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Reusable Fabric Cards

It’s coming up to Xmas time again, and again I have the struggle with the phenomenal wastage that occurs. We’ve already switched to reusable wrappings (fabric bags and roll-hemmed fabric for using like wrapping paper) and gift tags (I printed out a tag for everyone we’re likely to give gifts to, laminated them, and use them and the bags again next year) for all gifts, but the card situation always poses a problem.

I’m really not that into cards.  Any cards.  9 times out of 10 I don’t bother with birthday cards and such… I find them a waste…. Other than collecting them to put up somewhere and go “look how popular I am, I have all these cards“, really…. what purpose do they serve?  but the problem is, they are expected by a lot of people…. So I have to participate or be considered anti-social…. So I’m always left wondering what to do.  Do I go buy expensive recycled paper ones that won’t be as glossy and interesting (and are a lot more expensive).. do I just buy cards like everyone else and take solace in the fact I and some of the people I send to will recycle them…  or find another option…?

So I’m going to give fabric reusable cards a go.

My family all knows I’m a bit weird and hippyish… so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.  The only issue is whether or not they will just bin them after Xmas (making it a pointless exercise), or will actually save them to pass on again.  I guess I’ll never know (unless they send them back to me).  I suppose it’s worth a shot.

The only problem is, if I made them all from fabric, every year…. it’s a bit expensive, and it’s only an eco-friendly idea if the person getting the fabric card is going to reuse it.  So I’ll have to see how it goes I think…  I think most of the people I sent it to would not send it on to someone else (I think they would be too embarrassed at the idea of it) but if they each send them back to me as the card they would normally send me, then that’s one less card they will need, and I won’t need to buy paper cards, so it’s helping a bit.

So here’s my idea…  Now, those people who are into embroidery and patchwork and appliqué can go to town here… I’ve seen some cool felt ones with hand sewn Xmassy designs on the front.  I’m about as creative as a brick with it comes to stuff like that, so I’m sticking with printed cottons… also, I don’t want to spent 3 hours embroidering on a dodgy looking snowman, only to have the card tossed in the bin.  But, if you’re crafty, and can be bothered, go for your life.

But I have come up with a way to look somewhat cool, with minimal effort – put a pocket on the front to pop a candycane (or marshmallow santa or something) in.  hah!

(Some of you may notice it’s a weird looking candycane…. it’s a Star Wars one…. yes, go ahead laugh now….  and while you’re laughing at me, also know that’s from last year too!  Not because it wasn’t yummy, just because I forgot it was there.  But I have remedied that situation now… nom!)

So… To make a pockety card you’ll need……  One piece for the back, one piece for the front (I like them in contrasting colours), and the pocket bit.  Now here I’ve used one side candycane fabric and one side plain white, coz I’m stingy…. you can of course cut your pocket piece on a fold so it’s the same both sides and you won’t have to sew the 2 pieces together…

The card can be any size you like, but if you’re going to buy envelopes for them, then you’ll be wanting to make sure the envelope fits your card.  I plan to save some of the nicer paper wrapping paper we get on presents given to us this year, and make those into origami envelopes for sending out next year’s cards in.  If you want the measurements for this card (which you’ll want if you download my inserts below), they are:

Card outer  – 11.5cm wide X 16.5cm high

Card Pocket – 26cm wide X 9cm high

Now, when you cut these out… you’ll want to put the long/high side of the card outer on a fold.  The pocket part, you can either cut it so the long side is on a fold (so you don’t have to sew 2 pieces together).  Or if you’re wanting to save “wasting” the expensive nice fabric on the inside of the pocket, then cut one from a lining instead.  So if you do that – sew the lining and outer piece together (right sides facing), then flip it over and sew (or iron) it down neatly, and then you have one pocket piece (or you could hem it, but I find it easier to do it this way)

Put them together with right sides of the card outer facing, with the pocket inbetween.  Make sure the outside of the pocket is facing the same way as the outside of the card front.  If you put your pocket on the fold so it’s the same both sides, then you won’t need to worry about which side is which.  Sew around the edges, leaving a gap in the bottom edge open for turning.  Turn it, and you should get something like this – with a big long pocket.

