Thursday, December 27, 2018

Monograms Are Always a Good Idea

Or, in this case, technically we've got initials. R,L, J and M to be specific. The initials of my four beautiful nieces, Riley, Lindsay, Jillian and Maddie. We are lucky enough, most years, to celebrate Christmas together, on the 25th. Which means I'm wrapping presents in bulk, and potentially in a bit of a hurry, lol. Even so... I still don't really like to "mass produce" anything. So my strategy is to formulate *one* design and then personalize each version. Fancy initials are really great for that, and as a bonus you don't even need tags! This year I grabbed my favorite holiday collection: Santa Baby, from Prima Marketing and got to work.

The number one question I get about initials and monograms? "Where do you find fancy letter templates?" The answer is: my computer- and yours- is FULL of them. Set up a word document to the size you need (mine are approximately 6.5 x 8.5") then scroll through your fonts, find a style you like, and format the initial to fill the space*. In this case I've got a free font called "Storybook" which has nice chunky letters with some interesting curves. I print them as outline only, on plain paper. Then staple them to the patterned papers I want to use for each one, and cut out around the outlines. Easy, peasy!

Once you have nice big initials, it's time for the fun part: embellishing!!! Again, I take a basic recipe and sort of adapt it to each one. My basic set of supplies here is: paper doilies; hearts diecut from bright white sheet music backed with plain cardstock; Prima flowers and butterflies (from a few different collections over the years) in shades of white, cream and pink; Chipboard and diecuts from the Santa Baby collection and bright white sticky-back pearls.

Placement is more or less determined by the elements on the base paper initials. For example, I managed to incorporate the beautiful Santa face on the "Grand Christmas Exhibition" paper into the right hand side of the J... so that was obviously going to be my focal point. I added the "bright" chipboard to that side, and the pretty bird and flowers to the hook of the J. Then I "connected" those areas using doilies, flower clusters and pearls.

With some careful cutting, I was able to get both the Santa from the lower left of the "Santa Baby" paper and the cluster of birds and flowers from the upper right of the same sheet! Which worked perfectly for the L and R, respectively. Unfortunately, I sort of decapitated (?!) one of the birds on the R. So my butterfly and flower embellishments were placed quite... ummmm... strategically, lol. 

I thought the M, which is cut from the stripey "Let it Snow" paper would need the least  embellishments, because it has the most different patterns and elements on it. But it turned out to need the most, actually. Which just goes to show that planning is a great idea, but you still have to be ready to roll with the punches as a project comes together.

Since the first three bags each had a Santa, I used the cardstock diecut one on the M, and clustered most of the flowers and embellies at the lower part of the letter, to sort of ground it.

Of course, pretty bags look nice on their own, but what you really need at the end of a post, is a group of beautiful supermodels to show off your work. Luckily, I have one right here!

I hope the rest of your Christmas week will be a relaxing and happy one! 

*My top tip on choosing fonts for more than one initial: make sure that ALL the letters you need will look nice in that style. For example, when printing capital R, L, J and M, it's sometimes hard to find a font where the L is at all interesting. A fact I have occasionally found out AFTER printing the R, J and M. So now I preview each one before I commit! ;)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Leftovers

Don't put away your favorite Eyelet Outlet holiday brads just yet, since they have one more important job to do. Because if, like me, you had a wonderful Christmas yesterday, you might like to say so to your friends and family, so why not use those last few brads in the packet to make some quick and easy thank you notes?

Holiday Light Brads really don't need much more than a string to anchor them. Mine happens to be machine stitched and a bit curly, but yours could be long or short, straight or curvy! Just lightly mark their path with a pencil, then draw, stamp or sew your string base. Add a sentiment et voila! One fun and fab mail-able card is DONE!

Ornament Brads are another fun and choice and all they need is something on which to hang. Again, my trusty sewing machine came to the rescue: I stitched five cords of various lengths and added a brad to the end of each. Alternatively, you could make hangers from twine or ribbon, or add  simple hand stitching with embroidery floss.

And now all that's left is for me to THANK YOU for dropping by, because I happen to know there's a different kind of Christmas leftovers awaiting me... in the fridge! ♥♥♥

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Fair Warning!

Hi folks, today I have a special public service announcement: It turns out making altered rolodex cards with holiday artist trading coins on top is slightly (ok, a LOT!) addictive. On the plus side, this a super fun, super flexible --and, perhaps most importantly--  super FAST way to create with your favorite Eyelet Outlet brads and washi tape. And of course, this idea would work equally well as package tags, gift certificate holders, small cards, tiny bags or boxes... well, let's face it, a week before Christmas, the prospect of being able to make a whole bunch of useful holiday items is *not* to be sneezed at! So here are a few more ideas for you:

I will mention all the specific products in a minute, but probably the most important thing to tell you is the basic "recipe". I made the artist trading coins first. I started with 2.5" circles cut from scraps of patterned paper. Then I inset circles cut with the next smallest size of my nested circle dies. Then I added two or three holiday-themed brads to each coin. Of course, the rolodex card format could easily be discarded in favor of tags, or A2 cards, but in any case, there's a formula for your "base" as well: a neutral paper (or papers, plural; yes, mine are collaged vintage papers, but trust me, yours need not be!) with strips of holiday tape on top. I like to combine 5/8" tapes with skinny ones, but if all of your washi is the same width, you can get the feeling of variety by adding multiple strips of some tapes and overlapping others. I chose combinations of tape that coordinated with the colors in my coins, paired up each set, and that's IT! Instant holiday festiveness!

