How To: No-Sew Wedding Backdrop


Time to go big or go home!

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

How To: No Sew Wedding Backdrop | A Practical Wedding

At APW, we’re big fans of the one and done project. When we’re coming up with tutorial ideas, we automatically nix anything that seems like a good idea, but will end up with you in a pile of tissue paper and tears once you realize what it takes to make a hundred items that take fifteen minutes each (a cool twenty-five hours). Plus, wedding media (and damn Pinterest) tends to get important confused with unimportant when it comes to decor. You know what photographs really well for Pinterest? A teeny tiny handcrafted place card. You know what ends up shoved into your purse at a wedding without a second thought? Those same teeny tiny handcrafted place cards you spent twenty-five hours on.

Instead, this month, we’re focusing on large-scale backdrops. We flew our very own wedding designer, Michelle Edgemont, out from Brooklyn and asked her to help us dream up wedding installations. Huge-ass statement pieces that would make you smile and not stop. Our idea for creating these was to come up with something that was worth a little time and money investment (most of these projects averaged around $250 and an afternoon of labor). But the idea is, these projects are big and impactful enough that they’re all anyone will remember of the decor from your wedding—and they’ll make a huge splash in your pictures (a theory we were able to test ourselves, thanks to our awesome staff photographer Allison Andres, and our rad models Janeen and Daniela of Darling Dear Photography). These are the projects you can use as your excuse to ditch centerpieces. And fancy place settings. And frilly decor. They are go-big-or-go-home projects, and APW votes you go big.

We created a variety of large-scale backdrop installations, each with different requirements, because all venues have different limitations. And for each of these backdrops we’ll be laying out the pros and cons, the time estimate, and the cost estimate. These details should help you figure out if a project will work for you before it’s too late and you end up in tears. But as someone who had a venue that let us do… nothing (no hanging things from the ceiling, no sticking things to the wall), I wanted to start with the backdrop that you can use anywhere, because it hangs from a freestanding frame. Plus? It’s so good looking I have a hard time believing how shockingly simple it was to create, and I was there when we made it.

This backdrop was loosely inspired by the stained glass window at The Fig House in LA (because even if you can’t afford the Fig House, you can afford this), but you can modify it to fit any color scheme. And while we’re going to be giving away some of the backdrops we made (stay tuned), I love this one so much, I’m keeping it forever. Plus, it’s so easy to make, there is almost no point in giving you mine.

Pros

  • Can be used in almost any venue, because it hangs from a freestanding frame.
  • Can be used for both a ceremony backdrop and a photo booth backdrop.
  • You don’t have to be able to sew! Bam!
  • Easy to make well in advance of the wedding.
  • Easy to transport.
  • So. Pretty.

Cons

  • If you use this for your ceremony, your guests will see the freestanding frame, unless you affix the backdrop to the wall instead.
  • If you’re creating your own color palette, it will take some thought and experimentation, and possibly an artistic eye.

Supplies

ACRYLIC Paint Colors Used

  • Grey
  • Neon Pink
  • Plum
  • Pale Blue
  • Light Yellow
  • White
  • Turquoise

Cost Estimate: $65 for backdrop, plus cost of frame (options below, ranging from $25 to $140).

Time estimate: An hour or two of actual making, plus overnight to dry.

How To: No Sew Wedding Backdrop | A Practical Wedding

Steps

1. Spread the plastic drop cloth out on the (preferably concrete) floor you’re working on, and tape it to the floor. Lay the heavy canvas drop cloth on top of it, and tape it to the floor or the plastic drop cloth. (Note: We didn’t put a plastic drop cloth under our canvas backdrop. Our logic was that paint couldn’t possibly leak through a drop cloth made for catching spilled paint… could it? Turns out, drop cloths are not exactly designed to be painted on TOP of, so paint did leak through. And while acrylic craft paint is generally water soluble, you probably don’t want to have to scrub it up.)

2. Take your painter’s tape and use it to divide up your canvas into triangles. You want a variety of sizes of triangles.

3. Using one color at a time, paint different triangles in different colors (a handful in neon pink, then a handful in plum, then a few in white, etc.). Continue till all your triangles are painted.

4. Let your canvas dry overnight.

5. Remove the painter’s tape. Ooohhh and ahhhhh at your creation.

6. Assemble your frame.

7. Fold over your fabric at the top of the frame to create a temporary pocket, and use the (super strong) Gorilla Tape to affix the fabric to itself. TA-DAH, no sewing required. (And nope, it’s not going to fall down.)

8. Enjoy!

Frame Options:

  • Seamless Background Frame, $65. If you don’t feel like building a frame, and you don’t need something that will hold a heavy load, a seamless backdrop frame isn’t a bad way to go.  It’s light, super portable, and easy to set up. These are used for backdrops in photography, and APW owns one (and used it for this shoot). They’re good little frames, and you can sell it on Craigslist when you’re through.
  • Pipe and Drape Backdrop, $139. If you don’t feel like building a frame but want something heavy duty, that you can hang anything off of, this is the way to go. Again, you can sell it on Craigslist when you’re through.
  • Make a (pretty) wooden frame, using our wedding arch tutorial. This won’t be considerably less than buying a seamless frame (and it will be way more expensive if you buy expensive birch poles), so only build it if you’re dead set on making something super pretty for the frame itself. Also, make sure you stability test before the day of.
  • Make a PVC frame, $25 or so. You’ll want to make a taller frame than this tutorial, and keep in mind this kind of frame will only hold something as lightweight as fabric. But if you want to save money and are up for a little extra legwork, this is a cheap way to go!

