BIRCH TREES AND BIRD HOUSES–PART II

Thank you for stopping in again! Let me start by saying that, never in a million years, did I think that there would be a Part II to this project; that there would be a “rest of the story” to tell! I thought that this was a one-time gift that would be brought out each year at Christmastime.

What I couldn’t predict was how much my mom enjoyed her tree–especially the 6-hour timer feature. Her tree came on every day around 3;30, and she loved the soft light it added during the late afternoons and evenings. So she decided that she would like to keep her tree up all year long. While I was thrilled that I had found something that she really enjoyed, I wasn’t prepared for the implications of her decision. I couldn’t let her have the holiday decorations up all year long, nor did I want her to have a bare birch tree for 3/4ths of the year, so this is how the Part II of this project came to be. This is how the birch tree evolved from a tree with Christmas decorations to a tree with seasonal decorations!

The design concept and “construction” of the spring houses came together fairly quickly.

I chose a color scheme of blue and yellow to represent the return of blue skies and bright sunshine. For the accent decorations, I chose sweet white daisies and bluebirds of happiness, both of which also return in the spring. I have my spring decorations up right now, so I took a picture of how they look on my tree:

I have to say that out of all of the sets I have ended up making, the spring set is my favorite. I love the patterns of the papers for the roofs; the sweet white daisies; and how happy and cheerful the tree looks when all of the decorations are on it.

I’m not sure if you have been able to notice any design consistencies yet, but I’d like to talk about my design concept, and point out some of the features that I carried through with each of these sets. One of the things that I have learned is that when you are creating a set of something, the set becomes cohesive and looks like it belongs together when you carry certain features consistently throughout each part.

Having 2 sets side-by-side may make it easier for you to visualize the consistent design features I have used for each set:

  • White card stock for cubes and outer peak side pieces
  • Solid coordinating card stock for inner side peak pieces
  • Designer paper patterns for roof pieces
  • Heart cut out for all side peak pieces
  • 11/4″ white bakers twine loops for roofs
  • 1″ single strand white embroidery floss loops for accent decorations
  • 6 houses per set
  • 5 each of 2 double-sided accent decorations per set
  • Same decoration box layout and label elements

Just like carrying through certain design features in each set, it’s important to note how critical a role the designer paper played in this project–it IS the project! This paper sets the mood; it drives the color scheme; and it guides the accent decorations. I wasn’t successful in finding the perfect paper for a summer set, so Summer of 2021 came and went without a new set of houses.

I was able to make a fall set for that year, and I took a few creative liberties with these decorations:

I used 6 different colors of solid card stock as part of the side pieces, rather than the usual 2 or 3 colors, and the double-sided leaves were two-toned, instead of being the same color on both sides. It’s fun, and possible, to create some subtle distinctions between the sets while staying within the design parameters.

We would have to wait until Spring of 2023 for a summer set of houses. I found that summer paper packs were more theme-oriented than the other seasons of the year–i.e. vacation, beach/ocean, pool party, ice cream etc. I wanted, and kept looking for a pack that focused more on bright colors and fun patterns rather than on a specific theme. I finally found the perfect paper pack this spring, and I didn’t waste a second before starting construction of a summer set!

I loved the mix of colors and patterns included in this paper pack, and I knew it would make really bright and cheerful houses. Since one of the paper patterns had butterflies on it, I chose butterflies and suns as my accent decorations.

While I was working on this set, I tried to take a few “behind the scenes” pictures of different aspects of making each set. This picture gives you an idea of the many pieces involved in assembling each house and accent decoration. For instance, the roof is made up of 2 layers of card stock; one designer and white. Designer paper tends to be thin, so I layered it on top of white card stock to give it some weight and stability. The cube starts out as a 3 x 3 piece of white card stock, which is then scored at 1″ on all 4 sides. Then, once the flaps are cut and lots of adhesive is applied, it can finally be assembled into a cube.

Eventually, all 36 cubes and roof pieces are complete, and it’s time for “roofing day”.

Adhering the roof pieces is the most tedious and time-consuming part of the whole process. It’s not easy to get the solid roof piece to stick to the thin edge of the peaks on both sides. I have tried several different kinds of glue with the various sets, and I have found that the glue with the best holding and staying power is E6000.

Once I have all of the houses and accent decorations assembled, I like to put a complete set on a tree as a final test to make sure I like how everything looks together. It was at this point that I noticed that something was “off” with this set; there was something that I didn’t like.

I couldn’t put my finger on the issue at first, so I just kept coming back to the tree, and I finally figured out that it was the suns–they weren’t sweet and charming. I matched the yellow card stock to the yellow in the paper pack, but it was too dark. I also concluded that one of the best parts about the suns is the happy face, and you couldn’t readily see it.

So, back to the drawing board. I decided to use white card stock for the front of the suns, and one of the yellow patterns from the pack for the back of the suns. I stamped the suns rays and happy face in yellow, and, bingo, we had a winner!

This design change made all of the difference in the world to me, and this is why I always test the decorations out on the tree before calling the set finished!

