Saturday, February 25, 2017

Postcard Tutorial

After a year of blog silence I am ready to do some tutorials and demos of sewing not to mention resurrecting the 368 blocks project.

A few projects deserving blog time!

First up, a fun little quilted postcard tutorial.  This is part of the Instagram #quiltnon2017 weekend with @intrepidthreads.  Make a postcard and post it to Instagram by 3pm EST on Sunday 2/26/2017 with the hashtags #quiltnon2017 and #quiltnon2017postcard and you may be eligible for a prize!

Basically a quilted postcard is a mini mini quilt lots of people get to touch as it journeys from one home to another via our postal system.  I find them particularly charming and full of possibilities.  I have made custom orders for people to use these as greetings, invitations and business thank you notes.  Even when done as a group they are all quite individual.  I have never had someone not get a smile from receiving a thought in the mail via a fiber postcard.

They are just as fun to make.  A great opportunity to test a new technique, play with some free motion quilting, put together fabrics and colors you normally wouldn't think would work.  Postcards can be made one at a time or in batches. The methods are similar but can have wildly different results.

First, let's talk what makes a postcard according to the United States Postal Service. FAQ pages

I work with the following criteria - I make my cards 4" by 6".  I use a first class letter stamp.  This covers postcard postage and handling as some of the USPS offices will not run the card through the sorting machines.  If mailing internationally I follow International cost for a first class letter.  I have never had a postcard returned or arrive due to low postage this way.  I have sent and received postcards from the USA, Canada and Australia.

I also no longer use embellishments that stick out from the body of the art.  I sent a postcard once with a ton of bead work that made the picture elegant and make some sense - and it arrived with a bunch of frayed thread and no beading.  Still pretty and the recipient thought it was gorgeous.  I was disappointed and could only imagine the beads languishing on the cement floor of a random USPS sorting center.

I will use raw edge applique, mixed media, and almost any fiber technique.  As long as it is sewn in place by machine.  I am not worried about it getting washed or dirty - if it happens that means the journey got REALLY interesting!

A few quilted postcards I have recieved in my personal collection.

With the finished size in mind I start collecting materials and thinking of the theme I want to work with.  This is a great time to dig into your scraps; I almost always use a handful from the scrap basket.  

Written by Kajsa Wikman @sykokajsa
 For these postcards I took my 'scene' inspiration from the really fun and quirky applique projects in the book "Scandinavian Stitches" by Kaysa Wikman.  I really enjoyed this style of art in applique.  It is also an excellent way to play with free motion quilting - there is no need to be precise!

Honest craft table.  The coffee is a premium ingredient when creating!
I start with a base fabric 3/4" larger than my finished project.  Scraps of fabric for whatever scene or additions being made.  Fusible batting also 3/4" larger than the finished product.  If you do not have fusible any batting will do.  Notions include; glue stick, heat and bond (or fusible of your choice), pins, clips, ruler rotary cutter and mat, erasable pen (I used frixion), spray starch and stiffener.  We will talk backing later on in the process.

Below you will find the process photographed for both a single postcard and a set of 4.  The preparation is the same for both.  For the larger set I make a backing and batting 3/4" larger than the 4 finished postcards; in this case 4 finished is 8" by 12" so I cut my background and batting to 8.75" by 12.75".

1 fish 2 fish...
 Here I have prepped my scraps of fabric with the fishy shapes outlines from the patterns provided in "Scandinavian Stitches" for my single postcard.

Back ground fabric prepared for the single postcard.

Single postcard fused to the background and the batting and ready for some stitching.

Landscape or character fabrics with large prints like Enchanted from Fibs and Fables by Anna Maria Horner make great postcard stories.
 Background for 4 postcard batch ready for applique pieces.

Once you have your scene set using whatever method you chose, it is time for some quilting.  You will quilt the scene side of your postcard/s to the batting only - do not add the back where the mailing information and greeting will go at this stage.

Aren't they adorable!?  I just love the sketch style of the scandinavian style Kajsa Wikman teaches.  No precision here, just some fun thread sketching with my sewing machine and some FMQ!

Here I did the edge of the applique in a dark grey to blend a bit more and then added the thread sketched 'gone fishing'.  I did not freehand those words - my cursive isn't that nice without a sewing machine, much less with one.  I drew the words on the background with frixion ink - and had to iron it away and redo it several times.

here you can see the batting side with the stitching showing for the fish and writing.  I had some tension issues at one point - just fix it and keep goin!

