A Maine Icon

I am having a hard time believing that this coming Monday is Memorial Day, and with it the unofficial start to the summer season. In a normal year, I wouldn’t need the calendar to remind me of the start of the season; I would be able to tell by the flurry of activity in my small coastal Maine town. As we all know, nothing is normal right now. This year is definitely different: the local beach finally opened up last week after being closed for 2 months, and there is a quiet sense of activity and anticipation as seasonal homes are being aired out, and local businesses and restaurants are preparing to, once again, open their doors. Soon.

I love the summer season. When you live on the coast, this is the season you dream about and endure long, harsh winters for. What’s not to love about spending warm sunny days near the ocean! And what could be more synonymous with a day at the beach than a “bean” bag–an L.L.Bean tote bag. The beach and their bags just go together–especially when you’re in Maine.

I have spent this past week working on creating my own paper version of the classic L.L.Bean tote bag, and I decided the best way to show you what I came up with was to create a step-by-step tutorial. I promise you there will be more pictures that yada-yada, so not to worry!

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I started by looking online at the traditional L.L.Bean tote bag, and making a list of what features make their bag so iconic. This is the list I came up with:

  1. Neutral bag color
  2. Solid contrasting bag base and all-in-one bag straps and handles
  3. Triangle-shaped contrast on sides of bag
  4. White stitching on bag base and side straps/handles
  5. Front pocket
  6. Logo label to right of pocket

The one and only L.L.Bean bag I have ever owned looks just like the one pictured above, with the addition of a front pocket and a logo label to the right of the pocket. I have added these two features to my list.

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This is one of their current bag choices, and it has the front pocket and logo label to give you a visual reference.

Keeping my list in mind, I started working on my bag. Luckily I didn’t have to start from scratch–I was given a tutorial for a L.L.Bean bag by a fellow Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, Mary Kate Scott, at a stamping event she hosted last Fall. She used her bag, which was her original design, to hold raffle tickets, and she graciously shared her pattern instructions with me after the event. I pulled out her instructions and took a closer look at her version. Mary Kate’s bag was designed to hold 3 1/2″ x 5″ notecards, so it was fairly tall. She used ribbon for the all-in-one bag straps and handles, and included a plain front pocket on which she stamped her initials.

Using her measurements and instructions, I made a prototype bag. After I was finished, I knew I wanted to make some changes to the design–namely, I wanted to shorten the overall height of the bag; I wanted to use cardstock for the side straps and handles; I wanted to use patterned paper for the front pocket; and I wanted to add a logo tag. What follows is the tutorial for my version of a L.L.Bean bag. NOTE:  Cutting instructions will be provided at the end of this post.

BAG FOUNDATION

The basic bag structure is made using a pattern that has been around for a long time called Box in a Bag. It involves making a simple box and then wrapping a strip of paper around the outside of the box to form the bag. This is what it looks like when it’s finished:IMG_7747

and this is what it looks like from the inside:

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I chose white as my neutral bag color, and navy for my solid contrasting color. Make sure that when you are making your box that you glue the box tabs to the outside of the box, so that you look at a seam-free box on the inside. I also started wrapping the white strip of paper in 11/16ths inch from the left side of one of the long sides of the box. This way the paper seam can be covered up by a side strap. (more info to follow on this)

FRONT POCKET

I made the pocket out of navy gingham paper and added a thin strip of red paper at the top. I centered it on the long side of the bag with the seam. I made marks at 7/8″ and 2 7/8″; measuring from the left side of the bag, and adhered the pocket between those two marks. Make these same measurement marks on the back side of the bag.

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BAG STRAPS & LOGO TAG

I cut 4 strips of navy paper for the bag straps that are the same height as the bag, and my logo tag was made out of a small square of red paper. I scored the tag so that I would have a tab to glue under the outside edge of the right side strap, and I added navy stars as my “logo”.

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I started adhering the side straps with the one to the right of the pocket. Before I stuck it down, I held it up to the bag and attached the logo tag at the height of the pocket.

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The other 3 straps were attached–the strap to the left of the pocket nicely covers up the seam, and the back 2 straps were attached to the outside of the measurement marks I made earlier. I purposely placed the seam in the front of the bag, so that when you look inside, the back of the bag is clean and seamless–its just more professional looking.

HANDLES

The handles were cut from navy paper and are the same width as the side straps. I measured down 1/2″ from the top of the bag and made 2 marks on the inside of the side straps. I curled each handle strip and attached each end on top of the side straps just shy of the 1/2″ marks. I followed the same steps for the back handle.

