Thursday, July 15, 2010

Personalized Aisle Runner Tutorial

I know that most of my posts have been dedicated to home decor, but I have actually done a LOT more than that over the years. Today I’m going to dedicate my post and tutorial on making a “Personalized Aisle Runner” for a wedding. Personalized you say? Yep! You heard me right!! 

When I first started my own business I specialized in wedding invitations and decorations. So, in 2008, when my son Jason became engaged to Bethany, it was only natural that they asked for my help in planning and decorating for the wedding. I spent over a year helping them plan for their special day. Once they decided on their color scheme, my mind went crazy. I laid awake nights coming up with new and crazy ideas of things I could do to make their day really special. I spent months working on all the decorations. One idea I saw on the Internet was to have a custom monogrammed aisle cloth. I loved the idea, but I was not about to spend $200 to $500 to have one made. I knew this was something I could do myself.  If you are into DIY projects, (and of course planning a wedding), then this post is for you!

First I had to come up with a design that the kids wanted. Here are some of the samples I gave them to choose from.

Once they made their choice I got busy. I had to find an affordable aisle cloth I liked. After looking and pricing at numerous places, I found one that was just perfect at one of my favorite craft stores – Crafts 2000. Not sure, but I think I paid around $12.99 for a 75’ roll.  Although it was longer than I really needed, it allowed me to have plenty of room to test out my techniques. This is the design on the aisle cloth.

Once I had the aisle cloth I had to determine the size of design that I would need. I wanted it to be as large as possible on the cloth. Now this next step is probably the most difficult for someone who does not work with graphics. I took my design and enlarged it to my desired size within the graphics program I use. I then divided it up like a mural, with each section on a different piece of paper. Using 11 x 17 card stock I printed out my design. I laid it out on the floor to see how it looked. (I knew I wanted to “Bejewel” the runner once it was done, so I laid some gems out on it as well to see how it would look.) With a few little “tweaks” it was ready to go!

You will want to work on a table so it is at a comfortable height as you paint. That just happened to be my kitchen table (who needed to eat… right?). I wanted to make sure my table was completely protected, so I put down a dollar store plastic table cloth. I taped it to the table so it would not move.

Now I needed to make a decision about supplies. This is where you can learn from my mistakes experience!! (It is important that you have extra aisle cloth to test the process.) I thought that maybe I could just get some fabric paint pens to “color in” the design. I shopped all over to find just the right color pens. That was a waste of time AND $$$!!! They did not work at all. So much for that grand idea! In the end I finally determined that good old-fashioned (cheap) fabric paint was the way to go. One store and $2 later I was in business! The main color for the design was to be teal with a dark gray glitter paint for their names. Other than the dark gray paint and paint brushes (which I left out of the picture), these were the only supplies I needed..

Here are the steps I took:

1. Cover your surface with a cheap plastic tablecloth. TAPE IT DOWN… you don’t want it to move!

2. Place your design on the table and TAPE IT DOWN.

3. Cover the design with waxed paper. You will want to do this so your paint does not bleed through to you printed paper design – it will make a mess and bleed. As before, TAPE IT DOWN.

4. Measure how far down the aisle cloth you want your design, and place that section on your table – over top of your printed design. Be careful to keep the excess rolled so you do not wrinkle it. (NOTE: We put our aisle cloth down BEFORE the wedding and closed off the aisle. This allowed people to SEE the design without walking on it. I personally think this is the best way to do it rather than having the aisle cloth unrolled prior to the bride walking down. Since the ushers usually roll it from front to back, you would have a hard time knowing where to place the monogram. You can put it down front, middle, or wherever you choose, just make sure to measure carefully.) TAPE IT DOWN!

5. I cannot emphasize enough the step of taping everything down. Once you start painting you do not want it to move until it is COMPLETELY dry. (On my test area I accidentally moved the fabric and ended up with a mess and paint in areas I did not want it.) There is no going back if you mess up, so work slowly and carefully!

6. I used two different color outline pencils/pens. I felt it would be easier for me to follow my design if the large “S” was outlined with a blue pencil (plus, no fear of a dark color showing through), and their names were outlined with a dark gray glitter pen. (Hopefully you can see where I have outlined everything.)

7. Now comes the fun part… painting!!! I strongly suggest that you work from the inside out so you don’t smear it with your hand. I found that a small, stiff, flat paint brush worked best. Slooowly I outlined the “S”, and then started painting it in.

8. After I completed the “S” I let it dry for a good 24 hours. I then started working on the details of their names. Again, using a small flat brush. It was safer to work with the small brush so I could pay close attention to the fine details. 

9. I would work from one side of the table, and then move over to the other, always being careful not to get my hand in the area I had already painted. It was so exciting to see it starting to come together!

