Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Making the Invite: Pocket-folders

All righty, here's the part I'm sure most of you have been waiting for. This is how I am making my pocket-folders. Of course, I don't know if this is the best or most efficient way, but hopefully it will help some of y'all out :)

Supplies: 12"x12" cardstock ($14.20/25pk, Scrapbook Creations); adhesive ($6, Joann); bone folder ($6, Joann); adhesive eraser ($1.50, Joann); ruler; scissors

Again, a word about supplies before I begin. First of all, my paper is expensive. It's made by a popular company, it's textured, and it's sparkly. All these things make it cost more; plus, the place I bought it from didn't have the absolute best price on it. My point is, you can definitely find nice cardstock for less than 57 cents a sheet. Second, I've never yet actually used my adhesive eraser (as you can see). The adhesive I have for this project is pretty tidy, but I figure an adhesive eraser is a nice thing to have just in case. Some of the adhesives are gummier and messier than others and, well, sometimes people are messy :) Last, if you have a paper-cutter, that would probably be easier than using scissors for some of the big cuts. I have one, but I don't trust myself to pay attention and not cut off things that need to stay attached, so I'm using scissors. Now let's begin!

The first thing you'll need to do, of course, is measure! I drew my lines with a colored pencil that almost matched my cardstock, so I could barely see it to fold, but so that I wouldn't have to bother erasing it later (because once the paper is creased along the line and the invite is all assembled, that line will not be noticeable at all).

I went over the lines and added in my dimensions in Photoshop for y'all to see.

So, my invites are 5"x7", with a 4" pocket and a 2.5" flap. I decided upon the 4" pocket size mostly because that nicely uses up the whole length of the paper.

And here is the cut-out paper. See that rectangle at the bottom, with the thin tabs on either side? That will fold up to become the pocket. You can make it without the tabs, which certainly makes cutting easier, but then your actual pocket size is smaller. Does that make sense? I'll try to explain that again later. You can leave it like this, with your flaps being cut straight across, but as you can see I'm going to cut mine like triangles.

Here are some close-ups of my measurements for cutting the flaps. On the outside, I measured the center point, then measured 1" down on each side and drew an angled line from the center down to each side. For the inside flap, I only used 1/2" because it's smaller and 1" would have been too dramatic of a cut. Also, remember that for the small flap, the cut goes in the opposite direction!

Here is the final cut-out shape. Notice that the edges of the tabs on the pocket (the bottom rectangle) are cut at an angle. I do this so they won't show behind the pocket when I fold them in, and at the other end so it's easier to fold the pocket up onto the paper.
If you want, you can now use this piece as a template to trace out your shape on the rest of your cardstock. Of course you'll still have to make some measurements, but I imagine this will speed up the process at least a little bit. But be sure to fold one up and make sure all your measurements are correct before you go ahead and measure and cut all your paper!
The next step is to make your folds.

Use your bone folder to get a nice, crisp fold. [Note: some paper cutters come with a scoring blade, which would be very handy for this.]

I like to trace along my line with the tip of the folder to make a nice score-line. However, 7 inches is a long way for me to trace a straight line. Sometimes I just score a little at the top and bottom, and maybe a bit in the middle, so the paper will still fold how I want it. Also, the whole edge of the bone folder is angled, so that could be used for scoring as well, instead of just the tip.

Fold the paper and use the bone folder to create a crisp, flat fold. You can lay it flat, like in the first pic, and run it along the fold, or use the flat bottom end, like in the second picture. I prefer the second method, but to each her own :) Now it's time to apply adhesive.

Most crafting adhesives I've used work the same way: angle it properly against the paper, press gently as you roll it along, and out comes adhesive! Simple.

You don't need to apply adhesive to both sides, but I think it gives a little extra stickiness.

Now all that's left is to carefully fold up the pocket while making sure the tabs are folded in and placed correctly. It's not as hard to do as it might sound, don't worry :) Now I'll try to explain what I mentioned earlier about having a smaller pocket. So, look at the above picture and imagine there are no tabs, but it's just cut straight down in line with the end of the paper, and the adhesive is on the rectangle part, not on the tabs (because there aren't any). You can do that, and fold it up, and still have a lovely pocket. But you obviously can't put inserts between where the adhesive is sticking, right? My adhesive is almost 1/2" wide, which means if I made my pockets that way, without tabs, my actual pocket would be almost one inch smaller. I'm awful at explaining sometimes, so I hope that made some sense. Anyway, I wanted bigger pockets, and I like it to look more like a real pocket, so I did it my way, even though it's slightly more difficult.