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COLOR BANDS

The final step is to wrap navy bands around the top and bottom of the bag. This not only helps to create the illusion of the contrasting bag base, but the bands also cover up the handle seams and unfinished edges.

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Tada–my L.L.Bean bag is finished and I”m so excited– it looks so authentic! I didn’t end up adding the white stitching or the triangle side pieces–this is a small bag and there isn’t room for the triangle pieces, and I thought the white stitching might detract from the clean look of the design.

Now that I had the design and measurements solidified, I made several more bags. I couldn’t help myself!

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I couldn’t have a navy bag without making a red one, and I’m glad I did. I love the red version, and I think it’s because the L.L.Bean bag I own is red and white.

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I also made a few in pastel colors, and I embossed the word “Enjoy” in white embossing powder for the logo tags on these bags.

That’s it my friends–we are at the end of my “bean” bag story. I so appreciate you stopping by today, and I hope you are all healthy and in good spirits as your part of the country begins to slowly open up. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

CUTTING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Box:  2 1/2″ x 4 3/4″; score each side at 1/2″
  2. Bag: 3 1/4″ x 11″
  3. Pocket: 2″ x 1 7/8″
  4. Pocket Accent: 1/8″ x 2″
  5. Side Straps x 4: 1/2″ x 3 1/4″
  6. Logo Tag: 5/8″ x 5/8″; score at 3/8″
  7. Handles x 2: 1/2″ x 7″
  8. Contrast Bands: 1/2″ x 11″

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Pie and Fry Boxes

Hello, my friends. How has everyone been? It’s been awhile, but I’m back today with an apple-themed post. It’s starting to feel like Fall here, with the temperature a little cooler and the air a little crisper, and that has put me in the mood to bake. I wanted to make something that would make the house smell amazing, yet was light and fairly quick to make. Let me introduce you to Apple Pie Fries:

Apple pie fries

I found this recipe over a month ago, and I have been waiting for cooler temperatures to make it. These fries are relatively easy and quick to make, and they would have made the house smell amazing if I had remembered to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top before I baked them. Ha Ha! I did remember to sprinkle the sparkling sugar on before putting them in the oven, so all is not lost.

Fry close-up

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine certainly was, so I could hardly wait to taste one. The recipe suggests serving the apple pie fries with caramel apple dip or ice cream caramel sauce. I happened to have some individual caramel dip containers in the refrigerator, so I put some apple pie fries on a plate along with the dip and dunked away.

Snack plate

I’m happy to report that I only ate two of the fries–not the whole plate!–and I concluded that the fries are too sweet with the caramel dip. If you followed the recipe exactly and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar on before baking, these fries would be perfect just as is.

I also concluded that these fries would be a fun treat to give to others, so I spent the rest of the afternoon designing some packaging for them. French fries belong in fry boxes, so I made some up along with some embellished apples to use as tags.

Fry boxes and apple tags_1

I used Papertrey Ink’s Apple Prints dies and some retired paper by Stampin’ Up! called Bella Rose to make the tags. I used the same 4-layer design for each of the tags–I just mixed and matched the colors and the paper patterns. I kept the fry boxes very simple by stamping a row of apples at the bottom of each box.

Now it was time to fill the boxes with the fries. After some experimenting, I determined that each box could comfortably hold 8 fries. I was able to make 53 fries from a single recipe, so you could package 5-6 boxes from each recipe, depending on how wide you cut your fry pieces.

Completed fry boxes_1

It really is all about the packaging, isn’t it? By themselves, the apple pie fries are somewhat plain, yet when you dress them up with packaging, they end up looking like gourmet treats!

Here’s a side view of one of the boxes, so that you can see how well they fit in the box:

fry box side view_1

I’m passing along the recipe, in case you’re interested to give these a try: Apple Pie Fries. Stop back by again tomorrow for another apple-themed post. And, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

 

 

Mum’s The Word–Part 2

Good morning and welcome back! I’m excited to share the second half of my post with you.

Here’s where I left off yesterday:

watermelon wonder tag & bag_1

My plain black gift bag was all dressed up and ready to go.

Now it was time to focus on the fuchsia bag. My plan was to keep the design elements the same, so all I needed to do was change out the color scheme and I would be done in no time. Or so I thought! It wasn’t as easy as that, because I discovered that I didn’t have any patterned paper that coordinated with melon mambo, and using this paper was the whole crux of my design.