How To: No Sew Wedding Backdrop | A Practical Wedding

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.


The Info:

Photography: Allison Andres for A Practical Wedding APW Sponsor | Styling: Michelle Edgemont APW Sponsor | Art Direction: Meg Keene for A Practical Wedding | Models: Janeen and Daniela of Darling Dear Photography | Hair & Makeup: Shana of Fox & Doll, San Francisco | Janeen’s Dress: Nicole Miller “Tara” gown from The Wedding Party, Berkeley APW Sponsor | Daniela’s Tuxedo Pants: The Artful Gentleman, San Francisco APW Vendor

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  • vegankitchendiaries

    RAD!

  • KM

    so cool!

  • Kelsey

    Also, these are the hottest ‘crafting’ photos I’ve ever seen. Killer shot with the kissing and the confetti!!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Agree! Is there a #hotbrideswithsilverstreaks APW hash tag trend yet?

  • http://elissarphotography.com/ Elissa R

    This is SO PRETTY. I want one for my house.

    • http://karenmadrone.wordpress.com/ Karen

      My thought exactly!

      • Sami Wertz

        Me too!!! Any project that can be repurposed in our home goes to the top of the list for me.

    • Elizabeth

      GASP! It could be like a head-board or something! OMG! OMG!

    • Lindsey d.

      I’ve used drop cloths for curtains before… I can totally see a painted version being amazing! (May do this actually).

      • ambi

        Just want to second the drop-cloth-as-curtains idea. ALL of our curtains in the whole house are drop cloths, held up with those curtain rings that have clips on them. Now this makes me want to go home and pain them all!

    • http://www.rachellerawlingsphotography.com/ Rachelle

      Uh, we are totally making this to hang on the giant blank wall in our dining room.

  • emmers

    Amazeballs!!!!!!!!!! And thank you so much for including frame information!

  • ART

    this is great. we are using a vintage boat (!) for our photobooth so we used an insane 10′x17′ piece of canvas theater backdrop cloth and i freehanded (free-paint-rollered) some mountains and a lake on it. it takes a long ass time to paint 170 square feet and my knees and back were killing me at the end of the day, so a 6′x9′ size sounds WAY better. unless you need to fit a boat in front of it :)

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I’m going to need some photographic evidence of this boat. Because it sounds AMAZING.

      • ART

        Well, we’re less than three weeks out so…hopefully it turns out amazing and not a total fail! :)

  • Annonyanka

    This would be adorable for a photobooth. And my mom even has two portable backdrop frames so asking her to bring those and use them for this would be a good way for her to feel involved…

  • BeeAssassin

    Awesome article! Now if only I could go back in time to a week ago, when we had the idea to make the backdrop frame out of steel pipes and joins. :/ In terms of cost it was only a little more expensive than the seamless background frame, and we lucked out as there are green colored pipes to match our wedding color. I was worried about the top bar sagging, but looking at the (gorgeous!) photos, it seems like I was worried for nothing. I could probably do pull-ups on the thing we built. If I could do pull-ups, which I can’t. Can’t wait to see the rest of the backdrops!

  • Brooke

    Am I ambitious enough to make this and use it as a backdrop for the band? Maybe. Er…no. Er…maybe!

    • Meg Keene

      Seriously, it’s pretty damn easy. And if you used the HUGE size drop cloth it would totally work for a band. The seamless frame opens to 9 feet too. JUST SAYING.

      If you have an extra weekend, it’s pretty nbd fun.

  • Emma Klues

    Brilliant!

  • Alyssa M

    Very excited for these backdrops! The is one of the things that is still a big ??? for the partner and I. We’ve got an AMAZEBALLS view of the mountains for a “backdrop” but we kind of feel like there should be SOMETHING up there that simultaneously gives structure to the spot we stand without blocking the view… Are there going to be any that fit that, or are they all more like this one?

  • Fiona

    This is absolutely happening for the photo booth! My little sister and I spent last night hashing out colors…

  • tashamoes

    Someone talked me through picking colours for a streamer backdrop – it might help if you’re trying to decide on paint for this. Pick your main colour first, and use 3 different shades of it (mine was magenta, so I did magenta/deep hot pink, medium pink, and light pink), two accent colours (teal and gold), and two neutrals/neutral-ish (cream and greyish navy).

  • L

    Following last week’s discussion, are the seamless background frames as quick to take down as they look? If I had six of them, could a couple people take them all down in a half hour?

  • http://foxanddoll.com Fox & Doll

    I am proud to have been part of this shoot! Such beautiful pictures and this backdrop rules!

  • Pingback: How To: Geometric No-Sew Backdrop | Michelle Edgemont