Introduction: Escort Card Holders
My fiance and I are having our wedding reception in a bar where table space is going to be at a premium, so I built a set of card holders to use vertical space instead of horizontal. I made them from start to finish, but these would also be an easy project if you wanted to start with a premade frame.
What you need (to make two frames):
- two pieces of matching molding from a home improvement store like Lowes or Home Depot. The length only matters in terms of how big you want your frame to be. I originally did my math for an 8' piece of wood, only to find a cheaper, more sturdy piece that I liked better at 7'. It just meant I had to change my dimensions slightly to accommodate the difference. I would recommend something with a bit of thickness to it, as you will be using a staple gun to hold it all together.
-circular saw or jigsaw - you'll be making straight 45 degree cuts to get the corners for your frames
-speed square - or some other way of making a 45 degree angle
-staple gun and staples. The staples should be long enough to go into your wood without poking out the other side
-acrylic paint or spray paint. I used acrylic and it took about 5 coats to get the right look. I also had to apply a varnish at the end to give it a glossy look.
-glue gun and glue sticks
-embroidery thread, in whatever color you want your lacing to be
-fabric to cover the back of your frame. I used leftover lining fabric from my dress for a clean look, but this could be any color or design you want. Make sure you measure your finished frame to get the right amount of fabric.
Step 1: Cutting the Frame
If you want to purchase a premade frame, stop here and skip ahead to step 5.
If you want to make your own frame, here's what I did:
Take your pieces of molding and measure out how big you want your frame to be. With a 7' piece of molding, I made my pieces 2x 2', and 2x 1'8". I know that doesn't add up to 7', but it will make sense in a second. These were my outer measurements. Whatever your measurements end up being, just make sure you have two matching sets - for each piece of molding, two pieces of one length (both sides), and two pieces of the other (top and bottom). as long as the two pieces in each set are the same, the frame will end up with 90 degree corners.
Unless you have a plain piece of molding with no ornamentation, when you cut your pieces out, half of them will have the ornamentation on the inside, and half of them will have the ornamentation on the outside. This is where making two frames comes in - when you cut the second piece of molding, you'll get the other half of inner and outer pieces. Your two frames will be complete, but reversed. Take a look at the notes on the intro page to see what I mean.
Once you've measured out your cuts, double checked the measurements (measure twice, cut once), and made sure you have two sets of matching measurements - one on each board, go ahead and cut your pieces out.
Step 2: Putting the Frame Together
After both sets are cut, lay out the two rectangles to make sure the pieces fit together properly, and the inside pieces match the inside pieces, while the outside pieces match the outside pieces.
Flip your frame over so the backside is facing up. Using your speed square, square up your corners, and using the staple gun, staple along the corner. Don't be too concerned if there are gaps in the front, we'll fix that in the next step. Repeat the squaring and stapling for all 8 corners.
At this point the frame will be flimsy and bend easily. That will be fixed in the next step too!
Step 3: Fixing the Gaps and Stabilizing
At this point, plug in your hot glue gun. Fill in the gaps at the corners of each frame, holding the pieces together until the glue sets. You'll notice immediately that the frame is stronger and much more stable.
Step 4: Painting the Frame
This is where you can choose to use spray paint where I used acrylic and varnish. It took me about 5 coats to fully cover the frame. Once the frame is dry, you're ready to start building the escort card holders.
Step 5: Adding the Hanging Thread
Measure out your escort card to see how far apart you need to place your threads. My cards are 1.5" high, so I placed my threads 2" apart to leave room for people to pull the cards out. Using the staple gun, put a staple, not fully stapled in, at each 2" (or whatever your measurement need be) mark.
Using the embroidery thread, tie a knot at the first staple, then thread it through the staples. Notice that it laces through 2 staples before switching sides, in order to keep straight lines. I learned the hard way that doing one line across and tying it off on each side led to loose strings. I suggest keeping the thread going all the way through, keeping it taut.
Once the entire frame is threaded and both ends are tied off as tightly as possible, go back and pull the knot to the opposite side of the staple, and hot glue it down. That extra half inch on either side will make the difference between the thread hanging loosely or hanging straight. Make sure you hold the thread taut until the glue is fully dry, or it will merely pull back.
Step 6: Backing the Frame
Once all the thread is attached, take your fabric, and staple it along one side of the frame. Then stretch it to the opposite side and staple it there. Then stretch it to the top and staple it. Then finally stretch it to the bottom and staple it.
Step 7: Additional Stuff
After looking at the finished frames all day, I felt they needed something else. My fiance and I discussed it and landed on "take a seat" since they hold seating cards.
Enjoy your work!
My frames fit about 60 cards each with my cards being 4" long. There's enough room on each line for me to put a 1-2" card with each letter on it to help people figure out where their escort card is.