Fabric postcards are almost instant gratification. In anywhere from a half hour to a few hours (your choice!), you can have a complete fabric art project finished. And you can even mail them! (They must be no larger than 6” by 4” and no thicker than 1/8” according to Postal Regulations. Embellishments like beads and buttons are not forbidden, as long as the card is still not more than 1/8” thick, but let’s face it, this stuff is likely to get scrubbed off along the way, so keep the embellishments for cards you want to keep or deliver in person.)
You will need:
Making the basic postcard
- Stiff interfacing and fusible web, or a combination product. Do NOT use batting scraps. You really want something stiff. You can use Timtex and Wonder-Under or Steam-A-Seam. But we recommend Fast2Fuse. It may seem expensive, but when you compare the cost of all three layers and the extra labor and possible glue all over your ironing board, we think it’s a no-brainer. Plus the Fast2Fuse is half as thick. And you can buy just a postcard-sized piece to try it out.
- A light colored solid fabric or a printed fabric postcard for the back. You can actually use a paper backing, which is easier to write on, but most fabric artists prefer to do the whole thing in fabric. If you use a plain fabric, you must write “Post Card” near the top if you want to send it through the mail.
- A fabric for the background of your picture, that’s going on the front. Use a simple texture if you plan on doing jazzy stuff on top, or something fancier if you like. Usually cotton, but you can use wool, velvet, silk, or lamé.
- Fabric scraps, decorative threads, net, tulle, and/or anything else your heart desires. This is what makes your postcard your own work of art, so use whatever you like. If you’re not actually going to mail the postcard, you can also add beads, buttons, feathers, macaroni, chocolate (okay, I’m getting a little carried away, but you get the idea).
- A Pigma Micron pen for addressing the postcard. (We use black, but you can use whatever you like.) Other kinds of pens will write on fabric, but they tend to "bloom" over time, so if you want your writing to stay sharp and not get all fuzzy, stick with the Micron. You can also embroider the details, such as the words "Post Card: and an address or message.
You can make four or more postcards at once and cut them apart when you’re through, or you can make one at a time. For one postcard, remember you want to end up with a 6” by 4” card, so start with about 5” by 7” pieces of fabrics and stiffener and/or fusibles. For 4 postcards, 9” by 13” should be big enough. Cut the fabric slightly larger than the fusible, for less chance of making a mess when you iron. Cut out your pieces using a rotary cutter if possible for the best accuracy.
First you need to assemble the front and middle of the postcard (you don’t attach the back till later). If you’re using Timtex or other non-fusible stiffener, fuse Wonder-Under or Steam-A-Seam to one side. Now remove the backing from the fusible on one side, lay the wrong side of your decorative fabric against the fusible, and iron, following the manufacturer’s instructions. (Do use a press cloth if you don’t want gunk all over your ironing board and iron.)
You may be tempted to trim at this point, but don’t. Everything you do to embellish your card may warp it out of shape, especially if you do a lot of quilting or thread painting.
Now comes the fun part. You may want to make a tiny landscape, a self-portrait, or an abstract design.
|Here's an example of an abstract design. (I used a basting spray instead of basting the border like I should have. Learn from my example!)|
Using your own whims and your stash, add fabric scraps, yarns, sequins, and anything else you want. You might paint, stamp, or spray dye on the front. You can trap souvenirs like photos and tickets with a layer of net or tulle. You can also lay threads on the surface and trap them with tulle. Just lay everything down, put a layer of tulle on the top, and use a free-motion quilting stitch to attach it all together.
|Here's a postcard I made using the tulle trapping method. You can actually see the tulle in the photo, but I don't think it detracts from the design--in fact, the purple tulle on the pink background adds a little extra interest. (If I'd changed to the proper sewing machine foot before I made the satin stitch border, it would have worked a lot better. I make the mistakes so you don't have to!)|
Once you like what you’ve created, you’re ready to attach the back. Just the same way you attached background fabric for the front, you fuse the web to the stiffener if not using Fast2Fuse, then you remove the backing from the fusible, lay the wrong side of your postcard back against the fusible, and iron, following directions.
Almost there! Now you trim, using the corner of a ruler to square it up if you like things square. If you are going to use a serger, you probably want to leave your postcard about 1/4” wider all around, to be trimmed off by the serger. Otherwise, trim it to 4” by 6”. Cut through all layers with a rotary cutter.
All that’s left is to finish the edges. You can use a satin stitch, a buttonhole stitch, or a zigzag. Or you can serge the edges. Or you can sew on a strip of binding, which gives the effect of a frame perhaps a little better than the satin stitch does. (Use narrow 1/4" binding. The standard 1/2" binding will overpower this tiny project.)
|Here are two projects that I created years ago in a class with Caryl Bryer Fallert. Each one is 9” square, and I had no idea what to do with them until I got the idea of cutting them into fabric postcards.|
|Since I had more than enough to create the two cards, I decided to create a postcard-sized window to view each piece, and pick out the parts that I liked best. (The window should be 3-3/4" by 5-3/4", because you're going to lose a bit of your picture at the edges when you bind them.)
|Here's the view through my paper "window" on the pink project.|