Morgan Culture Tutorial: HOW TO make layered fabric wedding invitations (Part 1)
As a creative marrying another creative, I felt a lot of pressure to have THE most bomb invitations ever- and, of course, they had to reflect our personalities! We learned a lot about each other through the creative process and came up with the coolest idea. We did a multi-layered invitation with the top layer made of fabric- as a wearable sculptor and wedding gown designer, designing my own fabric felt so right. The top layer is machine-sewn on to two layers of semi-transparent vellum and one layer of cardstock-thickness paper. This way, you can see all three of our wedding events over the same map at the same time!
These invitations would cost a FORTUNE if done by a printer.
Ingredients and cost for 150 invitations:
Fabric: $52 (we used 5.5 yards of a cotton muslin. You’ll want a natural fiber like cotton, hemp, jute, silk, or linen because these rip really nicely and take dye better than synthetic fibers. Cotton muslin is what fashion designers and dressmakers use to try designs out, so it has a particular fondness for me, and it’s SUPER cheap.)
Fabric Paint: $12 (I only use Simply Spray fabric paint- it is the only thing I’ve found that will work on all types of fabric with the effects I want)
Linocut supplies: $60 (included 2 blocks, a set of cutting tools, a brayer, set of Exacto knives, 3 colors of Speedball ink)- more about this later
Vellum tracing paper #50: $50 (we just got the cheap drafting kind- make sure to look at this in a store if you plan to buy it online, because vellum paper comes in TONS of thicknesses and variations)
Shiny paper and paper sparkle spray: $14 (the shiny paper is just hanging out in the scrapbooking section and comes in packages, and the paper sparkle spray actually didn’t work how we wanted it to, so we stuck with a fabric glitter spray I had).
Thread and more Exacto knives: $14 (make sure to get STRONG quilting thread, such as Gutermann. Others will break continuously in your machine and drive you crazy!)
Envelopes: $25 (plain A-4 envelopes)
TOTAL COST for 150 invitations: $227
1) Obviously choose your color theme and design! Do a sketchy mock-up of one to brainstorm with your partner over- or, if you have a partner who has a hard time imagining the final product, just make a mock-up for yourself. Also choose the SIZE of your invitations- I recommend choosing a size that will fit in a ready-made envelope size so you can save $ by not ordering custom-sized envelopes. We chose A4 because that size is half a sheet of paper and made planning quite easy.
2) Prepare and paint your fabric. Your fabric as it comes from the store will likely have folds in it. If you like the folds and think they might show up nicely with the paint, leave them! Otherwise, iron them out. Paint all your fabric at once- this will save time and prevent you from ripping the fabric in the wrong place before you even start.
-Make sure to buy more fabric than you need. You may need some math help if you’re trying to figure out the best way to lay out your invitations on the material- if so, just ask the person cutting your fabric at the store. S/he will surely be experienced with yardage requirements! YOU WILL PROBABLY MESS PART OF THE FABRIC UP. Buy more than you need.
-Cover your work surface. Like, everything around your work surface. Be working outside- this stuff isn’t toxic, but it IS aerosol and aerosol stuff floats around where you’d last expect it to be.
-Spray judiciously at first, and follow the directions on the cans of Simply Spray. Mix where your different colors will be over the entire surface. I know it’s hard, but try to imagine each little piece of the fabric as being its own little work of art- because it WILL be. Again, start with just a little, because you can always add more, but you can’t take any off.
-Use a spray bottle with water in various areas as you are spraying. It will cause different effects with the paint, like making it run and pool, or absorb more fully as it thins out. Do NOT over-water! Some areas of my fabric actually got ruined when a freak hail storm came through Los Angeles just minutes after I’d finished making the most awesome fabric ever. I was MAD! However…
-If your fabric gets too wet (or somehow hailed on): hang it up vertically and gather bunches of it together with clothespins. That way, the pigment will drip off in a specific trajectory and make cool patterns as it gathers in those little “knots”. Make sure the clothespins are NOT colored wood- either naked wood or plastic- because the pigment in colored wood can come out and get all over your fabric, ew!
-Let fabric dry THOROUGHLY. Overnight is preferable.
3) Iron your fabric! This is VERY important. If it’s not flat, you can’t rip it into accurate sizes, which means your invitations will be all jacked. We actually had an “invitation-making party” to do steps 3 and 4 (plus some other wedding-y projects).
4) Tear your fabric. Use the most accurate measurements you can- this will save a LOT of time cutting on the back end. Cut fabric looks way less interesting than a more organically torn fabric, and tearing is cathartic! Measure each length exactly, then cut a tiny line with an Exacto if you need help starting the tear. We tore ours down to 8.5×11 in order to facilitate easy sewing to the rest of the parts, and then at the end we simply cut each one in half.
5) Print your fabric. This isn’t like put-in-the-laser-printer-and-press-go printing. This is OLD SCHOOL, baby. And it will be detailed in Part 2, because it’s a little technical!