Fabric Collage Postcards and ATCs

I just got the sweetest letter yesterday from a seven-year-old boy named Will. I met him this past spring in Chicago at Make It U! and I remember finding him staring up at the wall of fabric ATCs we had displayed. Eyes wide, mouth agape, and neck craned at an impossible angle, he was obviously taking in all the joyful creations…and wishing he could be a part of it. I gave him my business card and told him I’d be honored to trade with him. 

Yesterday afternoon I got this in the mail:will_letter-3969680

Since reading this letter my heart has done about 100 somersaults. (And I’m framing this letter!)

The following fabric collage project is for all the folks (young and seasoned) who may be new to our fiber world and want to make fabric scrap postcards or ATCs.

Note: The directions below are to create a 12″ square that you can later cut up into individual ATCs or fabric postcards.


Materials• 12″ x 12″ piece of interfacing (that stiff, nonwoven white stuff used to make hats) such as Peltex, Timtex, or the like (Note: I prefer Peltex 72 because it comes with adhesive on both sides of the interfacing.)

• Misty Fuse (Fusible webbing you’ll need to iron to your interfacing if your interfacing doesn’t already have adhesive on both sides.)

• Fabric scraps (cottons, laces, and sheers) in various shades of one color, (In one of these examples I used fabric scraps from Mary Fisher’s textile packages.) • One larger 12″ x 12″ piece of backing fabric to cover the back side of your interfacing• Black-and-white fabric scraps• Variegated and metallic threads• Sewing machine with fancy embroidery stitches• Rotary cutter, quilting ruler and mat• Iron• Ironing board• Embellishments (beads, buttons, trims)

• Fabric scissors

Making your Interfacing Fusible

1. If you aren’t using Peltex 72, which comes with fusible webbing already on both sides, fuse Misty Fuse to both sides of your interfacing using your iron at the cotton setting and following the manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Set your iron to the cotton setting and fuse a backing fabric to the back side of the interfacing.


Fusing Fabrics to the Front of Your Postcard or ATC

3. Fuse the cotton fabric scraps randomly to the front of the 12″ x 12″ piece of interfacing. (Save the sheers and laces for later.) Juxtapose light and darks making sure to cover the entire interfacing. Don’t worry if your fabrics overlap––they’ll be heavily stitched later.
4. Carefully take this to your ironing board and fuse the fabrics with your iron.


Heavy Machine-stitching (The fun part!)
5. Now it’s time to go a little crazy with embroidery stitches on your sewing machine. Load your machine with variegated threads in the same colors as your fabrics and stitch with fancy embroidery stitches. Stitch everywhere.  Stop mid-stitch and choose another embroidery stitch. Juxtapose big, swirling stitches with boxy, square ones. Don’t just stitch the seams, stitch straight down the middle of the fabrics. (Are you getting the picture? Go nuts…)

Adding Sheers and Laces6. Place small squares of sheers and laces on top and either straight- or zigzag-stitch them. If you have ribbons or trims with fun designs and in the same shade as your background, stitch them too.

7. Cut your 12″ x12″ piece into either postcards (4″ x 6″) or ATCs (2.5″ x 3.5″). fabric_collage_atcs-5860595

Finishing8. Choose a motif to place on top of each card—you could cut hearts, geometric shapes, or find motifs in commercial fabrics such as these wine bottles in the fabric post card below. 9. Cut black-and-white fabric into squares, slightly larger than your motif, and then place your motif on top of the black-and-white fabric (this is to add a little contrast). Place both on top of your card and machine stitch to your background using metallic or variegated threads.

10. Embellish with beads and buttons if desired.


What to do with these beauties?  A couple of ideas––come to Houston November 2-5 for the International Quilt Festival where we’ll be hosting Make It University!

•In the Fall 2006 issue of QUILTING ARTS we’re announcing our next ATC trade, this time at The International Quilt Festival this fall in Houston where we’ll be co-hosting Make It University. We’re planning for an exciting and fun event so please join us (and tell your friends)! Details can be found here.
• Virginia Spiegel is once again heading up an amazing, charitable event for the American Cancer Society and you can be a part of it. Make as many fabric postcards as you can for Virginia’s Fiber Art for a Cause (FFAC). Hundreds of fiber artists are creating fiber postcards to sell at the Fall Festival. I saw (and bought) several fiber postcards at the International Quilt Festival this past spring and they are precious little beauties I’ll cherish forever.

And Will, if you’re reading this, I love love love my beautiful ATC you made for me (see below for Will’s ATC)––thank you! Mine is on its way…