I started off with an aisle runner that I bought from Michael's. I had a 40% off coupon, so I got a pretty good deal. The aisle runner is nothing spectacular. I wasn't looking for anything elaborate because I knew I was buying it so that I could put our design on it.
To start off, I had to have a design to put on the aisle runner. I used Microsoft Publisher, but I'm sure you could use other programs. I created a new page size for my design so that I wouldn't have to blow anything up when I was done. I did some experimenting to get it to look the way that I wanted. I ended up having a 36"x22" inch page size. I wanted it to be 36" inches across because that is how wide my aisle runner is. I wanted the design to fill the runner (and it made it a whole lot easier to line the pages up with the runner!).
Then I put in my design. I added our monogram/logo and then put in text box for our names and a text box for our date. I used the two fonts that are being used for all of our other paper items (programs, save-the-dates, invitations, etc.): Edwardian Script and Copperplate Gothic.
This is what I ended up with:
I had originally planned to put the monogram and our names in navy blue and then the date in black, but when I started painting, I decided to do all of it in navy blue. I thought it would look better.
Anyway, it took me a while to get the design as I wanted it. I spent a few nights tweaking until I had a design I thought was perfect (and I also got the approval of Philip and my mom!). So, it was finally time to get started with the real work.
To my great surprise, Philip decided to help. We printed out the design (just in black and white since it was only for tracing purposes). It printed out on 12 sheets (4 across and 3 down). Then we had to piece the pages together so that they lined up perfectly. That required us to cut off parts of pages and to tape them all together.
Since that took a bit of time (and because Philip had had his fill of helping), I decided to start the tracing the next night. So, to get started, I taped the design to our kitchen table so that it wouldn't move. Then, I laid the aisle runner over top of the design and lined up the edges (so glad I made the design 36" across!). Then I taped the aisle runner to the table as well so that it wouldn't shift during the tracing. I also laid some books at the top of the aisle runner to hold it steady.
The tracing was a huge pain in the you-know-what. I had to do it over two nights because my hand started cramping. My had was killing me. I used a mechanical pencil because it was what I had lying around. I would recommend using a regular pencil though. The mechanical pencil tip was so thin that it kept catching on the cloth and breaking. I think a regular pencil would be thicker and hold up a little better.
Also, make sure you hold the aisle runner still as you are tracing. Otherwise, you may be pulling the runner without realizing it because it will stretch a little. Be careful not to rub over where you've already traced because the pencil marks will smear and leave smudges on the white cloth (not pretty!). Keep in mind that the pencil marks do not need to be dark; you just need to be able to see the outline so that you know where to paint (this would be especially important if you are using light colored paints -- you don't want to see pencil marks through the paint!).
Once you finish the tracing, you're ready to start on the painting. Let me just warn you that this step is going to be extremely tedious. This is especially the case if your design has small details. It's much easier to paint thick areas than teeny-tiny areas. Unfortunately, my design had a lot of tiny areas.
I bought black paint and what was supposed to be navy blue paint. I decided that the navy blue was really more of a royal blue, so I mixed up my own batch of navy blue by adding some black paint to the royal blue paint. It came out a beautiful dark blue color.
I used Apple Barrel Acrylic paint. I wasn't sure what kind of brush I would need, so I just picked up a huge pack of brushes from Walmart for about $3.00. I had to do some experimenting to see which brush would work right for me. For the tiny details on my design, I had to use a medium width brush with a flat tip. I could dip it into the paint and draw the paintbrush along the cloth sideways. It made the job less tedious than having to continuously pick up the brush when using a smaller brush or one not flat-tipped. You can see my supplies here:
I'm sure for a design with larger details, a larger brush would be needed. I've heard some brides say that for larger designs, a foam brush works best. You'll probably have to do some experimenting to see what works for you.
Once I got my rhythm down, I painted.
And painted some more.
Then, for a slight change of pace, I painted even more. And, this is what I ended up with after a few nights of painting (I was going crazy with all the tiny details, so I had to spread out over a few nights!):
One word of warning: Be very careful with your paintbrush. Be careful where you set it down and make sure your brush does not have too much paint on it. You don't want it dripping paint onto the cloth where it's not supposed to be! When I finally finished the aisle runner, I jumped up excitedly... well, my dogs got excited, too. So excited that they knocked into me and made me drop the brush onto the cloth. It wasn't a huge deal. I had to get a bleach pen out and clean up the mess (lots of blotting and then resoaking the spot). It took extra time that I shouldn't have had to use on this project. So, just be careful with your paint and paintbrush!
This project was really pretty simple, but it was very time consuming. I'd say that pretty much anyone could do this project if they have some time on their hands and if they have some patience. If you don't have a lot of patience, I would recommend that you make sure your design does not have a lot of small details. Make your design have thick lines so that it will not be so tedious. But, I think you can see that it is worth the effort. I now have a beautiful aisle runner. :) If you do decide to go through with the aisle runner project, be sure to let me know how yours turned out! Good luck!