could be helpful are large binder clips, clothespins, clothesline, old sheets and sewing pins.

BePrepared Photographing Quilts

Here I used clips to hang the quilt to a brick wall.

Make sure your camera has an ample charge and pack some backup batteries. Be sure to turn off the date stamp feature on your camera – we don’t want anything distracting in front of your beautiful quilt!

Lighting
Unless you have expensive lighting equipment, nothing beats natural light. Get outside and use the sun. Drape your quilt over a railing or pin it to fence. Be careful though! If your quilt has a lot of light fabrics, too much sun can blow out your quilt. Try shooting in the morning or on a slightly cloudy day.

DrapeFence Photographing Quilts

Here we draped the quilt over the fence in our front yard. Notice the quilt is in some shade despite the sunny day.

If you have a light-colored backing and you worry about getting it dirty, put an old sheet down first, and then place your quilt on top. Too cold to go outside? Find the room in your house with the most natural light and snap a few photos there.

InsideShots Photographing Quilts

Both of these photos were taken in my living room when the sun was shining through the windows.

Pay attention to where the sun is. If the sun is behind the quilt, it may shine through and illuminate the backing fabric and seam allowances. Keep the sun in front of the quilt or behind a cloud.

Get Parallel
To get a perfect straight-on photo of your quilt, you will need to be parallel to it. Hang the quilt vertically and position your camera in the center of the quilt. If your quilt is distorted and looks more like a trapezoid than a rectangle, your camera is either too high or too low.

MeParallel3 Photographing Quilts

That’s me! In the first photo I am straight in front of the quilt with the camera aligned in the center. In the second photo I needed a step stool to get parallel to the quilt center.

GetParallel Photographing Quilts

Even with multiple quilts, if you are parallel, you can avoid wonky shaped quilts!

Neutral Background
Choose backgrounds that will enhance your quilt. Very busy backgrounds will distract from the quilt – you don’t want that! If the background color is too similar to the quilt binding and borders, the quilt will blend in. Try to find a neutral background or a complementary color.

Backgrounds Photographing Quilts

The first photo shows a complimentary background. The Fall leaves make the orange in the quilt pop! The second quilt is pinned to the side of a barn. This background is a little busier but plays with the rustic feel of the quilt.

Be Still
Staying still while snapping photos is very, very important, especially when using a cell phone. If you have a tripod for your camera, dust it off and use it! No tripod? No worries! Anchor your elbows into your stomach and take a deep breath. Focus your camera and snap a photo. This little trick works for me on those cold winter days when I get the shivers!

BeStill Photographing Quilts

I had to be very still (and take a few blurry shots first) to capture the quilting detail on this quilt.

Capture Details
Once you have a nice photo of the entire quilt, take some shots of your favorite details. Love the texture created by the quilting? Fold the quilt and take a photo from an angle to show that. Love the binding? Roll the quilt and take a photo of the end. Love the label? Fold over a corner and snap a photo. Have a neat pieced back? Flip the quilt over and take a photo. Fussy cut an adorable fabric? Zoom in and document it. Is the quilt teeny-tiny? Add an object for scale. You can never have too many photos!

Details Photographing Quilts

Top Left: A quilt rolled up so you can see the binding and a few blocks. Top Right: A quilt randomly folded to feature the quilting texture. Bottom Left: A quilt folded in quarters to show a little binding detail and a peek of the cute backing fabric. Bottom Right: A close-up of the quilt label.

Add the Recipient
Did you make this quilt for your new grandson or your daughter’s wedding present? Snap a few photos with them and quilt. Bonus – it is much more fun to talk to someone while snapping photos!

Recipients Photographing Quilts

Babies, loved ones and pets all make great additions to these quilt photos.

BabyOnQuilt Photographing Quilts

I mean really, who doesn’t love a good baby/quilt photo!?

Have Fun!
Documenting your quilts should be as much fun as making them! Luckily for us, in this digital age, if you try something and don’t love how it looks, erase it and try again!

HaveFun Photographing Quilts

Try something different like draping the quilt over a sign or tree branch.

Now grab your cell phone, point-and shoot or DSLR and take some photos of those gorgeous quilts!

If you take photos of your Quiltmaker projects, be sure to share them with us! Email photos to sewtospeak@quiltmaker.com. I look forward to seeing them!

All the quilts and photos in this post are from Sassafras Lane Designs.

25699 pattern img 288x300 Photographing Quilts

For all those quilt and photographer enthusiasts, why not combine your two passions? I designed a camera quilt that appeared in our Fall 2014 issue of Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, named Say Cheese! Take a photo of your quilt from this pattern and send it over our way!

Happy Snapping!
Shayla

About Shayla

I am an Associate Editor at Quiltmaker. I have been making quilts since I was six and now have my own pattern design company, Sassafras Lane Designs. Outside of sewing I enjoy photography, spending time with my family, traveling the world and playing with my 3 dogs.
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9 Responses to Photographing Quilts

  1. Pingback: How Do You Photograph Your Quilts?

  2. Fran C says:

    Thank you for some great tips! I have recently joined another quilt guild, and they have asked me to take photos. Several of your suggestions I was already doing, but now I have even more info to help me take even better photos.

  3. Barbara Maas says:

    Hello,
    I have pretty much always photographed my quilts straight on, but this article has given me some ideas about doing it a bit more creatively. Thank you.
    Your quilts are beautiful!
    Barbara

  4. I had to go back & actually READ your photo tips cuz my eye was first so captured by your quilts. Wonderful work! And Thx for your useful photo tips.

  5. These are beautiful quilts! I appreciate all these tips about photographing quilts. The presentation makes such a big difference in how a quilt is perceived.

  6. jhoffman says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tips. I am a current Quiltmaker Scrap Squad member and this is very timely for getting better pictures.

  7. Janet T says:

    Great things to think about when taking a picture.

  8. Pingback: Quilting Your Hobby | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  9. Barb Johnson says:

    Thanks for the great (and timely) article! As a Scrap Addict, an important part of my job will be to photograph my quilts. I’ll definitely bookmark this page for future reference!

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