When I received my first wedding invitation commission a few years ago, I found myself scouring the internet for techniques to ensure that it was perfect. One element I was consistently drawn to in other wedding invitations — and dually proposed to the client — was paper belly bands! Not only did they look incredibly elegant, but it also seemed like they wouldn’t be too tough to make. That assessment, happily, was correct: belly bands are not difficult to make at all, they can elevate your paper project endeavors to incredible heights, and you can use them for many different applications! In today’s blog post, we’ll go through three quick paper belly band tutorials to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to a variety of different projects.
Event Invitation Paper Belly Bands
This is a real-life example of a commissioned project with paper belly bands, one that I’m sure that client Beth (the inspiration behind Beth Style calligraphy!) doesn’t mind me sharing with you. Two summers ago, Beth was gearing up to host a rehearsal dinner at a marina for her son and his fiancée. She wanted a 5″ x 7″ (127 mm x 179 mm) invitation and 3.5″ x 5″ (89 mm x 127 mm) information card pair that was gender-neutral and nautical. So, we collaborated on a simple invitation design utilizing an illustration of the family boat. We had the invitation printed off using thermography (basically, that means the letters have a 3D feel to them), but if you’re working on a similar project, you could absolutely do digital printing instead. Once the invitations were printed, I hand-cut pieces of orange card stock a little larger than the invitations.
The printed invitations were then glued onto the card stock, which gave them a sturdy feel.
Once the invitations were created, the question became how to visually and literally tie everything together. The answer? Paper belly bands! It’s always a good idea to echo a color from your invitations, so I purchased several 12″ x 12″ (305 mm x 305 mm) squares of blue card stock to fashion the paper belly bands from.
Next, I cut the card stock into 1″ (25.5 mm) strips. You can make easy work of this by using a paper cutter (I use the Dahle Vantage 18E), but scissors are perfectly acceptable as well.
To make an individual belly band, I folded one end of the strip in about 3″ (76.2 mm).
I hugged that first fold around the right side of the invitation …
… Then I turned the invitation over and folded the other side of the paper belly band around the invitation. When you’re doing this type of project, you’ll want to try to make sure the paper folds around the invitation tightly!
Next, I dabbed some glue on one end of the strip to affix both ends of the belly band together.
Once the strip was glued, I flipped the invitation over and was able to slide in the information card!
Paper belly bands are pretty enough to leave plain, but sometimes it’s nice to glue a fun element in the center. In this case, I used a little square illustration of the family boat, which had also been glued to card stock. The ensemble looks so cohesive and professional, and that’s due in no small part to the belly band!
Calligraphed Paper Belly Bands
You don’t have to relegate paper belly bands to formal invitations; you can also use them in casual correspondence! In this case, I am sending these five (arguably cheesy, I know) photos to a relative, and I want to present them in a beautiful and compelling but simple way.
These photos are 4″ x 6″ (102 mm x 152 mm). If you’re working on a similar project, you’ll want to cut a belly band that is at most 10″ (254 mm) long — otherwise, it will wrap around your stack of photos twice, which will look odd. I chose to make my belly band 1.5″ (38 mm) tall to accommodate a calligraphed message!
The next step echoes that of the invitation belly band you just learned how to make: create a fold on one side of the band. This band is a bit smaller than the blue one in the previous example, so I only folded it in about 2″ (51 mm).
Next, “hug” one side of the photo stack with the fold you just made, turn the stack and the band over, and fold in the other side.
Instead of gluing the ends together, unwrap the belly band from around the stack of photos. You should now have a strip that gives you a good indication of what part of the belly band will show in the front. This will really help you in centering calligraphy!
Next, you can draw three evenly-spaced pencil guidelines; make sure you mark the center of the front section of the belly band! Once your guidelines are drawn, you can use any calligraphy style (I’m using Amy Style and iron gall ink) to add a meaningful message to the front of your belly band.
Wait for the ink to dry, then erase the pencil guidelines!
Re-wrap your paper belly band around the stack of photos, and secure the ends of the band together using any means you like. I love washi tape!
Slip your photos into an envelope, and you’ve got a lovely, personalized photo presentation!
I’m using the “Vintage Roses” printable mail art envelope template to send my photos; it’s the perfect size for standard-sized pictures.
Product Display Stamped Paper Belly Bands
If you find yourself reading this blog regularly, chances are you’ve got the creativity to sell cards, gift tags, bookmarks, and other paper goods either locally or on sites like Etsy. If you’re selling a set, paper belly bands will help to create a delightful display! You’ll begin by stacking your product; I’m using these 5″ x 7″ (127 mm x 179 mm) fox-themed thank you cards as an example.
If you’re working with 5″ x 7″ cards, you’ll want to cut a paper belly band that is at least 11″ (280 mm) long. As a rule of thumb, you want to make sure your belly band is at least 1″ (25.4 mm) longer than two times the width of your paper good. My cards are 5″ wide, and 5″ times 2 equals 10″, plus 1″ equals 11″. The width is up to your discretion; I went with 2″ (50.8 mm) here.
This next step differs a bit from the top two! I want to advertise my business and brand my theoretical product, so I’m using a Kaitlin Style calligraphed stamp to stamp on my information. I haven’t written a blog post over how to create a stamp like this (and I absolutely should), but if you have Facebook, you can see Tuesday’s post for a mini-tutorial over making a custom stamp through rubberstamps.net.
If your paper belly band is a dark color like mine is, you probably will want to emboss the stamp. You can learn how to do that in this tutorial.
Next, you’ll wrap both sides of the belly band around the paper goods (just like you did in the two tutorials above).
Then, you can secure the ends of the belly band together with whatever you want: glue, washi tape, or, in this case, a wax seal! (My favorite place to buy wax seals is Nostalgic Impressions.)
Once you’ve done this, you’ve got a rockin’ presentation that is sure to impress your clients! One caution I would add, though: if you’re using dark paper for your belly band and your paper goods are a light color, it is probably a good idea to wrap your merchandise in plastic or tissue paper and then put on the belly band. If I were selling these cards for real, I would definitely do that; otherwise, the belly band color may rub off onto the cards. If the belly band and paper goods are a similar color, or if the belly band is lighter, then you shouldn’t have a problem!
I hope that you got some ideas reading today’s post. I think it’s important to spread the word about paper belly bands because they offer a beautiful way to enhance the presentation of whatever you are selling or sending! If you have any questions or suggestions about belly bands, please feel free to comment; it’s always awesome to hear from you. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!