This is a quick and easy way to create a small; but, meaningful craft that is simple to mail to our troops. Check out my etsy listing for this item. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=6238362
It is innovative because it uses computerized digital technology combined with fabric and quilting to create a one of a kind personalized art postcard to show appreciation for our troops and help them maintain morale during a difficult mission. It is so simple to do that it would be very easy to use as a service project for a scout, church or community group.
I was motivated to come up with the idea because my husband is an Army veteran who works on a military base where troops are constantly being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Husbands of several of my friends will be, have been or are about to be deployed many for the third time. I am in the process of making photo postcards for them using pictures of their children that I took during play dates. This project will make a difference in their life. These photo postcards, because they are made of fabric and not paper, should stand up well to the harsh desert conditions. They take a very small amount of time to create; but, they will be treasured and deeply appreciated by the recipient especially because of the use of a personal photograph image on fabric.
Step 1: Gather Materials, Supplies and Tools
Sewing Machine with a heavy duty needle
Digital Camera or Scanner and Photographs
Ink Jet Printer and Computer
Colorfast Fusible Fabric (I use June Tailor brand, White Quick Fuse Inkjet Fabric Sheets, JT-930, 8 1/2inches x 11inches) http://www.junetailor.com/Products_PrinterCopierTransferPaper.htm
Patriotic Fabric for front of card (one piece of 100% cotton a little larger than 4in. x 6in.)
Light colored fabric for back of card (one piece of 100% cotton a little larger than 4in.x 6in.)
Stiff heavy interfacing double sided with fusible adhesive (4 in. x 6in.piece) (I use Peltex by Pellon; but, there are many brands out there such as Timtex, Fast2Fuse, InnerFuse)
Other sources are JoAnn Fabrics www.joann.com and Hancock Fabrics www.hancockfabrics.com
Thread- white and colors to coordinate with fabrics (100% cotton)
Fabric scissors (pinking shears, optional) http://www.gingher.com/
Fabric Pens (I prefer Pigma Micron because they come in a very fine tip and a wide variety of colors http://www.gellyroll.com/products/pens/pigmamicron/pigmamicron.html )
Step 2: Apply Fabric to Front of Postcard
Following the directions on the package, use an iron to apply the fabric right side up to one side of the stiff interfacing. The Peltex brand I used has a clear film on one side so I start working on the side without the film so that my interfacing does not end up fused to my work surface. If the brand of fusible interfacing that you are using does not have a protective film on one side you will want to use something like parchment paper under the piece so it does not end up fused to your work surface. Trim away the excess fabric with fabric scissors.
Step 3: Print Photo to Colorfast Fabric Sheet
Select your image and print a test copy on regular paper to make sure the photo prints out the way you like it. Remember that it needs to fit on a 4 inch x 6 inch surface. Once your image is to your liking, follow the directions on the Colorfast Fusible fabric package for loading and printing on your Ink Jet printer. Usually, you must let the ink dry before working.
Step 4: Prepare Printed Digital Image
Cut out your photo image from the printed colorfast fabric sheet. Now cut out the image into the desired shape. I like to use pinking shears to do this as it gives a nice decorative edge. You could use cookie cutters to make shaped templates or use a rotary cutter with a decorative blade to cut out your printed photo from the fabric.
Step 5: Apply Photo Fabric to Front of Postcard
Following the directions on the product packaging, affix the photo to the card front on top of the fabric background. I used an iron to affix my photo fabric.
Step 6: Prepare to Sew
Before sewing my postcard I removed the clear protective film from the back which is in place to prevent the card from adhering to the ironing board. Not all brands have the protective film on the back.
Select threads for the top that complement your fabric. Always use plain white thread for the bobbin so you wil not be able to see the thread showing through to the back of your postcard where you will write your greeting and address.
I use a denim needle since the interfacing is thick. I also use a clear presser foot so that I can better see my work surface.
I always do a test strip on a scrap before starting to sew.
Step 7: Sew Photo to Fabric
You do not want your photo to accidentally come off during delivery so stitch all around the edges of the fabric photo image as an extra precaution. I use a zigzag stitch for a decorative effect around the photo. In addition I stitch designs onto the fabric. Trim threads after sewing.
Step 8: Apply Back Fabric
Follow the application steps that came with the fusible interfacing to adhere the light fabric to the back of your postcard. right side up. With the Peltex brand of interfacing, the steps involved using an iron and a damp press cloth. Trim excess with fabric scissors.
Step 9: Prepare to Sew Edges
Change your machine setting to a satin stitch with a small stitch length. This will allow yout to sew around the entire edge of the postcard catching both the front and back fabric edges as you go and covering the egdes with thread. Before sewing, I changed my bobbin thread color to red to add interest to the back of the postcard.
Step 10: Sew Edges
Start sewing with the satin stitch in the middle of a side, not on the corners as they are more difficult. I usually back stitch a little at the beginning and ending points to secure the thread to the postcard. Make sure that as you sew your needle just goes over the edge of the postcard that way the edges will be covered in stitching. Also make sure that you are catching both the front and back fabrics as you go. Stitching around the edges of the postcard twice gives more coverage of thread. Trim threads and clean up loose ends after sewing.
Step 11: Write and Mail
Use a fabric pen to draw a line between the message section and the address section. Write your note of support using fabric pens; address the card, put on a stamp and mail. Contact military families in your community for address information. If you do not know of military families in your area, try contacting the USO.
Thank you for letting the USA Troops know you support them!!!!!
IMPORTANT!!!! Do not address to Any Service Member or try to mail it directly to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Step 12: Service Project Ideas
This would be a great service project for scout, community or church groups. Supplies can be purchased in bulk and jobs can be divided up assembly line style with groups printing pictures, cutting, ironing, trimming, and sewing. It would be best to have everyone write the messages of encouragement and support. Mailing the postcards together in a box would save on postage. If you met regularly to sew postcards, you could vary the fabrics by the holidays and seasons (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring, etc.). It would even be fun to have the photos seasonal as well. By using props such as hats, pumpkins, stuffed, bunnies, etc the pictures could be tailored to the season. Have fun, try a new craft and support the USA all at the same time! Enjoy!