18 November 2021
Learn how to create charming mixed media folk-art Christmas postcards, inspired by Victorian stitched cards in this step-by-step tutorial by textile artist, Anne Kelly.
This project is highly personal – tailor your mixed media postcard to send a festive message to someone special.
DIY mixed media Christmas postcards
By Anne Kelly.
“Your materials don’t have to be the same as mine. I like to use old folk-themed textiles that I'm often gifted or have found in charity shops. My backing fabric is simply an old tea towel, but plain linen or calico would work too.”
You will need
- Background fabric – heavy, colourful & seasonal
- Backing fabric
- Seasonal birds from a Christmas card or paper napkin
- Organza – small piece in any design
- Selection of lace, ribbons, buttons & beads
- Fabric stamps
- Old fabric calendar
- Squares of fabric with ‘To’ and ‘From’ printed on
- Glue stick
- Selection of machine & hand embroidery threads
Top tip! Choose your fabrics and colours carefully. I've deliberately chosen seasonal reds and greens for my postcards. I selected two vintage napkins from my collection – the paper napkin was one I had saved from a Christmas get-together. Search your stash and see what you can find!
- Sewing machine, with ability to lower feed dogs
- Darning/embroidery foot for free-motion stitching
- Zigzag foot for decorative stitching
- Embroidery needle
1. Cut a postcard sized piece of your background fabric. Remember much of the fabric will be covered, so it needs to be colourful and/or striking enough to stand out.
2. Cut the backing fabric so it’s smaller than your background fabric. Cut images from the paper napkins and Christmas cards and arrange on your backing fabric. Use organza to cover and protect. Lightly pin the layers together.
3. Set your machine up for free-machine embroidery with the darning/embroidery foot attached and the feed dogs lowered. Free machine around the edges of the bird. Then fill in extra details using a variety of coloured threads.
“I've used red, green, black, and brown threads to add contrast and shading.”
Top tip! If you struggle to see the edges of your bird through the organza, first outline with a thin marker to make it clearer.
4. Once the bird embellishments are complete, free machine around any remaining shapes/motifs so some stand out more than others.
5. Raise your feed dogs and switch to a zigzag foot. Use a contrasting colour of thread and a decorative stitch around the edge of the fabric.
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6. Once you're happy with your stitched bird embellishments, arrange the organza-covered backing fabric on the background fabric. Add pieces of lace and the fabric stamps. Lightly pin and/or glue before carefully stitching everything in place.
7. Hand stitch using coloured embroidery threads across the piece to add texture and colour.
Top tip! Blanket and running stitch are good ones to use as they fit with the folk-art theme.
8. Stitch down buttons and other embellishments – buttons, ribbons, beads, etc.
9. Cut out a piece of the fabric calendar to use to back the postcard.
10. Attach the fabric piece with ‘To’ and ‘From’ with hand stitching. Pick out a suitable colour of thread and a decorative stitch to turn this patch into a feature.
11. Pin then stitch in place with your machine. Work around the edges of the two joined pieces again with a decorative stitch. Pick out thread colours to make it more festive.
12. Have fun creating a selection of festive postcards to send personalised messages to friends and family. Or make smaller ones to use as bespoke gift tags on presents.
Find out more
Anne Kelly is an award-winning textile artist, author, and tutor who loves to honour and repurpose old textiles, using hand and machine embroidery then adding vintage thread and string for texture. Her work has been described a ‘small worlds’, trapping and preserving pieces of embroidery and objects within it.
See more of Anne's projects in Stitch issue 124 where she repurposes vintage textiles to embellish a tote bag and in Stitch issue 127 where she turns travel memorabilia into a handy passport cover for future adventures!