Part of the wedding outfit (unless you’re having a barefoot beach wedding or a ceremony that requires bare feet) is shoes. Experts estimate the average cost of moderately-priced bridal shoes is $100-$250. Even David’s Bridal shoes can run $40-$100, and many couples shopping on a budget might balk at these numbers when they have plenty of perfectly good shoes lying around already.
In my case, though I did have lots of perfectly good ones lying around (ok, probably too many), some of which were quite fancy, I wanted to get more creative with my duds and feel like I’d really chosen and/or made every part of my look.
My partner is super-tall, so I wanted to be at least marginally tall- you know, so we’d even end up in the same pictures. We were having
a beach wedding, so my search almost exclusively contained wedges. I knew I could change up the final appearance of the shoes as much as I wanted since I’d read an entire shoe-altering magazine called “Sassy Feet” and since I’d used Simply Spray for so much, so
I started looking for wedding shoes just based on shape. Check out THESE BAD BOYS, which are exactly my size, exactly the massive platform I wanted, and made my long feet look ever so slightly smaller. Also notice: they are HIDEOUS with that floral pattern and floral bow! Remember- we’re only looking for shape here. I tried on every shoe I thought would work for my purposes, despite any issues with its surface design. If you’re following my tutorial, look for a fabric-covered shoe: this method works only on fabric.
First I removed the hideous bows, never to return. They were simply hand-stitched in, so a simple tiny scissor worked.
Then, I taped off the non-fabric parts of the shoe. The top is a faux-suede microfiber material, so I made sure to tape it off tightly. I used old plastic bags (recycle!!) and masking tape for this. I also taped off the bottom lip of the shoes and made sure none of the inside would get painted either.
I painted the flowered part with Simply Spray upholstery paint in grey. I used only two layers, letting them dry in between, and I used barely a fraction of a can. Though I’d planned to cover the flowers entirely, I noticed that having them show through a little in a total grayscale looked really interesting, so I kept it. Make sure you really let the layers dry, as too much wetness can cause the fabric to loosen from the glue on the shoe.
As a final touch to the paint, I added a light layer of Simply Spray silver stencil paint. It was basically like spraying glitter all over them!
Though I was too excited to let the paint dry completely and part of it came off the bag wet and onto the shoes, I was actually able to remove it with “LA’s Totally Awesome Stain Remover” (I know, I know- but I got it at the 99Cent store and it IS AWESOME). You can remove many mistakes, even with fabric dye or paint, from those shoes with this somehow cheap stain remover.
I realized the stitching from the formerly attached terrible bows had left holes/marks on the top fabric of the shoes, and that though the bottom looked awesome, the top wasn’t quite complete yet. Looking through my studio, I found some of the amazing one-of-a-kind Swarovski crystal and natural stone appliques I’d bought. Though it took me a LONG time to choose the ones I wanted, for the tops of the shoes I used a general applique, and for the backs I actually used a neckline applique. Since the neckline one is slightly curved, it fit around the curve of the shoe easily.
These appliques are actually meant to be carefully ironed on to a garment from the inside. I obviously couldn’t iron from the inside of the shoes, so I simply hot-glued the appliques to the shoes with tons of glue. I found it difficult to peel off the glue portions, so I left them on and glued the whole applique on. I actually would *NOT* suggest this method if you plan to use the shoes in any kind of humid weather. Our wedding was in Riviera Maya, Mexico, which was so humid that the iron-on portion (which I had glued) separated from the real applique!! If I’d done it again, I would have removed the iron-on glue from the appliques before putting them on the shoes.
And, without further adieu… the final products! (final images courtesy of Too Much Awesomeness… they are indeed AWESOME, even more so than LA’s Totally Awesome)
Alright, this is a semi-tutorial, Morgan Culture style.
SimplySpray, the fabric spray paint company I often rave about, recently stopped hiding from me its line of fabric upholstery paint. Or I just can’t believe I didn’t already know about it. Naturally, I had to give it a try.
