Sunday, December 19, 2010

Making Our Save the Dates, Part 1 (Cards and Envelopes)

Because Mr. NM and I are enamored with the San Francisco skyline, and since so much of the feel of our wedding is based on the city-at-night vibe, we wanted to find a way to include skylines in our Save the Dates.  Truth be told, I'm not always that creative when it comes to generating unique ideas, but I'm pretty damn good at taking someone else's idea, putting my own spin on it, and executing it flawlessly.  When I found this post on Weddingbee, I knew we had our winner. 

Armed with way too much information I had researched about envelope sizes, I decided we would use A6 envelopes (measuring 4.75" x 6.5") and make our final card size 4.25" x 5.5".  This means each card, unfolded, would measure 8.5" x 5.5" and that is exactly half a sheet of 8.5" x 11" cardstock.  So we could get two cards from each piece of cardstock, saving us money.  Then we could further reduce costs by printing our skyline inserts as basic 4x6 prints and then trimming about .75" off one side.  (At the end of this tutorial, I'll provide a list of materials, costs, and resources.)

Having figured out the specifics, I now needed a skyline picture to use.  I found this one online and thought it was unbelievably gorgeous.


Through the magic of Photoshop I cropped it, skewed the overall colors towards bright blue, and pumped up the vibracy a notch or ten to give me this.



Adding text in Photoshop is pretty easy.  Agreeing with Mr. NM about which fonts to use is not.  Eventually, though, we had some frontrunner fonts and we were well on our way.

{It *kills* me to blur out the lettering.  If only we didn't have such identifiable first names...}

Next step was to order the prints, which was harder than it sounds.  First I ordered from my go-to place, yorkphoto.com.  They're cheap, reliabele, and consistent - but when my prints came the measurements were way off, which cut off some of the text.  They refunded my money, so then I tried snapfish.com.  When those prints came, the image quality was awful plus the cropping of the text was still a problem.  They also refunded my money.  I decided to re-work the text alignment in Photoshop and send the images back to York Photo.  I'd had so many good experiences with them (literally thousands of images over the years) and I didn't want to give up on them too soon.  Plus the image quality itself was actually far superior.  This time, the prints arrived and they looked great.  Ugh, what an ordeal...  But the outcome was *finally* similar to my original design.

{The prints were pretty close to the Photoshop rendition above, which was impressive.}

Party Person L came over to help me with the next step.  I had already designed the file for my digital cutter that would cut the 11-11-11 twice per sheet of cardstock then slice down the middle to separate the two cards.  We took turns loading the cardstock onto the cutting mat and clicking the "start" button...  over and over and over again.

{Please note the million leftover 1's, on the right.  Any thoughts about how I could use these??}

While the cutter worked its magic, we trimmed the photos.

{Measure twice, cut once - especially if you don't have many to spare!}

When the cards came out of the digital cutter, they needed a score line so the top fold would be a clean one.  Party Person L simply used the scoring blade (not actually a blade) on the rotary cutter.



{For the scoring to work as it should, be sure to score on the inside of the card, not the outside.}
We made quick folds on each of them prior to attaching the insert.

I could've used a Xyron for the inserts in order to cover every square inch of the photo with adhesive, but I scrimped a little by only using my adhesive runner on the oustide edges.  Seems to have worked just fine.


After carefully centering and sticking each one of them, I then went over the folds with a bone folder for good measure. 



At this point we could've stuffed them in envelopes and called them finished.  But I just couldn't let go of the idea that they needed a little extra oomph.  So I invited over Party Person K to bring the oomph! 



Mr. NM said he didn't mind if I added something extra, but he wanted to leave the card part alone.  Apparently he liked the more minimalstic look we had achieved in Round 1.  Knowing what we had decided to do for labels (up next in Part 2), I thought maybe the back flap was a good place for some embellishment. 

I love the look and feel of letterpress, but we certainly aren't able to afford it for any of our paper goods.  But that doesn't mean we can't include some incredible textured paper of our own.



This is the Quickutz "Rings" A2 embossing folder.  K slipped the envelope flap into the folder and then fed it through the die cutting machine.


There are several methods to emboss with a die cutting machine.  When using an embossing folder like this one, you just need to sandwich the folder it in-between the clear cutting plates and roll it through.  If, however, you're using a texture plate, remember to use your embossing mat.  It's a piece of rubber that allows the paper to"squish" onto the texture plate.  Whatever method you use, if the stack of things you're sending through the machine is a bit too thick, the paper may get cut rather than just textured.  So I suggest sending some test paper (of similar thickness as your envelope) through first before you move to the envelopes. 


Work goes so much faster with 2 people, and after just a little while we finally had a stack of envelopes to go with our stack of save the dates.  Stuffing and sealing all of them was a breeze.





That gorgeous flap was just the extra oomph I was looking for!  Not that anyone else will necessarily notice...

Up next:  the awesome-tastic labels!

Will you be sending out save the dates?

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