Fabric postcards are ideal projects to work on when you get that crafty urge and want to make (and finish!) something but don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to work on the project you’re already working on. They don’t require a lot of material and you can make them as simple or as complicated as you want.
One of the things I love about making fabric postcards is that you can incorporate almost any technique into your project. If I feel like doing some hand embroidery, great, I‘ll get out my embroidery needle and thread. Some random applique with left-over scraps? Why not? Or try out some of the embroidery stitches on my machine? Just let your creative juices flow and enjoy the moment of creating something. And, the big bonus, you’ll end up with something that you can use.
In this tutorial I am showing you my method for making fabric postcards.
- Firm iron on interfacing such as Vilene/Vlieseline s520 or Pellon’s Peltex #71F (I’ve also seen it being called Vilene ultra firm fusible and Decofix). You really want to use this very firm/stiff interfacing because it gives the finished postcard a real postcard look and feel. Another option that I think might work is Decovil-1, but I’ve not yet been able to test this.
- Medium weight fusible interfacing
- White cotton for back of postcard
- Fabric for front of postcard
- Waterproof (fabric) marker
- Cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter
- Optional: fabric scraps, buttons, ribbons, trims, beads, embroidery thread etc.
Step 1: Decide how large you want your finished postcard to be
I chose to make my postcard for this tutorial 4’’x6’’ (10×15 cm) which is a very standard postcard size, but you can of course make it any size you want! (Although a 3’x3’ postcard will probably not fit in most mailboxes, so that is something you might want to take into consideration…)
Step 2: Prepare the front of the postcard
The first thing you want to do is to reinforce the fabric for the front with the fusible interfacing. I prefer to use a medium weight woven interfacing. Cut your background fabric and fusible interfacing a little bit larger than the finished size of the postcard. I cut mine 6.5’’x4.5’’. Use your iron and some steam to fuse the interfacing to the fabric.
Step 3: Prepare the back of the postcard
Cut the firm iron on interfacing and the white cotton fabric for the back a little bit larger than the finished size of the postcard. Again I cut mine 6.5’’x4.5’’. Use your iron and a little steam to fuse the interfacing to the white cotton.
Step 4: Cut postcard to size.
Place your postcard front and back on top of each other, wrong sides together. Use the cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter to cut the postcard to size. By cutting the front and back of the postcard at the same time you ensure that they will fit perfectly during the assembly step.
Step 5: Add embellishments
Use buttons, ribbons, trims, decorative stitches, embroidery floss, applique etc. This is where you can be as creative as you want. In the picture at the top of the page you can see some examples of postcards I’ve made to get some ideas. One thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that you will use a zigzag stitch to assemble the front and back pieces so you don’t want to place buttons or other bulky things too close to the edges.
Use the ruler and waterproof marker to draw the distinctive postcard markings on the back. Alternatively, you could also “draw” these lines with a stitch line, but I prefer to draw the lines with a marker.
If you added a lot of bulky things like buttons, now would also be a great moment to write your message on the back of the postcard because the bulk on the front will make it significantly more difficult to do this once the postcard has been assembled. Leave enough of a margin though because the edges will be covered in a zigzag stitch!
Step 7: Postcard assembly
Place your postcard front and back on top of each other, wrong sides together and use the clips to hold the two pieces in place (seriously, this works much better than pins because the interfacing is so stiff). I used a Schmetz quilting needle size 90/14 and an open toe embroidery foot. I usually use a walking foot, but I realize not everyone has one for their machine.
Sew a zigzag stitch around the fabric edges to attach the front to the back. I used a stitch width of 5 and a stitch length of 0.5. You can of course play with the stitch length and width. It is important that the edge of the fabric becomes encased in the zigzag stitch. With each swing to the right the needle should end outside of the fabric. When you reach a corner, stop with the needle down just outside of the postcard (see picture below). Lift the pressure foot and, while keeping the postcard very close to the needle (this is important, you don’t want to pull out a whole lot of thread), turn it 90 degrees. Put the pressure foot down and continue sewing. Repeat when you reach the next edge. Stop sewing when you reach your starting point and secure.
Final step: Write your message, add a stamp and put in the mailbox!
Keep in mind that a very large postcard or one with lots of extra’s such as buttons will be heavier; make sure that you put enough postage on your postcard before sending it off! So far, all of my fabric postcards have reached their destination within the Netherlands. I have never sent one of these cards abroad so I can’t say anything about foreign postal services, you’ll just have to give it a try. Dutch stamps are stickers and they adhere very well to the cotton fabric that I use for my postcard backs, if the stamps in your country don’t, you might have to use some (fabric) glue to make sure they don’t come off.
I hope I have inspired you to give making fabric postcards a try and I would love to see the postcards that you made using this tutorial! In a future tutorial I will show you how to make quilted postcards.