At this point I have prepped my backing fabric.  I used a white on cream print.  You want a fabric you can write on and it will be seen - so white or off white.  If you use a white printed fabric it is easier to write on.  The white ink used for white on white and white on cream prints is like a paint and it makes a smoother surface for writing.

I cut my backing fabric 3/4" larger than the finished postcard/s and using a glue stick affixed it to the back of my art.  You do not need a lot of glue, but enough to prevent slipping during the edge finishing.  I do not like to pin my backing to postcards.  I do not want holes to make writing problematic later.

Then comes the scary part - Trimming! For the single postcard I will trim to 4" by 6".

For the postcard set I first trim to 8" by 12".  Then I cut that block into 4 equal postcards sized 4" by 6".  This is when I invariably start smiling big - my big scene now tells 4 unique stories!

Now to decide on edge treatment.  There are many ways to do this.  Basically you want your postcard edges to survive with trip from many hands, machines, and the occasional floor.  however, that only requires set edges.  You could just sew a straight stitch close to the edge.  Many people use a zig zag or satin stitch.

My favorite method is an overlock stitch of any kind.  When doing a lot of postcards I will use my serger along the edges.  For just a few I use my domestic machine and whatever overlock stitch I have available.  For 1 fish 2 fish I used stitch 29 on my brother machine in a light grey aurifil thread.  i always stitch over an inch or so to secure both ends.  By finishing the edge this way you get the whole 'canvas' size of the postcard.

For the group of 4 I decided to do a binding.

Here we see the wee binding strips.  I used a double fold binding, just like I would for any quilt.  I cut 1.25" strips ironed in 1/2, and then sewed the raw edge about 3/16" from the edge of the postcard on the art side.

Then I turned on Trolls the movie and started hand sewing the binding to the back.

Right about now I was questioning my dedication.

 But, the end result is worth it.  Very cute and unique stories to send off to a few friends.

Once I have the edges finished I use a stiffener, like Aleene's Stiffen Quik on the back.  Following the directions I let it dry, then iron it flat.  This gives me the best surface for writing and stamping on fabric with my pen of choice.  I use micron pens or a fine tip sharpie for the writing and whatever inks I have on hand for the stamping.

A few notes on the back.  Postal regulations require the back be used on the horizontal, with the address on the right, the stamp on the upper right, and leaving about 3/8" of the bottom for the postal bar code sticker.  The return address should be in the upper left.

Great visual from

At one time USPS required the top have the word postcard and a line down the middle of the card separating the address from the salutation.  That no longer is the case - But I prefer to use those guidelines anyway.

A few postcard backs I made recently from various free for use graphics.

You can print postcard backs of all kinds from free sources online.  You can use stamps, or just write it all using a permanent pen.  I like to use a fine tip sharpie.  Also, sign your work!

Some added ideas - use your foils, angelique fibers, ink stamps.  Play with selvedges, character fabrics, and paper ephemera.  Print your favorite quotes or just words on fabric and sew them to a fun backing.  Make the USPS journey part of your fiber story - just imagine how many smiles your bit of fiber art will inspire along the way.

I hope this was helpful and we see many quilted postcards winging their way to friends, family, and your various quilty crushes.  Happy sewing!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Instagram Swap - Music Lyric Craft Swap

 I must admit, I have always loved words.  I love how they evolve, how they look, how a word written by separate people looks different and it actually means only what the listener or reader understands.  Words are ideas given form.  They are fascinating.

 Melody is soul given sound.  When you add the poetry of lyric and human voice to that sound it can be magical.  Like concentrated emotion.  We all know they also can take you right back to a specific time and place in our memories.  Music makes me laugh, cry, and sing even when I should not.  It can bring joy to the greyest day.

As I have been swapping like mad on instagram it occurred to me I had not seen any swaps for music or lyrics.  Epiphany!  So I put the word out to IG land - and got excellent response - I am not the only one who thinks what a fabulous idea!  Pick out a favorite or several favorite songs with lyric and then set it to our mystery partner - make me something with these words and feelings.

This can be ANY craft.  The biggest thing is it does need to be thought out; to the very best of your ability, something that will stand the test of time (though you do not have to bulldog chew test it, we are reasonable people).

