You can totally make your own linen invitations

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.

Comments on You can totally make your own linen invitations

    • 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.” 🙂

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

      Really cool though!

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

        • 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.

    • 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. 🙂

  1. 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?

    • 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.

  2. 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!

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


  3. 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?

    • 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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