To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II)

Hi again errybody! I’m back today to share part II of our DIY backdrop. A couple weeks ago, I told y’all about how Evan and I decided to create a backdrop for our wedding. It was going to be used for the ceremony AND our DIY photobooth, but the ceremony area ended up having the prettiest flowers on the big day so we decided to keep it for the photobooth only- and we’re so glad we did! The photobooth was a HUGE hit!!

In the last post I shared how we (and by “we” I mean Evan. I was just the assistant) made the wooden frame for our backdrop. Today I’m going to take you through my contribution to this project- the actual fabric itself.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

I’d seen TONS of pretty fabric and ribbon backdrops on Pinterest- but ribbon would get real expensive real fast, so that option was nixed pretty early on. I liked the idea of fabric strips, but I wanted to do a really soft, subtle gradient and I wasn’t sure I would find all the colors I needed to do that. So I decided to make the colors myself aka become a fabric dye mixologist aka end up with really weird looking perma-stained hands.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

So I bought some white muslin fabric since it was super cheap and easy to dye. We guessed what length we would want it to be and just bought just enough for that. When we got home, we laid it out and got to tearing! If you have a cat, they can really help with this part.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Unfortunately, because we were Mochi-wrangling, we didn’t get a pic of the tearing process. But it’s super simple: just make little snips with scissors along the edge and start ripping. We made our snips 2-3 inches apart so that our strips would be 2-3 inches wide. With other fabrics you might need to cut down the whole length of the strip, but with muslin it’s way easier to rip away. Plus I liked the natural looking ripped edges more than I would have liked a sharp cut edge anyway. We left a few pieces in bigger sections so I could test out if it was easier to rip and then dye, or dye and then rip.

Speaking of dye, I bought a few different colors of Rit dye (Petal, Violet, and Aquamarine) and got everything ready to go!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To use the dye, just follow the instructions on the bottle. You get warm water and put a weeeee little bit of dye in and mix it about. The water doesn’t have to be boiling or anything, just warm. Though it even works with cold water if you leave it in there long enough.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Please excuse the nail polish haha. Anyway, I left the fabric in the dye for a little while and impatiently checked and checked until I decided to pull it out to prevent it from getting over-saturated. Since I was going for pastels, I wanted the color to be very faint. Unfortunately, even at it’s faintest it was still… too much.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

See that light pink in the middle of the pile that looks like a washed out highlighter? That’s how it turned out, and it was a little too glowy for me. So I decided I’d try mixing my colors to (hopefully) tone it down. Spoiler: when I used the mixed dye to color the fabric, it turned out like the darker pink part of the pile in the photo above. Which had better, warmer undertones, but was too dark to be pastel. Dang.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Then I discovered that Rit actually has a color mixing guide on their website! Totally should have checked that out beforehand! Turned out I needed to get some tan dye to warm up and subdue the brightness of my colors.

I started out following the rules, measuring teaspoons of dyes and cups of water, but by the end I was winging it. The dye was really forgiving, and because I wanted all my strips to vary, it was ok if the color was a little different each time. Also, if you dye the fabric one color and don’t quite like it, you can dye it again in another color to get sort of a wash of that second color onto the first. For example, many times my pink mixes were still too pink or my blues were still too blue, so I’d make a batch of tan dye and leave the pinks and blues in there for a while to soak up the tan. Hope all this makes sense and isn’t too confusing. It’s not that hard once you start getting your hands dirty, I promise :)

I found that I liked tearing the fabric into strips first and then dying it, but you may like doing it the other way around. After I pulled out each strip from the dye and rung it out, I let it air dry hanging in the shower. You can see that it dries pretty wrinkly, but I thought that actually gave it a nice shabby chic effect.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Once it was dry, I set up a couple curtain rods so I could see how it would look once it was more put together. As I mentioned in the last post, we decided to use two curtain rods for the backdrop: one in front for the fabric, and one behind to hang sheer white curtains from (to act as sort of a backdrop for my backdrop, if you will).