Here are the brads and tapes I used on each card, working from the top left of the photo above: Skate BradsSnowflake BradGreen Filigree TapeSilver Skinny Glitter TapePinecone BradsPoinsettia BradPine Tree Tape, Skinny Holiday Assortment; Sleigh BradPrancing Deer BradMerry Christmas Tape, Skinny Holiday Assortment; Holiday Tree BradsSnowman BradGreen Filigree TapeSkinny Metallic TapeGreen Dot Tape. And now, starting at the top left of the photo below: Holiday Tree BradsSnowman BradGreen Dot TapeWide Tree WashiSkinny Green Stripe, Skinny Holiday Assortment; Holiday Mitten BradsCandy Cane BradRed Tree TapeSkinny Green Stripe WashiElf BradsHo Ho Ho Tape, Red and Green Dot Tape, Skinny Holiday Assortment, Skinny Green TapeHoliday Light Brads, Deer Tape, Skinny Holiday Assortment.

I hope you will be inspired to borrow this "recipe"... or create your own! It really is a fun and fast way to get LOTS of holiday greetings done, with ZERO stress involved! ♥

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Santa Baby... times two!

I'm pretty sure I've already mentioned how much I love Prima's "Santa Baby" collection, but it bears repeating. And not just because it has a vintage vibe and loads of pink. Though obviously both of those factors are 100% fine with me, lol. Here are a couple of gift bags I made with a selection of the papers... a few bits and bobs of my own and one or two patterns from this summer's "Havana" collection, mixed in:

My biggest problem was deciding which papers to use first, so I sort of just bypassed that whole question by using almost all of them! Since I was making bags for two friends I would be seeing together, I wanted to make two designs that were similar, but unique. So I leaned towards the pink on the first, and picked up the soft turquoise accent color (and some of the metallic gold) for the second bag.

I handcut some very loose, funky ruffles, distressed and curled the edges a bit, added a little machine stitching, then layered them onto the fronts of two plain white bags from the big box store. I worked from the middle of the bag, upwards. I used thin strips of foam tape towards the center of the bags for extra dimension, and Sookwang's extra strong Scor-Tape to anchor the edges firmly in the folds at the side of the bags.

I can never quite resist adding in a little vintage paper... especially sheet music... especially at the holidays! And yes, I have a hardcore love of paper doilies, what can I say? The burlap flowers and gorgeous pink holly leaves at the top are older Prima products, but honestly, it's like they were made especially to coordinate with the tiny flowers from the Santa Baby line. Of course, if you've got bags as fancy as this, they really ought to have matching cards, right?

More doilies, holding sentiments built from my own diecut letters. These are made from vintage sheet music mounted on thin chipboard, to make them extra sturdy. I like to use a mix of sheet music colors and styles to compliment the fun, funky font and add even more vintage charm.

A mix of trimmings, flowers and foliage also bumps up the texture factor. Because seeing as how these will be tucked into the gift bags, there is no need to think about mailability! ;)

Of course the very best place for presents of any kind is underneath the tree, right?! 

I hope this Saturday before the Saturday before Christmas will find you finishing up lots of "to do list" items, but also making time for some holiday fun --and treats-- for yourself! ♥♥♥

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What's Red and Green and FUN All Over?

Holiday-themed Memorydex cards featuring Eyelet Outlet brads and washi tape of course! I used my rolodex die to cut out two cards made from ordinary white cardstock covered in a collage of vintage paper and sheet music. Then I added a band of festive tapes, topped with artist trading coins. Because who ever said you cannot *combine* swap formats to make them exponentially more fun!

On my first card, I layered a bunch of my favorite RED washi tapes: Ho Ho Ho, No Peeking, Merry Christmas, Skinny Merry Christmas and a few other skinny tapes with words on them. Then I made an artist trading coin from red patterned paper and added Santa and Mrs. Claus Brads.

My second card favors shades of green, running in the opposite direction because I started with my favorite vertical Tree Tape and added Green Dots as well as a few different strips of Skinny Green Stripes. This time the coin element features a pair of Pine Trees and a gallant Moose Brad for a fun wintery scene.

