I’ve been taking photos since my youth. My dad taught me to do this and its been an invaluable gift as my kids, who are now grown, will attest to. They love nothing more than going through our old photo albums. On holiday season a few years back it was the first time Roy and I were alone without the kids and I was missing them horribly. As I was looking through old photos I had an idea come to me. I would make that year’s Christmas tree a memory tree. I did this by going through all my old Christmas photos, scanning them in and then printing them on inkjet fabric sheets. This does require a little bit of skill with some sort of software that lets you lay out the images. I use MS Publisher and have for years but you can do it in many programs even MS Word if you have that.
When I did mine I did some extra steps and put each photo in a graphic frame and put the date on it before printing. But just using the plain photos works great too unless you really want to put in the time and know how to do that sort of thing.
I recreated my steps below to show how I made them. At the time I didn’t have a sewing machine so I used fabric glue and it worked wonderfully. You can of course choose to sew yours and there is a variety of ways you can finish them on the edges. As I was making so many I wanted a pretty quick way to do it so I just used pinking shears. The ornaments have held up fine through the years. Just store them flat.
NOTE: This project does require knowledge of graphic software use. Unless you already have digital photos you will be using you will need a scanner to scan in your regular photos.
- Printer/Scanner if needed/Software (MS Publisher, MS Word or similar)
- Ink Jet Fabric Paper
- Cloth Scissors
- Pinking Shears
- Fabric Glue (Tacky glue works well also.)
- String or twine for hanging.
- Fabric for backs, muslin, cotton etc.
Gather supplies. Scan in your photos if needed and pull them into your software of choice. I laid out 4 per page though you can make them any size you wish. Print them out on the ink jet fabric sheets. The result is a bit faded but this is normal. Cut out your photos and remove the backing sheet. Cut a matching piece of backing fabric. I used muslin.
Decide on what you will hang it with. I use brown twine for my original set. Glue the edges of the fabric back making sure to LEAVE AN OPENING FOR STUFFING. This is the best time to add your hanging twine or ribbon. It can be placed in the seam on the top as you glue it. You could also attach it afterwards. Place the photo on top and allow to dry. Stuff it very lightly as you don’t want these really thick. Use a pencil if needed to arrange the stuffing. Glue the opening shut and hold together while it dries. Clothespins work great for this. After its dry trim the edges with pinking shears. If you added the hanging twine beforehand just trim each side around it carefully with the shears.
These are some I made using different ways to hang. I also added a couple embellishments.
These are my originals I made for our tree. I added the graphic border and dates in my graphic software program.
Because all our kids were living elsewhere I made a special card to mail out to them as shown and wrote a poem to go with it. Each card was a piece of poster board folded in half. So BIG. I also wrote a poem to go inside it. Feel free to use the poem and adapt it to your family. I wouldn’t mind my site or my name listed somewhere though should you use it.
© Nancy Rector
You have permission to use and insert your family name.
My name and/or a url to this site would be appreciated.
It’s the first time since you all were small
That none of you are here.
And the house feels kind of empty
At this festive time of year.
So to help us feel less lonely,
We made a special tree.
And every bough upon it
Holds a Rector memory.
It’s a history of our Christmas pasts
And all the fun we had.
And when we gaze upon its boughs,
We don’t feel quite as sad.
Cause families are forever close,
Even when apart.
So though you all are far away,
You’re here within our hearts.
May your Christmas time be joyful.
May you ponder now and then,
Of the seasons spent together,
Till we share them once again.