I now was faced with a decision: I could either change the entire design plan, or I could try and find patterned paper in a complimentary color to use. I chose to do the latter, and got right back to work. It took some time to find that perfect color–I needed to make sure that I had several different patterns of paper for whatever complimentary color I chose, and, equally as important, the color I selected needed to maintain and/or enhance the vibrant personality of the flower. My final choice was ……

melon mambo tag_1

Navy! I think it ended up being the perfect option because it has the same color intensity and weight as melon mambo, plus it enhances the color and just makes the flower pop. You even get a better sense of that when you see the adornment on the bag:

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In the end, I couldn’t be happier! I was able to keep the same overall design while creating  a fun bag that matched the flower’s vibrant personality. Check, check, and check.

I’ll close with a picture of both of the gift bags:

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I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C

 

 

 

Mum’s The Word–Part 1

I’ve been taking inventory of all of my basic supplies this week, and, as a result, I have found all kinds of things I had forgotten I had. One of the finds I am most excited about discovering is some plain gift bags. I love to dress up plain bags by making what I call gift bag adornments–the decorations for the outside of the bag. I feel like an artist each time I make them, because they literally transforms plain bags into beautiful works of art.

Creating these particular adornments is going to be somewhat challenging for me, as the bags I found are black and fuchsia. I hardly ever use these two colors, and, if I do, it’s as an accent color only. Since I’m already going to be out of my comfort zone by needing to work with these bold colors, I decided to really stretch my limits by making some paper flowers to use as part of the adornments. I’ve always been intimidated by paper flowers, so I’ve never attempted to make them. That is until I saw this recent video by Linda Parker, a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator from the UK, on how to make a paper chrysanthemum:

I think these flowers are so pretty, and I can’t wait to see how amazing they look on the front of a gift bag. So I watched the video several times; and then proceeded to make my very first paper flowers.

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Given that this was my first experience, I’m pretty excited about how they turned out!  I made the flowers out of watermelon wonder (left) and melon mambo card stock, and what’s surprising to me is how each flower took on a different personality, just by color alone. The watermelon wonder flower looks elegant and classic, while the melon mambo flower looks vibrant and cheerful.

The best part, for me, about making these adornments is that there are no rules or restrictions, like there are for cards. In designing cards, you need to be careful about how many layers or embellishments you add, as the card will be going inside an envelope and potentially mailed. The more layers and embellishments you add; the more money you spend in postage. With adornments, however, you can layer and embellish to your heart’s content, as you put them on the outside of a gift box or bag, rather than inside an envelope. You can just let your creative juices flow and have fun. That is exactly what I did, and here is the adornment I came up with using the watermelon wonder flower:

watermelon wonder tag_1

Stampin’ Up! released some new designer paper to coordinate with the new colors they introduced in June, and I used several coordinating prints to create some banners as the base of my adornment. I like to layer banners for my adornments–it’s a great way to use up some of my paper scraps, and they add weight and visual interest to the overall design. I kept things pretty simple to allow the flower to take center stage, and mounting the flower on a black circle just made it pop and stand out even more.

With the adornment made, it is now time to turn my attention to the plain gift bag. It doesn’t take much to dress up the bag–even something as simple as adding some coordinating strips of paper can make a huge difference. The last step is to clip the adornment to the gift bag with a mini clothespin, and the project is finished; the gift bag is all dressed up and ready to go.watermelon wonder tag & bag_1 It’s truly amazing how some strips of paper and a few simple embellishments can totally transform a plain bag into a work of art! And this color combination is just stunning. Color fascinates me. Black, on it’s own, is a very strong, powerful color, and yet in this instance, it takes a back seat and just enhances the beauty of the watermelon wonder.

One bag down; one to go. Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.

I hope you’ve had a good day, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C

One In A “Melon”

Watermelon; sweet watermelon. It’s so cool and refreshing on a hot, summer’s day. Not only is it a staple at most summer gatherings, but it also seems to be a popular theme and trend this season. I am seeing watermelon images everywhere, from paper products to craft projects. Case in point, I saw this display at my local grocery store several weeks ago:Watermelon display

Stampin’ Up! has even gotten in on the trend–one of the new colors that they introduced in June is called Watermelon Wonder. This has sparked a multitude of watermelon-themed projects, including this mini treat bag designed by Cindy Schuster. I thought it was so sweet and clever that I needed to make one for myself. I used the same basic elements that Cindy did, but I changed the design slightly to make it my own.

my version of bag_1

The paper is double-sided, and the striped pattern on the inside breaks up the solid color and adds a lot of interest and charm to the bag. And look at that beautiful lace trim! The color and pattern are very elegant, and yet is takes on a casual, fun appearance in this instance. I made the seeds using a heart paper punch, just as Cindy explains in her blog post. It is such a creative idea!