Here’s how it looked when I hung it all up!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com And here’s how it looked about 30 seconds later.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To attach the fabric to the curtain rod, I just folded it over and pinned it to itself with a safety pin. I kept going, adding more and more neutral pinkish-tan pieces to pull everything together. Once we finished the wooden backdrop frame, I was super excited to actually put it all together!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

And then… womp womp. Somehow in my excitement about dying, I totally got the wrong length for my fabric. It was like our backdrop was wearing high waters. Luckily, I had bought the last of a bolt of fabric and was cutting it as I went, so I still had a little bit that was uncut.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

But it definitely wasn’t enough to match the amount of too-short strands. It ended up looking like just a handful of full length pieces peeking out from underneath the short ones. But I didn’t want to toss all my beautifully dyed, vertically challenged fabric and I didn’t want to buy a buttload more fabric either. So I got sneaky.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Yep, I took a few of the short strips and cut them up into even smaller bits that were just long enough to bridge the gap from the short strips to the floor. I tried to match up colors and widths on some so it would look like a continuous strand. On others, I’d purposefully pin (for example) a skinny blue piece behind a wide pink piece and just look at it and pretend that a full length blue piece was hiding behind the big pink one. Which is totally what it looked like!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

After pinning everything in place, I just hand stitched it together. Unless you were looking at it as closely as this photo was, the seams were pretty much invisible!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Excited about my fabric ninja skills, I made my way across the bottom and filled in the gap to the floor.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

And finally… ta-da!!!!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To transport the fabric to the wedding, I split the curtain rod in half and rolled up each side. Then I put them both in a trashbag together to keep the rolls of fabric in place.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

And there you have it! It was super easy to transport, reassemble, and disassemble at the end of the night. Plus… it looked gorgeous!!!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part I)

Good golly I love bad puns!

After our wedding got published on Wedding Chicks, our blog traffic got cah-razy and we’ve been getting lots of requests for more wedding tutorials- especially for the backdrop we made for our DIY photobooth!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

The photobooth was SUPER popular, and we knew our family/friends would be taking tons of photos, so I wanted to make a nice backdrop for everyone to stand in front of.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

We actually planned on using the backdrop as our ceremony backdrop and then later moving it to the photobooth area, but we decided against that for a couple reasons. First off, the wind was SUPER crazy during set up and we worried it would be blowing all over us during the ceremony. Observe.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

Luckily the wind was just a light breeze for the rest of the night so this ended up not being an issue anyway. But also, the flowers that day on the gazebo were so so beautiful that we did not want to cover anything up. (Plus they matched the flower in my hair so it was pretty much meant to be!)

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

But enough pretty pictures (though I could look at these all day!) – onto the DIY (aka lots of not-as-pretty but hopefully helpful pictures!)

Our backdrop consisted of a couple parts- the frame and the fabric. I’ll start with the frame.

To make our frame, we decided to build two legs with feet to keep them sturdy, and notches on top of the legs that could hold 2 curtain rods for our fabric to hang from. In the picture below, you can see the front-on view (along with close up photos of the notches).

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

Here is a top-down view of the feet. I’ll get into more details about these soon, just wanted y’all to have a visual first.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

We knew we’d be driving this contraption from Houston to Austin for the wedding, so we wanted something that would pack well and be easy to set up. To make it pack well, the legs needed to be removable from the feet so everything could lay flat. And instead of doing wood across the top we decided on curtain rods because they were also easy to remove AND the curtain rods would allow our width to be adjustable (we didn’t want to be locked into a specific width).

