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My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.

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Thursday
Jul112013

DIY Letterpress Wedding Invitations 

I love how letterpress looks so I really wanted to try making my own letterpress wedding invitations. I looked at my local paper/bookbinding shop to try to do a traditional class where you set your own type, but nothing was available in the time frame I needed. I did a little searching around on the internet and came across an at home option with the Lifestyle Crafts Letterpress Combo Kit. At first I was a little discouraged since the reviews weren't so great, but I found that some people had success using modifications with a tutorial from Boxcar Press.

With renewed enthusiasm, I decided to go for it and ordered a custom letterpress plate from Boxcar Press. My first step was to create a design for my invitation and reply card on Adobe Illustrator. For fonts I used Bickham Script Pro for our names, Times New Roman in italic for "and" and "reception to follow" and Copperplate for the rest of the wording. 

Since you pay for the total area of the design and there is a minimum size I decided to fill up the blank spaces with other words like "Happy Birthday" and "Thank you" as well as some cute icons for later use in card making. Honestly, I realized after getting my plate I could have packed things together a little more tightly than I did. Ordering the plate was super easy. I simply created a log-in and uploaded my Adobe Illustrator file. They also take PDF and EPS files as well. Below is a portion of the plate that I received with my invitation on the top right and the reply card on the bottom right.

I used a regular scissors to cut apart the elements from each other. The reply card is on the left and my invite is on the right.

Next, I pulled the blue film off the plate to expose the sticky backing on my invitation plate. I saved the blue film to reapply after I was done. The letterpress kit is basically two hinged acrylic boards that you crank through a die cut machine. I aligned my plate on the top board using the grid lines.

Next I inked my plate. This was a bit tricky. I choose to order deep navy blue rubber ink from Boxcar Press.  Honestly, it was expensive but now I have a lifetime of navy ink since it comes in a two pound can. I also liked the fact that rubber ink was slow drying to make clean up and printing easier.

When printing you need to use a very, very small amount of ink so you should have two acrylic pieces, one to work some ink until it is soft with an ink knife and the other to roll out with your brayer. I had the one that came with my kit and then I used the back of one of my quilting templates for the other one. Honestly, the piece of acrylic that came with my kit was ridiculously small and I would have saved myself some headaches if I had used something larger since I barely had any room to hold it. The brayer that comes with the kit is also so small that is it absurd. I got a 6in soft rubber brayer and was very glad that I did. 

I took a small amount of ink from my can, mixed it until it was smooth on my first acrylic piece with my ink knife and then transferred a very small amount onto the second acrylic piece. I then rolled it out with my brayer until I had a very, very light coating of ink on the brayer.

With my brayer loaded with ink, I very lightly rolled it over my letterpress plate. I used some of the polymer plate strips that came with my plate for roller bearers as the Boxcar Press tutorial suggested, but honestly I found that I got better results by hand inking it.

It definitely took some time to get the hang of exactly how much ink I needed to get a nice impression. The picture below is with my plate inked with a bit too much ink, but unfortunately I didn't take a picture with it inked the right amount. To make sure that I got good impressions, after each print I wiped the plate clean with a dry cotton rag before reinking.

After the plate was inked I put my paper on the bottom board of the letterpress bed.  I splurged and bought Crane's Lettra Pearl White 220lb Cover. It is hard to show in pictures but it is amazingly thick and beautiful and I felt it was definitely worth it. Instead of using gage pins to align my paper on the letterpress bed I just aligned it with the sides (since the paper was the full width of the bed) and the trimmed down the top and bottom afterward. I was only making ten invitations so that method seemed easier for me, but if you were making a large quantity you may want to do something different.

With the paper in place I carefully flipped the top of the letterpress over the bed.

I then put the letterpress bed into the Epic Six and turned the crank which pushed the letterpress bed through the machine.

After trimming it down to size my invitation was complete. I then used the same process to print my reply cards.

To finish things up I bought 6" x 6" Navy Square Invitation Envelopes for the invitations and 3-5/8" x 5-1/8" Navy Invitation Envelopes for the reply cards. I kept things simple and used a white gel pen to address the envelopes before popping them in the mail.

I really love how my invitations turned out and to me it was worth the time and effort. Honestly speaking, figuring out how much ink gave a good print was a bit fussy and time consuming but once I had that down it was fairly quick to crank them out. It is definitely something that I would try again for a special occasion.

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Reader Comments (26)

Your invitations are beautiful! You did an amazing job on them!

Thanks for showing all of the steps you took to create them. I've never seen letterpress done, and it was quite interesting to discover all that goes into the process. And how smart of you to use up the extra space on the template for other sentiments you may use later.