My couch was bought quickly and cheaply on Craigslist. Whoever designed it should have all his/her design credentials completely stripped. The couch structure is fine, and it’s got a good little hide-a-bed inside: perfect for Couch Surfers, and for that time the ceiling in the bedroom randomly collapsed. But the aesthetics… eesh. When we got it, the couch came with a red slipcover for obvious reasons.
The beige main part of the couch had stains all over it, and the CUSHIONS. Oh, the cushions. The cushions are, for some unfathomable reason, a red-green flowery pattern on the top and bottom AND a yellow-green plaid on the sides. What’s that, you say? I get both floral AND plaid in one? Yes, indeed.
The back of the couch was originally large horrid pillows that matched those I-hope-they’re-fabric-remnant cushions. We threw those away after politely bringing them home from the seller, and replaced those pillows with backing pillows from another beige couch. We at least had SOME continuity. We got a new slipcover, then another, as our dogs* tore through them with their sharp chew-bones… and we thought we’d continue surviving on slipcover after slipcover until we finally had the cash to buy grown-up furniture.
Well, grown-up furniture came sooner than expected. I used a fancy paper cutout from the scrapbooking section of the craft store as my stencil (no offense, scrapbookers). I used both a forest green and an olive color on the beige part of the couch, leaving some of the beige showing through, and layering the two colors over each other. I started with the olive, added the forest, and went back with a bit more olive. I just sprayed one or two touches of my pattern over the back pillows.
The CUSHIONS. Should I leave them in all their glory, I thought to myself? No- then we’d have three mismatched patterns and the couch would become a Magic Eye. I initially tried to use the gray upholstery paint, but it would have taken several more cans than I had to cover that contrast with the flowers. Then I tried the dark green. Same story- lost over the gray, just turned all the flowers green. The two layers together DID fade out the flowers and contrast enough that they were subtle and looked way more intentional. The plaid, since it entered the world a lighter color, was more easily covered up. After racking my brain for ideas on how to pull the design together, I decided on another SimplySpray product- the Stencil Spray. I used the white texture paint very VERY lightly and from far away with the same stencil to bring some lightness back into the cushions. The cushions, still wet with the most recent layer of upholstery paint, absorbed some of the white instead of leaving it all on top, which is exactly what I wanted. The white-ish layer now brings the beige in, and because it was done over a wet layer, feels soft and not “crunchy”.
Success! Oh- and did I mention, these upholstery paints don’t smell bad?
Stains covered. Cushion crisis averted. Not a bad day’s work. And we’re not trying to get rid of it for “grown-up” furniture anymore.
Notes for those considering this project:
-Do one color at a time, and let each dry before you start the next.
-Spread your tarps/dropcloths WAY further than you think the spray will reach. These cans are much larger than the smaller apparel paint ones, and it’s awfully hard to get the couch outside and then back inside, so if you’re working inside remember THESE ARE AEROSOL and you WILL get paint on your floor, walls, self, dogs…. everything, unless you are incredibly careful.
-Buy several stencils. While the stencil paint for apparel will actually preserve your stencils by reinforcing them, the upholstery paint does more soaking. Remember that if you’re using the same kind I used, the stencils are PAPER-based and will fall apart when wet. I went through about 4 stencils for this couch.
-If you’re not painting your entire couch, and leaving some of the original color showing through like I did, you don’t need many cans. Two cans of olive were enough, and less than one can of forest (I used the rest, plus a second can, for the cushions).
*Note: adorable puppies are not included with the upholstery paint. We already had them. Thank you to them and Relentless Cinematography for the photos!
Am I making more fabulous Morgan Culture wedding gowns in the midst of all this couch madness, you ask? Why of course! Stay tuned….
After you’ve dyed your fabric (Part 1) and printed your fabric (Part 2), print your paper pages.
We used a normal Brother desktop printer for this full load of prints, and we didn’t need to change the ink cartridge or anything. It did initially have trouble feeding the vellum, but we found out that tray feeding worked out really well. If you’re using an unusual kind of paper, make sure to test and re-test in your printer!
