Before we talk about making postcards, lets talk about why you should make them and what you might do with them. Here are some ideas…
Things to do with Your Postcards
- Mail them to the special people in your life, such as grandchildren. If you have made them a quilt, why not make a postcard from the scraps. Not only will they have a personalized note from Grandm
a but the card will match their quilt and can be framed as art. Later, it can be used in scrapbooking, whereas the actual quilt can not.
- Use as thank you or other greeting cards.
You will be more likely to do this if you have a good selection on hand. I use mostly Super Simple* cards for this since most recipients are not quilters. They are easy, fairly inexpensive to make, and I haven’t invested a ton of time into them, so won’t feel too bad about them being thrown away. However, the cards are unique and still reflect you.
- Trade with people from around the world. There are lots of postcard swap groups designed for this purpose that you can join.
- Mail to yourself from holiday destinations. It will be a souvenir of the trip, complete with postage from that country. Years later when you look at your pictures and postcard, you will not only be reminded of the trip but of the events or things you wrote on the postcard.
- Frame as art
- Make some with hidden pockets. You can include notes, a picture, cheques, or even gift cards (yes, I have done this and they have all reached their destinations). Just before mailing, close the opening with 2 sided tape (used in scrapbooking), or with a long running stitch (through all layers) that the recipient can clip. Just make sure they know about the pocket!
*I divide my postcards into 3 categories: Super Simple, Pieced, and Super Special. Super-Simple postcards are made from panels or other pre-printed fabrics. They are a great option if you want to make a lot at one time, or think they may be thrown away by the recipient. Pieced postcards are great for small pieces of fabric left over from other projects, previous ‘mistakes’, or sample embroidery stitch-outs. The Super-Special postcards are for the really special people in your life. They may be hand or machine appliqued, hand embroidered, paper pieced, or other works of fabric art.
The only supplies you need that you might not already have is Flexi Firm (or fast2fuse) with adhesive on both sides, and Heat and Bond. Pre-cut your Flexi Firm into 4×6″ pieces (1 meter will give you about 40 cards).
The only rules are to use white thread in the bobbin, and ALWAYS iron (press and hold) in between a folded sheet of parchment paper.
Now, for the 5 easy steps:
Step 1 – Create your Background
- Rough cut your background piece of fabric slightly larger than you want in the end. It may be all or part of your card. For example:
- It could cover all of your card when you are using preprinted fabric scenes or want ‘white space’ behind an object of interest
- It will usually be the sky when doing a landscape. Cut it at least 1/8” lower than what the final skyline will be
- Place the background fabric on the Flexi Firm and then place both in between a sheet of folded parchment paper
- Iron (press and hold for several seconds, then move the iron and press/hold again).
- If you are piecing your background, continue adding fabric using the stitch and flip method until the entire surface is covered
Step 2: Layer items of Interest (the middle ground).
The middle ground can be simple or complex. It may be only one item, or it could consist of many layers. If you are using pre-printed fabric, most of the middle ground has been created by the manufacturer of the fabric. I consider the middle ground to be anything after the initial background and before the final embellishments. However, look for ways to create depth and personality in your cards. Use things such as:
- Motifs (flowers, leaves, animals, letters, purses, shoes, cars/trucks etc.) from fabric scraps.
- Serger thread, Rick rack, or embroidery floss
- Selvage edges or other trim
- Fabric shapes with hand stamped messages
- Frayed or pinked fabric edges
For art cards, it is helpful to sketch your design on paper first. Notate any areas on the design where one image will overlap another image. Add 1/8” to the areas (I do that with a dashed line) that will be behind another piece of fabric. Number the pieces in the order that they will be placed on the postcard, starting with items closest to the background and working towards the foreground.
Trace the items that will be layered on to other pieces of fabric on to Heat and Bond. Rough cut, iron Heat and Bond to the back of the selected fabric and then fine cut each piece with the paper still on. Position in place by number, remove paper and then apply heat to adhere the fabric to the background. Remember that your image will be reversed once it is applied so consider that in the positioning of the pieces.
Step 3: Embellish
Take a critical look at your postcard and ask yourself if there is anything else that would make it more complete. Add until you are happy with it (but remember Postal standards – nothing thicker than 1/8″ and nothing loopy that could get caught in machines). Consider…
- Specialty threads – great for water or snow
- Fancy stitches – it’s a great way to delineate the background from the foreground, or to add borders along the side
- Jewels or sequins – great for stars or Rudolph’s nose!
- Seed beads – great for buttons or the centre of flowers
- Ink – great for eyebrows, doorknobs or windowpanes
- Hand embroidery – great for hair, flowers,
- Free motion embroidery – great for clouds and rocks
- Thread painting – great for grass
Step 4: Complete the back
As with everything else, you have options. The postcard back can be stamped, hand drawn or even stitched. I highly recommend that you complete the postcard back before adhering it to the Flexi Firm. That way, if you make a mistake you can eliminate just the piece of fabric and not the entire postcard.
- Start with scraps of white or light fabric that are slightly larger than your postcard.
- Stamp or complete the back as desired. At minimum, make sure that POSTCARD appears at the center top, with a line down the middle. The area to the right of the line will be the space for the stamp (upper right), and the name/address of the recipient. The area to the left of the line is for your message.
- Position it on your postcard and iron (press and hold) all areas in order to adhere
- Clip all fabrics (front and back) close to the edge of the Flexi-firm
Step 5: Finishing up
The last step is to stitch through all 3 layers around the outer edge. Experiment and see which stitches you like. The Satin stitch and blanket stitch are good ones, as is the triple straight stitch. Another method I like is to zigzag over Maderia thread. It ‘frames’ the card and adds a nice burst of colour.
After you have stitched the outer edge, clean it one final time by pulling at any threads that may not have adhered to the Flexi Firm. Clip as close to the Flexi Firm as possible. You may also run a bead of Fray Chek along the edge if you wish.
Congratulations! You are done! Now it’s time to mail them.
Mailing Your Postcard
You can write on your postcard with a regular pen but some tips are too thick and some inks bleed. The best pen for the inscription and address is a fine-point archival ink pen such as the Micron 01. The postcards can be dropped in the mailbox just like any other postcards, and can go anywhere in the world. They do not need to be put into an envelope. Here are some guidelines according to the US Postal Services that would apply to most other countries.
- Minimum size accepted is 3 ½ x 5”
- Most are 4×6”; they will take regular postage
- Can be larger but you will be charged more
- Keep the thickness to 1/8” thick or less
- Use self adhesive stamps