The new sewing machine has enchanted me. While I’ve made some spectacular mistakes that involve picking chewed-up thread bits out of the machine with a vacuum cleaner and buying a special pair of teensy scissors to reach into crevices and cut out thread, the machine is easy to use. Particularly if you use it for what it was intended to do–sew cloth.
I’ve been working on combining fabric and paper to make some postcards for the Japanese kids left without homes after the earthquake in Japan. You can help, too, the address is at the bottom of this post. But first, the postcards.
I purchased some floaty material called voile in a color that, if it were any more saturated, would make my pupils contract involuntarily. Because the material is so sheer, the color is, too. The images here seem to be more vivid than the real fabric. I’m trying to work outside my usual neutral color palette, and this was way out of my comfort zone.
Sewing the fabric to the card proved to be a little tricky. Voile is slippery. Sew it onto paper and it shifts, slides, bunches and stuffs itself into the place where the bobbin will eat it. So I purchased a piece of double-sided fusible and ironed the voile onto one side and the paper (to make it look like a postcard) on the other.
The double-sided fusible was thick enough so the paper was just a nice detail. I could have used single-sided fusible, but I wanted the postcard to look like a postcard and not like a discarded scrap from the sewing room.
The postcard needed a bit more life, so I sewed another layer onto the top half of the card. This gave it a deeper, more finished look.
The card is fun; it reminded me of an Arizona sunset. Which made me wonder what would happen if I drew a design on paper and covered the paper with the voile. No fusible, just machine stitching.
First I drew a cactus and a horizon line on a card in watercolor pencil to create a simple image. Right now I’m in love with cactus spines (only when they are firmly attached to the cactus), so I drew them in with a pencil, then went over them in a yellow glitter pen. That doesn’t show in the image above.
Then I adjusted a piece of voile so the red was across the top and the orange on the bottom of the card. When I stitched it on, it looked pleasing, but needed a bit more.
I sewed another piece of voile across the top third of the card. I used a bright yellow thread which blended better than I anticipated. I used an ivory bobbin thread to not contrast too strongly on the back of the card.
Finally, using a River City Rubber Works postcard rubber stamp, I finished the back of the card to look like a real postcard. The card on the top is the reverse of the first, plain postcard, the one on the bottom is the cactus postcard, ready to send!
Please join me in making postcards for the kids in Japan who have lost their homes, toys, beds, and clothing. I dubbed them Sakura (cherry blossom) children because the festivals around cherry blossoms were cancelled in Japan this year. Postcards are easy to make–you can use actual postcards, too, just add a cheerful message. You can send them to me in groups (in an envelope) or individually, directly to my mailbox. I’ll forward them to Japan.
P.O. Box 12183
Glendale, AZ 85318
—Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach who is learning how to use a sewing machine.