We chose this arrangement of paper because our wedding has three events all over North America, so we wanted our little “map” logo to show through with the information for each event in the general location it would happen in. The first two sheets were vellum (a very cheap kind, #110 technical vellum for drafting, which is sold in art stores in bound tear-out book form). If you’re using vellum, make sure it’s the opacity and thickness you want- and if you’re printing it yourself instead of bringing it to a printer, make sure it’s in a printable size! Most of the vellum packages we saw (particularly the fancy-shmancy ones) came in sizes too large for our printer, and the thought of cutting 150 sheets of it was not appealing.
We sprayed the sheets of vellum with spray fabric glitter by Tulip. We bought some paper glitter (“smooch spray” was the brand), but it ended up laying on too heavy for the number of layers we had, and the fabric stuff kept the paper from wrinkling.
Our backing sheet is a semi-glittery cardstock purchased from the craft store in the scrapbooking section. We wanted something with a bit more structure than the fabric and vellum to keep the whole thing together.
This is very IMPORTANT: After printing your paper, DO NOT CUT IT! You’ll want it to stay 8.5×11 until the very last step.
1) Print your paper. Make sure you have at least one mock-up of the final (particularly if you’re using a translucent paper) so you know how everything lines up.
2) Line up all layers of your invitation, including the top fabric layer. You may want to pin all the layers together, but we found the pins actually bent the paper enough that the final products ended up slightly off from each other. It worked better to just feed it through the sewing machine while holding it all together.
3) Prepare your sewing machine. I highly, HIGHLY recommend hardcore quilting thread (Gutermann) for both the thread and the bobbin. Regular thread breaks often from sewing through all those layers. Also, make sure to adjust your thread tension (the little dial with the numbers on it). Check your machine’s manual for more specifics. Remember that ANY time the thread breaks and your machine sews with no thread, each dive of the needle will create a hole in your paper. Sewing over it more than once puts a lot of unsightly holes in!
4) Sew away! Use the width guides to make sure you’re going in a consistent, straight line. I recommend a wide zig zag stitch, because you won’t want to do any reverse stitches to make sure the thread stays in place. Note that the fabric may not end up perfectly aligned with the invites- that’s fine as long as none of your writing on your paper shows through. You’ll be cutting these down anyway.
5) Cut your invitations. Use an exacto and a self-healing cutting mat. Mark your mat so you know exactly which line to cut on- I marked exactly where half of 8.5×11 would be, so that I could line up the MIDDLE of the invitations. If I’d lined up only one side, most of these would end up off-center. I cut off all edges that didn’t match up- sometimes from the fabric, sometimes from the paper. Each of these is totally individual! You’ll want these slightly smaller anyway, since you’re trying to get them into envelopes!
6) Do the envelopes. Print these with easy templates in your word processing program of choice, or from Stamps.com, which offers envelope design along with the actual postage (they also, I just found out, offer photo stamps FREE- as in the stamp only costs what a normal stamp would be if you print it from your home printer!!).
7) Stuff envelopes and mail!
I’d love your comments or questions on these- please steal this idea!!
This is the second step in making these layered fabric wedding invitations! In Part 1, you learned how to prepare, paint, and tear your fabric.
This part will include how to print your fabric (the old school way). A cool video tutorial by Blick Art Materials is Here. (just notice she does a few things I specifically say to NOT do- like laying her brayer on its face, eek!). If you already know how to do a lino-cut, you might want to read this just to get a few new tips, but it’s overall a very basic description of a lino-cut.
For printing, you’ll need:
A linoleum block (I prefer the wood-mounted type height blocks- they are type height for if you are using a letterpress- which we aren’t- but are easier to maneuver as you work. Also, beware of rubber stamp blocks, usually pink, which are completely inferior)
Set of linoleum cutting tools (Speedball’s set is cheap, convenient, and works fine)
Mirror (for rolling out ink on- if you don’t have one available, hardware stores sell them in packs. If you purchase these, tape the mirror to a piece of cardboard to protect yourself from its sharp edges. Mirrors are best to see your ink on because any color under the ink- even white- can alter your perception of the color and how it will look on your particular fabric, whereas on a mirror the ink can only reflect itself and its own color)Block printing ink (Speedball, again, is perfectly good. One tube should print plenty- we used 2 colors on 140 invitations and 30 guest bags and still have plenty left in each tube. Use water-based ink for easy and environmentally-friendlier cleanup)
Brayer (Again, Speedball makes a few. The brayer is the most expensive part of this whole endeavor and you’ll likely want to keep it, so TAKE CARE OF IT! First criteria: make sure your brayer is not bigger than your block. This is very important, because if you’re consistently rolling the brayer over a too-small block, you’ll wear a groove into your brayer and it will never lay ink on the same way again. I got one that was almost exactly the depth of the block but slightly smaller. Also, NEVER rest your brayer on its rolly-part. Lay it on its back with the metal part holding it up so the rolly-part doesn’t touch the table/surface).
