How to Make Black Watercolor Notecards | DIY

Make your own watercolor stationery | A Fabulous Fete

For our holiday party at the end of last year, I wanted to add a handmade element to the gifts I was giving to everyone. I new it had to be paper + had to involve watercolor. BUT, I also wanted it to be simple enough that it would mesh well with everyone's style. So I dreamed up a pink version of these guys (you can see a little peek of them here). They were so easy, but really beautiful (I think), so I wanted to share with you guys how to make them for yourselves. I think they would be great for lots of things... personal stationery, gifts, party favors, place cards, table numbers, tags if you made them on a smaller scale... EVERYTHING. Like, who hates watercolor? NO ONE.

Black watercolor notecard DIY | A Fabulous Fete
How to customize plain stationery  | A Fabulous Fete
A five minute DIY to add interest to any of your plain stationery | A Fabulous Fete

I started with some double thick paper I had cut here. Mine was 260 lb. but I also found some 200 lb. here. If you aren't going to use a super thick paper like this, definitely be sure you are using a quality watercolor stock like THIS or THIS. If you use plain cardstock, it will warp and your end result will not be a nice flat card.

I used a round brush, size 12 and black winsor & newton watercolor. Add water to your color in a dish. Test on a scrap piece of paper. You will want the result to still be pretty opaque as you'll see in the image above on the left. Make a line of the black all the way across the bottom of the card then clean your brush.

How to create an ombre watercolor wash | A Fabulous Fete

After you have cleaned any excess watercolor off of your brush, dip it back into the water and paint another line, above the black line you just painted, barely touching the two.

Create your own watercolor stationery in just a few steps | A Fabulous Fete

Continue moving up the card using ONLY WATER, about 1 to 2 inches depending on how big your card is. As you add water and touch the original black watercolor line you made at the bottom, it will bleed up into the new brush strokes, creating an ombre effect.

Once your color is moving up towards the top, lay flat to dry. You can go back in with the tip of your brush at this point and pull a bit of the black up and create the little "bursts" you see below. The key here is to only use the tip of your brush to lightly move color around. Adding any more full brush strokes will just mix all of the color together. 

Make sure you have lots of pieces to practice on first. And use a light hand! After a few you'll realize it's a pretty delicate process that gets better as it dries. So take your time;)

Minimal black watercolor stationery DIY | A Fabulous Fete
Make your own watercolor stationery as a gift or party favor | A Fabulous Fete

Wrap with a bit of ribbon or thread once they are dry! They make a really great gift to have on hand, and are also kind of relaxing to make;)

If you guys make these I'd love to see!

Tag me on insta @afabulousfete and/or #afabulousfete


Leaf Lettering + A Summit to Learn All Of My Tips, Tricks + Tools!

Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0 registration is open! Learn how to letter everything BUT paper, like these leaf place cards! | A Fabulous Fete

Lettering on everything BUT paper... it really makes me super happy. While I love paper, and invitations and all of that good stuff, I feel like when I letter on things like leaves and wood, I get to have a little more fun and let loose with my lettering style. I guess it's just all one big experiment and brings you back to those days when you lettered as a hobby... right? I mean, half the time I letter on random things, it's for myself or gifts so there is far less pressure to get things perfect.

And I KNOW you guys love it too, so I'm excited that there is finally a direction I can point you in for the biggest list of resources and guides I've ever shared. Modern Calligraphy Summit registration is now open! So you can sign up to learn all about the tools I use, where I source materials, how I use different tools on each material, and lots of tips + tricks in between. PLUS, there's 6 other instructors teaching and sharing on their own areas of expertise (brush calligraphy, copperplate, breaking the rules, layout + combining lettering styles, invitation design, watercolor and digitizing). All in the comfort of your home, wherever you live... and for an insane deal compared to trying to take these classes individually.

I know you will finish with so much new knowledge and confidence to take on new projects, try new styles, or maybe even (finally) start that business you've been dreaming about. I would've killed for something like this when I started out! Okay, not killed, but you get my point. 

