Last spring I participated in an inspiration card deck swap coordinated by Jessica Brogan. All the participants (over 100, I believe) took a pack of playing cards and created 52 unique art cards with inspirational sayings on them. These were mailed off to Jess, who threw them all in a big pile (wink, wink) and created decks of 52 different cards to send back to the participants. So what we received were great decks of art and inspiration, with a new card for each week.

It’s been such fun to see the variety of styles of art. As fart as I know, I was the only person to make mine with fabric (hey–I’m a fabric artist! What else am I gonna use???) Jess has asked me to create a tutorial for how I made mine and I must admit I did quite a bit of research before I began and couldn’t find much on how to do this project with fabric. There are tutorials on creating postcard sized ATC’s, but that’s not really what we’re doing here. My process is easy and fun and a great way to use scraps and play with fabrics and trims. I especially enjoyed the small scale, which allowed me the opportunity to experiment without a big investment in time, materials or mental commitment. So, this is PLAY time!


Instructions for Creating Fabric-Covered

Inspiration Cards

    • Playing Cards  This is a good way to use up incomplete decks of cards (yes, now there’s ANOTHER thing to hang on to because you might need it!)
    • Heat ‘n Bond  You can get a package of this stuff at craft stores, fabric stores, Walmart, etc. I bought the “Lite” kind, but you can get the regular stuff in the red package as well. (“Lite” is something you can sew through, but we’re not sewing, so it just doesn’t matter.)
    • Fabrics, trims…..whatever you want to play with. I’ve used some of my fabric-painting experiments on these cards. Keep in mind with the trims that these cards should be quite flat, so don’t use bulky buttons or 3 dimensional objects.
    • Paints, inks, etc. The accenting and embellishing is creative fun–have at it! Some suggestions are included later.
    • Inspirational phrases printed on paper, cut out
    • Glue. I use a standard craft glue which I water down a bit because it spreads easier. I pour a little in a dish or lid and paint it on with a paint brush. For this project even Elmer’s is fine. I don’t recommend glue sticks because I’m gluing laces and trims that I think the liquid stuff will work better with.
    • Scissors….nice sharp scissors for cutting fabric neatly. Do not, however, use your good fabric scissors because you will be cutting through paper which dulls scissors. I’ve got some little pointy Fiscars that I love. If you fabric frays when you cut it, your scissors are too dull.
    • Iron. The Heat ‘n Bond says to set the iron to Medium, no steam. 


    • You’ll notice the Heat ‘n Bond has a shiny side and a paper side. Lay out a set of 8-10 cards on the H’nB and mark the borders, then cut out that piece.
    • Lay the cards on the shiny side of the H’nB and cover with a piece of paper or parchment to keep from getting glue on your iron.
    • Press firmly, then let cool. 
    • Now you can cut a piece a piece of H’nB to apply fusible
      to the other side of the card, depending on what you plan to do with the back.



  • If you fold the cooled bonded cards, you can easily cut them apart. After you cut them, remove the backing paper. If the thin layer of bonding material starts to peel off, you can start peeling from a different place. If you have trouble with larger areas, the glue hasn’t bonded properly and you need to give it another bit of heat from the iron.


Now your cards are read to add fabrics, embellishments and Inspiration!



Card Fronts

For my first card, I traced the shape on the back of my fabric and cut it out on the lines.


Then back to the iron—lay the card with the bonded side up. Position the fabric piece on top of the card, then cover with pressing sheet. Press firmly for 5-10 seconds. Again, let this cool before handling (it’s hot!)


If you want to “test” a piece of fabric to see how it looks, just fold the fabric around the card to see where you prefer to position it.

As an alternative to the “trace and cut” instructions, position your card with the glue side against the wrong side of your fabric, right where you want it, and iron first, then cut out around the card.


Here are 3 of my cards, covered. Time for words of inspiration!



With the paint brush, spread a thin layer of glue on the back of your cut-out phrase. Position on the fabric-covered card and smooth out. I use an old credit card to smooth out any bumps or bubbles.

At this point you can add whatever embellishments seem appropriate. Here I added some trim I’d previously painted green with ink. I painted the back side with my craft glue, then placed in position to dry.



On my other card, I placed a piece of painted trim. Next I dug out my shimmery ink and added a few dabs and swirls.



Something I liked on my first deck was coloring the text strips. The bright white paper sometimes seems too bright, so I tried lightly coloring it to blend in better. On some I just lightly colored with a colored pencil. Keep in mind that markers, being wet, may smear the printer ink on your phrases.

Here I used a brown ink pad and a little dauber to “age” the paper. I think it blends nicely with the vintage-looking fabric and lace.


Card Backs

You can cover the backs of your card with fabric using the same instructions as before. Then you can glue a piece of paper with your info or, as I did here, just write on the fabric with a permanent pen or marker.

Another option is to glue a business card to the back. It’s nice that a standard business card fits almost perfectly on the back. Here I fused fabric first, then used craft glue to attach my business card to the back. In the future, I may just glue my business card, then fill the little gap with some ribbon or marker.


If you have any questions, please email me and I will do my best to clarify. I hope you have fun with this project! I’m thinking these would make great little stocking stuffers or a gift for a special friend.


10 thoughts on “Inspiration Card Deck Tutorial (Playing Cards Covered With Fabric)

  1. Melissa Dawson says:

    Hi Amy, Thank you so much for the inspirational tutorial with the fabric cards. Love using fabric in unexpected places. My question is what is considered the front and the back of the cards? No one in my family agrees on this and is it important? Seems like a silly question but I’d like your opinion.
    Thanks for your time.
    Aloha, Melissa

    • Thanks, Melissa! As to your question, the front/back of the cards don’t matter. You won’t see anything of the original card when you are done, anyway. But as to the front/back definition, I believe the front of the card is the side with the number. Hope this helps!

    • Thanks for your question, Karenita. Using a fusible material like heat ‘n bond or steam-a-seam will make your silk fuse smoothly. Be sure to press your scarf before applying the fusible. Hope this works for you!

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