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Project Inspired by 31 Thank You Cards eBook

How was I not inspired by this ebook!? As a card maker, it's always great to see how others approach the craft and 31 Thank You Cards does just that. For the first of what I'm sure will be many cards produced as a result of this book, I took inspiration from several of the projects.

Tags and element clusters - two of my go-to techniques for making cards.

I loved seeing Kimber's take on the tag in card #25 - where she attached 2 to make a card base. I knew I had to try that. I also love the idea of clustering accents together, as Kristina demonstrates in card #12. I used one larger cluster at the base, and a smaller one for balance in the upper left. Lastly, I took inspiration from Kimber's card #4 when I let the largest element on my project hang over the edge.

materials: tag: Jillibean Soup; tape, transparency: Hambly; stickers: SRM, Girls Paperie; string: Pink Paislee; ribbon: American Crafts; pin: Maya Road

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Make Your Own Halloween Embellished Photo Cards

I have always loved to take photos but when I started scrapbooking, that love moved to the forefront.  How great that my 2 favorite hobbies could be merged together!  Most think the idea of using photos in scrapbooking ends with a finished layout or mini album, but photos are also great for cardmaking.  Here are a few examples of how I used a collection of photographs from last fall to create a group of fun, seasonal cards.

Sometimes, simple is the best way to go. With a little photo editing and the addition of a clear sticker, this photo of some candy apples I made became a cute Halloween card:

You don’t have to fill the card with the photo. White space is a great thing to keep in mind when designing with photos. Small photos can have an impact when used alone or in sets. Here I used 3 wallet sized photos along with seasonal embellishments:

And on this card, I used one large photo as a focal point and left a large amount of white space.  I added a few embellishments and a little hand stitching and bling for the skeleton eyes:

Here I used a 3 ½ x 5 photo like patterned paper and covered a tag base. Then I embellished over it :

Here are a few handy tips when working with photos for cards:

  • I find that scenic and detail photos work best.
  • Print them on matte photo paper. You will avoid glare, fingerprints and scratches this way. Only have glossy? Think about using some vellum or a patterned transparency over the photos.
  • If you are going to embellish, select (or take) photos that have a good amount ‘open’ space so you can add product without taking away from the photo’s focal point.
  • Learn a few simple photo editing actions. You’d be amazed how you can transform a photo with a few simple clicks.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to make fun cards with photos. I hope I’ve inspired you to use some of yours for card projects!

materials: clear stickers (SRM), embellishments, button (American Crafts), pin (Tim Holtz), gems (Stampin' Up) by Valerie Mangan

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Journaling Idea: Use photos instead of words

For me, when I'm low on journaling ideas, there is nothing like a written journaling prompt to inspire me to make a page!

One of my favorite sources for these prompts are Ella eBooks. It started for me when I downloaded the Quick & Creative Quizzes eBook by Angie Lucas and Wendy Smedley, circa. 2009. The idea of approaching the task of journaling in an organized list format, like answers to a quiz, seemed so much less daunting to me. As a bonus, the prompts in the quizzes led to other page ideas. Flash forward to 2011. When I heard Wendy & Angie were releasing the List It series, I knew I’d be set with journaling prompts and page ideas for a long time!

For this page I worked with the List It: Everyday Life Edition; a book that has spawned at least a dozen pages for me since it was first released. I chose the prompt “Evidence that ___ is an occupant of this house.” The great thing about a prompt like this is you could make a list, or focus on one item, or photo, or thought. There’s so much potential here.

Armed with my new Studio Calico kit and my List It prompt printed from my computer onto vellum, I got this page together in no time. (The List It prompts are conveniently formatted onto a nice roomy journaling block – if you get the Digi Plus version, you get the .png files, too!)

Instead of actually writing out the list I let my little wallet sized photos do the talking. Chipboard number stickers adhered right onto the photos drive home the list theme. For my next List It Everyday Edition project I’m planning to use the same journaling block I used here as pages in a mini book about the members of my family, with an image and journaling on each page. What will you be inspired to make?