So, to kick off registration (which is only open through MONDAY!), I wanted to share a quick peek at my process and one of the things I love playing around with... live foliage! We actually shot this so long ago, for the holidays and I never got around to sharing it. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get you all excited about what you could learn in the summit. 

How to letter real foliage | A Fabulous Fete

Leaves are so much fun to play around with for parties and events if you can work on them close enough to the actual day. There are plenty of faux options out there, but how fun is sourcing something local and seasonal where each is unique? The key is to grab them at their peak. Find leaves that are large and as flat as possible (to make your life easier) without any bruising or spotting if you can. 

I love using gold on the rich green foliage, one of my favorite pens is the pentouch marker. The gold is a true metallic that doesn't dry dull like others i've tried. It goes on super consistent without drying out easily and/or clumping. (this actually wasn't a pentouch, but i pulled the wrapper off on accident and couldn't remember the name of this one!)

I letter each in the same style I would as if I were writing in brush calligraphy or traditional. But, like I explain in the summit, with the markers I go back in and create the thicker downstrokes you would otherwise create with your nib or brush. That's it! It's a bit trickier since you aren't working on a flat surface, but if you use a light touch you'll get the hang of working over any of the grooves.

Gold hand lettering on real leaves | A Fabulous Fete
Gold calligraphy live foliage place cards | A Fabulous Fete
Leaf place cards, a fun addition to a simple tabletop! | A Fabulous Fete

These little guys are perfect for place cards, gift tags, or if you use larger leaves, signage, seating charts, etc. So versatile;) So if you want to learn MORE, join me and sign up for the Modern Calligraphy Summit here! And if you have any questions about it, feel free to leave those in the comments.

Better Late Than Never | Holiday Party Recap

Billabong bungalow at Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach | A Fabulous Fete

Ok, so I know by now the last thing on your mind is what we all did over the holidays. BUT. I got our pictures back from our AFF holiday party and was NOT going to skip sharing them with you. Plus, it was at the beach on an unseasonably perfect day, so besides the wreaths and lights you see in some of the pictures, this really could be passed off as a summer party. We'd had a pretty awesome year here at A Fabulous Fete and it was all because of the hard working and supportive people I have around me. From people on our team, to creative girls that I partner with, to family, to friends... they've all played a part in my, and my businesses success. So (like my invitation to them said), the least I could do was provide a cool place for them to hang out at for the night, get them tipsy, and give back in one of my fave ways... food, cocktails and flowers;)

I decided to host our little get together in the bungalows at Pacific Edge Hotel. We spent most of our time in this one, the Billabong bungalow, but also had the Fox bungalow which was very dude friendly and ended housing all the beer because of that. Each bungalow had a sitting area, tv, bar that was perfect for snacks and a full bathroom. All of the bungalows were also connected by one large private deck which was tended to by your own server. You had access to the beach, but it wasn't THAT nice out, so we enjoyed with wine from our deck. It was absolutely the perfect spot to host all of my favorites. I love when I can mix casual atmosphere but make people feel special at a thoughtful event. I 100% plan on coming back here in the summer... not sure for what, but that doesn't really matter with this view + service right?

Read on for all of the other details of the day!

Beach bungalow swing chair | A Fabulous Fete
Air plant decor | A Fabulous Fete
Gold Foil Cocktail Napkins | A Fabulous Fete
Party favors included Voluspa candles, mini match bottles, brass jewelry boxes and crystals | A Fabulous Fete

I freaking love putting together gift boxes. I enjoy mini things in multiples. Don't ask me why, I just find joy in it. So I put together 20 of these fab little boxes for the girls. Basically, I included all of my favorite things that I knew everyone could work into their decor, home, or workspace as well. Each box was filled with one of my favorite Voluspa candles (mokara), a tiny brass jewelry box, a glass bottle with matches, crystals and I also hand painted a set of pink watercolor stationery for each. 

