First, it helps to have a talented sister. My sister Karen is a wonderful photographer and she was kind enough to share some of her photographs with me. I loved this one of sunflowers and thought I could reproduce it in fabric.
The first thing to do is print out a colored copy of the desired picture in the exact dimensions you want the finished piece to be. Then you need to find fabrics that best match what you are trying to reproduce. It is important to remember the shadows and highlights when you are considering your choices. I have a very large scrap collection that I draw from, but sometimes it is necessary to visit the fabric store for that perfect match. (And when I go, I make sure to bring the print with me). On the back of these fabric pieces I iron on Heat-n-Bond Lite (an iron on adhesive). This also provides a great of deal stability when you cut out your shapes.
The next step is to cut out the main shape of your image. Make sure to include every detail. Then peel the backing off of the fabric and iron it down onto a background. Oh, I forgot! It helps to have a very stable background for your quilted art. I use a fusible medium to heavy weight interfacing on which I iron some background fabric. Next cut out and iron down your highlights. Do the same for the lowlights. I keep a second copy of the original photograph as a reference for where to place these pieces. You will need to repeat this process for all the main images of your piece.
Now, to quote Ned Nederlander “…sew like the wind!” Adding stitches brings so much life to the piece. For the flower petals alone I probably used six different shades of yellow thread. By using so many different layers of color, you will find it easy to accurately highlight and lowlight the details. The variation of color in these fine details is what brings it all together in the end.