September 20, 2015

DIY Wedding Cards Display

I know I can't be the only one who loves greeting cards. In fact love might actually be an understatement, I'm a little obsessed with cards. Birthday cards, Thank You cards, Just Because cards... I love them all.  Now trust me, I do understand that we are in digital era and that cards, much like gift wrap and tissue, are kind of pointless. Some might go as far as saying they are even a waste of paper and totally unnecessary. I beg to differ. Cards are beautiful,  they can instantly change your mood and it's all because they make excellent use of the two most powerful things in all the world; words and pictures.

Every time I buy a card, it literally takes me hours to pick out the perfect one, even though I know it will most likely end up in the trash by the end of the day. So as you can imagine, I never throw cards away. Ever.  Each card is special to me in a unique way and I can't bear to part with any of them. It follows naturally that I kept all our wedding cards. They were all so beautiful with messages of love, advice and best wishes. In fact the more I looked at the cards I felt it was sin to keep them hidden in a box. I decided to think of a way to display some of them so I could see them everyday. At first I thought about using a photo frames with string and pegs like this

Or even a chicken wire photo frame like this


But ultimately I decided I didn't want to cards to be exposed, so I opted for a traditional photo frame. I chose a 16x20 inch photo frame that had an aged metallic look and I started the difficult task of choosing which cards to display since we had so many and I loved them all. In the end I decided to choose ten cards that flowed well together and had a complementary color scheme.

Once I was happy with the arrangement,  I mounted the cards on the insert that came with the frame, and used lightweight paper glue to keep them in place. I added a few embellishments like the crystal ampersand and our initials and called it a day! I love having this up on the wall its a great reminder of our happy day!


December 24, 2014

DIY Personalized wedding dress hangers

I promise I haven't given up on my mission to share all my wedding DIY projects! However since it is admittedly taking me for ever to complete my mission, I've decided to also post about more recent wedding related projects.  Its been a few years since my wedding and since then I've attended a sinful amount of weddings, and for several of them I've had a hand in making several elements of the wedding! I guess you can say my wedding may be over, but the wedding DIY spirit in me still lives on!

Personalized wire hangers were definitely popular even when I was getting married but at the time I had a mile long list of DIY projects I was working on and so I didn't make one for myself. However since then I have seen more creative versions of the personalized hanger and so I started recommending it to other brides. Most people thought the online price plus shipping didnt seem worth it and this piqued my curiosity about them and what was really involved in making them. I recently decided to attempt to make my own wire hanger as a gift for a bride and several of our mutual friends loved it and have ordered personalized hangers of their own as gifts.

Firstly I looked online for what materials I needed to bring this project to life. The basics needed are:
Wooden shirt hangers
12 gauge floral wire
Drill or eyeglass size screwdriver
Wire cutter
Needle nose pliers
Any additional accessories or embellishments

Surprisingly enough, just finding the first thing on my list was tricky! I couldn't find shirt hangers anywhere. To be clear,  a shirt hanger is a basic wooden hanger with no bottom bar. I went to Walmart, Target, Home Goods, Marshalls, and all I could find were velvet hangers, plastic hangers, suit hangers,... basically all kinds of hangers except the one I wanted. So I nearly decided to just get my friend a different gift and scrap the idea of the personalized hanger. But for me giving up just doesn't come easy! I decided to try one last place, Bed Bath and Beyond, and to be honest I really could have saved myself a lot of time by going there first! I walked into their hanger section and I felt like I was in hanger heaven! They had every possible kind of hanger known to mankind!!!

This store carried them in packs of 5, so I decided to get one pack in dark cherry wood and one pack in white wood. Once I had the hangers, I went to Joann's and then Michael's for the wire. I happened to already have most of the other accessories and tools I needed.

I couldn't find my needle nose  pliers so decided to make do with a regular pair of pliers. To be honest I didn't really use it at all. Although it might be useful to know that if you do use a pair of pliers its best to wrap it in masking tape to prevent it from scratching the wire.

Next, I looked online for some sort of template for shaping the letters. I found this one which served as a fairly good guide. It is probably easier though, to just draw out the letters in the size you want and then use that as a template instead.  I realized later that there were several tutorial videos out there with detailed descriptions of how to shape specific letters but I was just anxious to get started so instead I pulled up several images of personalized wire hangers and paid attention to the way the letters were shaped.  Then using just my hands I started shaping the letters of the first word "Mrs". 

 Contrary to what I saw on other sites, I chose not to cut the wire until the word was completed. So I basically worked on the wire straight off the roll. The first and last letters are usually the easiest to shape out, it's the letters in the middle that can get a bit tricky. The key is to think of it, as writing the entire word in one continuous movement that requires clever looping back and forth without getting kinks in the wire. Once the wire gets kinked or too twisted it loses some of the appeal and you have to discard that piece and start over.  I found that certain letters like T and K were a lot more tricky to shape out and it took me several tries to get it.  It took a while before I started being remotely happy with the look of the letters. It takes practice to get the hang of it!

