If you’ve ever been caught futzing around in your purse for a postage stamp or lamented about how annoying it is to buy stamps, then you’ll like this project. Jo and I were talking about the inconveniences of stamps a couple of weeks ago when she came up with a great idea. Why not make a little postage stamp holder that not only keeps them tidy in your purse or desk drawer, but is also really cute?
The more we thought about it, the more we thought this would make a fantastic Christmas gift for hard-to-shop-for people like teachers, co-workers, neighbors, or grandparents. One thing everybody always needs (and nobody wants to buy) is postage stamps, so they are guaranteed to love it if you give them a cute holder with a couple books of stamps inside!
To pull something as ordinary as a stamp holder off as a gift, it’s gonna have to look really great, though. Enter Jo’s stamp collection from childhood. She painstakingly rifled through her shoebox full of canceled stamps and sorted them into categories. We scanned them in and created six different downloadable, themed images for you to choose from for the cover of your stamp holder.
When you download your chosen PDF, you’ll notice that it has two pages in it. One shows the image normal, and the other shows it reversed. Why? Well, you’re going to be using this design on iron-on transfer paper, and that requires printing in reverse. Many printers will let you specify while printing that you want the image to print backwards, but some (like mine) don’t. In case your printer doesn’t have reverse settings, you can print the “reverse” page. But we thought that you might also want to use these neat stamp images for other projects (like our custom notepads), so we included a normal version, too!
Okay, so once you’ve picked and downloaded your themed image, print it onto a piece of iron-on transfer paper according to package directions. Then cut it out and iron it (face down) on to a piece of plain, white fabric. We used a scrap of an old bedsheet, which worked perfectly.
You may notice that we cut the white fabric to size before applying the iron-on. We realized afterwards that we should have left the white fabric large and then cut it down later. Why? First, it was really hard to line up the iron-on with the fabric, and we had to be careful. Second, the iron-on “goo” got all over the towel we were working on. Oops! While Jo was busy picking the goo off her towel, I got busy cutting a piece of white cardstock to 7″ x 8″.
Take your white fabric with the ironed-on image and trim it to 7 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. Find a coordinating piece of fabric (we used dark green) to serve as the liner and cut that to the same size. Test to be sure that your white cardstock is slightly smaller than the fabric — it should leave you room for a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides. Put the cardstock aside for now, and stack your two pieces of fabric, right sides together.
At this point, I am obligated (and delighted) to tell you that Jo did all of the sewing for this project. She took our Sewing 101 video series to heart and has turned into quite the seamstress. Great job, Jo!
Sew almost all the way around your square, with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 3″ gap on one end.
Lay your cardstock on the piece again to make sure that it fits inside your stitches. If you were a little wild and crazy with your 1/4″ seam allowance, you might have to trim the cardstock a little to make it fit. Trust me, you want to do this now, and not after you flip it inside out!
Once you’re sure the cardstock will fit, go ahead and turn the fabric inside out. To get the corners nice and smooth, you might want to use the end of a pencil or paintbrush to poke the fabric gently from the inside.
Now roll up your cardstock a little and stuff it inside the gap you left in your stitches. Once it’s inside, unroll it and smooth it out until the whole thing is flat. This cardstock will give your stamp holder some much-needed sturdiness. To close up the gap, tuck the fabric ends inside and pin it in place.
To sew the gap shut and also give a more finished look to your holder, top-stitch all the way around the piece. We used red thread here to really make the stitches stand out, which we think looks extra cool.
Now you’ve got this great little rectangle of stiff stamp-covered material and you’re just a few folds away from it being a pouch. Start by folding it in half. Keep in mind that the rectangle isn’t exactly square, so make sure that the you fold it so that the two shorter sides come together and the two longer sides are folded in half. (I hope that makes sense!)
Now fold each of the sides in towards the center, about an inch or so, depending on the size of the book of stamps you want to put inside. We’ve noticed that the Christmas stamps are on a slightly larger sheet than the regular Forever stamps, so if this is a gift, check your stamp size before you fold!
Just two more steps and you’ll be done. First, you want to sew a snap or piece of Velcro to each side of the holder so that it can be held shut. Then you want to sew down the sides of the flaps with top-stitching to secure them in place. I strongly suggest that — unlike us — you attach the fastener before you sew down the flaps. It will be much easier that way. Don’t you love it when we make mistakes so you don’t have to?
The holder is now done and ready to be given as a gift. We especially love how the plastic-y feel of the iron-on transfer made ordinary bed sheet fabric almost resemble vinyl or leather.
A book of stamps will slide right in the flaps on either side and the pouch is so easy to tuck into your purse or desk. If you happen to be a fan of folding your books of stamps into thirds so they are smaller, you could make a smaller holder to suit them. Just cut your fabric down to a smaller size from the start.
I hope Jo puts one of these in my stocking!