I decided to turn my project into a thank you note, so instead of enclosing a treat, I made a notecard to slip inside.

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I love having the flexibility to use a product in more than one way, and, in fact, versatility is one of the main factors I consider before purchasing a stamping product. I have to know that I’m going to be able to get more bang for my buck before I’ll buy something. I knew that the mini treat bag die by Stampin’ Up! passed my versatility test when I learned that it can fit inside a standard-sized envelope (5 3/4″ x 4 3/8″). It’s one thing to know that you can create cute projects like this, but to know that you can mail them too–that just put’s it over the top, in my opinion! Who wouldn’t want to receive one of these bags in the mail!

bag in standard envelope_1As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, watermelon seems to be a popular theme for this summer. Besides seeing some interesting projects,  I’ve also found some recipes that I’d like to try. First on my list is The Pioneer Woman’s Watermelon Pico de Gallo (salsa). For all of the other watermelon recipes, products, and projects I’ve discovered, please check out my Pinterest board.

Thanks a “melon” for stopping by today, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C

 

 

 

Preparing for Impromptu

Hi everyone! I’m excited about this post, as it is the first in my month long series “Summer by the C”. I am finally on school vacation, which means that I will have more time for creating and sharing my paper-crafting adventures. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but school just ended here June 29th, due to all of the snow days we had to take this past winter. It’s strange to think that for some parts of the country July 4th marks the half-way point of  summer vacation, and yet for us, it’s just the beginning.

Enough about winter–I’d rather focus on summer and getting prepared for impromptu. Now I can see you shaking your head, and I can hear you saying “Cyndi, preparing for impromptu is an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. If you prepare for something, then it’s not considered impromptu.” I agree with you 100%, but whether it makes sense or not, I am a person who enjoys impromptu more if I’m somewhat prepared.

And the impromptu occasion I’m talking about today is the spur-of-the-moment meal that happens when friends and/or family just drop in. These casual meals are more apt to happen in the summer, and it’s one of my favorite parts about this season. I’ve learned over the years what foods to keep on hand, so that I’m not caught off guard, but one area I could use improvement in is the last minute dash to find the plastic silverware and get napkins on the table. I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to eliminate this stress by making some plastic silverware holders that are stocked and ready to pull out at a moment’s notice.

Early in my search for utensil holder patterns this past weekend, I ran across a video of Stampin’ Up!’s interim CEO, Sara Douglass, on a local morning TV show. She was showcasing coordinated party supplies made with some new products that were released June 1st, and one of the highlighted supplies was a utensil holder.  Sara had some great ideas and instructions, so I am sharing the website and video with you here. The utensil holders are made from paper gift bags and patterned strips of paper. I gathered my supplies, and went to work:Supplies_1

I chose a color scheme of blue and yellow, and these cute polka dot gift bags.  I also had purchased some starfish to use as part of the embellishments. I followed Sara’s directions, and here’s what my utensil holder looked like after cutting the slits, and covering the flap with the decorative paper:

Flap cut with paper_1

Now all that was left was to embellish the bag, and fill it with silverware and a napkin.  That sounds relatively simple and quick, but I really struggled with this step.  I had envisioned using some linen thread and the starfish as the embellishments, but I just couldn’t seem to make them work.  Let me show you what I mean:

Linen thread and shell #1_1

Linen thread and shell #2_1

The linen thread didn’t look right; it just wasn’t ” beefy” enough. The starfish didn’t look right, either, and I was concerned that it was too fragile for this project.  So, I scrapped both of these embellishments, and walked away from the project for awhile.  I was opening up the mail last night after dinner, and, after looking at the envelope flap, it occurred to me that part of my issue with the bags might be the shape of the panel.

I started fresh this morning, and I had so much fun. I changed the shape of the panel, and that made all the difference.  Here is my final design:

Final design_1

I kept the embellishments simple, and yet the button and twine bow add so much charm.  I love the font of the sentiment on the tag. It’s hard to see it clearly in this picture; here’s a close-up:

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I love the tiny little blue star on the label!

I don’t know what color I like more; the blue or the yellow. Do you have a favorite?

both blue and yellow designs_1

I couldn’t wait to fill the holders with silverware and napkins!

filled with silverware_1

Remember the starfish? I hot glued some twine to a metal bucket, and glued them on top of the twine. It’s a perfect bucket for the silverware holders.

ready in metal bucket_1

side view_1

So bring on the spur-of-the-moment meals, as my silverware holders are stocked and ready. I know these will make a big difference for me. I love being prepared for impromptu!

Be sure to check back for more “Summer by the C” posts, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C