Adventures of an ATC Newbie

This week’s ATC guest post is from Helen of Midget Gem Quilts – thanks so much Helen for your fab personal take on the fun (and stress!) of making a first ATC (how come an ATC is ALWAYS smaller than you think??). 

When I saw that Ali was taking names from those interested in another ATC Swap, Season 7, I leapt at the chance. For me Season 6 was my first, an ATC newbie. when Ali asked if there any interest in writing a tutorial, I leapt at that chance too. Mine is from a slightly different perspective, not so much how to make an ATC, but more how not to make an ATC. Or an anti-tutorial if you prefer.

So, children, sit quietly and listen to your Aunty Tutorial. And, if you all behave, Ali will make you some of her delicious raspberry ice cream.

First get your ATC, use a business card as the base. Keep it simple. Just use a business card, or a coffee loyalty card if you prefer. Marks and Spencer do a nice one, the green will be covered anyway. Raymond Blanc Brasserie do a nice loyalty card with a nice weight. Don’t faff about as I did cutting scrap booking card, some will be too light, some will be too heavy, and it’s a pain having to look for a set square and a pencil.

Helen ATC pic 1

Next, choose your base fabric and mark it off. Last year I carefully drew around the card on the reverse of the fabric and left a ¾in margin. This year I will be tacking around the outline of the card, and leaving a generous overhang.

Helen ATC pic 2


Helen ATC pic 3

Last year, I appliqued and embroidered my ATC. But I went to mount it and it had all shifted about ½in upwards. I have no idea how this happened. There was not enough fabric to draw over the back of the card and secure. I can only assume the embroidery had tightened it all up.

Use a very thin wadding. Obvious but not so obvious. Even thin wadding is bulky by the time you had a front, a back and a label.

Don’t bother sewing on a binding. I had to due to the lack of fabric at the top. I carefully hand stitched my binding, every so carefully round the corners. But …. When I tried to pull it tight at the back it took on a life of its own. I laced the back rather like a Victorian corset, as tight as I could. The binding which had sat in place ever so neatly at the front was now all higgledy piggledy. By this time the sweat is breaking, the postage date was getting ominously close.

Helen ATC pic 4

On the reverse I used a little double sided tape, again from the scrap booking box. (I love when these hobbies interconnect), a little bit of wadding and then my backing. All of a sudden my nice slim ATC/business card had ballooned in a fat little pillow. Add on the label, and that’s another layer. Never mind an envelope, this would have needed a parcel box all of its own.

Helen ATC pic 5

After posting….My partner was very gracious and said she loved her ATC. It was made with good feeling and I was happy with the embroidery and applique on the front. Little bits of Liberty and lots of French knots. I have fallen in love with French knots all over again. But, it could have been neater, and slimmer…. A little like myself I suppose.

Oh, and one last obvious thing, flag the email with your swap partner name and address. Obvious isn’t it?

And now for this year. “Favourite”.  I’m going with one of two options. Lighthouses and the seaside, or a big cream bun. The Lighthouse is at the Gobbins, Whitehead, Northern Ireland. The cream bun is from a cream tea I enjoyed last year, one of many.

Helen ATC pic 6

Helen ATC pic 7

Whatever you do have fun. And as you have all listened so well to Aunty Tutorial, enjoy your Auntie Ali’s raspberry ice cream. I hope to make some this weekend.

10 thoughts on “Adventures of an ATC Newbie

  1. Thanks, I found this so useful …and entertaining! As my only thoughts so far as an ATC newbie is that I might start by doing a nice border in the correct dimensions and work from there! I learned a lot before I’ve even started thanks.

  2. So many points I can relate to. I had to lace the back on my Christmas ATC like a Victorian corset too, the fabrics I chose were too “slippery”. 🙂 And I learned the hard way about not cutting my base fabric too soon and too close to the marked edge. Thank you for sharing this lovely post!

  3. I thought about using fabric on ATC cards too but maybe by spring. Working on a few for christmas.Trying to get a head start. Thanks for sharing. I’m a newbie at this as well.

    1. Hi there Deborah ! Glad you liked it , I’m just hoping my attempt this year will be less as we say “quirky”

  4. Very entertaining, thank you! I made three ATCs for my first round, trying different edging techniques 😉 We do put ourselves under so much pressure!

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