Anyway, here ya are, folding up your pocket.

Yay, look, now you have a beautiful pocket-folder, ready and waiting for your invitation! As you can see, the process is a bit tedious and time-consuming, but it's not very difficult (in my opinion, anyways). So if you've got the time, I say go for it and make your own! Also, check out Cards & Pockets for ideas and inspiration. BTW, they're having a sale right now, so you might want to think about what kind of paper you have in mind and decide if it's worth the time-cost to make your own, or if you're rather just buy some. Good luck all!

Next up: Making a belly-band!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Making the Invite: Dry Embossing

I know this isn't something everyone will incorporate, but my invitations involve dry embossing, and I think it's a handy technique that can produce some really beautiful results, so I thought I would go ahead and blog about it.

Basically, dry embossing is a technique that creates a raised image on your paper. To start, so y'all know what I'm going for, here is the design of my invitations:

However, instead of printing the flower, I am embossing it onto the invitation.

Supplies: light box ($5, e-bay); stylus ($3, Joann); paint brush ($1-2, Palace Art Supply); masking tape; pigment ink pads ($2 each, Palace Art Supply); stencil

Before I get into it, I want to say a couple things about the supplies. Light boxes can be very expensive. I got a small cheapo one, and it works just fine. This is not something I would reccommend splurging on. For paint brushes, something with fairly stiff, short bristles works best. I believe craft stores actually sell brushes specifically for stencils. Now, about the stencil. You can purchase a wide variety of very nice metal or plastic stencils intended for dry embossing. Once I got that flower graphic into my head, none of the stencils I looked at seemed quite right to me, and I'm stubborn, so I made my own stencil using a thin piece of cardboard and an X-acto knife. My stencil's a bit flimsy, but it works.

So let's begin!

The first step is to position your stencil where you want it and attach it to the front side of your paper using masking tape. Tack the tape on lightly so you can be sure to get it off without damaging your invitation. [Note: I did notice that the tape pulled of a teensy bit of the ink from my VistaPrint invites, so perhaps try to keep the tape to white areas.] Next, flip the invitation over (with stencil attached) and place it on the light box; turn on the light box. The light box allows you to see clearly through the stencil.

Now take your stylus and trace inside the stencil. This pushes the paper out through the stencil. Note that you do not have to rub the stylus over the entire area; just tracing the outline will work. Keep the thickness of your paper in mind, and be careful about how hard you push with the stylus because your paper might rip. Also be careful about going over the same spot too many times.

Once you've finished tracing your image, you can turn off the light box and turn your invite back over. If you don't want to apply any color, remove the stencil, and you're done!

If you do want to color your image, leave the stencil on. Apply color to your brush by tapping/rubbing it on the ink pad. I've never had a problem with getting too much ink on my brush, but you may want to try it out on a normal piece of paper first to make sure you won't blot your invites or something. And of course, the amount of color you want to apply is totally up to you.

Use your brush to paint on the color inside the stencil. Don't brush really hard or you might push your paper back out and it will end up looking, well, not great. I mean, don't worry about this too much, it's never happened to me, just something to think about if you're a very forceful sort of person :) Anyway...if you are using two different colors and are worried about your ink getting somewhere you don't want it, you can tape over the area you don't want to color. For example, on my flower, I am coloring the stem and leaves green and the petals pink. Part of the stem is very close to the petals, so I could tape over the petals while I was coloring the stem and vice versa. And don't worry about getting ink on your stencils; if you're not stupid like me and you have a normal metal stencil, you can wash it right off.

Remove the stencil and, voila! You have a colored, dry-embossed image! My invites are 4.5" x 6.5", which means they don't take up the whole sheet of paper, so now all that's left to do is cut off the excess.

