Thursday, September 15, 2011

Invites: Tess's Vintage Book Birthday Invitation (Accordion Book Tutorial)

Cute little Tess is one! It's hard to believe. Seems we just sent out her birth announcement. Perhaps that is because we sent it out a bit late!

I think first birthdays are extra special. I love birthdays in general, and believe they should be celebrated, but the first birthday is well, the first! I wish I could say sweet Tess's feet never touched ground until she turned one (I love that custom) but as the third child she's been all over the ground!

In any event, I am doing my best to make her birthday party special. Starting with the invitation. I love to do them the old fashioned way. This one was so much fun! It reminded me of the semester I took Book Arts in college. It was my favorite class (too bad it was non-credit). We used moveable type on letterpresses and learned how to make all sorts of bindings. If I could have remembered what sort of paste we used to cover boards with cloth for binding I might have gone that way for the book favors I did.

But, back to Tess's invitation. I created a little accordion fold book with an outer cover. There is probably an official name for this type of book binding, but it escapes me.  This is such a great way to make a little book because you can design the spreads one by one and add as many as you would like (no worry about gatefolds or laying out for a center-bound brochure). Despite that, I made a little model first, which I'd recommend, before designing this on my PC. I've got a tutorial below to show you how I put it together using my own custom paper tape. But first, here's the invitation:

I created the little sketches. I wanted them to look like vintage embroidery (similar to those on these embroidered shirts for the birthday party) or vintage book illustrations. I also made the Liberty of London inspired print for the "end papers" and paper tape.

It took a bit more postage but these went off in the mail snuggly fit into little red envelopes.

For the complete how-to, click to read more. The printable invitation is available in a customizable (editable text) version in my Etsy store here.


You will need:
  • Your "spreads"--the page on the left and the page on the right joined by a fold in the middle. Mine are slightly smaller than one half 8.5"x11" sheet of cardstock. These are all SINGLE SIDED.
  • An outer cover that is slightly wider (about 1/2") and the same height as your spreads (you'll need even more margin if you are adding more spreads)
  • Tape--I reccommend something decorative such as Washi, or your own custom paper tape. I used 1/2" tape for the cover and 1/4" tape to bind the inside spreads.

Above are the consecutive four spreads in my book invitation, and some strips of tape cut about 1/4" longer than the height of the spread. You might want to think about decorative "end papers"--the decorative paper on the inside cover, which technically is usually also the first loose page. Or you could have the first spread jump right to the content of your book invitation. Also note these are all single sided. The back sides will be contained within the folds and outer cover.

I think it's easier to fold each of the spreads in half before joining them together so you can find the center and create a good fold. It's a bit unwieldly when they are all taped together.

To start "binding" the book, lay the first two spreads together aligning the edges and run a piece of your decorative tape (I used 1/4") from top to bottom along that seam. Smooth it down with your fingers.

If your tape is a bit long than the spread, fold it under, which will add more strength and won't show.

Then, create a fold in the tape along this seam bending the spreads away from each other.

Repeat for each of your spreads, until they are all joined to each other in one long piece.

Now you'll add the outer cover. As i mentioned earlier, this should be a bit wider that the width of each of your spreads because the accordion fold of spreads will take up some space in the fold of the cover, pushing it out a bit. My cover extended about 1/4" from the spreads on the front and back (so the total width was about 1/2" greater than a spread).

See the photos below illustrating the way the spreads fold into the cover.

To bind the cover to the accordion book of spreads, start with the front cover (the kitten on the front of my book below) and bind it to your first spread (the floral "end paper" on the right in mine below).

Do this just as you joined the spreads, by aligning the edges and running a piece of decorative tape down the seam. I used 1/2" tape here becase I wanted more of it to show on the cover but 1/4" would work too.

Crease down the center of the tape on the seam, folding the front cover and the first spread away from each other.

To bind the rest of the book you'll be attachign the back cover to the last spread. This requires you to flip the book over so you can find a good way to get it flat, and align the back cover with the last page of the last spread (in mine below the back cover and last page are both floral).

Run a piece of tape down this seam.

Fold the back cover and last spread away from each other making a crease down the tape over the seam.

Your book may look like this--some sort of geometric shape.

Push the inside folds of your accordion spreads into the inside fold of the cover.

And that's it!

You've made an accordion fold book, or a birthday invitation! A bit time intensive but oh, so fun. And perfect I think for a family gathering to celebrate Tess's first birthday. (If you are interested in purchasing this invitation file it's here in my Etsy shop.)

I love it!


Seaweed and Raine said...

Very sweet! I love that you have used the same paper/tape/fabric design right throughout. I can't wait to see the after party photos! :)
I am in the process of trying to pull together a party for my almost-four-year-old. I've never tried to make one so thematic, but it IS lots of fun (and very time consuming!) I'd better get back to it! :)
Have a great weekend! :)
S&R xo

Meags Keogh said...

These are simply stunning - I'm even more impressed that you have the time to make such wonderful invitations for all three children. Hoping I have the same dedication to all my children as they come along :)

Partycraft Secrets said...

Very beautiful; the small, feminine print is the perfect selection for a little girl - so sweet!

PS: Looking forward to the matching bunting...!

Randi~Dukes and Duchesses said...

Those are adorable! I can't believe you did all the sketches ... you're crazy talented.

dana said...

Oh I love that fabric Anneliese! Looks like Liberty.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I love them! I am scrapbooking this post for sure!

Unknown said...

So sweet and girly. I love the little flowers. Happy Birthday Tess!

Connie @ Daydream In Color said...

This is soo stinking cute! I love the pattern & all the cute vintagey sketches you did!

Lynn said...

They are just so Beautiful!

amy said...


Kathy said...

I agree first birthdays are extra special!! How gorgeous are the invitations and everything you've shown us so far. You are so talented! Everything is just so sweet!!

Pam said...

Oh, so very precious. Tess's birthday will be a special day for all to remember.

Jayna Rae said...

These are super beautiful. I love everything that you do.

Margot Madison Creative said...

This is so sweet, I can't stand it!! Wonderful details and very original.

GreenBride624 said...

I love this idea! I think I am going to combine this invite with your Golden Book party idea for my younger daughter's 1st birthday party! (I posted on the Golden Book Shower post as well) Thanks for the tutorial!!!

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