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How to Make a Quilted Postcard

Quilted postcards are so much fun to make. It really gives you the freedom to express your creative ideas on a small scale without investing a lot of time and materials. Not to mention you’re delivering a little (a lot) joy to the recipient!

Basically, it’s like making a little quilt and can be made in an afternoon. See where your heart takes you and be confident of your journey with thread, fabric and imagination.

Here are the instructions and written by one of my favorite fiber artists, Debbie Bates (www.stitchtress.com).

Quilted postcards, also called artist trading cards, can become quite a cherished collection. It reminds us of our 'textile' or 'quilting' friends and satisfies that fabric obsession we have - right?
Quilted postcards, also called artist trading cards, can become quite a cherished collection. It reminds us of our ‘textile’ or ‘quilting’ friends and satisfies that fabric obsession we have – right?

 

 

Where to begin? Putting together your cards is very simple. You basically work within a set size – postcards are 4” by 6”, ATC’s are 2.5” by 3.5”. You need to stabilize them and finish the edges. Choices abound here, and there are no set ‘rules’. Use stabilizers or simply batting over cardstock paper or actual playing cards. Edge finishes can be traditional binding techniques, folded ribbon, stitched and turned fabric or my favorite, simple zigzag stitching. This stitching can be done with regular thread or with a heavier fibre in the bobbin. It can also encase a couched fibre along the edge.

Quilted postcards can be whatever you wish them to be, there are no rules to creativity other than letting it soar! Just recreate what's on your mind. This card created by Debbie Bates.
Quilted postcards can be whatever you wish them to be, there are no rules to creativity other than letting it soar! Just recreate what’s on your mind. This card created by Debbie Bates.

 

 

You can work intuitively by just playing with your stash of materials or you can focus on interpreting a theme. I like to set out with an idea in mind. I sketch it first and then look through my supplies for the materials that will best express that idea. Color and stitching go a long way to set the tone of your art. You can add embellishments, but keep in mind that your postcards need to survive their journey through an assortment of postal machines so make sure that items are secured and not too bulky. Consider using rubber stamps, fabric markers and paints to add details. You can also use photo transfers on fabric and even stitch heavy paper and transparencies to your cards. While your art will most likely be on one side of the card, you can add details to the printed side with a stamped alphabet, typewriter or your home printer. Be kind to the postal system by making your address information easy to read. Simply hand printing the address with an ultra fine point permanent marker will do the trick.

Playing with machine stitching, and sampling different fabric textures is a great way to let the imagination loose! This artist trading card created by Debbie Bates.
Playing with machine stitching, and sampling different fabric textures is a great way to let the imagination loose! This artist trading card created by Debbie Bates.

 

 

Be creative with the back side of your postcard as well.
Be creative with the back side of your postcard as well.

 

 

You can sew them up entirely by machine or entirely by hand or use a little of both.

Materials

– Assorted fabric scraps
– Assorted threads
– Stabilizer
– Batting if desired
– Fusible web
– Fibres for couching abound the finished edge

These directions are just a starting point. Once you begin, you will develop your own techniques to create cards in your personal style.

1. Apply fusible web to stabilizer that is slightly larger than 4” by 6” once fused, trim to size.
2. Fuse base fabric that will be the background of your creation to the stabilizer base.
3. Stitch, stamp or collage your creation! (Examples: fuse fabrics in the image of a birthday cake, appliqué hearts, free motion a tree, stitch down a piece of printed silk…)
4. Once you are satisfied with your card, prepare the backing. I will often trim the backing fabric to fit and write my address information and printed message to the recipient BEFORE stitching the two together. This leaves room for error and the ink will not bleed through to the front of the card. This backing may be one layer of fabric, fabric over more stabilizer or a heavy piece of cardstock paper. I find that it is easy enough to lay the backing in place to be stitched without additional fusible web or pinning.
5. Carefully aligning the front and back pieces, zigzag stitch around the perimeter with an open stitch. Then go around the perimeter again. This time, couch a fibre in place to dress up the edge (a cord or decorative yarn works well). If you plan ahead, some of the front stitching can be quilted through the layers to the back. Just be careful to leave a blank area for the address.
6. Sign your artwork.
7. Stamp your creation and be prepared for the oohs and aahs of the post office!

For artist trading cards (ATC), the directions are the same, except the size changes (roughly 2 1/2 by 3inches) and there’s no address.

Try making some of these postcards as holiday greeting cards!

This quilted artist trading card was created for a teenage boy who excelled at the game of chess and loved to play soccer. Created by Debbie Bates.
This quilted artist trading card was created for a teenage boy who excelled at the game of chess and loved to play soccer. Created by Debbie Bates.

 

 

Carla A. Canonico is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of A Needle Pulling Thread Magazine, QUILTsocial.com, and KNITmuch.com.

10 Comments

  1. Sarah c

    Love this what a great tutorial and idea nobody mails anything any more I think this would be great for a kids project too

  2. I really enjoyed this article and have listed it on my blog related to everything about Sewing Fabric Postcards with ShereeSews. Thank sew much! Sheree in Michigan

  3. Those are some fantastic cards! I adore postcards so much. So addictive indeed – to make and receive!
    🙂

    • Carla A. Canonico

      Yes, and I still enjoy the one you sent me. It’s by my desk!…Stay tuned Monika, there are more coming…my mom and I are making one each – I’ll post them when they’re finished…I mean I’ll take a picture and post them on Facebook, then post them to the recipient…HA!

  4. Sunshine Amthauer

    Thanks so much! Always wanted to try this and appreciate the instructions,

    • Qs17admin

      Yes, they’re very addictive – make them to give out at Christmas, for birthdays, or any other occasion!

  5. I’ve been making textile postcards for years – you are right, they are so much fun!

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