Materials: patterned cardstock: MME, Basic Grey; vellum: craft supply; stamp, spray ink: Studio Calico; letters: Studio Calico; Pink Paislee; fabric trim: Pink Paislee; fabric circles: Basic Grey; house: Jillibean Soup
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Summer CHA 2011: Live from the show

Hello there! Ella Friend Val here blogging from CHA in Chicago. I had the pleasure of attending the show yesterday with some of my Ella Friends and would love to share a few of the trends we spotted and handful of fave picks with you!

The Trends
Two big trends we couldn't help but notice  tie right into the current vintage and sewing trends: country/farm & quilting-inspired lines.
At Studio Calico we spotted this pretty quilt-pattern paper from their new Memoir release:
And the Homemade 6 Bean Soup line from Jillibean Soup includes quilt patterns and even a cool quilting cutting grid pattern.
These releases from Crate and October Afternoon, both aptly titled Farmhouse, capture the homey vintage imagery & patterns of this trend…
here’s Crate’s Farmhouse:
Crate Farmhouse
And here’s October Afternoon’s release:
OA Farmhouse
We also spotted maps in many lines including these from October Afternoon’s new releases: Sasparilla and Boarding Pass:
 OA Sasparilla map
oa boarding pass map
Since cardmaking is always on my radar, I was really happy to see lots of  6 x 6 paper pads. They used to be an occasional perk to a manufacturer’s release but now it seems every line has an accompanying 6 x 6 pad. These little pads are great for die cutting, embellishing scrapbook pages and the smaller scale of the patterns make them ideal for cardmakers.

A few other trends we noticed  that are still going strong: grid patterns, hexagons, vintage & sewing themes.

Ella Friend Faves
How great it is to get a sneak peek at all the great new products and materials. Here are some of the faves we spotted and admired today:

Amy Tangerine for American Crafts; such a fun line! It was a general consensus among the Ella Friends that this line is outstanding. I was particularly impressed by the little details in this line. Like the paper clip embellishments in the shape of little cameras!
Amy Tangerine

Amy Tan for AC

Pink Paislee – loved so much in this booth – especially these vintage thread spool tops:
Pink Paislee buttons

October Afteroon’s Farmhouse collection has a mix of vintage ephemera, ledgers and farming related imagery. This grid sheet was a stand out for me:
OA grid

Love the graphic imagery and bright color of Jillibean Soup’s Homemade 6 Bean (a quilting-themed line) and Sweet and Sour Soup (a type themed line). Hearing Laina Lamb, designer of the lines, explain her design inspiration was a special treat:

According to Lori at Studio Calico, they selected several favorite paper patterns and re-colored them in this warm grey palette, hence the name Warm Calico. This release is complete with a line of coordinating embellishments and I could easily seeing it working in place of or alongside kraft:
Studio Calico

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what there is to see at CHA and I enjoyed sharing these peeks with you – hope you enjoyed seeing them. Lot’s to look forward to in the months to come!

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Creative Die Cutting

Die cutting is experiencing a resurgence in popularity in the paper crafting world. Whether you are using a manual cutting machine, like a Big Shot or a Cuttlebug, or a digital one, like a Silhouette or Cricut, you can produce some very cool effects for your pages and cards.
Manual die cutters can cut and emboss a variety thick materials in addition to just cutting paper. Digital cutters offer flexiblity is size of cut image and the ability to cut computer fonts. Whichever you choose to use, die cutters are and extremely versatile too. Today, along with the help of Ella Friend Monika Wright, I’d like to share a few of my favorite die cut projects and maybe inspire you to dust off your machines & try something new.

