Staying In Touch

Marianne Parsons
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Summer 2021

Keeping in touch these days requires innovative thinking. Homemade fabric greeting cards are a welcome way to do this. They can be as complex or simple as you wish, personalized to fit each recipient, and can usually be made using fabric and accessories from your scrap bin. The very process of creating them is healthy for the mind. A friend said, “What I like about card making is that it isn’t a major project, so the investment of creative energy and fabric is just about right for a bad day!”

What do you need to make cards? Cheerful fabric scraps, a sewing machine, stiff paper (card stock or file folders), a glue stick, envelopes and simple designs. I use standard sized envelopes so that the cards can be regifted. I also keep used machine needles for this job because stitching paper dulls needles.

The simpler designs are stitched directly onto the card stock and give the recipient a surprise when the card is opened. Fraying raw edges on the fabrics and imperfect stitching add to the charm. Every card is unique.

For more complex designs, I first layer a background fabric on a slightly smaller piece of stabilizer. All of the stitching is completed on this unit before it is glued to the card stock. This method also allows you to remove stitches to fix mistakes, if need be!

With a simple stitched phrase, these cards can say it all – happy birthday, cheer up, or congratulations. And any number of topics, such as garden produce and animals, can be multi-gender appropriate as well.Every year, I come up with a new design for my six grandchildren’s birthday cards. They preserve them in their memory boxes. Who knew? When were very young, the topic choice was easy. Now they are all teenagers or adults and we don’t see them enough to come up with inspiring card topics. Last year, I based my design on fashion runners currently in vogue. This year, I was caught off guard, and had to scurry to come up with a theme. Since I’d been working with scraps on my table, I stitched up a leaf design and sent the first one off. I know the boys are going to wonder what I was thinking!

Christmas last year also presented a challenge. My mother, who is 102 years old, decided not to decorate her apartment for Christmas as no visitors were allowed. That prompted me to make her a cloth Christmas tree, complete with decorations, that she could move around her place at will. The size? A 4″ x 6″ fabric postcard featuring a bold sequined tree that she could see clearly.

My quilting friends planned to exchange greeting cards over the winter, so that required something a little more sophisticated. I have been the lucky recipient of little boxes of fibre ‘treasures’ from friends who have downsized so I paired a hand-painted background and a thread lace tree from one box and a group of Angelina fibre swatches and an organza circle from another to create my 5″ x 7″ postcard. It reminded me of a misty landscape and I knew that the recipient would appreciate the source of the components.There are always fabric bits left on the table after a project. If you are sensible, they go into the garbage. If you have an addiction like mine, you store them in little bags, ready for just the right occasion. One boring day, I took my orange scraps and created a multipurpose fall tree design. It didn’t make a dent in the pile, but it made me feel good. Now I still need to refine next year’s birthday cards, so I’d better get my thinking cap on.

To make my cards reusable I cut a piece of copy paper half an inch smaller than the folded card dimensions and use one very small dab of glue at the top to fasten this liner inside the card for the written message. On the back of the card, I add a label that says: To regift this card, replace the liner and the envelope.

Fabric is Marianne Parsons’ current medium of expression. She is drawn to pictorial work and any materials and techniques that achieve this. She lives in Oliver, BC. See her artwork in the fibreartnetwork.com artist gallery.

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