Of course there is no limit to the different combinations you could make with just a few fun holiday tapes and brads from Eyelet Outlet!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

'tis the season!

the winter holiday season, that is. so at shopping our stash this week, we'd like to see a card for any winter holiday you celebrate: christmas, solstice, yule, hanukkah, santa lucia, bodhi day, kwanzaa, new year, festivus or... whatever! i went with a very girlie, secular xmas sorta theme, lol!

papers and chipboard from prima's "santa baby" collection; flowers: prima, petaloo, recollections, we r memory keepers and some so old i'm not sure where they are from lol; doily: recollections; snowflake punch: ek success; foliage dies: tim holtz/sizzix; ancient sheer ribbon trim from my stash; ink: ranger; distress tool: tonic; plain white cardstock: staples; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape, hot glue, sewing machine

i've already mentioned that i'm utterly smitten with prima's santa baby collection, so i couldn't resist one more extra-embellished, not-being-mailed sort of card. of course, that collection is brand new, and this is SOS, so i needed to work some older goodies into the mix. thus i raided my dimensional floral collection which stretches back nearly to the millenium, lol. not to mention some leftover diecuts, a scrap of ancient ribbon and the first snowflake punch i ever bought. i even got out that golden-oldie of tools: my tonic edge-distressing tool!

why not unearth some of your favorite older supplies, mix them up with your most coveted new things, and join us at SOS for this last challenge of 2018. just a note that after this, we'll be taking a little break --until january 8th-- to spend holiday time with our family and friends! happy happy holidays to you... whatever holidays you might be celebrating this year! ♥♥♥

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Death Before Decaf!*

It's that wonderful time of year once again: by which I mean both the holiday season AND the winter Coffee Lovers' Blog Hop! Thus I decided to make some giftcard holders that combine my love of coffee, holiday cardmaking and Eyelet Outlet Coffee Brads and Coffee Stamps!

I made a very simple folder; it's just a piece of 3.5 x 8.5" kraft cardstock scored at the 2.5 and 6.5" point, to create a little pocket inside which can hold a giftcard OR a check, money, a little note, even some small photos. You could make these out of double sided patterned paper to save having to trim little panels to decorate the outside, but I always seem to have loads of little patterned paper off-cuts and this is a great way to use them up! 

Once I'd covered the pocket, top flap and back panel with cardstock, it was time for the fun part: decorating! I covered a small scrap of white cardstock with Eyelet Outlet Merry Christmas Tape and diecut it into a heart which is slightly narrower than the top flap, but hangs down a bit over the pocket area. This hides the place where I secured seambinding to the front, but still leaves room for the bow that literally ties the whole thing together. I used my Stephanie Barnard dies to create the coffee cup out of lighter kraft and the lid and front panel from this fun argyle-inspired Christmas Pattern Washi. I added a green Paper Flower, anchored with a Wreath Brad, decorated with some tiny red Pearl Bling berries.

In the second version, I decided to get a bit more coffee-centric, so I stamped the coffee bean from our Coffee Stamp Set in an all-over pattern and used a brown Tombow with a water brush to add color. This time my diecut heart has vertical-oriented Red Tree Washi and the cup is adorned with Santa Tape flanked by Skinny Stripes. And to hold on the flowers, one those awesome beans from the Coffee Brad Set which also contains both red and white coffee cups!

Be sure to hop over and see all the amazing cards at the Coffee Lovers' Blog Hop, and leave a little love for Amy Tsuruta and the other Coffee Elves who are working so hard behind the scenes at these events! ♥♥♥

*ok, not *literally*... :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

happy birthday, dude!

you may already have guessed this week's challenge at shopping our stash, from my title. but just in case there is some doubt, YES, we want you to make that most challenging of birthday greetings, the GUY CARD! i have a couple of standardized formulas, my favorite of which is, "best fishes" which can be made using stamps, stickers, patterned paper or an adorable bass trimmed from an old falling apart book! like this one:

vintage bits: fish image, slide mount, green map and scrap of sheet music; other collage bits are stickers and diecuts by dcwv, karen foster, k and co and october afternoon; ledger paper is also OA; blue patterned paper: elizabeth craft designs; woodgrain: american crafts; tiny letter stickers: fancy pants; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape, 3m foam tape, sewing machine

even if you don't especially like vintage goodies, if you ever see one of those little nature guides at a garage sale, and it happens to have fish illustrations in it... BUY the book!!! because seriously, you'll get probably 100+ different fish images that are the perfect size for cards. and typically you will pay under $1 for such bounty! ok, yes, you have to fussy cut them, but really it's not all that much to ask, right? i usually back mine with a little piece of scrap cardstock before i cut them, so they are nice and sturdy and can be popped up on foam tape. maybe inside a vintage slide mount, lol! as for the rest of the "bits" i've got a nice mix of real and faux vintage... can you guess which is which? ok, i'll tell you: apart from the aforementioned fish and slide, the only REAL vintage items here are the green scrap of map (which is fun to say!) and the little strip of sheet music. all the rest are "vintage style" papers, stickers and diecuts. though admittedly a couple of them have been in my collection long enough to at least be "retro" by now, lol! some of them came with a slightly distressed look, others i helped along with a bit of ink and an edge distressing tool.

there's lots more guy card inspiration awaiting you from my design team darlings over at SOS! ♥