Create a Textured Background
With some basic embossing folders and nesting shapes you can create your own textured cardstock. For this page, I created the circle background by first embossing some 4 x 6 panels with a few different patterns. I then cut the panels with a nesting circle die. I deliberately kept the color of the die cut area neutral so that attention would be focused on the texture and photos. This is a great technique for a card base, too!

materials: cardstock: Bazzill, American Crafts; patterned paper: Pink Paislee, Studio Calico; tags: Studio Calico; stickers: 7 Gypsies; buttons: Graphic 45; letter stickers: Basic Grey, American Crafts by Valerie Mangan

Page & Card Embellishments
For this card I used another 2 step process. First I wove strips of coordinating patterned papers into 4 x 6 panels then used the same nesting circle cutters to cut the shapes. I stitched the edges to hold the assemblies together. This is a great technique for mixing a lot of pattern in a small amount of space.

Materials: cardstock: Bazzill; patterned papers: Crate, Studio Calico, Cosmo Cricket, American Crafts; letters: Pink Paislee; string: Martha Stewart by Valerie Mangan

Ella Friend Monika Wright had this to say about her quick & easy die cut cards:
Monika Wright cards
“We've been sending tons of mail to my son, who's away at Navy Boot Camp, and that's where the star card{s} come in: fun, but not too frilly or embarrassing. {At least I don't think so!} I knew I wanted to use the bracket-shaped die in some way and it seemed the perfect backdrop for the star-punched garland I strung together using baker's twine. Die cut, punch stars and holes, string with twine, adhere and you're done! Quick and simple summertime design.”
“For the card on the right I folded my die cut in half, glued more baker's twine to mimic the shape of the die cut and layered three paper punched star shapes, with pop dots in between. Think outside the box here...small note card, place card, gift tag or a great way to label all the dishes on a buffet table. “Great ideas for using that die, Monika!

Emboss Wood Veneer
Thicker materials can also be embossed and make really cool mini album covers. I made this one by first embossing the wood veneer panel then running it through the machine again to cut the bracket shape. The pages for the album are cut from the same shape die but you could certainly mix shapes here for a more playful book. (This mini album was inspired by the new Ella Publishing’s List It! Everyday Edition and will eventually contain snapshots some keepsakes in my home that make me smile.)
Val Mangan Mini Album
Materials: wood veneer: Stampin’ Up; cardstock: Bazzill; patterned papers: Crate, Studio Calico; letters: Pink Paislee; tin pin: October Afternoon; butterfly: Making Memories; string: Divine Twine by Valerie Mangan

Some other cool things you can try with your die cutter:
·         Accentuate the negative: use the leftover/negative cuts for page elements and masking
·         Run a little panel of woven or stitched fabric through die cutter
·         Cut vintage material: maps, vintage cards, sewing patterns, etc
·         Emboss a thick material like wood veneer or plastic, apply a light coating of paint and use as a stamp.
·         Make dimensional shapes by stacking multiple cut outs.
·         Experiment with embossing using unconventional materials like leaves, window screening, drywall tape, etc…
·         Smash things, like metal bottle caps  (please check to make sure your machine can handle this first before     attempting…)

Are the wheels turning yet? I hope I’ve inspired you to break out that die cutting machine and put it to good use!


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Quick & Easy Photo Cards

Hope everyone is enjoying photo week. I’m thrilled to be joining my Ella friends today with a quick & easy photo card project.

As a scrapbooker, I take tons of photos; from the special occasions to the mundane and everything in between. It’s the ‘in between’ stuff I like to focus on for card making. The photos of scenery, or things I’ve baked, or pretty stuff I just wanted to capture.