1) Plan your block. This step is IMPERATIVE- remember that anything you carve into the block will print BACKWARD. It’s a stamp. And if you mess it up, you won’t be able to fix it. So watch especially for your text !!
You can use a transfer method to put your image on your block backwards after you print it on a piece of paper, which could save you some time. The old-schoolest method of this is to just print your design, color over it in a heavy drawing pencil, lay it onto your block, and color on the design again with a pencil from behin
2) Heat your block. Use a hairdryer or heat gun (heat gun on VERY LOW so as to not melt the block). The heat will make it cut like buttah.3) Cut your block. REMEMBER: The stuff you cut out is the part that will NOT print; i.e. you are carving out a relief of the image you will actually see. The stuff that will print is the stuff that’s left. Use your lino-cut tools appropriately- some are obviously for smaller sections, others are for larger sections, and the big knifey-thing is for cutting out large areas. At the end of each stroke you do, pull the tool UP so you aren’t ripping any extra linoleum off the block. A great lino-cutting tutorial is here. Keep in mind that one of the most beautiful and interesting parts of a lino cut is the “chatter”- those strokes that aren’t quite carved out, that pick up a little ink. You can see in our block that I purposely arranged the chatter in a cool pattern and left quite a bit of it- it would have been WAY easier to cut those empty sections out completely with the knifey-thing, but cutting them in small strokes in that pattern gave us a very cool final product. Plan your chatter, and err on the side of leaving too much. You can always cut it down more later if you’ve got too much.
3A) Proof your block. You want to test it out to see if you like how it prints before you get ready to do a million invitations! Follow the next few steps on inking and printing.
4) Roll out your ink. Take your mirror and put a blob of ink on it. If your ink is brand new or has been sitting a while (or is a metallic hue), it may have excess oil that comes out, like ketchup does. Make sure you wipe this oil up or get rid of that portion of the ink, because otherwise the ink will be very thin, or even translucent, when it prints. Using your brayer, spread the ink out. Don’t just roll back and forth- pick your brayer up at the top of each stroke so that the ink refreshes across the brayer and the mirror. Your ink should have an orange-peel texture and should make a sticky sound. If your ink has rows of marks in it instead of an orange peel texture, you have too much ink down. You can scrape off some of your ink slab and continue with thinner ink. If you don’t see a texture or part of your brayer rolls out empty on your mirror, you don’t have enough ink. Watch the tutorial here (at 1:03) for the noise and texture your ink should have.
5) Ink your block. I didn’t give information on how to do what’s called a “rainbow roll” like our invitations have (with the green fading to black), so that will come later and we’ll keep it basic for now 🙂 Roll your brayer over the block until the block has the same texture your slab had- the orange peel. You’ll need to roll it back in the ink and then back on the block a few times. If when you print the image is smeary, you may be over-inking. If your print is light, your ink may be dry or you may be under-inking. You should print a bunch of tests before you’re ready to use your actual fabric.
6) Print. Again, proof your print several times to make sure your ink is right and will lay well on the fabric before you actually start printing. And make sure you like the amount of chatter that’s showing up- if not, go back to step 3 and remove more block. Make sure to re-ink your block before every print! Try to land the print in the same place on every piece of fabric so you have consistency.
