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Gifts Using an Old Photograph and a Family Recipe by Smyrna Photographer Maryann Davidson Photography

dish towel gifts from old photos smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

To honor her husband’s great-grandmother, my good friend, Tami, asked me to help her make Christmas gifts using this cherished family recipe. She wanted to preserve the recipe and pass it down to the next generations. So, together we came up with the idea of custom kitchen dish towels. We used an old photograph of her husband’s great-grandmother (whose nickname was Babe) and Babe’s Plum Pudding Recipe.

This plum pudding recipe has been passed down through the generations from great-grandmother Babe (born in 1908), to her children, to their children . . . Babe made plum pudding every Christmas to be served with Christmas dinner.

Here is the process of making gifts using an old photograph and a handwritten family recipe:

old family photo to gift
Step 1a gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 1

  • Removed the background from great-grandmother’s photo and turned into a drawing. This was done using photoshop.
old christmas recipe to gift
Step 2a gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
old christmas recipe to gift
Step 2a gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 2

  • Cleaned the recipe (ingredient list and instructions) to remove stains and harsh scribbles, but made sure to keep the great-grandmother’s handwriting. On the ingredients list, I was able to move the word cinnamon over to the left to be in-line with other ingredients. On the instructions, a few letters were covered with food. It was really important to keep the integrity of her writing, so I found the same letters written elsewhere in the instructions and copied them over.
Step 3 gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
Step 3a gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 3

  • Then the drawing of the great-grandmother was added to both the recipe ingredients and recipe instructions. It was important for the great-grandmother’s nickname to be on the towels so it was added below her drawing. “From Babe’s Kitchen”
Step 4 gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 4

  • A photo of a blank recipe card was found online. This will be used as a background for ingredients and instructions in order for the words to have separation from fabric background.
Step 5a gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
Step 5b gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 5

  • The recipe ingredients and instructions were added to blank recipe card.
Step 6a gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
Step 6b gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 6

  • To help the recipe card pop against the fabric background – An antiquing was applied to the the recipe cards and a drop shadow was added behind the cards.
Step 7 gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 7

  • Searched online for a background – something colorful and kitchen-like. This was colorful (but not too bright) and would coordinate with several family member’s kitchens.
Step 8b gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
Step 8a gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 8

  • The cards were placed on top of the background. The antiquing really helped the recipes keep an old feeling and coordinated with the kitchen utensil background. The drop shadow was perfect for adding a hint of separation.
  • We remembered to flip/mirror one side (recipe card and utensils), which will make both sides be upright when hanging over a towel rack.
  • When flipping/mirroring the utensil background, attention to detail was given. The utensils were shifted to mirror and align better. Then down the center, every other oven glove was flipped and the spoon handles were combined.
Step 8 pay attention to overlap details gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
Step 9 gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 9

  • The design was laid out to cover an entire yard of fabric. A little math was needed to figure out how many towels would fit per yard of fabric. It worked out perfectly! 54″x36″ equals 4 dishtowels.
  • 6 yards of fabric would equal 24 towels. 12 family members would equal 2 dish towels for each family member (1 with ingredients and 1 with recipe instructions).
  • At the very last moment, a decision was made to add helpful cut lines (which won’t be visible once sewed under).

Step 10

  • The files were sent off to a fabric printer. We went with Spoonflower due to their great reviews.
  • www.spoonflower.com – Design, print and sell custom fabric, wallpaper & gift wrap on-demand

Step 11

  • Since the editing took longer than anticipated, we paid for expedited shipping and waited patiently while Christmas was fast approaching!!!

Step 12

  • The fabric arrived faster than promised. Very very impressed with the quality of the material and the printing.
  • Using cut-lines designed onto pattern, each yard of fabric was cut into 4 individual dish towels. In hindsight, so GLAD the cut lines were added because it made cutting 24 towels WAY less stressful.
Step 13 gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography

Step 13

  • Tami and her sister spent about an hour sewing around edges of the towels. They also added a corner hanger out of cross grain ribbon. This ribbon is so the towels can also hang on a hook instead of just over a towel rack.

Step 14

  • The towels were wrapped and gifted to family.
gifts from an old photo and a family recipe by smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
There were many tears of joy. Grandma Babe’s cherished recipe is being honored by hanging in everyone’s homes. Something as simple as an old photograph and a handwritten recipe was made into a unique gift that will be visible, not only at Christmas dinner but, all year round.

“Life's a pudding full of plums. Let us take it as it comes!”

W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911)
dish towel gifts from old photos smyrna photographer maryann davidson photography
smyrna headshot photographer maryann davidson photography linkedin business headshot

Maryann Davidson

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

– Dolly Parton, Country Singer

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