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.
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.