Now that the summer sets were done, it was time to make all of the boxes. Here are pictures of the box lid colors and label designs–I make 2 of each color:

I can’t tell you what a thrill it is, and how excited I am that I have finally brought this project full circle! Now my mom, and all the rest of us can truly enjoy our birch trees year round. But, especially my mom.

So, I have finally reached the end of this project, and I have reached the end of my story. After making:

  • 144 seasonal bird houses
  • 240 double-sided accent decorations, which translates to 480 individual pieces
  • 24 box bottoms and lids

and using:

  • 16 yards of white baker’s twine
  • 6 1/2 yards of white embroidery floss

I am ready to hang up my hard hat and tool belt and retire from house construction! I love how this project began and how it evolved into something beyond my wildest imagination, and, for me, it will go down as one of my most favorite and best projects of all time.

It’s been wonderful to finally be able to share this project and story with you–this was a long one and I appreciate you sticking with me. Please take care, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

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BIRCH TREES AND BIRD HOUSES–PART I

I just finished the last part in a series that has taken 2 1/2 years to come full circle. I have been waiting to show you this project for what seems like forever, but I didn’t want to post anything until the entire project was complete. That day has finally come, and I couldn’t be more excited! This is like no other project that I have ever done, and it has become very near and dear to my heart. There is a lot of information to cover, so I have decided to break my story up into two parts. In this first post, I will concentrate on the project itself, and, in my second post, I’ll focus more on the design concept, with plenty of step-by-step pictures.

Let me start at the beginning…..

This project began with my quest to find a Christmas tree for my mother. She lives in a retirement community, and, in November of 2020, the facility was in full lockdown due to COVID. She hadn’t had any in-person visits since the spring, and, with the holidays approaching, I wanted to make sure that she had a sweet little Christmas tree to brighten her space and lift her spirits.

I envisioned her having an artificial, table-top tree that was lighted and had colorful decorations. Leading up to the holidays, you can find artificial pre-lit evergreen trees everywhere, and some come with decorations. The one caveat is that in order to follow the facility’s safety regulations, I needed the tree to be battery operated. Since the evergreen trees are plug-in, I needed to look for other options.

I happened to be in a local gift shop when I spotted this lighted birch tree.

The minute I saw it, I knew that I had found my mother’s Christmas tree. It wasn’t what I originally had in mind, but this was a lighted, table-top tree that was battery operated. And, not only was it battery operated; it even had a 6-hour timer feature! As I stood there looking at this tree, I decided that a white tree was going to showcase the decorations much better than an evergreen, so I purchased the tree and headed home to concentrate on the decorations.

By the time I pulled into the garage, I knew exactly what I was going to make for the decorations–birdhouses! Yes, birdhouses, and it was all thanks to a new stamp set I had received earlier in the week.

The set included dies that made the side, peak pieces for tiny birdhouses. I was still going to need to figure out how to make a box and a roof, but I thought if I could do that, these birdhouses would be perfect to hang on the birch tree branches. After a lot of trial and error, I was able to make a cube to go in-between the side pieces, and I was also able to make a roof out of designer Christmas paper:

And, when I assembled all of the pieces together, it made the cutest little bird house! I am not an engineer by any means, but I was able to figure out all of the measurements and create this really sweet decoration. I was so excited about my success that I went back to the gift shop and bought more trees so that I could give these as gifts to other family members, along with one for our house! So now I had a total of 6 trees to decorate!

After deciding that each tree looked good with 6 bird houses, I quickly got busy making 36 of them. This took more time that I had anticipated, as there were a lot of pieces to die-cut and assemble. I also decided that the trees needed more decorations than just the houses, so I also made some double-sided pine trees and glittery snowflakes, which filled in more of the branches and added more charm and sweetness to the tree. Here are some pictures of a finished set on and off one of the trees:

I get goosebumps every time I look at these pictures! This is the sweetest, most unique Christmas tree I’ve ever seen, and I made every single one of the decorations. A lot of love and ingenuity went into this project, and I’m really proud of how it turned out. I was anxious to get these trees wrapped and in the mail, but there was one final thing I needed to do:

Decorations this fragile needed a box, so I custom designed a box by laying out all of the decorations on grid paper to get the measurements.

Not only will this box help protect the ornaments during shipping, but it will provide a designated place to store the decorations off season. Once I had all 6 boxes made, I quickly wrapped everything up and got them in the mail. I’m happy to report that everyone loved their trees and decorations, and I felt a great sense of pride and accomplishment at what I had been able to create.

This is the perfect place to end this post, but it’s not the end of this project. I hope you’ll be able to come back for the rest of the story….. In the meantime, have a wonderful week, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

SHAMROCKS AND SHAKES

I have a new stamp set that has sparked a lot of creativity lately. It isn’t a stamp set that I would typically consider, as it’s very subject specific, which in my mind makes it less versatile. I usually gravitate towards more well-rounded sets that have a variety of images and sentiments that I can use all year long. Something about this set really caught my eye, however, and I ended up buying it anyway. I’m so glad I did, as the more I use it, the more I’m discovering how applicable and versatile the images and dies are, even though they are all centered around one theme–ice cream. Yes, you read it right–ice cream! Milkshakes, to be exact!

