You can totally make your own linen invitations

May 12 | Guest post by MandaKR


These are my DIY linen invitations. Keep reading to find out how to make these yourself. Mine are pretty offbeat lite, but imagine the possibilities — badass pirate invites? Renaissance scrolls? Eco no-paper invites?

Okay, ready? These are time consuming, but really not hard.

What you'll need:

  • Fabric: I used a 3.5oz per yard linen, specifically this one. Cotton should work too, but stay away from anything stretchy, anything too heavy, or anything shiny. You want a nice, relatively lightweight natural fiber.
  • Freezer paper: You can find this stuff on the bottom shelf of the supermarket. Don't get waxed paper; it has to be freezer paper.
  • Starch: I used some old school Argo from a yard sale. Just about any laundry starch should do.
  • Paint: I used standard craft store acrylic paint. Get two, just in case. Joann's will not have the same color as Michael's — ask me how I know.
  • Plexiglass or cardboard: Something to make a painting guide.
  • Iron: With steam!
  • Ironing board: Preferably a tall, comfortable one.
  • Cutting mat.
  • Rotary cutter and extra blades: you'll be best friends in no time.
  • Craft knife: X-acto, box cutter, etc; pick your poison.
  • Ruler(s): I like having both a metal one and a wide, clear one.
  • Inkjet Printer: Cheap is probably fine, but laser won't work.
  • Paint brush: Cheap is fine.

Step 1: Figure out your basic design
It doesn't need to be finalized yet, but you need to decide how big the invitations will be, what size paper you'll print on, and how many invites you can fit on a page. Mine were 5"x7" finished size, and I printed 2 on 8.5×11 paper.

Step 2: Cut the fabric
First, figure out the size to cut. Don't cut the exact printing size — cut a bit larger. To print 8.5×11, I cut 9×12 pieces. Use your rotary cutter and a wide plastic quilting ruler to cut the pieces you need, plus a few extra.

Step 3: Cut the freezer paper
Use a craft knife and ruler to cut pieces the same size as your fabric (9×12 in my case).

Step 4: Starch the fabric
This step is slightly optional, but I recommend it. It makes the fabric just stiff enough that your recipients can hold the invitation easily, plus it gives it a nice smooth finish.

Basically just follow the directions on your box/can of starch. For the basic Argo starch, I made the liquid heavy starch version, let it cool just a tad, then dumped in my pieces of fabric. I smoothed them onto towels and let them dry halfway.

Step 5: Iron the fabric
First, find something good on Netflix. Take your half dry pieces of fabric and start ironing. I won't sugarcoat it — this takes almost forever. Try to keep the fabric rectangular — as opposed to letting it get all skewed. If it's horribly skewed or bubbled when you finish, dunk it back in the starch solution and try again. Use a hot iron and make sure each piece is really dry and flat when you're finished. There will be funny little starched threads sticking out from all sizes of your fabric, and that's okay.

Step 6: More ironing!
Okay, more tedium. Find another something good on Netflix and find those pieces of freezer paper you cut. Lay one piece of freezer paper on one piece of fabric with the waxy/plasticy side toward the fabric. Line them up as best you can and iron until the pieces stick together nicely. This is the magic of freezer paper! You should now have sheets that are fabric on one side and paper on the other.

Step 7: Trim the paper/fabric sandwiches
Remember how you cut these a little too big? Now you need to trim them down. Annoying, I know, but it gets rid of all of the little starched threads sticking out, and it solves any slight fabric shrinkage or alignment issues. Use the rotary cutter and wide plastic ruler, and be careful to end up with nice right angles.

Here are the nice edges we worked so hard for.

Step 8: Finalize your design
Head back to the computer and finalize the design. These are obviously not simple to redo, so proofread about 700 times.

Step 9: Print!
Okay, time to run these sheets of fabric and freezer paper through your unsuspecting printer. (Disclaimer: This might ruin your printer and I can't be responsible for that. Keep in mind that there's some risk and you might not want to use the million dollar printer at work. I used a $30 Canon Pixma and got along swimmingly.) Do a couple of test prints. Make sure the paper feeds smoothly and that your text/images all look good. Tweak the design if necessary, then print them all! I had no issues with smudgy ink, but if you have tons of color, you might want to lay these out and let them dry.

I was a little delinquent with pictures earlier in the process, but here is more or less what you should have at this stage:

Step 10: Make a guide to paint
I chose to paint around the edges of my invites, partly for the look and partly to control fraying. The starch should control fraying pretty well, so if you like you can skip the painting. If you want to paint, you need a guide. I made mine from plexiglass. I had to sand the edges smooth and glue a little handle to it. I also scored lines that lined up with key parts of my invites so that I could line it up easily on each one. I printed (on paper) a version of my invites WITH the colored border, so that I could make my guide.