So will you do a mini quilt?  An embroidered hoop?  A paper art piece?  A little of everything mixed media?

 Rules and guidelines are as follows;
-The hashtag will be #musiclyriccraftswap - please include it on all IG posts relevant to the swap.  Also, please tag me for all checkin posts, mosaics, and progress posts.
-We will be using the blacklist from IG swappers.
-This is a blind swap - your partner will not know you have them.  Don't give it away!
-Your instagram account for the duration of the swap needs to be active (you post weekly) and public.
-Your partner's favorite lyric may not be in English!  There are many gorgeous songs out there in all languages, don't be afraid to include one or get one.
-This is a long swap - 4 months.  To keep it in your mind please be prepared to post or respond for once a month checkins.
-A mosaic will be the first checkin and is required by 11/26/2015, USA Thanksgiving.  If you do not have a mosaic, you will not be able to continue with the swap.
-Subsequent checkins will be within 3 days of the following dates;

  • December 10, 2015
  • January 10, 2016
  • February 10, 2016 (progress picture on your IG required)
  • March 10, 2016 (progress picture on your IG required)

-The requirements include 1 medium craft and 1 small craft, plus something fun like candy or another item.  You also must include a note - just something small with your name and a sentence or two.  A regional postcard works well for this.
-Your medium craft must incorporate actual words in text of the lyrics chosen.  A lyric can be one word (imagine is forever associated with John Lennon for me) and as many as a whole song.
-Shipping dates are as follows;

  • March 25, 2016 for all international shipping, including USA to and from Canada swaps
  • April 10, 2016 for all domestic shipping.

-When you ship - when available tracking is required and should be sent to your swap host/swap mama.  When tracking is not possible - a picture of the shipment confirmation is still required.
-When you get your swap - as we all know, say thank you.  Show off the hard work your partner did with picture/s, and your thoughts on the fabulous.  part of the joy of the making is knowing your recipient enjoyed the effort.  Say thank you.
-If you have not swapped before please reach out to me before you make this commitment.  You can use my blog for contact, or message me in instagram @vagabondindigo.  This does not mean you can't swap, only that I would like to review your info personally.  If you do not contact me I reserve the right to remove you from the swap.
-signup will open on Monday 11/16 and close Saturday 11/21.  The signup form will be linked on my IG profile @vagabondindigo.
-Please post in your IG when your have submitted the entry form and include the hashtag and my IG @vagabondindigo
-Prepare to have fun and discover or rediscover some music and lyrics!

Signups live until we get 50 participants OR Saturday morning PST.

Edit - Signups closed due to reaching 50 participants.  Emails will be sent out with partners after I review the list for anyone on the IG swap blacklist for past shenanegans, and then assign partners.  Looking at partners email by Sunday 11/22.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

ROYGBIV #3 Finish - Sunset Orange

I am going to keep this one simple.  You can see the picture progress below!

July theme - Log Cabin block.  Color chosen - Orange.

Paper piecing fun! 

This way?

Or this way?

Decision made.  LOVE this background fabric!

Binding in progress.

Love this one!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Q3 Finish Along

I have more artistic thoughts than any other kind of thought I think.  I start a ton of projects and finish a sadly small amount of them.  In an effort to negate that lovely cycle I  am joining the 2015 Finish Along at On the Windy Side.

Q2 went fairly well.  Out of 22 listed, I finished 10.  Thats 16 so far this year!  I do find it amusing how many on this list were on Q1 and 2.  Need to get crackin...

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

So here is my Q3 list which is alarmingly similar to Q2!

1 - Friend swap in 2014 - still in progress
 I figured we would get off track on this friend swap.  I am still working thru the packets of goodies she has sent me.  However, I would like to have them done and the top done by Q4 so I can say 'yeah!' and focus on 2015 - 2016.

2 - 2014 Around the World Swap - still in progress
 This is the results of a swap with people from all over.  I have seen a few of our facebook participants post finished quilts which has me inspired to make this happen and get it quilted.

3- 2014 Quilt Guild Paint Chip Challenge - still in progress

I really love the design I created for this challenge.  I still need to finish 6 blocks and then get it quilted.  I would love it on my couch this fall.

