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Free your inner artist with fabric postcards and trading cards

Free your inner artist with fabric postcards and trading cards

by Julie Plotniko

I had a wonderful time yesterday using recycled denim to make a versatile and durable lunch bag.

Today I’ll use lots of small pieces of fabric, stabilizer and batting to make fabric postcards and trading cards. SCHMETZ Super NonStick needles will once again be the key to handling a wide variety of techniques.

Let’s have some fun!

Fabric postcards and trading cards are mini works of art

Fabric postcards and trading cards are essentially tiny pieces of art.

As they’re so small these little gems are the perfect place to practice anything new. Techniques such as thread painting, free-motion quilting, machine applique, decorative hand or machine stitching and coloring on fabric are just a few you could experiment with.


  • an assortment of SCHMETZ Super NonStick needles – The non-stick coating, extra-large eye and reinforced blade of this needle make it my first choice for making fabric postcards and trading cards.
  • UNIQUE Quilter’s Basting Glue – UNIQUE Quilter’s basting glue can be used to hold batting, appliques or decorative elements in place. No pinning needed. Creates a temporary bond that’ll wash out.
  • UNIQUE fabric glue stick – UNIQUE fabric glue stick is another fabulous temporary adhesive. The stick form allows you to easily place small pieces of fabric or paper prior to stitching.
  • 1 pkg Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch cut-away permanent stabilizer
  • 1 pkg (17″ x 1yd) HeatnBond Lite iron-on adhesive – HeatnBond Lite is a permanent, heat-activated, iron-on, double-sided adhesive that’s used for bonding layers of fabric together. I’ll be using it to adhere applique pieces as well as the backing of the postcards and trading cards.
  • 1 package HeatnBond Ultrahold iron-on adhesive – HeatnBond Ultrahold is a paper backed sheet of solid adhesive that’s used for bonding fabric to a variety of surfaces. – HeatnBond Ultrahold is three times stronger than other adhesives making it a superior choice for no-sew projects on heavyweight materials. I’ll be using it to adhere appliques of fabric or paper I don’t want to sew in place.
  • UNIQUE Permanent black marker – This fine line marking pen will write precisely and permanently on most surfaces including fabric. It’ll be used to add detail to the backs of the postcards and trading cards.
  • UNIQUE non-stick Teflon applique mat
  • Thread – This is a fun place to experiment with a variety of stitching techniques and different threads. You’ll want a nice selection of thread in a variety of colors. Some of my favorites are:
  • Fabric – A variety of cotton fabrics for the front (background) of the postcards and trading cards. Try to include fabric printed with motifs that can be cut out and fused to create the look of applique. This is a great way to use up those small pieces in the scrap bin.
    • I’ve used many of the beautiful Northcott fabrics from my previous posts.
    • Plain white or muslin for the backs to address the postcard or sign the trading card.
  • Batting – This is a great way to use up small pieces of batting leftover from other projects. I’m using Fairfield Soft & Toasty natural cotton batting in mine. Fairfield Traditional Needlepunch would also work well


  • a selection of miscellaneous items such as papers, trims, buttons and other objects that can be glued in place – These small pieces of art don’t need to be washable so anything goes
  • rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat
  • sewing machine with darning foot and decorative stitch foot

It’s time to create

I like to prepare the foundation pieces for a variety of postcards and trading cards all at once. Though you can make these whatever size you like, a nice standard size for postcards is 4″ x 6″. A standard size for trading cards is 2½” x 3½”.

Cut a selection of 4″ x 6″ and 2½” x 3½” pieces from each of the background fabrics, backing fabric, batting, Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch and HeatnBond Lite.

Precut background fabric, backing fabric, batting, HeatnBond Lite and Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch

Fuse one layer of Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch to the back of each piece of background fabric. This’ll add just a nice amount of body to the postcards and trading cards. Be sure to use a UNIQUE applique mat to protect your iron and ironing board.

Next put a few dots of UNIQUE Quilter’s Basting Glue onto one side of the batting and adhere to the back of prepared fabric pieces.

