How to make a fabric postcard for Valentine's Day that can actually go through the post/mail
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Materials to make one card
one piece of 6" x 4" of thick, stiff interfacing ( I use Timtex™ or fast2fuse® )
two 6" x 4" pieces of fusible web such as Bondaweb or Steam-a -seam (not required if using fast2fuse)
one 6" x 4" piece of plain white cotton fabric
scraps of red, white and/or pink cotton fabric
pieces of red, white and/or pink ribbon
decorative hearts etc.
heart or other romantic rubber stamps
a postage stamp
a stamp pad with red permanent ink
a Pigma pen (or similar fine permanent pen)
scissors and/or rotary cutter, ruler & mat
iron & ironing board
sewing machine & thread (zig-zag and decorative stitching capability very useful)
needle and thread
Step 2: Note on Postal Regulations
The USPS website has this to say on postcards [my conversions in italics]:
- Minimum: 3-1/2 inches high by 5 inches long by 0.007 inch thick [89mm x 127mm x 0.18mm]
- Maximum: 6 inches long by 4-1/4 inches high [152mm x 108mm]
- Additional postage required for larger postcards
Postcards that are over 4-1/4 inches high X 6 inches long X 0.016 inch thick [152mm x 108mm x 0.4mm] are considered oversized. They will be charged as a letter or large envelope depending on the size
Minimum size: 90mm x 140mm
Maximum size: 120mm x 235mm
First or Second class post:
Priced as for a normal Letter
Length: 240mm max
Width: 165mm max
Thickness: 5mm max
Step 3: Front or "picture" Side - First Stage
Attach one piece of fusible web to one side of the interfacing using an iron according to the manufacturers instructions. It is advisable to put a sacrificial layer of something on your ironing board to prevent sticky patches from stray fusible stuff. When using fast2fuse you MUST put a non-stick payer under your card or you will stick it to your ironing board. I use siliconised baking parchment, or you could use a PTFE/teflon sheet.
If I am not using fast2fuse (which already has the fusible on it) I use Bondaweb and attach it by peeling off one layer of the protective paper and then place the web onto the interfacing so that the remaining layer of paper is between my iron and the web. Do NOT iron the web without the layer of protective paper between it and your iron as you will end up with a sticky mess.
Place your fabric scraps in an appealing arrangement on top of the fused side of the post card. All the web MUST be covered, but if pieces of fabric overhang the edges this doesn't matter as they will get trimmed off later.
Fuse the fabric to your postcard using an iron as before. Allow the postcard to cool then turn it over and trim any overhanging fabric from the edges.
Step 4: Front Side - Second Stage
Now for the fun bit - embellishment!
If you are going to use beads leave these until after you have done any machine sewing so you don't get caught up on them. Also try and avoid putting anything that your presser foot won't ride over within 1/2" of the edge.
On the side with your fabric:
Use decorative stitches along the fabric joins - use a white thread in the bobbin as a coloured thread may show through the backing fabric later on.
....Use your stamp pad and ink
....Draw extra bits, write a suitable message
....Make iron on hearts etc if you have spare fusible (remember you still need a 6" x4" piece of fusible for the back (address) side of the postcard)
Step 5: The Back Side
Now your top side has been fully decorated it is time to cover up any visible stitching with the white fabric.
Using your remaining piece of 6" x 4" fusible and following the manufacturer's instructions fuse the white fabric to the back of the post card.
Once again trim any excess fabric that overhangs the card.
Step 6: The Edges
To prevent any chance of the outer fabric edges peeling up they need also to be stitched down.
I use my sewing machine with a coloured thread in the bobbin and white thread in the needle, but you could use the same thread in both if you like. Sew with the plan white side down - this way you can see where your embellishments are and avoid them and they don't get caught in the feed dogs.
I like to use a zigzag with a wide stitch width and a short stitch length. Often I will go around the whole card twice, the second time with a slightly wider stitch to get good coverage. Letting the needle fall "off the edge" should ensure that the edge is completely enclosed.
If your machine doesn't zigzag, or doesn't play happily while you are doing this you can just edge stitch with a straight stitch close to the edge making sure you sew through all the layers. Again you may wish to do a second line of stitching just inside the first line for extra security. Alternatively you can bind the edge with ribbon - though I found this to be a fiddly process and it was hard to get a good looking result.
If you are sewing by hand use a new sharp needle and a thimble (helps to push through the fusible stuff and the interfacing) and do a buttonhole or blanket stitch around the edge.
Step 7: The Last Stage - Add the Message and Address
Turn back onto the plain white side.
Test your fine black pen on a scrap of the white fabric to make sure it doesn't bleed or smudge. If it does find another pen!
Use your pen to write POSTCARD in the middle of the top edge, just inside the stitching (this is apparently necessary for the USPS, and does no harm for any other postal service)
If you are going to use an envelope you can use the whole of the blank side for your message and decorative stamping. Once decorated and dedicated to your loved one, find a suitable envelope (padded may be better if you have "lumpy" decorations), write on the destination address, and if required the sender's address, as usual, insert the card, weigh it, add sufficient postage and send it winging on its way.
If you are sending the postcard "naked" draw a line dividing the white side into two halves.
On the left hand side write the sender's address (if required) and any message and further decoration.
On the right hand side stick on the stamp and write the destination address.
Drop it into the post box and wait to hear from your loved one.