We started with the feet. We knew we wanted them to be able to hold a 2×4 vertically in place as a leg, but that 2×4 also needed to be easily removable. We bought some 2×4′s and got them cut at Home Depot into 6 pieces. Evan sanded a few rough edges, but how much sanding you do will depend on how polished you want it to be. We didn’t do much haha.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

For each foot, Evan placed 2 pieces parallel to each other and one across the top. The plan was to secure the top one to the bottom two with some long screws, so he drilled pilot holes first.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

With the pilot holes drilled, he then secured the boards with 5 long screws on each side. We wanted this backdrop to be sturdy people! I’ve seen too many “wedding fail” videos to risk this thing crashing down on us (or small children, or grandparents, or drunk uncles).

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

To make assembly and disassembly easy, Evan decided we could use L brackets and these little bolts with pins to hold everything in place. You’ll see what I mean as we get there. First, we used a 2×4 to space two L brackets in the center of each foot. We made sure they were as tight as they could be against the 2×4.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

As you can see above, we secured those to the foot with screws and washers. Since I was holding the 2×4 steady, I didn’t get photos of the next part, but basically Evan then drilled screws through those two holes in the L bracket and out the other side of the 2×4. These holes were just barely big enough to hold our bolts, so everything was nice and snug. Then we used a rubber mallet to pound the bolts through the holes, like so:

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

And below is a photo of what the bolts and pins look like in real life. You can get these at Home Depot.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

After the bolts were pounded through, we made things extra extra secure by popping a little pin through the other end. Like I said, I was not taking any chances of this thing being flimsy! The photos below were taken after we stained it, but they really help demonstrate, so just pretend that wood is still a blonde :)

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

For the legs, you can really do whatever height you want. We wanted something that was tall enough for Evan to stand in front of, so we just used the full length of the 2×4′s you get at Home Depot.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

Evan stained them using the same stain we used for our marquee letters and string-and-nail letters: Minwax’s Dark Walnut.

After we stained it, we labeled the feet and legs so that when we reassembled things we would put the correct leg with the correct foot. Even though you’d think 2×4′s are all the same size, there is a little variation sometimes. And since we wanted the legs to fit so snugly in the brackets on each foot, we wanted to make sure we paired the right leg with the foot that was fitted to it. So we labeled the left foot and leg with an A, and the right foot and leg with a B.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

Then we cut notches in the top of each 2×4 that would be able to hold the curtain rods going across the top. Again, we chose to use curtain rods (instead of another 2×4 or PVC) because they would be width-adjustable. Plus, we already had them, so they were freeeee.

We roughly sharpied on some zig-zags onto our wood as guides (since that would be easier to cut than anything rounded out).

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

Then just a couple quick cuts and we had notches for our curtain rods to sit nicely into!

Pssst, the reason we did two notches on each leg instead of one is because I’ve seen too many barren-looking backdrops. You know, where the breeze flutters it a bit and you see how sparse all those fabric strips look when there is no solidity to them. So I decided to have one curtain rod with fabric strips, and another curtain rod behind it with white sheer curtains that would act as a solid background for the fabric. The awesome part was that we already had cheap white sheer curtains from Ikea so we just used those!

The curtain rods sat nicely in the top of the notches when everything was assembled. And that’s pretty much it for the frame, all done!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

This post is starting to get long, and now that we’ve finished going over the backdrop frame, I think we’ll call it a day and write about the fabric in part II! But below, you can get a little sneak peek of how it all started coming together :)

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop - evanandkatelyn.com

PS- you can hop on over and see Part II (making the fabric) right here!

We’re (Sorta) Famous!

Oh snap!!! Our wedding got published!

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You can find it over at the Wedding Chicks blog (could not have titled that post better myself) and check out all the wedding-y goodness.

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In the post you can see tons of our DIY wedding projects in action, lots of which we’ve already posted tutorials for, like our marquee letters, photobooth, string and nail letters, paper lantern chandelier, and silver glitter bottles.

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But we have even more we still need to post about! We are already getting requests for a tutorial about how we made our photobooth backdrop so that will be coming very soon. We’ll also be posting about how to DIY program fans, paper heart straws, custom table numbers, our chalkboard seating chart, and more!

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Thanks guys! <3