Monday, March 8, 2010

OOT Bags, Part One: Problems and Fails

In case you're not savvy with the online wedding lingo, OOT stands for Out Of Town (although I like to pronounce it in my head as 'ute' because it reminds me a children's book I used to read.)  OOT Bags are a lovely way to welcome your guest to your wedding when they check in at the hotel and usually contain snacks, water, directions and any other pertinent information.

I thought my idea was simple enough: Buy plain white paper bags, decorate each one with a custom stamp and add a ribbon bow to the top.  Nothing too crazy but I felt confident my limited DIY skills could handle this.

Ha.  That was an incorrect assumption on my part.  I could've just slapped a custom sticker on these babies and went on my merry way but no, I had to make things difficult for myself. The OOT bags have turned into an ongoing saga that rivals my table numbers. In short, I have spent far too much money, time and effort to produce something that only looks decent enough and that no one will notice.  Excuse me while I go scream into a pillow for a minute.

Here's the story: I ordered 100 white paper bags from Paper Mart for $31.00, along with 25 yards of  yellow grosgrain ribbon for $12.00.  That part I could handle.  It was the 'Welcome' stamp that through me off course.

It was partly my fault.  After contacting a few sellers on Etsy who did custom stamps and convincing one of them to lower their price (who knew custom stamps were so freakin' expensive?!?!) I finally had a seller who could create what I wanted.  However, stupid me never actually took a bag out of it's package to measure it and just guessed at the size stamp I wanted.  It was only after it was delivered that I realized how big a six-inch stamp was. A three-inch or four-inch would have served just as well and been significantly cheaper (the custom stamp from lovestocreatestamps on Etsy was $34.95 with shipping.)

The next problem arose from trying to actually use the stamp.  First off, it took me a lot of online searching to find a stamp pad that was big enough.  Like, days of online searching.  Those buggers are not easy to come by! I finally found one and ordered it but it turned out to be a navy blue, too dark for what I was really hoping for.

(Personal Photo)

Boo, not the blue I've been using in my paper-goods palette.  At first, I decided it was I was OK with having using the navy ink pad but then my OCD got the better of me and I continued my search for a stamp pad with a light blue ink. 

I tried using a smaller stamp pad and dabbing it all over but that didn't really work either.  After three different stamp pads were unsuccessful, a saleswoman at Michael's recommended the school supply online store Lakeshore Learning Materials as a possible source.  Finally, success! There, I found a huge aqua ink pad for $4.95 ($10.95 including shipping.)

But the problems didn't stop there. Even with my giant, correctly-colored stamp pad, I still couldn't get the stamp to be evenly applied to the bag. I kept having blotches like this:

(Personal Photo)

See those random shapes in the curlique of the flower and the random mark on the left? They are not supposed to be there.  Grrrr.....

I seriously tried every technique I could think of to stamp cleanly but try as I might, it was just not possible.  This is why my review of my Etsy stamp seller is not fully positive, since I don't think the stamp was made very well, hence the random blotches when I used it. Although the seller was very accommodating when we were in the process of designing the stamp, I am not very happy with the quality and I expressed my disappointment but have yet to receive a response.

So what's a resourceful, craft-challenged girl to use when her expensive, custom stamp isn't working out the way she had hoped for? Whiteout, my friends, lots and lots of whiteout.  I went through all 97 of my stamped bags and used that trusty necessity of the office to save my image from looking like, well, crap, to be honest.  It literally looked as though the wedding threw up OOT bags all over my apartment since I had to lay them all out to dry once I applied the whiteout.  

Luckily, this story does have a happy ending and I was finally able to produce some very cute OOT bags, that I will show and give a tutorial on in my next post.  Final budget came out to just under $100.  To decorate the freakin' OOT bags.  Don't even get me started on what a waste of money this project was but once I had begun, I was in it to win it, cost be damned.

Do you have a saga about some random decor detail of your wedding? Would you have guessed that finding a stamp pad big enough for a six-inch stamp would have been incredible difficult?


  1. Ugh don't you just hate when things doesn't go your glad you made do with what you had and made it work.

    PS My custom stamp wasn't all that great either. I took it back and had them re-do it because it was was so poorly made the first time.

  2. I'm wondering if it was stamping funny because it was on that creased section of the bag....did it stamp like that on flat computer paper too??
    Also, you could have saved yourself some time and just shaved off the section on the stamp that was leaving those marks. Something to remember for the future. If you look at the stamp when it has ink on it, you'll be able to see that parts that will mark on paper. So if a part is picking up ink that you don't want, just cut it down with an xacto knife.

  3. this post totally made my laugh - we are such perfectionists aren't we!?

    A for effort though my dear!