And here is my completed invitation! Check out this website for some other examples of dry embossing. Browse through their art galleries and you can see images that haven't been colored at all, some that have been shaded or lightly colored (like mine), and some that have been fully colored.

No matter how formal or informal your invites are, I think dry embossing can look really good. I once saw a Knottie's invitations that were on white Stardream paper (that really pretty metallic-y paper), and she had embossed bamboo along one side and colored it in a very pretty blue color, using some very nice shading. I probably explained that horribly, but it was just gorgeous. I've also seen people dry emboss an image on their inner envelopes, or on the envelope flap, or pretty much anywhere you can think of. So if you think you might want to use this technique, find some stencils you like and just mess around with them for a while! I hope you've enjoyed this installment of "Making the Invite." ;)

Up next: making a pocketfolder!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Making the Invite: Intro & VistaPrint

Okey-dokey, here begins my invitation-making saga! This series will include 5 posts about: using VistaPrint; dry embossing; making a pocketfolder; making a belly band; and putting it all together (that last post will probably have something about the inserts). I'll try to start each post with a list of the needed supplies and an approximate cost. I'll also include where I got mine, but please keep in mind that almost everything I am using is available at many different stores and websites. If you have any questions about how or why I did anything, please ask! If you're a NorCal Knottie, please leave your Knot name because I'll most likely get back to you on the message boards--or, of course you could just page me there instead of leaving a comment here. Also, as you can probably already tell, I "talk" a lot. So I apologize up front if these posts end up long and confusing! Let's begin, shall we?

Supplies: computer with internets, and Adobe Photoshop Elements ($79.99 at Costco)

I designed my invitations myself using Adobe Photoshop Elements, which doesn't have all the features of the full Photoshop, but it suits my needs just fine and it's much more affordable. I spent hours browsing free font websites to find what I liked; there's a lot out there, you just have to take the time to look! I also browsed free stock art websites to find graphics I liked for my invitations because I sure as heck couldn't make one myself. [Note: just type "free stock art" into your search engine and a bunch of sites will come up.] I found a ton of really great ones, but ultimately decided on a fairly simple flower graphic. More about that in the next post. Anyway, for those of you who don't want or don't have the time to design your own invites, VistaPrint has some cute ones pre-made, and there are lots of super-talented people on Etsy who will create an invite for you, then sell you the graphic to do with as you please.

Once you have your invitation ready, go to VistaPrint. They charge a one-time $4.99 fee to upload each picture or graphic. For example, you can upload your completed invitation for $4.99, and continue to use it for ever without any additional fees. Then if you upload a file for, say, your RSVP, that's an additional $4.99. Am I making sense? Now, the greatest thing about VistaPrint is that they are constantly having a sale where they offer, for example, 10 free invitations. Usually it works out to about $10 off your order if you get more than the given free amount. Less often, they also have free shipping or half-price upload fees. So if you've got a lot of time before you actually need your invitations, you can wait for the best sales and really take advantage of them. [Get on their e-mail list to be notified of sales--but be warned, they e-mail a LOT.]

An important thing to remember with VistaPrint is that their advertised invitation size is not the real invitation size. For example, their 6x9 invitations actually measure 5.47" x 8.5". So if you're creating a design using Photoshop (or whatever other program), remember to make your canvas size the true size, not the advertised size!

To find out the actual dimensions of the product you are interested in, from the main menu select "Product Details," then "Artwork Specifications." This will bring up a page listing all the available products; click the one you are interested in and this page will come up: [I realize these are too small to actually do you any good, but I like having pictures in my posts.]

This shows the product's full bleed size, which is the full printing size for your document. This is the size you want to make your canvas when you are creating your invite. The page also shows the product's trim size, which is the size it will be cut down to, and what you will actually receive. So make sure any writing and graphics you don't want to have cut are within the trim size. This page also lists the ideal image resolution, and has a link for you to see which file formats you can upload.

Once you've got your invitation ready it's pretty easy; upload your image and order!

I am by no means a Photoshop expert, so I am not even going to try and explain how I made my invitations. For me, it was a lot of messing around and trial and error until I got the look I wanted. If you're curious, leave me a message, and I will try to explain how to do it, but I would highly recommend asking someone else who is much more Photoshop-savvy :)

Up next: Dry Embossing!