Candy and flower party decor | A Fabulous Fete
Mini gift boxes for the friends, fam + the team | A Fabulous Fete
Coffee table set up for the AFF holiday party | A Fabulous Fete

I didn't want to do full on desserts as it was more of a finger food event anyways. So I bought Sugarfina candy in bulk and added to glass bowls in one of the bungalows. We had Champagne bears, peppermint malt balls and birthday cake caramels. I set out boxes and bags for guests to fill during the party as well as take home. These were a hit and SO much easier than planning any desserts.

Sugarfina champagne gummy bears | A Fabulous Fete
Beautiful Savage flowers for our holiday celebration | A Fabulous Fete

FLOWERS! No A Fabulous Fete party or... really anything, is complete without some flowers. I enlisted my friend Naomi from Beautiful Savage Flowers to do two things for me this day. Not only did she bring tons of arrangements to deck out our bungalows, I also had her whip up this flower bar for my girls. WIN. I'm pretty sure everyone was happy to make and take home a bouquet of flowers they put together themselves. Not to mention I took home all of the extras. My house smelled amazing for the following 2 weeks. Naomi will be offering this flower bar service soon for her clients too if you wanted someone to bring this into your party or event!

Team party flower bar by Beautiful Savage Flowers | A Fabulous Fete
Flower bar ingredients. Each guest built their own bouquet to take home | A Fabulous Fete
Flower bar | A Fabulous Fete
Charcuturie board from The Deck, Laguna Beach | A Fabulous Fete

All of the food for our party was provided by The Deck which is the restaurant connected to the Pacific Edge Hotel. I ordered a few things that they refilled through the night and guests were able to place orders with our server who checked in with us often. But the charcuterie was the one thing everyone raved about during and after. So get it if you are ever there.

I sort of felt like you do on your wedding day. Like you're so frazzled you don't really eat and when you do you don't remember much, you just chewed as quickly as possible so you could talk to someone else. I will have revenge on the charcuterie though... soon. I can say the wine and champagne was wonderful though, I had no problem keeping up with that;)

Beach bungalow holiday party | A Fabulous Fete
Charcuterie plate at Pacific Edge bungalows in Laguna Beach | A Fabulous Fete
Cheese + Meat platter for our AFF Holiday party | A Fabulous Fete
Winter parties in California! We celebrated with our team in the bungalows at Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach | A Fabulous Fete

I asked everyone to arrive a bit before sunset so they could all enjoy it as it is one of the biggest perks of hosting here. The bungalows are available for guests from 11am to 8pm, so obviously Ryan and I took full advantage of having our own ocean front deck the whole day. 

AFF owner, Lauren Saylor | A Fabulous Fete
Ocean view | A Fabulous Fete
Party guests at our beach bungalow in Laguna | A Fabulous Fete
AFF holiday party 2016 | A Fabulous Fete
Flower bar favors | A Fabulous Fete
Beautiful Savage Flowers provided and set up an amazing bar for party guests to assemble their own bouquets | A Fabulous Fete
Laguna Beach sunsets | A Fabulous Fete
Simple flower decor by Beautiful Savage Flowers | A Fabulous Fete
The other half of our Wilde House Paper team | A Fabulous Fete
Sunset mingling | A Fabulous Fete

So to recap, still dreaming about this day. It was so much fun and ended up going so smoothly. It's funny, since I started this blog so fully focused on parties, how much I've mellowed out about them over the years. Obviously thoughtful details are still very important to me, but now more than ever it's about being with the people around me that I enjoy. The whole point of entertaining, right?

I wish I could've invited all of you that have supported me and AFF over the years! And trust me, I have long term goals to do so;) But until then, THANK YOU TOO for reading and commenting and liking and sharing. It's really what keeps this space going. XO

Photography: Sunny Kim Photography

Venue: Bungalows at Pacific Edge Hotel

Flowers: Beautiful Savage Flowers

How to Properly Line An Envelope

Lined stationery and wedding envelopes | A Fabulous Fete

There are about 5,642 things I wish I new when I started working for myself. One of them being how to line an envelope. I've struggled with several different methods trying to find what worked best. I always MADE it work but felt like I was putting way too much effort into something that should've been simple. Months (ahem... years) later, I stumbled across a tool that is probably for lots of other things, but in my eyes, is the key to lining an envelope properly.

