Friday, April 29, 2011

Tips for mass producing cards/Retirement Party Invitations

Hi there! I just finished these invitations for my Mom's retirement party & as I was finishing them I was thinking of how many announcements and invitations I've created over the years. It's not unusual for me to be making 20, 30 or even more cards at a time. I even made my brother's wedding invitations (100!) Of this particular one I made 20, but you may remember a few weeks back, the Bowling Party Invitations I made a few weeks ago. I made 30 of those. I was thinking back today, to several years ago when I first started doing this, and some of the trial and error that I experienced. So, just in case you are on the verge of creating many invitations or announcements for an event; I wanted to share some tips and tricks I've found when designing a card to be reproduced several times. Here we go! :)

1. Consider the cost: If you decide to use, say a 99 cent 3D sticker on each of 40 invitations, that's going to drive up your cost pretty high.... I usually stick to solid cardstock, inexpensive patterned papers, punches, stamps and dies when mass producing cards, because I already have them on hand. Similarly, if you're only making 6 invitations, it may not be financially feasible to justify a 25$ stamp set in a theme you may not use again. Digi stamps and clip art are a WONDERFUL option for mass production as they come in hundreds of themes, and are normally not more than a couple dollars. Also, like my bowling cards, inexpensive stickers are a wonderful option as well.

2. Consider the waste: Say you create a card using a certain designer upholstered brad. 12 brads come in each package, but only 4 per package are in the colors you need. You're making 40 invitations, so you buy 10 packages of the brads. Suddenly, you have EIGHTY designer brads left over that may not be in a style or color that will be easily used up later. Additionally, considering the waste goes for cutting your papers. If you are using a piece of patterned paper for an A2 card front, and you decide to make each piece 4 1/8" wide, you've just taken the pieces you can get from a 12" paper from 6 down to 4. Chances are 1/8" isn't going to make that much of a difference in the look of your card, but will prevent you from having large amounts of waste/scraps later on.

3. Mailman friendly: If you're making multiple cards, the odds are that you are going to have to mail at least some of them, right? You may have noticed that I LOOOOOOVE buttons! Love love love them:) However, buttons aren't the greatest for mailing. You either need to use a padded envelope or somehow ensure that the card doesn't go through that big canceling machine at the post office. Did you notice that the button on this card is made from cardstock? This button was punched out, so it will lay flat for mailing. Also, that ensures I can have 20 buttons all the same without buying a thing.

4. The computer is your friend: The sentiment on this card is done with the computer, printed out and then die cut. I rarely do that for a single card, I use stamps. The same goes for the information on the inside of the card or announcement, I always use the computer for that. For an A2 sized card, you should be able to get 4 card "insides" per sheet of 8 1/2" by 11" paper. You can print them, cut them out and adhere to the inside of your cards with minimal waste and minimal time. Plus there so many fun, FREE fonts out there these days, you should be able to find something that suits your card.

5. Time spent: When I am making a single card, I have no problem spending an hour making handmade flowers, hand stitching, using some fancy folding or doing an involved stamping technique. But, lets be real; if you are reproducing a card 40 times, you simply can't spend 1 hour per card, it will just take too darn long, and you'll end up having to compromise your design to finish the job. That old acronym KISS really applies here! Keep it simple, and you'll manage your time much better.

6. Assembly Line: Now, I can't explain why this is true, but I have learned through the years, that the FASTEST way for me to mass produce cards, is to make each piece separately and then assemble the cards. I HAVE tried making each card start to finish and then the next one, and so on. But for some reason, it just takes SO much longer than assembly line style. so, for this card, I cut all the card pieces out of the selected colors. Then I stamped all the blue card fronts, then I colored them all, then I punched and assembled the layered strip, then printed and die cut the clouds. Finally I punched all the buttons and tied them. It does go a lot faster this way, and another thing I've learned is that, if I'm doing something sort of mindless (ie punching out several paper buttons) I can do that in front of the TV with my family, sometimes the boys can even help with things like that! :)

7. Choose elements that are easily and affordably reproduced: I touched on this above, but another element of this card that was a choice that would be easily and affordably reproduced was the bakers twine. I designed my card around the red bakers twine (instead of a different color) because I knew I had a HUGE spool of it! I only have a small card in blue, green, orange and yellow, so it made sense and was cost-effective to choose the red in this case.

WHEW! A lot to remember, I know, but I hope this helps some folks. Trust me when I say I speak from experience, and that's the experience of making mistakes! Trial and error has made me a well-oiled machine when it comes to multiple cards, and I hope this knowledge can help YOU! Thanks for checking out my blog! Have a great day:) -Noelle

Supply list: solid cardstock & stamps: SU!; punches: EK Success; woodgrain paper and button punch: Martha Stewart Crafts; bakers twine: Crate and Barrel; cloud die: MFT

DUST IT OFF!: Who CARES if those cute stamps are retired, so is my Mom! :)


Sylvia said...

Oh Noelle, thanks for making me laugh today! I love the post, but your last sentence is so true. I get so annoyed with the challenges where you have to use all the latest stuff and the retired sets and papers are just forgotten! It was so sunny! Love your ideas! Have a fun Saturday!

Sandy Ang said...

Wow, I'm blown away by you making 20 or 30 cards at a time ! Just love your owl card with that button and twine.