This quilted family tree wallhanging project was inspired by one my mum made for my grandmother when I was young. However, designing and making it all from scratch is a lot of work so I’ve teamed up with fabric printing company Prinfab to make a printed panel which will make it much faster and easier. I’ve included the instructions on how to design your own panel as well as how to make the wall hanging below.
Download tree panel here (right click then save as to download)
Download leaf fabric here
Upload these to Prinfab and choose your fabric type to order.
Leaf Templates (print to cut your leaves)
How to design your family tree panel
I asked Prinfab how to make sure my image is the size I wanted. They said you need to look at the file properties to find the DPI and pixel size (right click on the file and then select properties, go to the ‘details’ tab to find this info). The DPI means dots per inch, this tells you how many pixels are needed to make one inch.
If for example you want your fabric panel to be 15 inches wide, and the the DPI is 96 you’d use the following calculations: 96 x 15 = 1440 pixels wide. You can use Pic Monkey (free editing software) to create a canvas 1440 pixels wide, pick the background colour you want for your image and then added the tree in as an overlay. The version I used for this project is 19.5 inches tall and 26.5 inches wide.
I’ve put a copy of my panel above in the templates section if you want to use the same size and background colour as me. Otherwise use Pic Monkey to create your own version.
Adding names to the family tree
I wanted to make fabric leaves to applique the names onto the tree. You could use photos instead, Prinfab can print photos onto fabric for you. I don’t have photos for all the people on the tree so I decided to go with names. You could also write or embroider names directly onto the tree if you prefer.
To make the leaves the same colour as the rest of the tree I used a colour picker to find the exact shades of green on the tree (should you want them the hex numbers are 8fda1f, 2b8f17, 449f14, 1a510e). Using Picmonkey I created a 4 square fat quarter sizes piece of fabric with a square of each green (as shown above). I’ll use that fabric to cut out my leaves. Again I’ve put this in the templates section above if you want to use it.
I highly recommend ordering the Prinfab sample book, to get a feel for the fabrics they offer to help you choose. I had a feel of all the fabrics in the sample book and decided to go for the cotton sateen. It’s soft and lightweight but a bit studier than the classic plain cotton or poplin which will hopefully lead to a little less fraying on the raw edge applique of the leaves.
Quilted family tree wallhanging project instructions
I am lucky enough to have a machine that does embroidered fonts, my Janome 9400 QCP, so I will be using that to embroider names. If you don’t have a machine that embroiders you can hand embroider the names or use a permanent ink fabric pen to write them on. I’d suggest drawing your family tree out on paper first to figure out which names you want to include and where you will put them.
I am making the tree for my mother in law, who has two generations below her, my husband and my son. So I am putting her name at the top of the trunk, my husband’s name below and my son’s name at the bottom of the tree. Her ancestors will them be appliqued onto leaves and placed above her, father’s family to the right and mother’s family to the left.
You can either draw a leaf template to use, or download the one in the template section. Draw around the leaf with chalk on the green fat quarter, making sure you get a few names in each shade of green. I’m using the smaller leaf template (the ones labelled paper templates) but you can use the larger one if you prefer (labelled fabric template).
Add stabiliser or interfacing to the back of the fabric before stitching. You could add fusible interfacing with the glue side down (not against the leaf fabric), so you can fuse the leaves to the tree later. Try to leave approximately ¼ an inch free around the edge of the leaf for you to stitch it onto the tree later. You will probably find it easier to embroider first and then cut the leaves out after.
Embroider the names onto each leaf.
English Paper Piecing – If you prefer to English Paper piece your leaves use the smaller templates for your papers, and the larger one for the fabric. Or instead of using papers use stabiliser which will make it easier for you to embroider names onto the leaves after if you choose not to do it first.
Quilting your family tree wallhanging
Cut a piece of backing 1.5 inches larger than your fabric panel all around, cut a piece of wadding the same size as the backing. Layer the main panel, wadding and backing together and baste into place. If you want to add a hanging sleeve or hanging loops to the backing panel do this before basting the layers together. I added hanging loops into my binding so you can do it then if you prefer.
TIP – I found with the fabric I used because the it’s quite tightly woven the safety pins I used to baste left marks. You would be better off glue basting instead if using the cotton sateen.
Quilt as desired, I quilted the tree trunk with lines to look like bark following the design on the fabric, the leaves with zig zaggy lines to follow the shape of the tree and a cross hatch design for the background.
Take you leaves with the names on and place them on top of the tree to find a layout you are happy with. I used a glue stick to temporarily hold them into place until I stitched them.
I used raw edge applique with a sketchy outline quilting design around the outside to attach my leaves but you could use needle turn if you prefer, check our guide to applique techniques here. If you have used English Paper Piecing for your leaves you will be able to sew them on without worrying about a raw edge.
Finish the wall hanging by trimming the excess wadding and backing fabric away and binding the edges. I used a fat quarter of a green Kona solid fabric that I had in my stash (we have a tutorial for making your own binding). You could use leftover leaf fabric for a scrappy binding effect. I added hanging loops into the binding on each top corner.
Your quilted family tree wallhanging is now complete, ready to gift or hang in your home.