In the past, we hadn't lined our clients envelopes so to be honest, this wasn't a huge priority in my business. But as we've evolved and started to offer different packages and higher end print processes, these little details were something that were suddenly necessary in our client experience.

So, since we've been lining away here at AFF recently, I thought I'd save you the pain if you didn't know how to do this yet... AND give you links to the tools. Plus you can get it all on Amazon, and if you have prime, you're jumping up and down like I was;)

Custom hand lettered vellum wedding invitation + hand painted liners | A Fabulous Fete
Hand painted envelope liners | A Fabulous Fete


How do you find a liner that fits and how the heck do you get custom liners made?

All of the liners we use for AFF wedding stationery are custom. We have different levels of complexity... some are simple watercolor washes, others are a completely illustrated pattern. If you are designing a custom liner, you will either need to find a printer who has dies to fit their envelopes, OR make you own custom dies. To fit the pointed flap envelopes we use with clients majority of the time, we've had a few common sizes created with one of our printers. You would provide them with a line drawing from which they build the die (the piece that cuts the paper into it's shape). Typically you own these if they are custom, and your printer will keep it "on file" for you to use with each of your designs. There are also a ton of pre-made options out there if you are looking for a one time use, budget friendly option. Just check out any retail store like Paper Source to find your envelopes + matching liners.

How to attach envelope liners | A Fabulous Fete
The best tool for applying envelope liners | A Fabulous Fete
How we assemble liners for our wedding clients | A Fabulous Fete

1. Insert your liner until it hits the bottom of the inside of your envelope. 

The one tool you should invest in if you work in stationery! | A Fabulous Fete
Tips for lining your envelopes perfectly every time | A Fabulous Fete
How to attach an enveloper liner to your outer envelopes | A Fabulous Fete

2. Hold the liner down on the inside where the flap folds over (so that it doesn't shift) and then fold the flap down. Press along the entire top edge of the envelope to crease the liner.

Tips for assembling your wedding invitations | A Fabulous Fete

3. Open the envelope flap only, leaving the liner folded down.

How to use an adhesive applicator for lining envelopes | A Fabulous Fete

4. Apply the adhesive with the applicator (applicator comes with use instructions, practice a few times on scrap paper to get a feel for how to start, pull and end the adhesive line) to only the two top edges of the liner. This is all you need to keep it secure and still allow it to move when you open and close the envelope.

The best way to line your envelopes | A Fabulous Fete
How to easily add interest to simple wedding invitations | A Fabulous Fete

5. Fold the envelope flap down to close and adhere the liner. Do not fold the liner up to meet the envelope flap, this could result in it not attaching in the right place and bunching of the lower part inside of the envelope.

Custom envelope liners for wedding stationery | A Fabulous Fete
How to attach your custom liners to your wedding invitation envelopes | A Fabulous Fete
One tool that you must have for lining envelopes | A Fabulous Fete
Envelope liner DIY | A Fabulous Fete
How to add instant interest to a simple wedding suite | A Fabulous Fete

I love using liners to jazz up an otherwise simple design... this vellum invite combo above wasn't what we originally did for the client, but I LOVE the two together!

I hope this helps you out if you didn't know how to line envelopes already! Are there any other tips or tricks you guys are interested in when it comes to stationery projects like this?

Shop the materials and tools we use...

3 Part Free Video Series for the Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0

Free Modern Calligraphy Summit Videos | A Fabulous Fete

Freeeeeee! Yes, I said free. Did you know that enrollment for Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0 opens in just 1 short week?! And to give everyone a little taste, the team at MCS put together a free 3 part video series that shares a look at the answers to questions that the instructors get asked pretty frequently.  The first was just released yesterday, and was #1 on my list... 'WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TOOLS?' We each share a quick peek into what we love using everyday. So head over, sign up and watch!