I’ve written quite a few times on how well gardening and photography go together. Snapping photos in your garden is creative and fun and it records your gardening joys and successes so you can relive the beauty of the season in the winter months. Photos also come in handy to plan revamps of areas that need a little TLC. It’s especially fun to flaunt your best photos for others to see and even incorporate into a craft project, like this garden photo pillow.
Image transfer sheets designed for printing on fabric and to run through your home printer are the main ingredient. You will also need an iron and a pillow and removable pillow cover. You can also transfer onto a fabric square and sew you own cover, if that’s in your skill set. 100% cotton fabric takes the transfer best, but follow the recommendations on the image transfer sheet package you choose. The transfer sheets usually come in a pack of 10 to 12 and are available in craft stores and online for $10 to $15. They are made to be printed with an ink jet printer. Do not use a laser printer or any printer that heats up when it prints.
If you take garden photos, you likely have one that resonates with you and will work well. Images that have a strong personal connection are always good. If you don’t have a photo that works, search online for copyright free images. You will need a moderately high resolution photo – around 150 dpi at whatever dimension your pillow cover is (mine is 20×20”). Most recent smartphones will take an image that will work. When you print your image out on the transfer sheet, follow the printer setting recommendation in the instructions. Usually it will instruct you to use “best photo.” Be mindful to print on the correct side of the sheet. Do a test print on plain paper if you need to.
To make a pillow cover larger than 8 ½ x 11”, you will need to divide and crop your photo into parts. With my pillow, I divided the photo into 9—6.66 x 6.66” squares. You can do this in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or even most word processing programs, like Word. You then print the parts out, cut them out and reassemble into a whole image. Do not leave any white border around the photos parts and be mindful of reassembling the photo correctly…it can be confusing! Secure the parts together with small pieces of Scotch tape. The iron will melt the tape when you iron the transfer on, but it usually just shrivels up and doesn’t stick to the iron.
Lay the transfer sheet image side down on the pillow cover. Follow the individual ironing directions in the instructions. You will most likely iron on the highest setting, and press very firmly with both hands (pressing much harder than you would when ironing clothes) and move the iron in alternating horizontal and vertical passes over the entire image, covering each section for about three minutes. You can peek a little to see if the photo is transferring, but allow it to cool for a few minutes before you peel it off. I have found the cooling period to be crucial to a good transfer.
Don’t fret if there are a few spots that do not transfer, they will likely not be that noticeable in the end. You can touch up these areas with fabric paint or even felt tip markers or just leave them alone. If there are small flaps of image transfer that did not adhere, gently scrape them off with your fingernail. You can then smooth the edge of what you scraped off with a fine grade sandpaper.