How to: Scrap Greeting Cards

I have always loved making greeting cards. For years I made my Christmas cards. In the beginning they were hands-on using hand cut stencils, or adding paper embellishments.  I graduated to using photos. Now I want to send fabric cards, but I’ve never really been happy with the ones I made. Until now!

But I need to put a disclaimer here. You may not be able to stop making these cards once you get started. I was planning on having this post up earlier, but I just couldn’t stop making them!

I was reading Julie Fei Fan Balzer’s post about using paper strips to make holiday cards. It dawned on me that I could use fabric strips. Yes, I’ve seen cards made with fabric strips, but they just didn’t speak to me like hers did, and my attempts in the past have been awful! But seeing her use all of her beautiful paper, reminded me of my printed, dyed, and marbled scraps.

The biggest takeaways from her post were to use a substrate, and then cut it down to size. When using strips I always sewed the strips directly onto the card – not a good idea. It’s easy to mess up, but also it’s hard to make a design. This was pretty much a “duh” moment.

So let’s talk about substrates. I’d encourage you to get in your stash of stabilizers and see what you have. I’ve tried a variety of them and all seem to work well. I’ve found that the most important part is to have a base of some type of cardstock, or I used watercolor paper since I have a ton of it. If you are using a real stiff stabilizer, I’d recommend a lighter cardstock.

Here are the products I’ve used:

  • Fast 2 Fuse Medium Interfacing with watercolor paper
  • Fast 2 Fuse Heavy Interfacing with watercolor paper
  • Flexi Fuse, Peltex 50 and watercolor paper
  • Mistyfused cardstock
  • Craftfuse and cardstock
  • Craftfuse and Peltex 50 (no cardstock)

I used the above because that is what I had at hand. My favorite is the Fast 2 Fuse Medium with watercolor paper. However, try out what you have.

Here are the supplies needed besides the substrate:

  • fabric scraps
  • blank cards and envelopes
  • scissors/rotary cutter and board
  • iron/ironing board
  • sewing machine with zigzag, thread, needle, etc
  • glue – I like Sobo
  • lint roller

Let’s get started. For a 5 x 7 card, Cut your bases to 5 x 7. That way you can cut them down before placing on the card. Here I’m showing Fast 2 Fuse in the front; watercolor paper in the back.

Pull out your fabric scraps. I have them in bins by color which makes it so much easier. For this card I pulled out these. There is a mix of gel print fabric, ice dyed, stamped, and plain dyed fabric. Look for different values. It’s nice to have some light, medium, and dark fabrics, but you don’t always have to do that. At least, use two different values.

If you’ve never worked with values or if you have trouble determining the value of a certain fabric, it’s a good idea to take a photo and convert it to black and white so you can actually see the values. Here is the above photo converted. It’s interesting to see how all the pieces read. Of course, we knew that the two blues would be light and dark, but it’s interesting to see how the others look. Try this if you have trouble “reading” the values.

Then we start to play. I begin by tearing strips, not cutting them. I’m working on top of the fusible interfacing, but not attaching anything yet. This is where the fun begins.

Then I added more, slightly overlapping so the substrate would not show through.

You will notice that mainly white piece is gone. I really didn’t like it. I also didn’t use the light blue piece.

I’m not done, but I’m happy with the bottom of this card so I wanted to iron it down.

Here is the final layout. I need to iron it all down and smooth out that blue piece.

Once it’s all ironed down, I trim it to the 5 x 7 base size.

To tell you the truth, right now I think it looks pretty ugly. But it’s amazing how the stitches just bring it all together. So if you get to this point and want to pitch it, just hold on. It will get better. Now to take this to the sewing machine. I zigzag over the edges starting with the middle strip and work my way out.

For the cards that I added vertical strips, I sewed them once the diagonal strips were completed.

So here is what we have. Still not exactly what I would rave about. But WAIT!

Now I snip off all of those loose threads.

Before we trim it up, I add the watercolor or cardstock. The Fast 2 Fuse has adhesive on both sides, so all I need to do is iron it down. However, if you are using something that doesn’t have glue on the back side, just glue it down.

Whether I use the Fast 2 Fuse or nonfusible base, I take it to the iron to attach to the card.

And then press the front.

Now it’s time to cut the piece down. I usually cut it down to 4.5 x 6.5, but you can make it smaller. This is where I say do what I say and not what I do! Don’t use your good fabric rotary cutter to cut this since you are cutting paper. I have a rotary cutter that is just for paper. I realized when I took this shot that I had picked up the wrong one!

Doesn’t that look so much better?

Now to take it to the sewing machine to zigzag the edges. I always start at the bottom and work my way around. I back stitch both at the beginning and the end. A note about the sewing machine needle, it’s like your scissors, once you use it for paper, it shouldn’t be used for any nice fabric project. I used the same needle for this entire project. However, when I start another project like a purse, I will change it out and use it just for paper projects.

After that step, and cutting any threads, I glue the piece onto the card. I use Delta Sobo glue, but you can use any glue you like.

Spread out the glue and add to the card. I always take the iron and go over the card again.

An optional tip is to lightly run a lint roller over the card to pick up any stray threads.

And the finished card.

Here are some of my other cards. As I said, once I started making them I had trouble stopping!

Some tips

  • When choosing fabrics, look for ones with different values. It will make a more interesting piece, if you have some light, some dark, and some medium value pieces.
  • Tear you fabric instead of cutting. And tear it into different size strips.
  • When you are trimming the fabric and paper down, use a rotary cutter that is designated for paper, just like you do with your scissors. The same thing goes for the sewing machine needle. Once it sews paper, it needs to be used for that, and not on some nice fabric piece you decided to work on later.
  • Look for a scrap that will be your main piece that will draw your eye in and around your card.
  • If you use something like Fast 2 Fuse that is two-sided fusible, be careful when you are ironing down your strips. I put too much pressure when ironing one of the cards, and the adhesive on the back side stuck to the ironing surface. It would be a good idea to place the two-sided fusible on one of those silicone mats or release paper so you don’t have the mess I had.

I hope you’ll try your hand at these cards. If you’ve made fabric cards, I’d love to hear your tips. For other inspiration, check out Off The Wall Friday.

Thanks to Julie for posting her tutorial. And thank you for dropping by.