4- Garden Wallhanging - still in progress

This is a gift for a friend I want to have done this summer.  I got stuck on quilting the tiny little bits I fused, but I think I have a solution.  This should be finished this quarter.

5- Shop banner wallhanging - still in progress

This has been around for at least 2 years.  Again, I got stuck not sure how to quilt the edges of the small pieces.  However, I want it done and on the wall and then photographed for my etsy shop.

6 - awake my soul wallhanging - still in progress

Similar to the above.  Inspired by Mumford and Sons song lyrics, I would love to do a line of wallhangings with song lyrics like this.  Just have to finish and then do more.  I want to add building silhouettes and a few simple things to give depth, then quilt.

7 - Saving the Pillow Top  - still in progress

This is for my cousin.  My grandmother made this for her years ago, and since grandma has passed it is one of a kind.  It has been well worn, and I don't think can be a pillow anymore.  I am thinking I will turn it into a wallhanging, and then make a pillow for her using this pattern.  Since we are celebrating my cousin's birthday net weekend I am going to finish this within 5 days!

8 - Commissioned quilt - still in progress

 I have to get this done.  I have gotten stuck on designing an applique tree in king size.  I just need to get the base on the wall and do it, and stop waffling.  I want at minimum the top done in Q3.

9 - Baby quilts - still in progress

I have 3 of these tops done in scrappy HSTs.  I just need to back and bind them.  I will donate them when finished.

10- Disappearing Blocks Quilt - still in progress

This is a quilt intended as a Christmas gift.  however, life got busy and I did not finish.  I would like to finish it this spring to gift or put in my own closet.

11- HST quilt\wallhanging.  - still in progress

 I challenged myself last fall to work with half square triangles and pink.  I have a lot cut and pieced.  I need to square up and iron and then decide on the top.  I would love for this to be a quilt I gift or sell -and not hang around!  This may also wind up in a swap.

12 - Winter Wonderland art - still in progress

I painted some snowflake designs on fabric and have been adding thread to them to create unique art with them.  I want to make a wallhanging with them - or maybe a couple of wallhangings.  These were intended to be done for last holiday, but life got in the way, and I got stuck on the sewing portion which is taking a while to make each flake unique.  I love how they are coming out - this may also turn into a teaching aid for a fiber art class.  This may also make it into a swap package.

13 - purely fun pot holders - still in progress

I made a couple of potholder gifts from a pattern I saw online - little R.V. designed art.  I loved them, my recipient loved them, and now I want a few for me!  These would also make great swap gifts!

14 - Mystery Quilt

This is the fabric for a Mystery Quilt on facebook starting in May.  I plan to keep up with the mystery so I don't let it slide!

I totally kept up with the mystery - now to quilt it!  I have backing on its way, and I know what thread I want to use.  I am hoping to tackle this myself.

15 - Focus Through the Prism Challenge starting May 1

I have been participating in this challenge.  So far we have 2 months down and are into month 3.  Here are the first 2 so far - 

May - Monkey Wrench in Red
June - Friendship Star in Indigo. This is to be a gift for the friend that inspired it!

 We have a log cabin inspiration in July - I am leaning towards using the orange this month, a kind of sunrise burst...  I have a design sketched, just need to sew it!  Should have August and September in the bag by the end of Q3 as well.  :)

16 - #kaffeminiswap

I have the fabric ordered and a design sketched out.  Just need to make the mini and maybe a few gifts.  I can't wait for the fabric to arrive!  Kaffe!

17 - #Pirateswap

Looking at getting the fabric for a pirate swap from spoonflower this month.  Wanting to make canvas bags for a couple of swaps.  Love the below spoonflower fabric!

by Teja_jamilla
18 - #mermaidcraftswap

For the mermaid swap I have some scallops started.  Thinking about a bag here as well with a spoonflower fabric I just totally fell in love with!

by Thistleandfox

19 - #criminalmindsswap

I just love this show, and am excited to play with ideas inspired by it to share with others who love this show.  So far I have a design for a large project with a wish list of other possible crafts.

20 - #lovewinsminiswap

Fabrics ordered and a design sketched out.  As soon as I saw this swap I just HAD to join!

21 - boat flag

I was asked to make a boat flag.  This is another finish that must be done this week.  It will be interesting - I have never worked with nylon before!

Whew!  Lots to do!
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