Fabric ATC Tutorial

So you want to give making Fabric Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) a try? It’s easy and it’s a lot of fun. But be careful – they can be really addicting. This tutorial will show you how to make a collage style ATC using raw-edge applique methods.


First things first … supplies
You need a stiffener like Timtex, Vilene, Craft Pellon, or sturdy canvas
Scraps of fabric
Different threads and yarns
Embellishments (images, stamps,etc)
Double-sided iron-on fusible (like Wonder Under)
Temporary fabric adhesive (like 505 spray)
Fabric ATCs are made up of three layers, just like a quilt. The top layer is where you do your artwork, the middle layer is your stiffener, and the backing is for signing your work. Some people like to use quilt batting for their middle layer but I think it’s too flimsy so I prefer to use Timtex.
Here’s a few things I gathered to work with … a black and gold fabric for my base, a fuchsia scrap, an image I printed on muslin and then applied Wonder-Under to, a grey scrap left over from cutting out the image, some gold glitter thread (Superior Halo Gold), and a piece of Timtex.

ATC Tutorial 1

The first thing I did was cut the Timtex to 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches. Then I sprayed it with 505 Temporary Fabric Adhesive. You can also use an iron-on fusible instead of the spray. I prefer the spray, it’s quicker. Make sure to use a spray box so it doesn’t get all over everything. I use the top of a box that came from a ream of copier paper. The idea here is to have your base fabric attached to your stiffener one way or the other so it’s easier to work with.

ATC Tutorial 2

Lay the Timtex, sprayed side down, on the wrong side of your base fabric and trim to size.

ATC Tutorial 3

Compose your design. Here I cut down the fuchsia scrap, and trimmed the grey scrap into triangles. If you don’t have images to use you can always use a stamp with acrylic paint or pigment dyes. Just make sure to heat set as needed. You could also fussy cut a motif you like from a piece of fabric.

ATC Tutorial 4

Didn’t like that at all. Looked like an ice cream cone with ears. So I took out the fuchsia scrap and put a white one down instead. Cut another triangle too. Getting better.

ATC Tutorial 5

Took away a couple of the triangles and now I’m pleased with the composition. I ironed some Wonder-Under onto the white strip, then ironed that down to the black/gold fabric. Next I ironed down the image and triangles, which had already been treated with an iron-on fusible. Now it’s time to take this over to the sewing machine.

ATC Tutorial 6

I dropped my feed dogs and free-motion embroidered a starburst around the image, stitched down the triangles, and made some triangular shapes on the base fabric which echo the triangles on the white strip. The thread I used is a wide metallic sliver made by Superior. It’s called Halo and it’s really strong so it rarely breaks. Expensive though!

ATC Tutorial 7

I decided that I wanted a bit of color on the ATC so I switched to a red Halo thread. Set my machine up for a blanket stitch and sewed along the edges of the white strip. Then I zig-zag stitched around the center image. Even though I used the iron-on fusible on the middle pieces I like to stitch them down too. It finishes the edges and adds color too.

ATC Tutorial 8

Well, I’m pretty happy with this. Think I’ll stop now. I took a plain piece of muslin out of my scrap bag to use as a backing. I wanted something light colored because I’ll write on it. I sprayed the back of the ATC with 505 Temporary Fabric Adhesive and then placed it on the muslin and trimmed the muslin to size.

ATC Tutorial 9

Now it’s time to bind all three layers together. I tend to use a satin stitch for this, although you could bind it in other ways. You could hand couch fancy threads or yarn around the edge, bead it, use a blanket stitch, whatever you can think of. Although I would at least straight stitch close to the edge before I did any of those just to make sure the 3 layers are attached to each other. I set my machine for a narrow zig zag, set my stitch length to near zero, and then just sewed around the whole piece. I left the red Halo thread in the top and put white in the bobbin. I wanted a lighter color on the muslin back. Once it was bound I took a gel pen and wrote my particulars on the back of the card. You could always print your information on fabric and fuse it to your backing before you attach the muslin to the ATC if you don’t care for your handwriting. Mine’s not the neatest but I figure it’s not the backing that will be displayed (at least I hope not!).

ATC Tutorial 10

Finished ATC … I’m happy with this and it was a lot of fun to make!

ATC Tutorial 11

17 Responses to Fabric ATC Tutorial

  1. Kathy White says:

    Judi,
    Excellent tutorial! May I have your permission to print it out and reprint it for my embroidery guild? We are going to bo doing ATC’s at our next meeting and your tutorial completely fits the bill!
    Kathy White xx

  2. Jean Peeters says:

    Great article. My request is the same as the previous post. My Fiber Arts group would love the idea for a challenge. Would you mind if I printed it for them.

  3. Judi says:

    I’m really glad that you guys are finding this tutorial useful. Please go ahead and print it out and share it with your guilds. I’d love to see photos of what you make.

  4. Robinwolf Studio says:

    Hi Judi! One of the members of my online FABRIC ATC group found this site and showed it to me. It is just GREAT! I have written out instructions on this, but having the pictures also is just perfect. I see that you say we can print this out and use it – and I thankyou for that. I’m going to copy your URL and include it with my instructions for making FABRIC ATCS, if that is okay. My groups are for NEWBIES and this will help alot. Thank you so much! Robin

  5. Sandra Corson-walker says:

    Oh Judy,
    this is a great tutorial for ATC’s gotta share it with some friends.
    KUDOS!

  6. Sandy Whittley says:

    Hi, Judy! Great tutorial! I printed it off for my friend who will be going to EDAC with me, as she wants to make some ATCs to take with her. I was using Wonder Under, but I like the idea of the temporary spray a lot better – much faster! Great card, too!
    Sandy Whittley

  7. Lynn says:

    would love to be in an ATC or fabric postcard swap – any suggestions?

  8. Martine says:

    Hi Judy! 😀
    Would it also be okay for me to use your tutorial in Encore! Magazine? Of course I’ll give you all the credits! Best wishes, Martine

  9. Shirley B. says:

    Hi Judy,
    Thanks for the great tutorial! I was thinking of joining a fabric ATC swap – which I have never made- and googled fabric ATC and you were at the top!! 🙂
    By the way, I’m in Anchorage!

  10. Shirley B. says:

    OOps…sorry Judi! I just realized I had spelled your name wrong!

  11. Meagan says:

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at some fabric ATCs but wasn’t sure what to use as a “stiffener” so that they wouldn’t be floppy. I’ve bookmarked this post and will use it as a reference often!

  12. Barbra joan says:

    I’ve been making paper ATC’s for quite some time , but since I also love to sew this is for me. I’m so glad to find you site
    Barbra joan.

  13. Anonymous says:

    this tutorial was a little bit of a mess and i got confused on a lot of steps.

  14. Rachel says:

    Oh how beautiful, just what I was looking for! I’ll be linking.

  15. Lauren says:

    Gotta love you for sharing this tutorial and Google for leading me to your site!
    I just signed up for a beginners ATC swap and this is exactly what I needed to know.
    Thanks.

  16. Brenda Minor says:

    Hi. Just visiting to learn a little bit more about ATC cards. I had to comment on the design of this project. First, I want to say that it’s beautiful. I learned a lot from the steps you went through. However, I do want to say that I personally preferred the fuscia in, instead of out. IF you go back and take a look at it… It was very eyecatching and I loved it. You were right about the 3 triangle points though… One of ’em needed to go and your solution to change that was perfect. You have inspired me and I can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your creativity! I appreciate it so much.

  17. Gayle says:

    Loved this Anybody want to trade some cards? Fabric or not?? Gayle

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