I realized if I liked these photos so much, maybe someone else would appreciate them, too.  So I started using them on cards & gift tags. I know making cards can be somewhat scary to scrapbookers, and adding photos to cards just takes that fear to the next level. Today I will show you how ‘not scary’ photo cards are, and share with you a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Photo Card Tip #1: Stick with a theme.
For example, for this simple notecard set I used a group of photos from an amusement park we visited over the summer. I took all these photos while waiting for my kids who were riding the rides.
note cards

This brings me to Photo Card Tip #2: Keep the cards simple.
If the picture is pretty enough to make it onto the card, it’s not going to need much in the embellishment department. For this set I chose simple clear stickers to add a sentiment and I machine sewed the perimeters onto pre-made kraft cards. The sentiments could easily be added in a photo editing program if you prefer. Cards like this make a great gift, tied together with a little baker’s twine:
note card set with twine

Pictures of baked goods also make great cards. Cupcakes, for example, make great birthday cards and tags (and, no…I did not make this cupcake. I wish I did!)

For this tag I added a little patterned paper, a couple of metal accents and another clear sticker sentiment.
Photo Card Tip #3: Print the photos on non-glossy paper – either matte photo paper or plain white cardstock.
Or have some fun and print on a color or something transparent, or even something textural. Your creativity and a good photo editing program are your only limits – just keep them matte. Unlike a layout, cards get handled. If the photos are shiny, they will get smeared with fingerprints and scratched up. The shinier something is, the more visible the flaws will be.

Another way to get a sentiment onto a card photo is with a stamp. Which is another good reason to print on matte paper. It’s easier to stamp onto a matte surface and you can even heat emboss. You cannot heat emboss a shiny photo. 
stamped photo cards

Here’s a close up of these heat embossed sentiments:
detail of heat embossing

Making cards with photos is fun and very simple! If you are anything like me, you will become addicted to this process. Now, as I do when I take family photos with potential scrapbook layouts in mind, I’m also taking photos with ‘card making potential’ too!

Amusement Park notecards: kraft cards (Canvas Home Basics) + stickers (SRM) + twine (Divine Twine)
Cupcake tags & cards: cardstock (Bazzill) + patterned paper (My Minds Eye) + stamps (Studio Calico, Stampin’ Up) + tape, mini paper clip (Tim Holtz) + photo turn (7 Gypsies) + twine (Divine Twine)

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Welcome to Baby Week

Happy Tuesday all! Ella friend Valerie here. I’m excited to be kicking off baby week at the Daily Trumpet. What a joyous occasion to celebrate and mark with a keepsake gift. I love making gifts for new babies!  I’m a huge fan of the mini album and I tend to make these the most when it comes to giving a gift for this special occasion.

Here’s a small album I whipped up that has the feel of a little board book:

The design is clean and the concept is simple: a page for a few facts about day 1, then a layout for each month of the baby’s first year.

Each mini layout has space on the left for recording important facts or milestones in that month of the baby’s life. There is space on the right hand page for a small photo or two. Simple and not overwhelming to a new mom, who may also be brand new to the idea of scrapbooking.  A mini like this is a great way to introduce someone to this hobby in a format that might not be familiar to them.  Most people tend to picture expansive 12 x 12 albums when they think of scrapbooking.  Starting off small and simple like this is so much less intimidating.

A simple little mini like this is a great, quick gift that could even be displayed as it is being completed.  I’m sure any new mom would love to receive a little keepsake book like this, and even more excited to be involved in its completion.

Chipboard album (Maya Road) + cardstock (Bazzill) + patterned paper: My Mind’s Eye, Basic Grey + letter stickers (American Crafts, Jenni Bowlin) + stamp (Stampin Up) + ink (Jenni Bowlin) + ribbon (Little Yellow Bicycle) + pin (Tim Holtz) + pearls, tag punch (Martha Stewart) + die cutter (Big Shot)  by Valerie Mangan

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In Stitches: Faux sewing on scrapbook pages

Welcome to the final installment of "In Stitches," where we're sharing the various ways Ella friends Brenda Johnston, Jennifer Larson, and I add stitching to our projects. Click on any of the images below for a larger view.

