DIY Letterpress Wedding Invitations

Aside from the flowers, letterpressing was my second favorite DIY project. This series of 3 posts from Wedding Bee is broken up into: designing the plates, using the letterpress and a breakdown of materials/costs and is pretty much what I used to guide me through the process. That being said, I HIGHLY recommend reading all three posts (multiple times) if you’re thinking about letterpressing using the L Letterpress. I’ve also heard of people building their own letterpress but I decided using the kit was just easier (and there are so many other uses for a Cuttlebug as you’ll see below).

Materials

Cuttlebug (cheapest one ordered from Amazon)
L Letterpress Kit (ordered from WilliamSonoma.com but now available at JoAnn Fabric & Craft Stores)
30ml tube of L Letterpress navy ink (ordered from Amazon)
Speedball Brayer (ordered from Amazon) — recommended by Boxcar Press’s review of the L Letterpress
Paper (purchased Watercolor booklets – the thicker the better from Michaels (with a 40% coupon or when they were on buy one get one sale) and cut them to size with the paper cutter at Kinko’s — in retrospect, ordering the really fancy, letterpress paper would have only made them look better.)
Letterpress Plates (I designed these myself on Adobe Illustrator and ordered from Boxcar Press.  It was really awesome to design an invite ourselves because it ended up being so personal.)
Corner Rounder (purchased from Michaels with a 40% off coupon — yes, this might not have been 100% necessary but rounding off the corners of everything looked so good!)

Method

This was a two person job and I’m glad that my husband has always been so supportive of high-commitment DIY projects. He inked the plate, while I handled placing the paper, folding the plate over and putting it through the Cuttlebug.

The L Letterpress has a hinge and two sides and opens and folds like a book. To one side, you affix your “plate” (it comes like a heavy duty sticker and the kit comes with some heavy duty double stick tape you can use if you need to use your plates a second time.) On the other side, you lay out your paper (I always used 2-3 pieces of the watercolor paper to get a deeper imprint into my inked copy, this is probably not necessary if you are using actual letterpress paper.) When the L Letterpress is folded like a book you feed it through the Cuttlebug and the inked plate presses against the paper, inking it and leaving a slight, inked intent. Viola!

This process yields one invite at a time. So if you’re doing an invite, a reply card, maps/directions and an envelope… and 100 invites… you are inking and rolling through 400 times. (We were able to fit the two smaller card plates into the letterpress at once so we saved some labor there.) But seriously, this is not a project for the faint of heart. Or for the bride sending out 400 invites.

Inking is a trial and error process — with the trick being you’d rather have less ink than more ink, because more ink will require you to wipe down your plates and start anew. Extra ink gets into every crevice. every. crevice. But wiping it with a baby wipe and running a blank sheet through a few times usually can get most of it out, but is a pain in the butt. Once you get pretty good at judging how much ink was the right amount, you’ll hit a groove of inking and pressing and then you just repeat. 100 times.  I also realized in retrospect, that if I am inviting 100 people, it really only need 60-75 invitations, so I seriously overproduced.  But this just allowed me to pick the best looking ones to mail out.

Price

My invites came out to be about $3.85 per invite (this includes postage for the invite and reply card, so really $2.87 per invite). If I used Vista Print or something, it probably would have been cheaper, but this was a pretty low cost (but high time commitment) way to get letterpressed invites that we love.

This price per invite has probably has gone down because I used my Cuttlebug for a lot of other wedding-related items including: outer envelopes, reply envelopes, table numbers, escort cards and thank you notes using plates we already had & left over water color paper. For the reply envelopes, I printed our return address on them from a regular printer and put them through the Cuttlebug using an emboss folder to get it to have the wood texture — it made cheap, kraft paper envelopes from Michael’s look really fancy!  I would have done both envelopes, but the larger one was too big for the folder. Oh well.

Summary

Invitation (5×7), Reply Card & Information Card (5½x4) designed by us, plates created by Boxcar Press, navy blue letterpress ink on watercolor paper.
Outer Envelope Michael’s A7 kraft envelope, silver letterpress ink on back side with return address.
Reply Envelope Michael’s A2 kraft envelope, printed return address & embossed with wood texture.
Escort Cards (2.5×2.5) navy blue letterpress ink, plates included with L Letterpress kit, handwritten names in gold paint pen, numbers die cutted scrapbook paper from Cuttlebug.
Table Numbers no ink, letterpressed plates included with L letterpress kit, traced with gold paint pen, numbers cut with xacto knife from scrapbook paper.
Thank You Notes designed by us, plates created by Boxcar Press, navy blue letterpress ink on watercolor paper.

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