Once I finally finished shaping the letters, I had to attach it to the hanger. But before that, I wanted to add some embellishments to the hanger. I experimented with a a ribbon bow and crystals and then ultimately decided to just use their initials instead. Less is always more in my book.

Once that was done I needed to make holes in the hanger to attach the wire. It turns out my husband didn't have the right drill bit for this job and he drilled right through the hanger! I can tell you right now, I wasn't too please about that! But ultimately it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise  because it forced me to design a new hanger and I ended up finding pretty sparkly letters shown above, which look much better than the original one! This time around  I pulled out my mini eyeglass screwdriver that I keep for my guitar battery and I manually drilled the holes in the hanger. 

It was quick and easy. Then for the first time ever,  I experimented with E6000 glue.  I've avoided this glue for years but decided to give it a try because I was worried the hot glue gun wouldn't hold up as well.. I did the gluing outside because of all the fumes and to be honest I wasn't all that impressed with this glue.   For the second hanger I made, I went back to my trusted hot glue gun!

Once I had measured the hanger and cut the wire to fit, I squeezed glue into the holes I had created and pushed the wire in! In no time I had my very own handmade personalized wedding hanger! 

After it was dry, I came back to inspect my handiwork, as I looked at it, all I could see was everything that was wrong with it, and a billion imperfections with the letters, so I thought about not giving it to the bride since it was surprise anyway, she wouldn't miss it because she wasn't expecting it.

But in the end I  decided to just add it to another gift I had for her, I felt the worst that could happen was she wouldn't use it, no harm there. However when she unwrapped it, her face lit up, she loved it and thought I had ordered it on etsy, she didn't believe me at first when I told her I made it. She immediately offered to send me the photos of her wedding dress on the hanger once her wedding day rolls around!  A mutual friend who saw the hanger when I gave it to her immediately wanted one and ordered one as a Christmas gift for a family member so the very next week I had to make another one! 

My second "Kelly" hanger right before I trimmed the wire and attached it to the hanger

I can definitely say the second one was actually more nerve wracking because this was my first real "sale" and I didn't want to disappoint her. Since then a few others who saw the first two hangers have requested a personalized hanger hanger of their own so I guess you could say I'm in the hanger business now? How exciting!!


October 21, 2014

Farewell to Oscar De La Renta

photo credit// Annie Leibovitz

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Oscar De la Renta with the sad news of his passing.  His gowns, and entire collections have always been breathtaking!! Rest in peace Oscar, you will be missed.

A few of my favorites from his Spring 2015 bridal collection:

And some stand out pieces from previous seasons

January 20, 2014

DIY Wedding program scrolls

Initially I considered not having wedding programs at all, because honestly it just seemed like big waste of paper. I've seen very elaborate programs that have pages and pages of information, photos, hymns and at the end of the day it all gets tossed out with the trash.  But I was torn because as a guest at weddings I do prefer to have a program,  to have an idea of the order of events.  It also saves me from boredom when there is a lot of waiting involved. I decided to create my own very basic, very simple and yet stylish program scrolls using the minimum amount of paper possible.

I designed a simple layout  using Pages on my macbook, in such a way that each program would only use up half of a standard letter size sheet of paper. When I was happy with the layout, I sent it over to Staples to be printed. I love love love printing at Staples. Did I mention that I love printing at staples? I used them a lot for all my DIY wedding paper projects. Their printers lend your work a professional look that your home printer simply can't achieve even if you have a laser printer at home. It is also more cost effective to print with them then print large amounts of paper on your own.  Of course I still had a few issues with Staples making a few errors such as printing on the wrong paper,  but they were always more than happy to reprint at no cost to me. I chose to have these programs printed on linen paper because the weight and texture of it looked more wedding appropriate than plain copy paper. As I mentioned earlier the programs printed out in such a way that each sheet of paper had two programs, so I had to cut it in half. Staples offered to cut it for me but I felt it wasn't worth what they wanted to charge me so I pulled out my fiskars paper cutter and did it myself. Tedious!

Once I had cut all the programs to size, now came the fun part; the rubber stamping. I did a lot of rubber stamping for my wedding. I guess you could call me a rubber stamping addict? I just love the way a simple rubber stamp and the right ink can transform a plain piece of paper into a work of art. I also love that using the same set of rubber stamps on different projects, ties everything together by creating a uniform signature look. The first project I used rubber stamping on, was my invitation suite and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, and I'll be posting about that in more detail soon. But by the time my invitations were mailed I was a certified rubber stamping expert, so I decided to use it on several other projects.

Since the back of programs were blank I decided to use two rubber stamps to decorate them. Firstly a large stamp for the center of the page, and then a really small 'signature' row of hearts stamp for the corner. I used the same hearts stamp for the escort cards later on. I came across the large "wedding words" stamp shown below and i just knew I had to have it.

It was such a simple stamp and yet spoke volumes to me. I knew that with the right ink, on the right paper, this stamp would come to life! I decided to use the same gold pigment ink I had used for my invitations and this is how it turned out!

