I had two relatively-simple criteria when it came to thinking up guestbook options: (1) They had to be something we could walk by and see every day. The photo book guestbook is cute and ever-so-classy, but I just couldn’t really see us pulling it out all that often. And (2), they had to leave enough space for guests to actually write messages on them, if they wanted to (although obviously very much *not* required of our guests; I just know that I always prefer to write messages in guestbooks when possible). Rule two ruled out the thumbprint-tree (although I secretly had big dreams of having guests turn their thumbprints into fish and making some fish-in-the-sea related pun). The two ideas I really became obsessed with were the Adirondack chair:
…and the guestbook quilt:
The Adirondack chair was so whimsical and sweet—I could picture us sitting in it on our future front porch for years to come, finding new signatures every time. (Of course, it probably wouldn’t be quite so romantic once our butts started to rub the lettering off the chair. But I’m having a moment, here.)
And the quilt? Well, I love quilting. I made a quilt a few years back that currently sits on our futon, and I’ve also made a few quilts as gifts. I tend to forget how tedious it can be to piece ’em together, and Mr. Hammer usually knows to stay far, far away from the sewing machine room when I’m working on one, but I always love how the end result turns out.
Mr. Hammer modeling the quilt I made for MOH A’s wedding present. I printed photos of the city where they met, the city MOH A is from, the city her husband is from, and the city where they got married onto white fabric and sewed them onto the corners.
The more I thought about these two ideas, the more obvious it became that our current apartment, with its postage stamp-sized porch/balcony, did not have space for an Adirondack chair. And while we could stash it at one of our parents’ houses, wouldn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of having something that we could see every day?
At the same time, I had a light-bulb moment when I realized we could “display” a guestbook quilt like a headboard, thus jazzing up our plain bed frame and putting the quilt in a place that we’d most definitely see every day (but would most likely be safe from the wear and tear of, say, our butts sitting on it while we gaze romantically into the sunset).
Via Martha Stewart
So, all right, I was pretty much sold on the guestbook quilt idea. (Let’s be honest, Mr. Hammer didn’t care very much either way.)
My next question became, how do we display it at the reception? I’ve seen this done two ways on Pinterest. The first way is to set out a bunch of fabric squares to be sewn into a quilt later, like so:
The plus side of this strategy is that it doesn’t require all that much work ahead of time—just cut some fabric up into squares and you’re done! On the other hand, when you sew a quilt together, you lose a border about a quarter inch wide around each square. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how to tell guests not to write in that quarter-inch margin. I had a feeling that, a few beers in, nobody would read even the most detailed instructions sign (hell, I don’t even think I would read a sign like that at a wedding).
The second option—sewing the squares into a quilt top before the wedding—took care of that problem pretty decisively:
However, I know from experience how long it takes for me to piece together a quilt top, and I wasn’t sure I’d be rolling in the free time that close to the wedding (see: DIY letterpress invitations). And (this was the real deal-breaker for me) if the squares were already sewn together, there’d be no way of controlling where the signed blocks were on the quilt topper. I had visions of guests clustering the signed squares all together in one corner of the quilt and leaving the rest of it completely bare (see: beers). Not the end of the world, for sure, but kind of a bummer after putting hours into making the quilt top.
That was basically the only excuse I needed to put off the sewing until after the wedding. Loose squares it was! I set off to my local fabric store and bought a stack of pretty, solid-colored fabrics (~1/3 yard of each, seven pieces total, for a total cost of probably $16, not too shabby!).
I excitedly texted this photo to Mr. Hammer when I left the fabric store. His response? “Oh, dear.” Time to start avoiding the sewing machine room again, Mr. Hammer!
I pre-washed and ironed the fabric before cutting each piece into eighteen or so five-inch squares. I attempted to solve the quarter-inch margins thing by wrapping a piece of washi tape around each edge of each square. It was a little tedious, but it certainly took less time than it would’ve to sew together the whole quilt top, and it was pretty easy to do while watching TV.
Mr. Hammer was on tape-measuring and ripping duty while I wrapped. He may have overcommitted just a little.
It…sort of worked? Since the washi tape isn’t really sticky at all (especially since we used the $1 Target variety), the tape’s already starting to unpeel from the squares at the top of the stack. But at this point, I figure most people will get the point, and even if they don’t, it’s really not the end of the world if a couple of words get cut off in the sewing process.
I also bought a couple of baskets ($2.25 apiece during Michaels Black Saturday), a pack of these fabric gel roller pens (~$10 from a random Amazon seller), and a cute yellow ceramic mason jar to hold the pens because, yellow ($2 on clearance at TJ Maxx). Wanna see the whole setup (minus the instructions sign, which I’ll print out and frame when I’m back to caring about the guestbook)?
What do you think?
So, here’s my next dilemma: the photo booth we hired comes with a free scrapbook for people to put their photos in and sign. Will that take away from the guestbook quilt squares? The guestbook quilt will be out starting at cocktail hour, and the photo booth doesn’t start until after dinner, so I’m hoping guests will see them as two separate “activities,” but I’m kinda worried that guests won’t see/notice the fabric squares, and they’ll figure the scrapbook is our guestbook. Such angst.