10. Allow everything to dry for another 24 hours before you move anything. EVEN AT THAT POINT – carefully lift up a small section of your aisle cloth to make sure that the paint is not still wet on the wax paper (that is what takes so long to dry).

11. Once you are sure that everything is dry, you can remove all the tape and slide out the wax paper and the paper design. Now you can see what your completed aisle cloth looks like!

12. I knew we wanted “Bling” on the aisle cloth, so I just couldn’t resist laying some rhinestones on there to see what it was going to look like.

B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!!!!!!! I was getting SO excited!!

13. At this point you can now roll up your aisle cloth; however, before you do that, I suggest covering the design with either wax paper or freezer paper. This will not only protect the paint, but will also keep things from sticking together.

14. The final step came when I decided I wanted to “Bling Up” the ENTIRE LENGTH of the aisle cloth (YES! All ninety feet of it!!!). I knew I wanted them “scattered” down each side, and I wanted them in various sizes. I purchased a LARGE bag of rhinestones like this (but of course they were all clear – just didn’t take a picture of the bag). I honestly can’t remember if I used one or two bags.

15. If/when you are ready to decorate your aisle cloth with rhinestones, let me tell you about your new “best friend”!!!! Glue dots my dear… GLUE DOTS!!!!! A friend suggested this method to me, and it was a breeze (welllll, as much of a breeze as “Bejewling” 90 feet of an aisle cloth can be!!) I had planned to use glue of some type, but that would have been a mess. These worked GREAT!!!!

16. This is how we did it. We put together two 6 foot tables – end to end, and laid out the aisle cloth the length of the tables. My husband and son (yes, this was a FAMILY project) took a box of the glue dots, and started attaching the rhinestones – one to each glue dot – as they unrolled the dots (I think we used something like 10 boxes of glue dots). They attached the rhinestones in random order so there was a mix of sizes. Bethany and I stood on either side of the table and started taking the rhinestones off of the strip (with the glue dot attached of course), and placed them along the sides of the cloth (again, in random order). We determined about how far in we wanted them and about how far apart they should be. It went really fast – the guys could hardly keep up with us. When we would get to the end of the tables we would carefully roll up the “bejewled” portion, and pull down the next section to complete. We did this until we had “bejewled” the entire length that we wanted. (Do you realize: 300 Glue Dots x 10 boxes = 3,000 jewels!!!!!???)  About 3 hours and we were done!!! PHEW… BIG effort but it was worth every bit of the work.

It really sounds like a lot more work than it was. It just takes a little time and planning, but it’s NOT difficult. Just take it slow and be really careful. Here’s the finished product, and of course, our BEAUTIFUL bride!!

How did my favorite little fella get in there???
Aaaaawww, just wanted to show you
the “Bejewling” down the aisle!! ;-)

GORGEOUS… JUST GORGEOUS!!!!! Everyone love it!! 
(BTW - didn't my son-in-law take a beautiful picture of the church... we were not crazy
with all the "orange", but the picture sure is neat!!!)

If you disregard the money I wasted on my trial and error, this whole project probably cost me around $30 to $35.  Quite a savings from the ones offered on line!!!

Hope this helps you if you have any plans to take on a project like this. If you have any questions I would be more than happy to answer anything I can.

Decor Mamma

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2010:  I've been featured by Glue Dots!!!!  Check out their article!



  1. Hi Debbie,
    What a wonderful idea! The bride was so very pretty, and the church was too! A very belated thank you for your nice comments, and for following! We just got back from a camping trip last night, so I am trying to get caught up on my blogging. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Cathy MiddlestetterJuly 16, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    just beautiful!

  3. Hi Debbie...

    Ohhh my gosh...this is fabulous!!! I have seen the personalized aisle cloths and knew they were pretty expensive. What a creative and talented lady you are!!! Your son and daughter-in-law's aisle cloth turned out soooo beautiful...just exquisite! Love the design they chose and I love all the "bling" that you added down the sides of the cloth!

    Ohhh...and that grandson of yours is absolutely adorable!!! I have 10 grands...8 boys and 2 girls! They range in age from 6 yrs. all the way up to 18 yrs. They are the "apple of my eye"!

    Thank you for sharing your GRAND project with us...great tutorial, my friend!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  4. Your son-in-law took some absolutely stunning pictures of the church!! Having seen that gorgeous runner, no picture would do it was absolutely were all the decorations!! :) You make it sound so easy in the instructions though...

  5. Debbie thanks for sharing this. I have been drooling over the $500 ones and they are out of the budget ! I wanted to give this a try and now I know how !! Elaine

  6. Thank you so much, this article has brought tears to my eyes, my wedding is looking more affordable and possible with these DIY ideas. Thank you!


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