Faux Stitching

Faux stitching gives the look & appearance of real stitches. The simplest way to achieve this look is to simply draw the stitches in with a pen. Here are a few examples of how to achieve the sewn look without actually sewing:

Paper piercer + pen
This project features faux stitching around the edges. I simply drew the stitch lines around the perimeter of the cards, and then poked a hole in each end of each line. Instant stitches! (This technique also adds a subtle texture.)


Pen stitching
On these cards, Brenda did a variation on the straight ‘faux’ stitch. “Faux stitching is a great technique when you are short on time. Instead of the traditional straight stitch look, try adding a dot or two in-between each straight stitch. It adds a little something different and is eye-catching.

Quilter’s wheel & paint
This technique utilizes a tool from another hobby – a needlecrafter’s tracing wheel. Simply dip the wheel into a little acrylic paint and roll it onto the project. The wheel makes a neat, uniform line of dots. You can pierce them or not.

Other Tools:

As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of products that will help you add stitching to a project. Relatively new to the stitching scene is this tool from We Are Memory Keepers. It combines the pattern making ability of the stitch guides with the ease of the tracing wheel.

Don’t forget the multitude of stamps, rub ons, stickers and other faux stitched products out there. There is something for everyone!

With so many options for all skill levels, we hope we’ve inspired you to add some stitching to your projects, today!

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In Stitches: Sewing by hand

Welcome to day two of "In Stitches," where we're sharing the various ways Ella friends Brenda Johnston, Jennifer Larson, and I add stitching to our projects. Click on any of the images below for a larger view.

Hand Stitching

Hand stitching on a layout is an ideal way to add texture to a project. The nature of embroidery floss makes this kind of stitching a little more dimensional. In addition, you can hand stitch with a variety of materials, including ribbon and bakers’ twine. With hand sitching you have more control over where the stitches go, allowing you to accent specific shapes & details.

On Brenda’s “May page – we see the impact a little hand stitching can add:.

Brenda says, “Add stitching to your embellishments to make them pop! I stitched through only half of the sun rays, I thought all of them might be overkill. The hot air balloon is a cardstock sticker from Echo Park. I love the bright colors! I first adhered it to a piece of thin computer paper, then cut it out. I thought this would make it easier to stitch through--the back was pretty sticky and I didn't want it to be hard to push a needle through. I then adhered the embellishment with dimensional adhesive--if I hadn't the embellishment wouldn't have laid flat in most places and would have looked sloppy. “

I love how Brenda combines stitching and ribbon in a clever way on this layout:

“Go one step beyond the straight stitch and add a lot of interest to a layout,” comments Brenda. “Adding an "x" stitch over a piece of pom pom ribbon adds a fun element that is sure to attract the eye. I used a contrasting color of thread to make this visual stand out. “

Stitch templates

Stitch templates take the worry out of hand stitching. The translucent plastic cards have holes punched at even intervals in various stitching patterns. Simply line the desired pattern up on your project, pierce the holes with the guide and you are ready to stitch. Jennifer used this technique for her page “Me 2011“:

Jennifer says, “One of the easiest ways to stitch is to use stitching templates. Some of my favorites are the Bazzill stitching templates, especially the flourishes. On this page, I sneaked a few flourishes in around the title and the photo to add some spunk to this page about my spunky kid.”

Freehand Stitching
Making your own custom stitch patterns is simple. For this project I drew the steam swirls from the coffee cup logo onto the project, then went back with a paper piercer to punch the stitch holes. I erased the pencil lines after I stitched with coffee-colored floss. To keep the stitching bold, I used all of the strands in the floss bundle. (You can decrease the number of strands when you need less dimension.)

Jennifer offers some great tips for freehand stitching: “Get a foam pad from a craft store, plus a paper piercer (a push pin would work too). Lightly hand draw a line in pencil--curved, straight, etc.--then punch holes about every quarter inch (closer will destroy the paper). Erase the light pencil lines, then thread a needle with floss--I use three strands of DMC--and do either a running or backstitch. Other types of embroidery stitches can be done; here's a helpful free stitching guide and here's another one.

