Fabric postcards are small pieces of textile art that can actually be used as a proper postcard & sent through the postal system just as they are. You will need at least 4 x pieces of 4” x 6” fabric, as follows:
- a piece of thick iron-on Pelmet Vilene,
- a piece of double-sided iron-on Bondaweb backed with paper,
- a plain piece of linen or cotton for the back
- and a more colourful or otherwise-decorated piece for the front.
- Also some embellishments; stamps & ink, sequins, beads, small flat buttons, more fabric, lace or other trims.
It’s up to you how you assemble these to make a card front that pleases you; it’s a great way to use up odd scraps & try out new techniques on a manageable scale.
The first step is to decide how you want to assemble & decorate the front; any textile technique goes, BUT it must stay as flat as possible so that it can go through the postal machinery without tearing or causing obstruction. So, no loose threads, tassels or buttons on shanks, but embroidery, stamping, appliqué & needle-felting all work well, you can dye fabrics specially, you can use up odd scraps or damaged vintage needlework. It’s usually best do the stitching and/or apply beads, sequins etc. before starting to assemble the card itself, though sometimes very fine fabrics might need a little stiffening added.
The next step is to iron the completed card front onto the Pelmet Vilene; heat the iron to a medium setting, place the assembled card front face-up onto the shiny side, turn over (so as not to damage sequins, beads etc.) and iron until the front has stuck firmly to the Vilene.
(If by any chance you do what I once did & iron the sticky side by mistake, you can retrieve the situation by sticking the card front on with a PVA glue stick & ironing again, AFTER you have cleaned the iron’s sole-plate! It works…)
Then place the shiny side of the Bondaweb onto the blank side of the Pelmet Vilene, iron into place and pull the paper off. Place the plain backing fabric onto the revealed sticky side of the Bondaweb/Vilene/card front sandwich, and iron on.
Now you have a reasonably complete postcard, but you need to trim & secure the edges; it doesn’t have to be exactly 6” x 4” but it does need to be neat. A rotary cutter’s ideal for trimming but good sharp scissors will be fine.
The best way to secure the edges is to zig-zag stitch around the edges twice; I use a 6mm stitch width with a 1mm stitch length. If you prefer, you can blanket-stitch around the edge, but stitching through Pelmet Vilene by hand quickly becomes quite wearing! You’ll notice that the edging also acts as a little frame for your artwork so choose your thread accordingly.
The last step is to draw a line in pen down the centre of the back to divide the address side from the actual message. Then you can write & address your card, attach an appropriate stamp (I always use some PVA even when the stamp is self-adhesive, for safety’s sake) and drop into the postbox! People are usually delighted to receive one, and I’ve even had several posties tell me how much they enjoy seeing & delivering them. If you really can’t bear to send it naked through the post, you can always “cheat” and send it in an envelope, which will avoid any incidental damage, but possibly detracts from the fun.
You can actually substitute some of the “ingredients” once you have a firm grasp of what the finished article should look & feel like. In the absence of Pelmet Vilene, use some other reasonably stiff fabric, or several layers of fabric glued and/or stitched together so that it’s not floppy, or maybe even an actual blank postcard. No Bondaweb? Use a PVA stick to join the layers & iron it dry. I have used handmade paper for the backing, which I felt wasn’t “cheating” as I’d made it myself and it was easily sturdy enough to go through the postal system. Just keep the size, thickness & weight down so you don’t need to use a more expensive stamp.
Basically – enjoy yourself! It’s the perfect way to try different techniques out & play with effects. There are always postcard swaps being organised here & there online to join in with, too!