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Making Invitations With Card Supplies!

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Card Projects by Sharon M. Reinhart

Those of us who make greeting cards are often asked to also create invitations and announcements. Just like greeting cards, there are many times when invitations and announcements are needed, from occasions like the arrival of a new baby or an upcoming wedding to retirement or housewarming parties, or even a "non-occasion" like a friendly brunch or backyard barbecue. In this issue of CardMaker update we will explore the various styles of invitations and announcements that can be made, as well as discuss some tips and techniques to help make the process easier and more enjoyable. We will even include some money-saving tips! Let's get started!

Although invitations and announcements can be made in almost any size or style that can be imagined, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, consideration should be given to whether they are going to be mailed or hand-delivered. If being mailed, in order to keep the postage fees down, a standard size should be used. An A2-size envelope (5 3/4 x 4 3/8 inches) is usually a standard letter postage fee. Also, check on a business-size envelope, as there may not be much of a difference and it gives another size option. Often larger square cards do require more postage, but if the card is made to fit into an A2 envelope it would still be cost effective. Prior to choosing, check out the postage prices for the different envelope sizes at your local post office. The other thing to keep in mind in order to reduce postage costs is that less dimensional is best. Thicker cards will require more postage and possibly require further expense when it comes to packaging versus being able to use just a simple envelope.

However, if the invitations are being hand-delivered anything is possible. I have seen some very unique hand-delivered invitations, such as an engagement announcement in a wine bottle, a baby announcement inside of a baby bottle and even a luau invitation on a decorated dollar-store flip-flop! Our major focus here will be on invitations and announcements that can be mailed without a huge cost.

While choosing the size of card, you should also give some thought to the style. Some of the more popular styles for this application are panel, pocket and gatefold cards. Stair-step cards and box cards are very beautiful as invitations and announcements; however, if you wish to reduce the cost, time and labor involved, this style may not be the best option for you. Your choice is somewhat dependent on how many invitations you have to produce.

You might be asking, "Which styles are better to use?" This depends on several things:
  • the amount of time available to make the invitations
  • how much information space is required
  • budget
  • personal preference
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Card 1

By far the quickest and most cost-effective choice is a simple panel card similar to the pocket insert shown in the Card 1 photo. To make the base for a panel invitation or announcement, cut the cardstock to 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches, allowing for four bases to be generated from one letter-size sheet. Next, print, stamp or write the information on decorative paper and cut it slightly smaller than the base. Layer this piece to the base and finish with a punched cardstock embellishment or ribbon. If attaching ribbon, try to keep the knot as flat as possible. There are a couple of methods that result in a flatter finish; check out this video by Robin Arnold who shows us how to create a flat bow without a knot!

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Card 1

Now let's take a panel invitation to the next level by creating a pocket-style invitation. There are a variety of methods and supplies that can be used to make pockets. One method is shared in our free project where a simple paper sack was used. Another method is to seal an envelope and then trim at one end, thus creating a pocket. There are also die templates that may be used to create pockets. The possibilities truly are endless.

The green cardstock pocket shown in the Card 1 photo is a simple folded pocket. Two pockets can be made from one letter-size piece of cardstock. Simply cut in half to 4 1/4 x 11-inches; then score it at 1 1/2 and 5 1/2 inches from one end to create a flap and center fold. Next, create a decorative edge on the flap with the use of a border punch, die template or decorative-edge scissors. This style of pocket can be secured by just wrapping a ribbon around it and tying in a knot or, for a complete seal along the edges, use a narrow liner tape. When creating the insert panel it is necessary to cut the panel smaller to allow it to slide in and out of the pocket.

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Card 2

Our next variation is a simple A2 side-fold card. With the use of letter-size cardstock it is possible to generate two card bases from one sheet. Simply cut the cardstock in half to 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches; then score and fold in half at 4 1/4 -inches. For this particular invitation a cost and time-saving option was used. Premade 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch white panel cards were purchased at a clearance price of $3 for 50 invitations which also included the vellum, envelopes and even ribbon, which was saved for a different project. Keep your eyes open for this type of deal! To create the card base, it was easy then to just score the panel at 4 1/4 inches and fold in half. Next, decorate the front with printed paper and layer with vellum and embellishments. Attaching vellum does require some care so that the adhesive does not show through. The vellum on this invitation was folded at the top edge and adhered to the inside of the card while adhesive dots were strategically placed underneath the areas reserved for embellishments. Ribbon is another great option for attaching vellum to a card. For this style of invitation the information panel can be printed on decorative, plain or vellum paper, and then attached to the inside of the card. For more creative ideas about vellum check out Kimber McGray's article Tips for Using Vellum.

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Card 3

Our last variation for this article, but certainly not your last option, is a gatefold invitation. Like the other variations shared here, this option also allows for two card bases to be made from one letter-size sheet. Simply cut the cardstock in half to 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches and score the right and left sides at 2 1/8 inches. Next, fold on the score lines aligning the outside edges in the center. To create further visual interest and texture, emboss the card front panels using an embossing folder. Next, make a layered panel with printed and plain cardstocks. Ribbon and a few punched embellishments finish this panel nicely. In order to attach the panel to the gatefold card, adhesive must be applied to only half of the panel and then attached to one side of the gatefold card. Previous methods of creating the information panel may be used, or you can try something a bit different by using a scrapbook journaling card layered to cardstock.

All of the variations that we have discussed have been created in a portrait orientation; however, a landscape orientation is another option. The only adjustment is for a landscape gatefold invitation, where the cardstock must be cut to 4 1/4 x 11 inches and scored at 2 3/4 inches from each side.

I have found the best approach when making a large amount of the same card is to work in an assembly-line fashion. Break the work down into sections so that you are repeating the same task for each card before moving to the next step. It really does help to ensure consistency and speed up the process.

One of the advantages to handmade invitations and announcements is the ability to truly personalize them according to the people and the event. A nice touch for a wedding or shower invitation is to coordinate the colors with the actual wedding colors. If the wedding is a themed event, try to pull aspects of that into the invitation. If it's a birthday, you might like to use the favorite colors or interests of the birthday person as inspiration. For a baby shower or announcement, find out what the nursery colors and images are and use those for a truly coordinated effect. Yes, it may take a bit of research, but the result of a truly custom invitation or announcement is sure to be noticed and appreciated!