I’ve been making, and selling, textile gifts and baby loss keepsakes via JustSewHelen.com for a few years.  I often have difficulty finding the right cards to offer condolences or just to let someone know I’m thinking of them and have started to expand my ranges into greeting cards.  I made cards many years ago but always felt they looked ‘too handmade’ if there is such a thing, and as my business name is obviously to do with sewing, I thought it was time to design some cards using fabric.

I set about compiling a shopping list of some items to use and Minerva have a lovely supply of haberdashery and pretty fabrics.  Some of the products I chose included craft linen, hessian roll, a fat quarter bundle and some pretty lace. I also ordered a pack of plain white greeting cards with envelopes, opting for C5 size which measure 21 x 15 cm when folded.  For reference, C5 is half A4.

I have a tendency to procrastinate when deciding on a project, and searching for ideas on Pinterest, so I decided to just have fun playing around with the fabrics, colours and effects and not feel guilty for the time it can take. 

I initially looked for ideas for some simple flowers that would be easy to draw and cut out of fabric for applique.  There are so many beautiful flowers to choose from and I finally based my designs on the daisy and poppy.  I like a simple effect for my designs and wanted an understated background of text or something similar.  I’d already got a couple of square clear stamps with words and music and I made a template to stamp over to leave a heart shaped background on the card.

For the flowers, I traced my designs onto the paper side of some heat and bond, roughly cut the outline and adhered it to the wrong side of small pieces of fabric with a hot iron.  It’s important to remember that all designs will be reversed when using heat n bond, therefore, any letters or words need to be reversed before tracing/cutting out.  I decided to attach the flowers to some calico using the heat n bond that was already applied, and then cut them out again, close to the edges.  This was because I hadn’t completely decided on the layout for the cards and it meant I could reposition the flowers easily until I was happy with the overall design.  Next time, I’ll stick the flowers directly to the cards with fabric glue to omit this further cutting out stage, which was a bit fiddly.  I stuck the finished flowers onto the card using fabric glue.

Another technique I used in the past to make some lavender pouches was to stamp directly onto fabric.  I use Stazon ink which is permanent and doesn’t bleed into the fabric.  To add colour using the fat quarters I stamped small sections of the design, cut them out and applied them to the original stamped image, fixing with heat n bond. 

As an alternative to using fabric for the background, I also stamped directly onto the card and added applique accents in the same way, this time with fabric glue.  For both methods, I attached the fabric to heat n bond to reinforce it for stamping and to then have the option of ironing onto fabric or gluing directly onto the card.  A rotary cutter and cutting mat are really useful tools to square the edges of the fabric rather than using scissors.

The final two designs, the teapot and the ‘Hugs’ cards, used a combination of stamping onto fabric and applying fabric strips or hessian onto card with double sided tape & fabric glue.

I like the finished effect of raw edge appliqué and chose not to add any stitching to these designs but hope to master free motion embroidery in the future.  Hand embroidery can be used to add extra detail but can be timely and ideally needs to be completed before fixing the designs to the cards, otherwise the reverse of the stitches will be seen inside the card.

I love playing around with fabric, and although similar results can be achieved using pretty papers, I like the extra texture that fabric provides. 

I’m really pleased with the finished effects and the contrast of the bright flowers against the simple black and white background and still can’t decide which is my favourite.

Thank you for reading and to Minerva for the kit.