The French Knot
French knots are a great dimensional, hand-stitched accent. They can replace a brad, serve as a small page accent and provide texture. On the card on the left, I stitched green French knots on the branches to simulate buds. On the right I used metallic floss to make ‘French knot rain’ for this shower card:

French knots are easy and add a lot of impact. A great tutorial can be found here.

Tune in to our "In Stitches" series again tomorrow (Saturday), when we'll share how to get the look of stitching without the needle and thread.

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In Stitches: Sewing on scrapbook pages

Hi all! Val here to talk to you today about a technique that is near & dear to me & the Ella friends: stitching. For me, stitching on my projects, whether it’s by machine, by hand or drawn in with a pen, is my signature. I can use as much or as little product as I like, but once the stitching gets added, the project is uniquely mine.

I know the idea of sewing on pages can be intimidating, especially if you don’t consider yourself a sewer. Since there are a variety of methods to get stitching onto a page, this versatile technique is do-able for everyone at every skill level. For the next three days, we’ll take a peek at the various ways I and Ella friends Brenda Johnston & Jennifer Larson add stitching to our projects.

Machine Sewing

Machine stitching is by far, the fastest way to sew on your projects. It is precise and fairly low profile, depending on the thickness of thread you use. The lines created with machine stitching are extremely effective for framing areas on your projects, outlining elements and adding movement across a project. Even with only the straight and zigzag stitches, used at varying lengths, you can achieve a multitude of looks.

I love to stitch through whatever I can. I also love how stitching through a product can transform it. Here, I sewed through the wood veneer flowers in order to unify the element, secure them to the page and mimic the curved blue lines printed on the paper. (NOTE: click all images to see a larger view.)

A side bonus of machine sewing is that it acts as a permanent adhesive. Sewing on your pages will allow you to cut down on the need for large amounts of adhesive. Here’s an example of a project where the adhesive on the letter stickers failed. I remedied the problem with a line of stitching right through the type. I love the added dimension from the curled letters and the movement from the stitched lines. (These letters are never coming off now!) The same color stitching frames out the page. The curvy stitch lines are a great compliment to the linear design of the patterned paper and letters.

It doesn’t all have to be straight or zigzag with machine sewing. You can do a more ‘freestyle’ form of machine sewing (also called free motion/embroidery sewing) if you lower the feed dogs of your machine. If your machine has this option, the manual will guide you through the process. Once you are in free motion sewing mode, the possibilities are endless.

On this page, I mimicked free motion sewing by sewing the background circles. I actually traced a plate with pencil and stitched on my line. Then I erased whatever pencil lines were still visible after sewing. A quick note of advice: when sewing in a circle or curve, slow down. You will have more control.

On this page, I added spiral stitching on my handmade embellishments. The intentionally haphazard lines lend a playful feel:

Some good things to know about machine sewing:

1. If you are new to your machine, make sure you follow the threading directions. Even a slight deviation can cause major issues with your stitches.

2. Try not to sew through adhesive. Especially any kind of glue dot. This is a sure fire way to gunk up the works and destroy the needle. For best results, dot the project with a light adhesive to tack down the parts you want to sew – trying to avoid the areas where you plan to stitch.

3. There are no paper-specific needles. I usually use a needle designed to sew through cotton and I like to keep a bunch on hand. Your manual should have a chart to help you choose. Brenda adds this great advice: “. . . keep a needle reserved for your paper projects. Paper will dull your needle and is best to not use it again on fabric. These days I don't have time for fabric projects, so I just leave my "paper needle" in my machine at all times! (Me, too Brenda!)

4. If you are not sure you will be able to stitch through a thicker material (chipboard, plastic, etc) proceed slowly with a few test stitches.

5. Keep some clear tape handy to secure loose stitches on the back of your project.

Tune in again tomorrow, when we'll talk about the different ways to hand stitch, and Saturday too, where we'll share how to get the LOOK of stitching without the needle and thread.

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