Step 11: Paint
Place your guide and use the craft paint to paint around all four sides. The edge next to the guide needs to be nice (or not, depending on the look you're going for), but the other edge of the paint won't show. Clean the guide every now and then so you don't smear paint everywhere. Here's my workstation at this stage:

And here is one page, fully painted:

Step 12: Trim (again!)
Using the rotary cutter and wide clear ruler again, trim the invitations to their final size. I liked the clear 6" wide ruler here, because you can line it up with lines on the invite and avoid measuring every single time.

Step 13: Peel
Now just gently peel the freezer paper away from the fabric and throw it away. You really could do this before or after step 11.

Step 14: Finished!
That's it! You should now have a pile of beautiful, handmade, tactile invitations that your guests darn well better LOVE.

  1. Silly question, you print directly onto the fabric side, correct?

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    • If you look at step 13 in the tutorial, you can see her peeling the paper off the fabric. There's no visible ink on the paper or the back side of the fabric, so I think that the answer to your question is "yes." :)

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    • Related to that question: what's the point of the freezer paper if you print directly on the fabric?

      Really cool though!

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      • The freezer paper helps keep the fabric stiff when going through the printer. Otherwise it would crumple or stretch.

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        • Yes, exactly! You can also tape fabric to paper to print on it (I've just used scotch/cello tape), but that seemed even more fiddly and time consuming for a project of this size.

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    • it depends on your particular printer– you should do a test run on a regular sheet of paper first. just mark one side on the front of a piece of paper, print a document with a few words on it, and see if it prints face-down. if it does, then you know you need to put the side you want printed on face up. vice versa if it stays face-up in the printer. :)

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  2. These are gorgeous! Most certainly adding these to the "invitations" folder. So if you print directly onto the fabric, what is the purpose of ironing the freezer paper on? Just to help the fabric get through the printer?

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    • Yup. The freezer paper keeps the fabric stable and gives the printer something to grab onto. If you tried to feed just fabric, I imagine you'd have a pretty epic paper jam. Err, fabric jam.

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  3. I kinda want to send out second invitations after seeing these. Soo lovely!

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  4. Just pointing out that the iron, the cutting mat, and the rotary cutter all link to the iron. XD

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  5. These invitations are beyond awesome. Just wanted to say that I really love this blog!

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  6. These are absolutely fantastic – and I applause your having the patience to do all that!! I'd never manage that, haha. :)

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  7. SUCH a cool idea! I'm going to try a test run of this for about 20 birthday invites in a simplified version.
    I plan on just laying a couple yards of fabric on a large board on the garage floor, spraying it with starch and letting it dry, then laying all my freezer paper side to side on the fabric and ironing it all at once directly on the board.
    Then I just have to cut around each paper and print! (Wish I had the time to do the paint but I don't…) Of course this is just a fantasy in my brain, I'll let ya know how it went ;)
    Thank you so so much!

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    • How did that simplified version go? I thinking about doing this for my wedding invites and I was wondering…

      Thanks

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  8. Great idea! I'm considering this. One question: Would I be able to print in color, or does this just work with B&W invite designs?

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    • It would definitely work with color! I did a bunch of color tests and just ended up liking the b/w design with the orange border best.

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  9. I love it so much that I really may have to use it. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Wow, that's fantastic! Good Job Amanda! Time to try this on some upholstery fabric. , now if I could only convince kinkos to let me use their monster plotter with some freezerbacked linen…. Maybe if I slip them a fiver…

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  11. Great idea! I wonder if you could take this to a bigger scale and make tea towel invites? Like Royal Wedding memorabilia :D

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    • Maybe if you applique the printed part to a tea towe? I guess it depends on what size the printer can handle

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  12. Silly question, but how would you mail these? Love the idea, but not sure if you would fold it then be able to put it in an envelope or leave as is and find a unique size envelope. You are seriously talented, thanks for the great step by step instructions!

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    • I made these to fit in standard A7 envelope and just slipped them in flat. It seemed to work fine, and they're so light that you don't have to deal with the extra postage that some wedding invites require.

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  13. HOLY INVITATIONS!!! That is the coolest idea I have ever seen (for stationary)! I am totally gonna have to try that. Shoot I may just try this for just sending out some supper cool letters to those I love. And Annie (a few comments above this one) had a great idea with the painting on them. Wow, great post. Thank you!

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  14. You can also buy inkjet printable fabric sheets.

