Tutorial: Quilted postcards

quilted postcard tutorial

As promised a follow-up post on my fabric postcard tutorial. Today I show you how to make quilted postcards. The procedure is quite similar to how I made the regular fabric postcards but there are some changes.

Materials:

  1. 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.
  2. Batting (I used Hobbs 80/20 but I think any kind of batting will do)
  3. White cotton for back of postcard
  4. Fabric for front of postcard
  5. Fabric for binding
  6. Waterproof (fabric) marker
  7. Cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter
  8. Clips
  9. Thread
  10. Needles (machine needles for piecing and quilting and a handsewing needle)
  11. Scissors
  12. Optional: buttons, ribbons, trims, beads, embroidery thread etc.

Method:

Step 1: Decide how large you want your finished postcard to be

I chose to make my postcard for this tutorial 5’’x8’’ (12.5×20 cm) which is larger than most postcards, but I find it too fiddly to attach binding to something smaller.

quilted postcardStep2: Prepare the front of the postcard

Make sure that your piece of fabric (pieced or not) is a little larger than the finished postcard size (5.5’’x 8.5’’ in my example) and baste it to some batting that is again slightly larger than your fabric. You don’t need to add a backing. Quilt as desired. After you finish the quilting trim off the excess batting.

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. I’m making a 5’’x8’’ postcard so I cut mine approximately 5.5’’x8.5’’. Use your iron and a little steam to fuse the interfacing to the white cotton.

Step 4: Cut postcard to size

quilted postcardPlace 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 will ensure that they will fit perfectly during the assembly step of the postcard.

Add further embellishments to the front of your postcard. Use buttons, ribbons, trims, decorative stitches, embroidery floss, etc. Be creative, but keep in mind that you will add a binding so do not place buttons or other very bulky things too close to the edge.

Step 5: Draw postcard backquilted postcard

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. Keep in mind that you don’t want to cover your drawings with the binding. If you keep at least 1/2’’ away from the edge you should be fine.

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. Again, leave enough of a margin because the binding will cover the edges!

Step 6: Postcard assembly

Put the front and back of the postcard wrong sides together. I like to keep the two layers together with quilting clips because pins don’t work very well with the very stiff interfacing.

If you want to finish your postcard really quickly you can use the zigzag stitch finish that I showed in my previous tutorial. One thing you’ll have to look out for though is that the fabric edge of the quilted layer stays aligned with the back, I find that it wants to shift more than when the front is not quilted.

The finish that I prefer, but which definitely takes more time, is to bind the edges of the postcard with a piece of binding. This turns it into a real mini-quilt. I prefer the look of a hand sewn binding, so that is what I am going to show you. But if you like to attach your binding completely by machine that is of course also an option.

Step 7: Attaching the binding

Cut a 2’’ wide binding strip that is long enough to encase all edges of the postcard. My postcard is 2×5’’ + 2×8’’= 26’’. To make sure I had enough binding I cut a strip that was longer than 34’’. The strip should be cut on the straight of grain.

Fold the binding strip in half lengthwise and press with your iron.

You want to start on one of the long edges on the front of postcard. Align the raw edge of your folded binding strip with the edge of the postcard. I don’t pin the binding in place but keep it aligned with my hands while sewing. Start sewing with a ¼ inch seam about ¾ inch from the corner, don’t forget to backstitch. Make sure that you leave at least 4’’ – 5” of the binding strip trailing off so you’ll have enough to work with when attaching the two ends of binding later on. Stop sewing ¼ inch from the corner, take some backstitches to secure.

Take the needle out of the fabric, and pull the postcard out of the machine (if you only pull it out a little bit it won’t be necessary to cut the threads). To create a mitered corner  the binding strip is first folded upwards and then downwards so that the second fold aligns with the horizontal part of the binding strip.

attach binding

The horizontal part of the binding strip is already stitched to the postcard, but in these pictures the stitches are hidden under the folded back binding strip.

Put the needle back into the fabric on the other side of the corner, a ¼  inch away from the edge of the corner, backstitch and sew until you reach the other corner, again stop ¼ inch from the edge and create the second mitered corner. Repeat until you have attached the binding strip to the last corner. Stop sewing ¾ inch away from the corner so that you are left with a gap.

quilted postcardOverlap the two ends of binding so that the shortest end is on top the longer end. Mark where the two ends meet. Use a ruler to measure 2” (the width of the unfolded binding strip) away from the marking that you made and make a 2nd mark. Cut the strip on this second mark.

quilted postcardThe next picture shows how to place the two ends of unfolded binding to sew the gap closed. If this isn’t clear enough you might want to take a look at the “leave a gap” method in my bias tape tutorial, there the method is explained in more detail.

quilted postcardAfter you have sewn the seam, check whether the the binding fits the gap. If you’re happy cut down the seam allowance and press. Attach the remaining part of the  binding to the postcard.

quilted postcardStep 8: Handstitch binding in place.

quilted postcardFold the binding to the back of the postcard and hold in place with quilting clips.

The pictures below show how to stitch the binding in place so that the stitches will be invisible. If this postcard hadn’t been for a tutorial I would have used matching thread. On the postcard side the fabric is very stiff due to the firm interfacing that was used. I simply ignore that there is interfacing and make my stiches only through the white piece of fabric.

1) Use a double thread with a double knot at the end. Insert your needle into the postcard so that the knot will be hidden under the binding and that the needle comes out just outside the stitching line where the binding was attached with the sewing machine. 2) For your second stitch, insert the needle into the edge of the bottom layer of the binding strip. It is important to enter the fabric directly opposite from where the previous stitch ended on the postcard side. 3) For the second stitch insert the needle into the postcard directly opposite from where your stitch ended in the binding. 4) In this picture you can see how I take a stitch through the binding fabric. 5) In this picture you can see how I take a stitch in the postcard side.  6) When the stitches are pulled closed you can’t really tell which colour thread I used. Continue until the entire binding strip is sewn in place.

hand stitch binding to postcardFinal 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 have used, if the stamps in your country don’t, you might have to use some glue to make sure they don’t come off.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you make some quilted postcards I would love to see them!

Tutorial: Fabric postcards

fabricpostcardsFabric 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.

Materials:

fabricpostcard_materials

  1. 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.
  2. Medium weight fusible interfacing
  3. White cotton for back of postcard
  4. Fabric for front of postcard
  5. Waterproof (fabric) marker
  6. Cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter
  7. Clips
  8. Thread
  9. Scissors
  10. 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.

fabricpostcard_cuttosizePlace 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.

Step 6: Draw postcard backfabricpostcard_back

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

fabricpostcard_clipsPlace 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.

fabricpostcard_startsewingSew 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.

fabricpostcard_corner

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.

fabricpostcard_completed

Finished postcard.

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.