Sunday, January 13, 2013

My handmade 'Save the Date' cards

I know this is not the usual type of post you would expect on this blog but I just had to share my latest creations (which have occupied my mind for many months now) ... the 'save the date cards' for my upcoming wedding.

I have to admit that I am getting wrapped up in my pending nuptials like any bride-to-be and I am finding myself very excited about all the handmade opportunities that this type of event provides. Those of you who know me well will know that when given the chance I would much rather hand make something than purchase it. So when it came time to send out Save the Date cards it was natural (if not expected) that I would make them myself.

I have been struggling to find the perfect design or concept for these cards for months. The internet is of course an amazing resource for this kind of thing but I have never been happy with borrowing other peoples design ideas so I felt that I had to come up with something that was my own. I eventually settled on what I think is a rather whimsical design that people would enjoy receiving and (with any luck) delight in having in their homes - if only for a few months before our actual wedding invitation arrives.

I decided I wanted to create a Save the Date card which wasn't actually a card but rather a paper garland with the various bits of information on separate paper circles. I love paper garlands because they twist and curl wherever you hang them, creating a kinetic sculpture in space.

I have been collecting individual letter stamp sets for a while now and I use then in lots of cards and other projects. I love the old style typewriter font that is on these stamps and the uneven spacing and alignment that occurs when you individually stamp letters. It creates a random text that I think is much more effective than your usual computer font.  I stamped all the various phrases I wanted onto A4 photocopy paper until I was happy with the spacing and alignment. Of course you could use any computer based font for this - in fact it would probably be quicker and easier if you are a wizz with the computer.

I then scanned this page of stamped phrases into the computer and turned the phrases into individual image files. I adjusted the size of a few of the phrases so they would best fit the circle sizes that I wanted to use. After that it was simple a matter of copying and pasting these phrase image files into a word document repeatedly ready for the cutting of the circles.

 I printed these documents onto various papers, each phrase a different colour/design. I used a combination of neutrally toned drawing paper and scrapbooking paper that I had cut down to A4 size so I could print on it. The advantage of using scrapbooking paper is that it is double sided so you get different designs on both sides of your paper garland.

I cut out the various circles using a Fiskars shape cutter - it was quick and easy to use and allowed me to cut the same perfect circle every time. But you could use any circle cutter (there are plenty on the market). My only tip when using this device is make sure you have spare cutter blades on hand. Once the blades start to go blunt it makes a real mess of your paper and its very frustrating.

Once the circles are all cut out you can lay out the paper garland in preparation for sewing. I found these great cardboard die cut shapes in my local art shop that were all 'tropical travel' themed. Since I am having a destination wedding (on a tropical island no less) these seemed highly appropriate and they help set the tone for a relaxed tropical destination wedding. The company that make these (KaiserCraft) do a huge range of these die cut collectables in various themes - the possibilities are endless. 

 I used the smaller die cut shapes to break up the phrase circles and a larger die cut shape was used as the focal point at the end of the garland. I loved how these paper shapes made every card unique - no two cards were the same. 

Once the circles and shapes were all lined up I just ran them thought the sewing machine (on a straight stitch) with the stitches going down the centre of each shape. It's simply a matter of feeding one shape in after the other as you sew the garland together.

I tied a small loop at the top of the garland so people could hang their card up somewhere. However since everyone may not have the perfect hanging spot I also put a little bit of magnetic tape on the back of the top circle providing a quick and easy way for people to stick their card on the fridge. A tiny little square of sticky tape held the thread from the bottom of the garland out of the way so the stitches won't come undone over time.

Being a destination wedding I figured that I would also include a small accommodation card so people could start to think about booking their own little holiday around our wedding. The same tropical themed shapes pack that I used in the paper chains also included a range of postcard like cards of tropical island scenes. I used these as the backing for my accommodation cards. I printed a accommodation information message onto tracing paper, cut these out to fit the various cards and pinned the tracing paper in place with a couple of tiny little split pins I got from the local officeworks. The result is a readable note with a lovely tropical scene in the background.

I used basic seed envelopes to post my cards because they were affordable (about $7 for 100 envelopes) and they suited the colour scheme of my cards perfectly. 

It was lots of fun to make these little cards and I have received many a message or phone call from people who are delighted to receive their little paper chain Save the Date cards. A few people have even sent me pics of where they have decided to hang their cards - which was very sweet.

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