Happy New Year to all the lovely Artist Trading Card Swappers out there!
This week’s ATC swap guest post is from Carley in the USA, who has swapped along with us on several occasions. She has created a fantastically useful post about different ways of constructing an ATC card. I think it’s so useful – thanks so much Carley.
One important thing to consider when designing an ATC is how everything will come together before you start sewing. Since there is a pretty strict limit on thickness (1/8″), you should think about the interplay of fabric, stabilizer, and embellishments. In this post, I’ll give you some ideas on how to change up the layers and construction method to find the right combination for your ATC project.
First, let’s go over the main materials and methods for constructing an ATC. The most common fabrics for making ATCs include quilting cotton, muslin, cotton lawn, and, occasionally, canvas. The stabilizer is usually heavyweight interfacing or batting, though, as I’ll show below, there are other great options as well.
The two main construction methods are the sandwich method held together with fusible web and/or edge stitching and the pocket method which includes a seam allowance turned to the inside.
Deciding which combination of options to use depends on several factors, including your preferred fabric, available stabilizers, thickness of embellishments, etc. And any one of these choices might force the others. Here are a few situations you might encounter.
Let’s say that you want to use some fancy tiny tatted doilies on the front of your ATC. They are quite thick, so you try to figure out how to use them without exceeding the 1/8″ limit. You could decrease the overall thickness of the ATC by using thinner fabric, using a thinner interfacing, or by using the sandwich method of construction (seam allowances will add bulk at the edges). In practice, this might include using cotton lawn or muslin for the fabric and batting in between the layers.
Or, consider that your chosen fabric is very thin and needs extra stabilizing. You could use heavyweight interfacing if the embellishments don’t add much thickness or use thin plastic with the pocket method of construction if you use more textured embellishments.
A third situation you might face is that you are down to the wire, sewing at midnight, the last day for shipping is tomorrow, and you don’t have any of the standard stabilizers handy. Before you panic, check the fridge. Do you have any yogurt or sour cream in a plastic container? If so, here’s what you can do.
Empty the contents into another dish and wash out the container, then cut out the side panel out and place it between between two sheets of paper:
Turn your iron to the lowest setting and iron the plastic from each side until it’s flat. The paper may stick to the printed side of the plastic. Just tear it off and peel off any stuck bits.
Cut your plastic to size, making sure all the cuts are clean, and slip it into your ATC.
The plastic only works, of course, if you are using the pocket method of construction since a needle won’t like sewing through it. Leather (particularly split hide) and felt can also work for either construction method.
As a last resort, you could use polyester fiber-fill from your stash or steal a bit from a stuffed animal. Here’s how to do that.
Create a pocket the same size as your ATC (if using the sandwich method) or just smaller (if using the pocket method). Fill the pocket with fiber-fill so that it is a cushy mound then stitch the opening closed.
Starting at the center and working outwards (or in a random path as your mood dictates), quilt the pocket, adjusting the fiber-fill with your fingers as necessary. The resulting piece can be inserted between the outer layers in the same way as any of the traditional methods and will give your ATC a springy stability.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this mix of methods to construct your ATC and ideas on designing a card with the right thickness. I can’t wait to see what everyone makes. Happy Sewing!
Thanks so much Carley, and happy sewing to you too!