When you print, you can either use a little press (one’s shown in the pictures here) or a wooden spoon. I prefer the spoon method, because it’s even more old-school. And it’s a SPOON. Slowly lay your fabric over the block, leaving the block facing upright. Start at one side of the block while you’re laying the fabric down. Use your spoon’s round back and rub it in a circular motion all over the block. Make sure to cover the whole thing, and make sure you’re using pressure (not TOO much pressure). You may find the ink is coming through your fabric and onto your spoon if you have thin fabric, so you may want to use a paper or another piece of cloth between the spoon and your print. I don’t usually, because I like to see the print showing up on the fabric.
7) Allow to dry. You should let these dry for at least a few hours- overnight if you’re using oil-based ink.
8) Clean up. Make sure to wash the rolling part of the brayer AND the sides. Rinse off your block with water (some say to not use water on linoleum, but I do). Use your razor to scrape off your mirror and wipe all that ink on some paper towels or shop towels. You likely won’t need any water for the mirror.
Step 3 is all the rest! I know, step 2 was long- but it’s all worth it 🙂
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!
… out of the country, that is.
Yesterday, two of my pieces (one of them a collaboration with Dreams by Machine) shipped off to New Zealand! Before participating in the World of Wearable Art show, I’d never sent anything overseas other than for a mail art project or for showing myself in random places in China and Korea (more on that in other posts coming soon).
The whole process is quite difficult and confusing. There are weird numbers involved in shipping merchandise overseas, and forms to fill out, and people speaking a different language.
I’ve come up with three tips so far:
1) Have as much information as you can about your shipment before contacting anyone. This includes:
-How much your shipment weighs (altogether). I did mine the rudimentary way- by standing on a scale alone, then standing on the scale with the package, and subtracting. In this case, having two packages involved a little more math, but all basic. You can handle it.
-Exact dimensions. For this year’s show, I had two packages, so I had to include dimensions of both. This will help the shippers know how to deal with what you’re dropping off. Make sure to specify INCHES if it’s small, since most of these freighting companies are used to truckloads of material showing up, not a little Hyundai Elantra with a box in the backseat and one in the trunk.
-Value. Note that for the US, any shipment with a declared value of over $2500 requires some kind of customs form (AES, an acronym which was never explained to me), which costs an extra $75 to fill out and file.
2) Work with a specific representative at a specific company.
Last year, I worked with a woman who was able to walk me through each step of each form in person in the office. I highly recommend working with Mainfreight, one of the sponsors of WOW, and its outgoing branch, Carotrans. While I’m not sure what Mainfreight’s services normally cost, since WOW allows us to have a flat shipping rate with Mainfreight, its customer service is impeccable. The representatives are almost always at their phones, are very helpful and efficient both on the phone and in person, and despite their huge contracts with multi-dimensional shippers, they spend time helping individuals get these paperwork things sorted.
This year I’m bouncing back and forth between the woman I worked with last year and another representative, and, as in all three-way communication, things are getting left out and the whole chain is becoming confusing. Choose a rep and stick with him/her!
3) Talk with people in the warehouse you’re dropping off/picking up at.
Though these people can appear a bit intimidating and unapproachable while driving forklifts at 40 mph and wearing hard hats, these are the people who will be actually touching your work. Making contact with them can be quite beneficial. Furthermore, they don’t often get to find out what’s inside the boxes they ship, so (in my experience) they love the opportunity to get to know what’s passing through the facility.
When I picked up my piece from last year, the person retrieving my box (who first brought out another artist’s piece- Santa Monica’s Amy Jean Boebel’s work) talked to me for a half hour about art, the show in New Zealand, and what was next for me. He called two of his colleagues over to watch me open the box (this piece didn’t fit in my car while in the box, but fit in the backseat unpacked).
And yesterday, while dropping off my two boxes, I found out that it’s better to have smaller, loose boxes (i.e. smaller than 3’x’3’x3′- which is pallet size) shrink-wrapped, and that this service costs extra. I became flustered looking for information on this, but the forklift driver (Donald- thanks man!) saw my worry, and, after I’d opted for sending sans shrink-wrap, told me he’d “throw some shrink wrap on it anyway; it’ll really bang around if not.” So I suppose this point may include a fourth- to make your shipment pallet-sized, but I’m not sure that’s necessary with people like Donald around.