Fuse the pieces of HeatnBond Lite to the wrong side of the backing fabric pieces. Set these aside for now.

I now have a stack of blank canvases for tiny art works.

Prepare the machine

Thread the machine with one of the Sulky or Gütermann threads and a SCHMETZ Super NonStick needle. Choose the needle size according to the thickness of the thread and the number of layers you’re stitching through.

For instance either the size 70/10 or 80/12 would both be a good pairing with Sulky rayon thread. I would choose the 70/10 if stitching through a couple of layers of fabric, batting and stabilizer. If I’ve used multiple layers of fabric with HeatnBond, stabilizer, batting, glue etc., then I would use the size 80/12. For heavy thread such as Sulky Blendables 12wt cotton I would choose the 100/16 SCHMETZ Super NonStick needle. With a standard size thread I would choose the 80/12 or 90/14 needle.

Now pick any technique you’ve used before or always wanted to try and have some fun!

A few suggestions to try

Create and practice new free motion quilting designs.

Experiment with new threads and thread combinations.

Free motion quilting with new threads and thread combinations

Fabric applique.

  • Apply HeatnBond Lite to the back of fabrics that’ll be stitched through, cut out the desired applique shapes, remove the paper backing and fuse to the postcard or trading card.
  • Use HeatnBond Ultrahold for applique pieces that won’t be stitched in place. Fabrics printed with detailed motifs add instant detail and dimension.

An applique cut from printed fabric

Paper applique

  • Unlike other quilted items fabric postcards and trading cards will never need washing. This allows us to use paper in the same way fabric is used.
  • Magazines, scrapbooking papers and even paper napkins are all good sources.
  • Thinner papers can be stitched through just like fabric.
  • Thicker cardboards will hold their shape better if simply glued.
  • I apply thin papers with a UNIQUE fabric glue stick. Place a layer of glue on the fabric and smooth the paper in place to prevent tearing. I usually apply a second coat of glue on top of the paper to add some extra protection.
  • UNIQUE Quilter’s basting glue will do an excellent job of holding thicker papers in place.
  • HeatnBond Ultrahold is best to permanently adhere cardboard and other heavy papers.

Lightweight paper used as an applique

Thread painting or thread sketching can be used on their own or to add detail to an applique.

  • This is the perfect way to experiment with a variety of different threads.
  • Stitching a very dense design could draw in or distort the fabric even though it’s been stabilized with Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch.
  • If I know I’ll be stitching heavily I like to cut my pieces a little larger and trim them to size when the stitching is complete.
  • Remember details too fine to stitch can be added with fabric markers. I often use a UNIQUE permanent black marker for this.

Thread sketched flowers

Finishing the postcards and trading cards

The backing fabric is added after the main portion of the stitching is complete. This gives room to write a brief letter or introduction of ourselves. Fabric postcards can be hand stamped at the post office and go through the mail. Trading cards can be used as an introduction or token of remembrance anywhere quilters get together.

I’ve already added a layer of HeatnBond Lite to the wrong side of the fabric backing. Simply fuse a backing in place once the little work of art is complete.

Use a UNIQUE permanent black marker to add any desired details to the back.

To go through the mail and to withstand being handled I need to do some stitching to hold the edges of the cards together. This is a great place to use sewing machines decorative stitches.

You can cover the edge with a satin stitch if you like. I often use a more open stitch like a blanket stitch or three-step zigzag. Fancy decorative stitches are very effective when sewn close to the edge.

Finish the edges with a decorative stitch

Still more fun things to try

Using your machines decorative stitching to create designs, making tiny landscapes, coloring or painting fabric, adding buttons and trims or stitching words. There are so many possibilities.

Let your imagination be your guide to endless creativity!

Let your imagination be your guide

I’ve had a wonderful week working with SCHMETZ Super NonStick needles. Their unique ability to handle multiple layers of fusible adhesives, glues, stabilizer, denim, batting, fabric and even hook and loop tape made sewing these sometimes difficult combinations both fun and effortless.

I know I’ll always be sure to keep a good supply on hand for future projects.

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4: SCHMETZ Super NonStick needles make sewing a denim lunch bag easy


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