Fabric Postcards with Packing Tape Transfers

I mentioned in my last post about making packing tape transfers that I thought I might use them in a postcard swap from ihanna’s blog.  Very frequently, when I enter something like this, I end up making something very far away from my original idea.  In this case, though, I went with what had been my first idea.  The pile of postcards above are my result.  Here is an overview of how I put them together.

First, I made several packing tape transfers- check out my previous post linked above for the details.  I then pulled out my big box of hand-dyed fabric scraps left over from previous projects, dye experiments, etc., and tried to match them up with the transfers that I had.  I decided to go with a size of 4-1/2″ by 6″ and cut out what would become my base, some stiff interfacing.  I used non-fusible Peltex because that’s what I had ( I challenged myself to use only materials I already had in the house for this project):

I then cut out the fabric for the front and back of each postcard as well as a small piece of off-white muslin that I decided to use as a frame for each transfer.  Because each transfer varied in size, I hand-cut this.  Here’s a stack of all of the materials for one postcard: address-side fabric, Peltex, front fabric, muslin and packing tape transfer:

After cutting everything out, my first step was to use a couple of strips of Heat and Bond to adhere the main fabric to the Peltex.  This might have been a good place to use fusible Peltex or even full sheets of Steam-a-Seam or Misty Fuse, but once, again, I was determined to use just what I had on hand:

I repeated this with the rectangle of muslin, which I placed by eye.  I like general symmetry, but I don’t like it to be too perfect, so I don’t really measure most things like this:

I then placed the transfer on top:

For some reason, I forgot to take pictures of the next step, but it’s easy to explain.  I sewed around the packing tape transfer through all of the layers using a small-ish zig zag stitch.  I then switched thread colors to add a bit more depth and sewed around the outside of the muslin with a zig zag stitch.

At this point, I wrote  the addresses on my postcard backing fabric.  I wanted to do this before I sewed it all together so that if I made a mistake, I wouldn’t have to take the whole postcard apart to fix it.  In the past, I’ve also made fabric address labels that I ironed on after the postcard is all sewn together, but I didn’t want to do that this time. Once again, I ironed a couple of strips of Heat and Bond onto the postcard base.  Before doing this, I put down a piece of parchment paper so that there would be no chance of having the packing tape transfer melt or stick to my ironing board cover.  I don’t know if it would have really been a problem, but I didn’t want to take a chance.

I then sewed around the entire postcard with a wider zig zag stitch.  Here’s a close-up of one with all stitching finished:

A picture of all of the postcard reverse sides:

Here are a few pictures of the postcards a little closer-up:

These were really fun to make and now I just need to get some stamps to get them in the mail in the next day or two.   I’ve also been enjoying looking at all of the links showing the creativity of some of the other people participating in this swap. Check out the link to ihanna’s blog at the top of this post  to see the blogs of other swappers and a flickr pool of some of the images- lovely eye candy to me!

Packing Tape Transfers

I recently heard someone mention “Packing Tape Transfers” in passing on an internet list.  It seemed assumed that everyone knew what that was, but I had never heard of it.  After some googling, I figured out the basic principle (which is very simple!) and began experimenting.  This is the sort of craft I love because it’s easy, I already had all of the materials needed, and the result can be used in many different ways.

The materials:

Packing tape and magazines

I read in a few places that you should use pages from good quality magazines, but I’m not really sure what that means.  Some that were very glossy that I would have thought were high quality didn’t do as well as some that were more matte made out of recycled paper. I also successfully made one out of a cartoon on very low quality newsprint and another from an image on my power bill.  All I can really recommend is to experiment and see what happens.  You really won’t be out much if an image fails.

First, find an image you like and cover it with packing tape.  This image is from an ad in Mary Jane’s Farm magazine, which happens to make very nice transfers.  The packing tape is just regular old packing tape available everywhere.  I’ve used two different brands and both worked fine.

Next, trim the paper to match the tape and smooth down really well.  I use a combination of pressing with my fingers and also passing over it a couple of times with my grocery store club card:

Next, put the images in a dish of water.  I read all different lengths of time, from 15 minutes to an hour.  I usually leave them soaking for half  an hour or so.

The next step is my favorite part.  Gently rub off the paper from the back.  I usually do this one time and then soak it in fresh water and go over it one more time.  Some papers almost dissolve and others take a bit more work.

And finished- You can see how translucent the finished image is.

I usually give them one final rinse and then allow them to dry spread out on a dish towel.  Sometimes when they are dry there may still be little bits of paper and sometimes I re-soak them and other times I leave it as it doesn’t seem to make that much difference.  Sometimes there is still just a bit of stickiness on the transfers, so I store them in a single layer and then roll them up in wax paper.

Here is a recent batch:

These can now be used in a variety of ways- glue them to paper, use them in scrapbooks, cover a journal with them, or as my current plan is, sew them to something else.  I’m participating in a postcard exchange and plan to layer these with some of my hand-dyed fabrics and stitch them all together.  I made a sample out of a transfer I didn’t particularly love to make sure it would work.  In this sample, I sewed the transfer to a piece of muslin that I’d bonded to a piece of heavy interfacing (Peltex).

If I like my final results and end up going with this for the postcard exchange (organized by ihanna’s lovely blog), I’ll post them here.  And if I go a completely different way for my postcards, I’ll post that here, too :).