Iron it flat, and then fold it in half and give it a really good iron on the fold…. you’re wanting to press a good crease into there.  Because then you run a line of stitching along that crease, to define where the card is to fold.


Almost done!  Now to do the part you write in.  Take a piece of thin ribbon (30cm long works well), and hand sew that into the centre back of the card, about 2cm down from the edge.  Just sew one little section.  It’s just to keep it attached

I’ve made some inserts you can download…  (they are a word file).  There’s the front with Xmas tree and holly border, and there is a “back”, which will print onto the right spot on the back of each insert, which says it’s a reusable card.  You can edit the wording if you like.  I cut them out just before the line, you can cut on the line if you prefer.

Xmas Card_Insert | Xmas Card_Insert Back

Or you can make them yourself. You just need some paper a little smaller than the half of the card.

Punch 2 holes in the top to thread the ribbon through.

If you laminate the paper inserts, people can use a fine-tipped permanent texta to write on the insert and it will rub off with a bit of metho on a cloth.  Making a completely reusable no-waste card.  But if you don’t think your card recipients will have metho or textas  don’t laminate them… they will be single use then, which is a shame, but less paper wastage than a regular card.  Whiteboard marker will likely rub off onto the fabric, and those markers are generally thick and not nice to write with, so I wouldn’t recommend those.

If you print several of the paper inserts and pop them in the back pocket, your recipient will have a fresh insert for writing their greeting on, and so on.

Personally I find writing in the cards to be troublesome…. what do I write?  If I write just the “dear so and so” and “from Obsi” that just looks lame… but “I hope you have a Merry Xmas and a happy new year” written on every card, just seems very boring and impersonal, but I have nothing else to say really, I’ve never been good at card writing….  I wish I could just print that on the inside and be done with it, but I suppose I should be good and personally write something :Þ

Now, these do ok at standing up on their own, because the pocket gives them a bit of rigidity… but if you want a really stiff card, or you’re not going to do the pocket, then I’d suggest adding something in there to stiffen it.  You could try interfacing, but to make it completely card-like, cut 2 smaller sections (10.5X14cm) from some clear plastic or thin cardboard (something like a cereal box, plastic from the lid of a gift box or something)

You want it a bit smaller than half of the card.. so it fits inside.. and what you’d do is when you sew the card up, leave the whole bottom edge open, sew that middle seam in, and then slide your 2 stabiliser things in each side, and then sew around the whole card, sewing closed the opening.


Plain card

You could just make a plain card with no pockets.  You could just tie on a few extra  inserts behind the one with your message on, so the person can take off the written one and use a fresh one.

Single Pocket Card

I did experiment with a pocket just on the back….  But I thought that made the front look very plain by comparison, and it was a bit of fart-arsing-around given that I think the pocket for lollies is a better idea…. Although – I put it on the back, but you could make it an inside pocket…. And it could hold the message insert instead of tying on with ribbon…..  It could work nicely if you wanted to appliqué the front or something…. so if you want to do that… here’s how:

Cut one card inner (11.5cm wide X 16.5cm high [on a fold]) and one pocket (13cm wide X 9cm high [on a fold]).  Then you need to cut the card outer in 2 pieces (12.5cm wide X 16.5cm high).

Fold your pocket piece over and lay it on one of your card fronts.  It should overlap slightly on the sides.  Lay the other card front piece good side down.  So it looks like this:

Sew down the right-hand side, so that when you open it out, you end up with this:

Then lay the card inner piece ontop, and sew around 3 edges, leaving the bottom open.

You will probably want to put something in to stiffen this card, so after you do the middle fold-seam (as mentioned in the tutorial above), shove that in each side.

Then just sew around the card to sew the bottom closed… add your ribbon and insert.  Done!


One thought on “Reusable Fabric Cards

  1. Ha, I feel exactly the same way about cards as you do. I usually don’t give cards. My family has never really been into them, so I’m glad for that. And I also never know what to write. The more is pre-printed, the harder it gets to add anything hand-written. So for me, the less is printed the better. So at least I can write “Merry Christmas” by hand (if I do in fact even get a card).

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