Today, I'm sharing how I DIY'ed my faux moto jacket from my wedding last fall (better late than never, right?!) I really wanted a custom wedding jacket for photos, and also because October weather is fickle. I couldn't justify having a jacket made that I likely wouldn't wear again, so I came up with a way to make my own.
I have a little bit of graphic design knowledge, but I promise you don't need it in order to do this project! It's easy, inexpensive, and best of all – removable!
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The Custom Wedding Jacket Inspiration:
I saw this jacket shared all over Instagram and loved it. I knew I wanted to have a jacket as a styling option for some photos, and since I was adamant about keeping my last name, this made me chuckle. Don't get me wrong: you can do this same project no matter what you want to write on the back of it. I'd just not seen any custom jackets that didn't say “Mrs. Smith, 10.19.18” or whatever.
As a plus size person, I'm very specific about the fit of items and didn't want to order a $200+ jacket to have it not fit.
I already had a couple of faux leather moto jackets from ELOQUII in my closet (available in sizes 14-28 in 7 colors), so I wanted to test the feasibility of using a vinyl transfer as a temporary option. Crafters love their Cricut and Silhouette cutting machines, so there are a lot of resources to get the vinyl cut or designed even if you don't have one of those machines – I don't have one, but after this project, I kind of want one!
I don't have a lot of experience with vinyl transfers and couldn't find information about transferring to a soft surface, so I ordered a generic vinyl decal from Amazon to do a spot test on one of my jackets.
Step 1: Test The Fabric
The success of this project will depend on the type of fabric or material that you're transferring the vinyl to. I wouldn't attempt this on natural leather: treated or untreated. This faux leather moto jacket is made of polyurethane and has a sheen on the finish. I tested some water on it and it beaded up well, so it felt safe to try this transfer on it.
- Find an inconspicuous place on the item to test. My jacket had a foldover lapel, so I tested underneath that.
- Per the instructions on the vinyl, peel the backing layer off and place it where you want to test the decal.
- Using a blunt edge (I used a Costco card, ha) smooth the vinyl on the fabric. Since there is a little texture to my jacket, I spent more time on this to really make sure I pressed in all the grooves. Pay close attention to the corners or any swirls or dots.
- Carefully peel the transfer paper or tape off the decal. Again, pay attention to dots or anything not connected to other letters, and edges.
- Gently press down any spots that look like they are sticking up. I recommend using your fingers, but with a napkin wrapped around your finger so there's no oil transfer. Move the fabric back and forth to make sure it stays put.
- Leave about a day and come back to peel it off. Start with a corner and gently peel. Check for any damage to the finish of the jacket.
Step 2: Decide on Design
You can do this in any word processor, or a graphics program.
- Decide what words you want on your jacket
- Place a piece of paper on the jacket where you want the text. Make a rough note of how much of that space needs to be taken up. The font used for the words will depend on the font selected and the size of the area you want to place the words.
- Type them out in a Word processor or graphics program and play with fonts to see what you like best. Tip on font selection if you're going with a script or lettered font: Make sure the font doesn't have too many swirls, super thin lines, or brushstrokes that would be hard to transfer to vinyl. It might look good on the precision of a screen or standard printer, but it needs a little bit of weight to make a clean cut and transfer with vinyl.
- Print out your design on a sheet of paper and cut out the words and test the size and placement. I suggest taping them to the jacket and hanging it up and stepping back to make sure it is readable from several feet away. Tweak your design and repeat the process until you're happy with the size and font.
Step 3: Get the vinyl cut
There are a few ways to actually getting the vinyl for you to apply. As far as the type of vinyl, mine was done with Orcal 651 Matte White but I think 631 would work as well. I would suggest going with a matte vinyl if at all possible, considering you may have flash or lighting on your during photos, and any gloss may reflect in the final shots. Again, please spot-test in an inconspicuous area before applying!
- If you are already a crafter with a Cricut or Silhouette, you already know how to make your design!
- If you have a friend who makes these, you can tell them the font, size, and color and type of vinyl
- If you don't know anyone who has a machine like this:
a) Ask around to double-check you don't know anyone- I found so many people I knew that had these machines after-the-fact!
b) Order from Etsy. Many people offer custom vinyl decals – this is who I used. This seller charged based on the length of the longest side of the piece. Others may do it a different way. When in doubt, send the seller a message in advance of placing an order.
c) I have a friend who does this (again, see point 3a about asking around) and you can reach out to her here for pricing, etc. I thought for a hot second about selling the decals, but unless you're a size 26 or 28, my design would probably be too large for your jacket as-is.
- If you are like me and are using a specific, non-standard font, you can
a) Buy a license for the font for whoever is cutting it for you – the font I used was around $12
b) Save the file of your mockup as an acceptable file type for the person who is cutting it for you. Ask them in advance what file types they can accept and how they want the file set up. They might want the entire thing laid out in a single file, or each word separately.
Step 4: Apply and enjoy your custom wedding jacket
The process of applying your custom words is the same as we did in Step 1.
Reminders and final notes:
- Avoid genuine leather as the vinyl has a higher chance of damaging the natural product.
- This won't work on all fabrics. Test the vinyl out on your jacket before going through design and application. Order an inexpensive decal using the same type of vinyl or if a friend is cutting it for you, get a piece of scrap.
- When determining the size and font of the words, cut them apart and tape them to your jacket. Hang it up and look at it from a distance. Can you read the words? If you move your arms around, are the words too close to the shoulders or near the bottom? Is there enough space between the words, or do they all run together?
- These are not reusable, so take your time with the application or have a second set made as a backup just in case. Once they are peeled off, they won't go back on.
- As with any DIY, your mileage may vary. This is a long post, but it was a very easy project and cost me about $40, plus the jacket I already owned. My costs were higher because I ordered from an Etsy seller and because I purchased a custom font license, but it can be done for much less depending on your design and if you have a friend with a Cricut or Silhouette.