Best wishes on your upcoming wedding; I hope you have a future filled with joy!

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Simple and elegant. Thanks for walking us through the creation process. Looking forward to next steps in the wedding planning process.

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary-Lou

Your invitations are lovely - very classic. The day is getting closer and closer. You must be getting so excited!

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRene

Beautiful invitations - thank you for sharing the process. Suttons Bay is in a wonderful area of Michigan - wishing you a very special day and joy in the years ahead.

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda J

These turned out beautiful, Lisa -- You did an amazing job!

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

Love these! I spy a great monogram there...thank you notes?! Looking forward to seeing photos from your big day...what a beautiful place you've chosen to get married!
Just think, maybe you can open your own little letterpress store on the internet...navy ink only for all products ;p

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHilary

these are beautiful! You did a great job! Congratulations! your special day will be amazing.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOrlanda

Speechless!!! you have shown great sense of creativity. Truly awesome with very effective fonts even i like the card's envelope too. Thanks for share this wedding invitation.

http://www.123weddingcards.com/sikh-wedding-cards-invitations

July 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAtul Gupta

Congratulations on your wedding today. I am sure you are beautiful, I am looking forward to reading about it.

July 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharon Flasche

Wishing both of you starshine and rainbows . . . and happily ever after!

July 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharron

Oh my goodness. You did a beautiful job! You know, if that engineering gig ever doesn't work out for ya....ha ha ha. I'm sure your day was lovely! Best wishes to you for a lifetime of health and happiness. :-)

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Sandy- Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed seeing how I made the invites. I would definitely like to learn how to use a letterpress where you set the type. Someday...

Mary-Lou- Thank you! I will definitely share some of the other things that I made for the wedding later.

Rene- Thank you! It was an exciting time leading up to the wedding and we had a wonderful day.

Linda- Thank you! Suttons Bay was beautiful and we had a lovely time there.

Heidi- Thank you so much!

Hilary- Thank you! Good eye! I am definitely going to print cards for our thank you notes.

Orlanda- Thank you! We had a wonderful relaxing and special wedding day.

Atul- Thank you so much!

Sharon- Thank you! I definitely plan to write some posts about our big day!

Sharron- Thank you so much!

Stephanie- Thank you! Well, I do have an inordinate amount of navy ink left over... Haha!

July 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterLisa

Hey, I know you did this quite awhile ago, but what did you use to cut the paper? I'm thinking of doing DIY invites for my friend as a wedding gift and would love to know. Thanks!

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Emily- The letterpress paper I bought was quite thick so the paper trimmer I had at home wasn't the best. After I printed the invitations I took them to Kinko's and trimmed them using their large paper trimmers. Good luck with the invitations!

December 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterLisa

This is beautiful Lisa! :) Thanks for sharing. I do have a quick question, was the text raised/embossed? It looks like it in the picture. Thanks!

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkritz

I like your information which is very useful for me. Thanks.

Lovely people always show this type of creativity. Thanks to share information with all.

These are amazing and I'm going to attempt the same! Could you tell me the name of the fonts you went with?

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

These designs are really cool. They are so different from the traditional wedding invitations Traditional wedding invitations are boring. I loved checking out these designs. My favourite ones would be “Matt and Jill met at work ” and “Julia and Jonathan's Photo booth inspired invitation”. Thank you for sharing these designs, I had a great time reading your post.

August 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterN Parekh

Oh my God! how difficult to prepare a well designed card...The mechanism behind this is really complex..

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHawaii wedding packages

Nice fonts making for wedding invitation gallery. I like your font style.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Spindlow

Thank you so much for this detailed post! I'm considering letterpressing my own wedding invitations, and your post has just convinced me :) Absolutely beautiful!!

January 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Beautifully done! I was so inspired by your post that My daughter and I are making her invitations. The advice you have given is invaluable! We had such fun creating them and great success with Boxcar Press(awesome company!). However, as we are now printing, the L letterpress has cracked in two places and is no longer usable..with 200 pieces left to press! So I have emailed the company and hope to get a replacement. If not I will have to buy another as we already have to much invested to start from scratch. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial!!

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHalle

Hello! I love this post and have found it very helpful so far! I know I am a year behind but I was wondering if you could help me?? I am trying to get my design prepared to order my plate from Boxcar Press but i am having a terrible time finding cute icons and initials to include like you have shown here. Do you happen to still have these or remember where you found them? Any and all help is GREATLY appreciated!!

Thank you,
Jessica A.K.A. An anxious mess who is very very new to letter pressing. :)

January 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

These designs look really great! Beautifully done !

August 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

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