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Fabric Collage Postcards and ATCs

8 Aug 2006

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

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.


• 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 Laces
6. 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

8. 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...



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kathy wrote
on 8 Aug 2006 8:18 PM
Thanks for sharing this process. I'm just beginning to experiment with some of the ideas I see in Quilting Arts, and basic as it sounds, I didn't quite know the details of creating the ATCs. The timing is perfect, my two daughters have been playing around with all the embroidery stitches on our sewing machines, you've provided a great end of summer project for us all.
Julie E in PA wrote
on 9 Aug 2006 8:40 AM
That is so sweet! Where is the card he sent you? I would love to see his art work.
Patricia Bolton wrote
on 9 Aug 2006 10:09 AM
Julie--I hope you check back. I just uploaded Will's ATC. So cute...
Lisa Cook wrote
on 10 Aug 2006 7:39 AM
What a special story to share with all of us. Thank you. Kids sure have the ability to pull at our heartstrings! And to find a 7 year old boy who is fascinated with these tiny works of art...special indeed. I love his ATC. I see a future in mixed media for this fellow! Lisa
Bonnie Smith wrote
on 10 Aug 2006 12:43 PM
I hope you realize what you did for that child. He will never forget your kindness and I believe he is well on his way in this world to beig a very creative and caring person. His art is delicious. We should all stop and give someone kindness every day as you gave him. Thank you. You give me hope for this world. Bonnie
Robin wrote
on 10 Aug 2006 2:58 PM
I love his ATC; what a smart, talented kid!
Liz Phelan wrote
on 11 Aug 2006 7:28 AM
Will-What an awesome ATC! Keep up the great work. I would love to trade with you! Patricia thanks for sharing such a sweet story with all of us - I can't tell you how moved & truly inspired I am! Cheers! Liz
Liz Phelan wrote
on 11 Aug 2006 7:30 AM
My correct e-mail is contained in this comment. So sorry.
KIM wrote
on 11 Aug 2006 11:03 AM
Bev wrote
on 30 Aug 2006 4:37 PM
This is such a good idea and a great way to get kids involved. I can't wait to let my group try it. I was inspired by Virginia Spiegel and I started where we make fabric postcards and fabric gifts to raise money for women diagnosed with *** cancer. The kids will love it!!
bybethstudio wrote
on 18 Jun 2008 10:30 PM
Thanks for sharing the letter and the ATC from Will. I've already stashed away some of my 4 yr old's paintings to make ATC's with;but, after reading this I think I'll help her make her own! What a great summer project!
Pokey wrote
on 5 Oct 2009 3:42 PM

Who's joining me in making 35 ATCs (artist trading cards) to celebrate the 35th anniversary of International

DianneRenee wrote
on 4 Mar 2010 11:07 AM

What does ATC stand for?!

on 4 Mar 2010 1:52 PM

Thank you, Pokey, for sharing this.  I've heard of ATCs but didn't know what it meant.  I want to try it.  Thank you again.

smidginsew wrote
on 4 Mar 2010 4:10 PM

We are all  KIDS of all ages having fun.   Which makes this Life's Journey much more precious and livable.  

Keep up the good work and lots of ideas.  What a way to use up those bits of trim, buttons and other embellishments.  Sometimes we forget that our decorative stitches on our sewing machines are there for us to enjoy; as some of us get into a rut with using the same tried and true ones we always rely on.    

Madeline in Ohio

krisjoan wrote
on 5 Mar 2010 6:57 AM

What does "ATC" stand for?

irisheyes wrote
on 5 Mar 2010 9:27 AM

OK I get the picture but what does ATC stand for? I know I must be dim as well as British!

on 5 Mar 2010 10:21 AM

Love these simple but sweet ATCs!

on 5 Mar 2010 12:04 PM

aww..what a sweet letter! and what a talented little boy! thanks for sharing this story and tutorial. :)

on 5 Mar 2010 12:05 PM

aww...what a sweet story and what a talented little boy! thanks for sharing this story and tutorial. :)

Kostumer wrote
on 5 Mar 2010 12:58 PM

For those of you who asked - ATC - Artist Trading Cards - It's so good to see youth getting involved and exploring their creativity - go, Will, enjoy!

Jane Megard wrote
on 5 Mar 2010 3:04 PM

What is a ATC? Jane

kose wrote
on 5 Mar 2010 3:51 PM

Great fabulous Like them will be trying to make some for my friends Tku vm

kose wrote
on 5 Mar 2010 3:51 PM

Great fabulous Like them will be trying to make some for my friends Tku vm

Pokey wrote
on 22 Oct 2010 5:08 PM

If my math is correct, I’ve spent more than 100 nights in Houston in the past 10 years, yet I’ve