Many people asked me how I was able to get the stamp to be so perfectly aligned in the center of every single program, I really wanted to say; it's because I'm just that amazing, and I just happen to  have the steadiest hand in the universe... but that would not be true. Instead I found this product called the Stamp-a-ma-jig. Yeah I know, ridiculous name, but it really works. It's a two piece alignment tool that enables you to get the perfectly placed stamp everytime.

I then used the overlapping hearts stamp on the top left corner and bottom right corner of the page. I did this so that when I rolled the paper into a scroll, the hearts would show on the edge of the paper, no matter which way I rolled it.

My awesome parents helped by cutting lots of pink and brown ribbon to size and sealing the ends with a liquid sealant to prevent it from fraying. So once I was ready to roll up the programs I had the perfect cuts of ribbon to hold the scrolls in place, and voila the finished product!

November 27, 2013

DIY bridesmaid hair sticks

I have vowed to post about all my wedding DIYs but as you can tell its taking me longer than I thought, but I will get there, eventually...

Deciding on hair accessories for my bridesmaids was a bit tricky, I knew for a fact I didn't want anything floral. I've said it before, it's not that I hate flowers but I just wanted to minimize the floral elements in my wedding as much as possible. I just wanted to move away from the misconception that a wedding needs overdoses of flowers to survive. I knew I wanted my bridesmaids to have their hair up, because there is just something so elegant and sophisticated about an updo. With that in mind I decided the perfect hair accessory would be hair sticks. I've always loved hair sticks and loved customizing them as a teen. For some reason I used to think they originated from the Chinese culture, but realized later they have origins all across the world, from ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and Japan. Another reason I was attracted to hair sticks is because they are so versatile, they can be worn in many different ways, unlike the standard hair clip worn by bridesmaids which is usually always worn behind the ear.

Originally I thought I would order a set of delicate crystal embellished hair sticks for my bridesmaids, but when I searched online everything I found was either too plain or way to glittery for my liking. I've always been a simple girl, and I'm attracted to minimalist designs that have a quiet elegance. I was on the verge of just crossing the hair sticks off my list, when I came across an old pair of my own hair sticks that I had customized with ribbon several years ago. It reminded me that I could just make my own crystal hair sticks for my bridesmaids. Coincidentally at the same time I had come across a lot of blog posts that featured brides "blinging out" their wedding shoes with flat back crystals. That's when it hit me, I could use the same flat back crystals for my hair sticks! All I needed was to buy plain hair sticks and then I could embellish them myself. I already knew that Sally's stocked two-tone hair sticks by DCNL and since these hair sticks have flat sides like a square I knew they would be perfect for my project!

A flat back crystal is basically what the same suggests, a crystal with a flat back so it can easily be glued to a flat surface. They are available in many different shapes, sizes, colors and styles.Some of them are heat set crystals so you need a heat tool to activate the adhesive. I decided to start out with the professional pack by Crystazzi This pack has clear colorless crystals in multiple sizes so I could experiment with them. I also knew I would need more then one size since the hair sticks get narrow towards the tip.

Next I had to decide on the type of glue to use. All the information I saw online seemed to recommend E6000 glue as being the strongest and best glue for this kind of project. However when I actually picked up a pack of it at Michael's I was turned off by all the warnings on it. It is a really strong glue and gives off toxic vapors that can be harmful especially if used in a room with poor ventilation. Since I did all my wedding DIY projects in a tiny room with not so great ventilation, I just didn't feel right using this glue. I decided to make my life even harder by using my hot glue gun for this project.

The hot glue gun makes it ten times trickier for several reasons. Firstly the hot glue cools down extremely fast so its virtually impossible to position the tiny crystal perfectly on the hair stick before the glue dries.  In fact its impossible to even get the hot glue on the back of the crystal without the glue getting extremely messy, especially if you have a  large glue gun like mine. A mini glue gun would probably have been much better. I also tried putting the glue directly on the hair stick, but if you have worked with a large glue gun and a slippery surface such as these hair sticks,  you know how stringy, messy and difficult it can be for projects that require precision.  Needless to say it was a tough project. Just handling the crystals was difficult, I had to get out my tweezers because they were very hard to pick up with my fingers and I only had nanoseconds to pick up a crystal and position it in the hot glue before the glue cooled down and dried. 

It was a slow and tedious DIY task and I burnt my fingers more times than I care to remember, but I loved the challenge, and it was exciting seeing my vision come to life. After I completed the first pair I was really happy with how it turned out and I knew there was no going back. They sparkled in the light, but weren't too loud or too overdone.  In all, I  made a total of 10 individual sticks (5 pairs) but by the time I was done I felt as though I had done a thousand.

There were definitely moments when I wanted to just give up on this project because the amount of time it took just didn't seem worth it, but I'm glad I pushed through it. The look on my bridesmaids faces when I gave it to them the night before the wedding was worth it. They kept asking if they could really keep the hair sticks after the wedding and refused to believe I made them myself. I forgot to take pictures of the finished product so I recently sent a text to one of my bridesmaids to ask if she still had the hair sticks and if she could send me a photo for this blog post. Within minutes she sent me the awesome photos below! Its been 2.5 years and she knew exactly where they were and they seem to be holding up pretty great except a few missing crystals. Bridesmaid of the year? I think so!