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    • I think those are about $3 for one 8.5×11 sheet – too rich for my blood!

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  15. These are so awesome! I love this idea. One question I have… Did you draw the flower design yourself, or did you find it/purchase it somewhere?

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    • That one's a slightly long story. My bridesmaids are wearing dresses made with an Amy Butler fabric, and I traced the fabric in Illustrator to use for various things. The flower on the invitations is from the fabric, but altered a little.

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  16. These are great and totally unique! What fonts did you use?

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  17. How many yards did you use to make how many invitations?

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  18. These are really gorgeous!

    I would like to print on to vintage/ old lady style cotton handkerchiefs but I am worried that they raised edge of the fabric would catch on the printer.. Do you think this would work/ kill my printer?

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  19. You probably wouldn't be able to print on the handkerchief because of the raised edges, but you could order a custom stamp with your design on it (it would have to be a one-color design) and stamp each handkerchief.

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  20. I have been drooling over these for a while now. I would love to make them, but I have no idea how much fabric to buy.

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  21. I really want to try these! Any idea how much fabric yeilds how many invitations?

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  22. These are LOVELY! About how much did everything cost?

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  23. Wow! Very impressive Amanda! So creative!

    I was wondering how many invitations you made out of a certain amount of materials, around how much it cost you, and also where you got the font of the invitation's body? My daughter is getting married soon and we decided to make the invitations unless it will be much cheaper just to buy them. Thank you!

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  24. I just did this today the invites turned out great! I bought 2m of 100% cotton, it took my mom and I 3.5 hours of starching/ironing. We couldn't find any liquid starch so we had to use spray, it took about 5 sprays/irons on each side- the key is the heat! Use a hot iron and iron until the starch is dry. We made about 80 invites with 2 meters of material. When we tried to put it through the printer the freezer paper kept coming off so we ended up just putting the cotton at 8.5 x 11 right through the printer and it worked great! Thanks for the idea and the how-to, I am really happy with how they turned out- I highly recommend this! All said and done it was less than $25 and took my mom, myself and fiancé about 5 hours for everything.

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  25. I would really like to try making these beautiful invitations, but for my upcoming Baby Shower. I'm just afraid I will mess them up… How easy would you say these are to make. I understand they're time consuming, but that is not what i'm worried about. I'm worried about how simple it is to make these by following the steps given. Also what are the chances of this project ruining my printer??? Thank You :)

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  26. I was wondering how long you can wait after starching/trimming before printing? I'm going to use this idea for both my invitations and my programs. I need to get the invitations out soon, but don't have the program designed yet. Should I just wait and do 2 rounds of starching or do you think I could do it all at once? Thank you!

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  27. on the easy scale of 1-10, like a 4… It was pretty basic. We waited about 2h before printing, but that was because we had issues getting the printer hooked up (unrelated to fabric printing), but you could probably print on them right away, but we also used spray starch and ironed until dry,

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  28. I was wondering what the name of the fonts that were used. They are lovely, as are the invites!

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    • I searched myself and the script font is Jellyka Saint-Andrew's Queen but I couldn't find the EXACT font for the rest of the invite. I went with Champagne & Limousines. VERY similar. I'm a graphic design student so I see LOTS of typefaces. haha

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  29. Do you think this would work with burlap? How much do think this costs… I am working with a small budget.

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  30. I'm really interested in making these!! Wow!! Out of curiosity, what'd you to for RSVPs? Inserts of any kind, matching linen or paper instead?

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  31. Lovely!
    I may try these for my wedding invites.
    About how long did it take you to make these total, with corrections, etc.?

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  32. I LOVE LOVE LOVE these!!! I thought I knew what invitations I was going to buy, but now I'm about to leave work early to hit up Joann's and get to work on these bad boys!

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  33. Im also curious about what you did for RSVP cards/other info… Linen too? Or paper?

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    • You can have your guests RSVP online. Will save you money too on return envelopes/postage!

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  34. I decided to do this for my wedding invitations since I'm having a small wedding. I don't own a printer though, so I did the lettering by hand, they came out super nice, but I had to do three test ones first before I didn't smear it and I did everything straight and even. :) Such a cute and great idea!!

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  35. I'm definitely going to try this! Instead of paint, I think I!ll fray the top and bottom then add a bit of Fray Check, or stitch an 1/8 inch in from the edge in my wedding colors–champagne and lavender.

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  36. Love these – am in the process of making some samples now for my October wedding! Any tips on making that handy little plexiglass guide? Did you cut it yourself or get it done at a Home Depot type place? I was thinking it would be even easier to have them in two sizes… one for cutting and one for painting!

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