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.
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.
Lay the Timtex, sprayed side down, on the wrong side of your base fabric and trim to size.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!).
Finished ATC … I’m happy with this and it was a lot of fun to make!