Monday, September 26, 2005

How To Make A Fabric Postcard DebR Style

A few days ago, in comments, Elena said, "I'm so intrigued by the fabric postcards--can you shoot me an email about how you got started, maybe some resources if I was interested in doing something like that?" Well, I started writing an email, but then decided it would be more fun to make a postcard and document the process with pictures, creating my own little photo lesson. So if you always wanted to make a fabric postcard, but weren't sure how to start, here's one way. If you already know how, then just enjoy the pictures. Because y'all know I live to add captions and little arrows to my pictures. It's a sickness. Here are some of the things you need to get started: You can find Peltex (or Timtex, pretty much the same thing) in the section of a fabric store where they sell interfacing and fusible web. It's thicker than normal interfacing and has a lot of body. It kind of looks like thin quilt batting with a stiffy. Wonder Under is the fusible web I used most often, but you could use any one you like. Except for Heat 'n' Bond. H 'n' B is evil. Many people use heavy paper (like watercolor paper) for the backs of their postcards and that works great - and is actually easier to write on! - but I just really like the idea of a postcard that's all fabric, so that's what I use on the back of mine. Some things you'll need that aren't in the photo include an iron and ironing board, a sewing machine with a good sharp needle in it, and a pair of scissors. Here are some optional items that can be fun to use, but aren't strictly necessary: You can, of course substitute a Shiraz, or a margarita, or even a latte for the Pinot. I'm not sure there's any real substitute for the chocolate, but I understand some of you may be more into salty than sweet. In that case, nachos are good. Oh yeah, and the beads, buttons, yarn, etc? Those are for surface embellishment if you're so inclined. Just keep in mind that the folks at the post office say the postcard has to finish up to be 1/8" thick or less. They even have a slot thingy where they check that! Seriously! Ok,now that we've gathered our materials, let's get started! First, cut a piece of the Peltex to slightly larger than the finished size you want. We want to finish to 4" x 6", so I cut the Peltex about 4 1/4" x 6 1/4". Cut a piece of backing fabric (something plain-ish, because you're going to write on this later!) to around 4 1/2" x 6 1/2". And cut two pieces of Wonder Under, exactly 4" x 6" each. Iron one piece of WU to the Peltex and the other to the wrong side of your backing fabric: Follow the directions for whatever type of fusible web you're using, because they vary a bit, but if you're using WU, you do this step with a dry iron on fairly high heat (wool setting). Here's what it'll look like when you're done: Now lay something down to protect your ironing board surface in case you get a little sloppy with the fusible web. Not that I, or any of you, would ever DO such a thing, of course. Ahem. But let's be careful, shall we? I use a largish piece of the release paper from some Wonder Under I used a while back, but if you don't have that you can use a silicone pressing sheet or even an old flattened paper grocery sack. Now to start constructing the front of the postcard - the pretty part! Yay! You can make a little quiltlet to size and then fuse the whole thing onto the Peltex. But here's a fun fast and mean fast and easy way to make one that doesn't involve any piecing or applique at all. Find some larger chunks of fabrics in your scrap pile and lay them on the side of the Peltex that has the WU on it. (You need to remove the release paper from the WU before doing this.) You can, of course use a single piece of fabric for the background, but why use one fabric when you can use four, I always say! Once you like how it looks, follow the manufacturer's instructions to fuse the background fabric(s) to the Peltex. For WU, that means pressing for 10 seconds with lots of steam. Now grab your little pile of leftover scraps. If you've already been doing some fusing, these should be scraps that already have WU (or other fusible web) attached to the wrong side. That's easiest. But if you dont' have any scraps or fabric pieces that have fusible web on them, you can lay some small pieces of fabric on the web side of some WU, use a pressing cloth (!!!) and fuse them and create some fusible scraps. Then remove the release paper and just start cutting some shapes and placing them on your background until you like what you see. Play! This part is supposed to be fun!! Once the front of your postcard looks done, stick a fork in it...oh, no, that's chicken. Uh...oh yeah, now you fuse it, just like you did the background in the last step. Then the next step is to quilt it. Keep in mind, at this point you're quilting through just the front and the Peltex, with no backing. You can either keep it simple, with straight parallel lines, or a grid, doing just enough to hold everything in place, or you can drop your feed dogs and do swirling free-motion quilting until it begs for mercy. The one thing I'll mention about the quilting is that if you're doing fused, raw edged designs I would make sure to choose a quilting design that puts at least a few stitches into every piece you fused down. You have to assume that if you mail the finished postcard to someone, it may go through some rough handling between your house and theirs and you don't want frayed, dangly bits hanging off it when it arrives. Uh...unless you do want frayed dangly bits hanging off it when it arrives. Then, never mind. If you want to embellish - buttons, beads, sequins, couched fibers, etc. - I do that after quilting, but before adding my backing fabric. That way you can hide your knots with your backing. Here is my postcard, seen from the back, and my backing fabric, with WU attached, ready to fuse (as soon as I remove the release's still attached in the photo). Then you center the backing fabric on the back of the postcard, WU side down, and fuse it in place. :::::Ssssssteammmmm:::::: See? You can see the backing fabric sticking out around the edges: Now you lay the whole thing on your cutting mat and trim away the extra stuff - front, Peltex, and backing - and square it up so that it's exactly 4" x 6". Unless you are a rebel, in which case feel free to make it 3 7/8" by 5 13/16". Heh. Almost done now...we're on the home stretch! Next step is to seal the edges somehow - partly for looks, partly for practicality so that the whole thing doesn't start to peel apart in transit in case your fusing job doesn't hold up to the tender mercies of the postal system. You can use 'most any sort of stitching around the edge as long as it holds the layers together, but I usually do a basic satin stitch. Here I'm about to stitch away: Once you've sealed those edges with some sort of stitching, your postcard is nearly done! The US postal service wants you to write "postcard" on the back. And if you've used fabric backing, you need to be sure to do your writing with a pen that's both permanent and fabric-safe. I use a Pigma Micron. Some people do this step on the computer, printing this stuff on their backing fabric before they attach it. Still others have lovely rubber stamps that say "postcard" and other official-looking things. Me? I'm a slob...I scribble. It still gets where it's going. Be sure to use a self-stick stamp and rub it firmly onto the fabric. But don't try to iron it in place. We won't discuss how I know that. And here we have the finished postcard: TaaaDaaaahhhh!! That wasn't hard at all, was it? And here's a potential prize for those of you who made it all the way to the end of this loooooong post. If you'd like to own my "Fruit-A-Delic" postcard for your very own, and if you've never received one of my postcards before, either in a swap or as a surprise, pull up the comments and say "Show Me The Postcard!". First person to say the magic words wins the card. (Be sure I know how to contact you, as I'll need to get your snail mail addy in order to send it to you!) Added: Since I still get an occasional comment or email saying "show me the postcard", I figured I'd better amend this to say here that the postcard was claimed the very first day! Sorry, ya gotta make your own! Th-th-th-that's all, folks! Added: I love getting comments, but PLEASE...if you have a comment or question that requires an answer, be SURE to include your email address for a reply. I can't send an answer if your blogger ID is set to either "anonymous" or "no reply". Thanks!!