Postcards a-Plenty!

And so the great reveal! Although if you follow Sandi's blog, you've already seen the reveal since she got her post done last night and I'm the Sandy-Come-Lately in this pairing!

Here's the postcard I got from Sandi. Isn't that fussy-cut ornament just adorable? I love how it also includes the little loops on the top of each ornament. She did really nice decorative stitching on them as well with variegated thread. It's just adorable! It's got a place of honor on my mantle this year and will become a decoration that's put up every Christmas. Sandi and I have decided to make our postcard exchange an annual tradition!

Here's the one I sent Sandi.

Someone asked me to describe how I did this. I (oops) neglected to (dang) take photos during the process (shoot). I'll do my best to give a verbal description here. I had a ball doing it, although I made some parts a little complicated for myself. Live and learn. Also, I did this during a sew day with my guild so I was away from all my usual supplies. I'd grabbed some that I thought I might use before I left, but had to improvise a bit here and there.

I had the basic image in my head of a crazy-quilt-esque background and a close-up, off-center pointsettia. From there, however, it was design-as-you-go. I decided to take the log-cabin-style approach to the crazy quilt piece.

  • I had with me a lot of green scraps from my scrap bin plus a couple of holiday fat quarters. I cut a bunch of strips that ranged from about 1 to 2" wide. They were mostly longer than 4" but not entirely--you can see where some of the shorter ones were used in the lower right. 
  • I used a piece of muslin as a background, and cut it slightly larger than 4x6", giving myself a little wiggle room in case things shrunk up on me with all the seams I knew I was going to have.
  • After a false start with the sewing first piece (see below), I realized that I really needed to stabilize the muslin before proceeding. I've decided beginning an experimental project with some seam-ripping is a sign of good luck. My story, going with it.
  • I happened to have some of the Ricky Tims Stable-Stuff Poly with me, which is great but isn't fusible. I had a very lightweight fusible of some sort so I cut the stabilizer to the same size as the muslin, then fused the muslin to the stabilizer. So much for needing room for shrinkage now, since the stabilizer would take care of that. Still, I like me some wiggle room.
  • I started with a yellow-green scrap that I cut into a random pentagon shape and then used just a dab of glue to help hold it on the stabilizer. (See the yellow-green peeking out from behind the flower? That was the starter patch.) Then I took my first green strip, lined it up right sides together along one edge of the yellow-green pentagon, and stitched. I pressed it open and then took my next strip and sewed it to the next edge, and so forth, moving around the sides of the pentagon in succession. I only trimmed anything that was hanging way over--for the most part, you're sewing over any extra bits and since this was all going onto a stiff background and nothing I was going to be trying to hand-quilt through, I didn't have to worry about close trims.
  • Since it's a rectangle, you eventually can no longer go in even rounds and have to just start filling in space with strips. I just had to think through a little bit to make sure the strips would cover the entire space I needed to cover and not leave me with a random blank spot in an awkward location. This is where I did find it helpful to have much longer strips that I'd then trim back to fit better after I sewed.
  • Once the background was complete, my friend pulled up a picture of a pointsettia on her cell phone and I looked at it for some direction--that's when I realized it had several layers of petals, some lighter than others. I had a couple of red fat quarters with me but needed something lighter. Fortunately, my sew-buddies were generous with their scraps! (I traded some back with them too--great way to get new-to-you-fabric!) I just free-handed the cutting of the petals, then used a dab of glue baste to hold them down until I could do the machine blanket stitch around the edge of each petal. Originally I was going to do french knots in yellow for the stamen in the center, but I wasn't sure how much would actually show once I put the binding on (see below) so I bagged that idea.
  • I played with a variety of decorative stitches on my machine along most of the seams. Hadn't used most of those stitches before. Some worked better than others, but hopefully Sandi didn't look too closely. :-)
  • Once it was done, I fused it all to a piece of Peltex double-sided fusible, then cut my backing fabric and fused that on, and then trimmed it all to a true 4x6" size.
  • Because of all the pieces on the crazy-quilt front, and because I now had several layers fused together with the stabilizer still in there (didn't want to risk ripping it off when all those seams were involved--and it doesn't have to be removed) I had to put a binding on it. I didn't think a decorative stitch would really work in that instance, and it would've been a real pill if I'd tried it. So I put a narrow binding on completely by machine, with a certain measure of success. That's something else I need a little more practice on. 
Sandi and I had agreed ahead of time that we'd send each other pictures of what our postcards looked like when they arrived in our respective homes so we could test out whether the postal system would damage them. No damage at all! Now, if we were to have used embellishments of any kind, using an envelope would definitely be safer. But I'm pleased to report that our experiment worked beautifully, we've started a new, wonderful holiday tradition, and we both had a blast.

So, my friends, start making postcards! They're a hoot!