Invitation Printing 101 – Letterpress

Fat Cat Paperie Tips & Tricks

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What is letterpress?

Well for starters, it’s my personal favorite printing process. I had the opportunity to experiment with a vintage letterpress in college and I’ve been in love ever since. 

The Basics

First Look:
• Indented impression
• Matte ink
• Usually printed on a textured cotton paper

It’s great for:
• Everything from classic to whimsical styles
• Weddings, holiday cards, baby announcements, the list goes on….
• Designs with one, two or three ink colors

It’s often combined with:
• Foil details
• Thick paper
• Envelope liners

Details

There’s something about this antique printing process that I just adore. Letterpress printing uses plates to create an indented impression, leaving you with a beautifully textured surface on your invitation. The inks are translucent and soak into the paper so we recommend working with light-colored papers like white, ivory or blush. Your text should be in a medium or dark ink for optimal legibility while decorative details can be printed in any color — go light for a subtle look or dark for a more bold effect.

Maybe I’m a bit of a nerd, but I think the process is pretty cool. Here’s a short video from our friends at Boxcar press, printer of the gorgeous modern invitation above 🙂

Samples and Inspiration

Because of its versatility and refined nature, letterpress is our most popular printing method for invitations so we have LOTS of samples to show off. Here are just a few of our favorites…

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Traditional with a Twist

We like to refer to the above two invitations as “traditional with a twist.” They’re mostly classic allowing the beautiful letterpress impression to be the star of the show. Special little details like the greenery wreath and vintage rose envelope liner give these classics a fresh look. 

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Of course, letterpress isn’t just for weddings! Letterpress printing gave this custom, gender-neutral baby shower invitation that extra special, handcrafted touch.

Of course, letterpress isn’t just for weddings!

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Did I mention, it's versatile?

Did I mention that letterpress is REALLY versatile? As designers, letterpress allows us to take more casual fonts and motifs and really step them up to create an impressive final product. For Lauren and Tommy's wedding, we carried these whimsical fonts from their save the dates to their invitations (and beyond to their wedding menus, not pictured). The fonts and nautical motifs kept the design playful while the letterpress printing added a layer of sophistication, perfect for their Peconic Bay Yacht Club wedding. 

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Thinking outside the box!

The above left invitation mixes in foil details (learn more about foil) to highlight the bride and groom’s names and ornate art deco border. The mix of matte and metallic finishes creates a truly refined look.

The invitation on the right is printed on actual wood! Seriously, it's a thin sheet of wood featuring letterpress printing. How fun is that?!? This one makes me want to get married again… or maybe just an intimate vow renewal with really gorgeous invitations. 

Thanks for playing!

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing about and gathering samples of something I adore so much. I feel giddy every time a letterpress order arrives at our studio and I think I can speak for the entire Fat Cat Team and say that we’ll never get tired of hearing how much our clients love their beautifully pressed invitations and how happy they are with the final printed product.

xo, Fat Cat

ps: While it's gorgeous in photos, the best way to see it is in person. Go ahead and schedule an appointment with us. We can't wait to meet you!

pps: You can learn about the other printing processes too — digital printing, thermography, foil and engraving

  • Modern Letterpress Invitation photographed by Tiffany Axtmann
  • Greenery Wreath Invitation photographed by Fat Cat Paperie
  • Blush Letterpress Close-up photographed by Fat Cat Paperie
  • Twins Baby Shower Invitation photographed by Fat Cat Paperie
  • Nautical Save the Date photographed by Fat Cat Paperie
  • Classic Nautical Invitation photographed by White Pear Photography
  • Gold + Teal Deco Invitation photographed by Fat Cat Paperie
  • Whimsical Woodgrain Invitation photographed by Fat Cat Paperie

Work with Fat Cat from your Couch 

Over-scheduled? Live out of town? Just don’t feel like changing out of your sweatpants to attend another wedding appointment? WE GET IT. We offer video consultations to make your life easier. And, it’s also a great way to work with a bunch of key family members who can’t be in the same place at the same time.

Schedule An Appointment >

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