Here is a look at the stamp set. As you can see, all of the images help create milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. I love some of the extra details that are included, like the cherry, the striped straw, and the spoon. I also love the font used for the sentiments–it’s so cheerful and fun! What’s surprising is that it isn’t the images that inspired today’s project; it’s the name of the set–“Share a Milkshake”. As I have said many times, inspiration can come from anywhere, and today, it came from the title of a stamp set.

In truth, the name of the stamp set only provided half of the inspiration for my project. The other half came from the return of these:

McDonald’s Shamrock shakes! Not being Irish, St. Patrick’s Day usually comes and goes without much fanfare, except for two traditions–we order take-out corned beef and cabbage dinners from a local Irish restaurant, and we get a Shamrock shake for dessert. I love Shamrock shakes, and I look forward to enjoying that minty goodness every year! It was in thinking about how good these shakes are, that I decided that it would be fun to come up with a way to literally “share” a Shamrock shake with my family and friends. And that is how this project came to be.

I created a Shamrock shake gift card holder using some of the images and dies from this set. I’ll let my pictures show you the design process from beginning to end:

My vision was a simple card design with a Shamrock shake on the front, and space for a gift card as well as a handwritten note on the inside. My color scheme was mint macaron and white, and I brought in lots of scalloped layers and gingham for added charm and sweetness.

Let’s start with the inside–the gift card will go on the left, and my handwritten note will go on the right under the sentiment. I just love how the scalloped edges really soften the mint macaron layers and bring in so much charm! The scalloped gingham strip is adhered only on the edges and the bottom, so that the top is open for the gift card. The small scalloped circle will indicate the gift card amount.

And now for the front! I brought in lots of charm and personality, because this is the first thing people will see when they open the envelope. I love the gingham fountain glass, but my favorite part of the shake is the whipped cream–I embossed it with a polka dot pattern to help it stand out. I added a little bling to the cherry, and I also stamped some little shamrocks on the mint macaron layer to add interest and help break up the blank space.

And that’s it–the gift card holder is finished! The layout is simple, but this project is dripping with charm and sweetness, which is just the way I like it!

I can’t wait to get these in the mail!

BUT, I discovered an issue when I went to put them in the envelopes:

The gift card holder was too small for the envelope and flopped around inside. So, back to the drawing board. I needed to design some packaging so that the card would fit better inside the envelope. Here’s what I came up with:

I placed the cards inside 4″ x 6″ inch glassine bags that were folded over and stapled shut. I added a simple shamrock topper using layered scalloped circles and

ta da–problem solved!

Now this project is finished! My sweet Shamrock shake gift card holders are loaded with gift cards; packaged; and ready to be mailed. I love sending happy mail, and I can’t wait to “share” a Shamrock shake with some very special people!

Thank you for stopping by today. Take care and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. And, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I am going to close with an Irish blessing rather than my usual ending:

“May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks; / may your heart be as light as a song; / may each day bring you bright happy hours; / that stay with you all year long”

-C-

HEART-SHAPED TREAT HOLDER

My husband and I are having our Valentine’s Day dinner tomorrow night, as he will be traveling next week. I always like to make some sort of table decoration, but time has gotten away from me, and I need to come up with a quick and easy project for this year. I came across a tutorial for a cute heart-shaped treat holder yesterday that I think will be perfect, so I thought I would share it with you in case you, too, need a quick and easy Valentine’s Day decoration idea.

To give you an idea of the finished project, here is the picture of the treat holder from the online tutorial:

This project really caught my eye and I thought the design was really clever. I love how the box is incorporated into the simple heart shape, and I also love the curved banner on top. This design could easily be adapted to any number of occasions, depending upon the paper and the embellishments that you used–Valentine’s Day, “Gal-entine’s” Day lunch, or even a Bridal shower to name a few. The possibilities are endless!

I plan to use this as a table decoration for our Valentine’s Day dinner, and I wanted to try and coordinate the paper with our china. I ended up with a color scheme of coral, gold and white, which isn’t a traditional Valentine’s Day combination, but it coordinated perfectly with our china!!

The supplies needed for this project are pretty minimal:

You need a strip of decorative paper for the heart; a coordinating piece of solid card stock for the box; label/banner pieces; and embellishments. I widened and lengthened the decorative paper for the heart from the original directions, which, in turn, changed the measurements for the box, as I wanted my heart to be a little bit “beefier” and take up more space on the dinner plate.

Tutorial Mine

Heart: 1 1/4″ x 11″ 1 1/2″ x 12″

Box: 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″

Both of the boxes were scored at 5/8″ on all four sides.

I made the heart first:

Start by folding the paper strip in half, and then add 2 strips of adhesive tape to the bottom edge on 1 side:

Remove the adhesive backing, and bring the strip ends in towards the center with both top sides facing each other, and adhere the two strip ends together. This is what your heart will look like:

The heart is done; that’s all there is to it! Now on to the box:

As I mentioned above, the square piece of solid card stock is scored at 5/8″ on all 4 sides. The first thing you want to do is fold on all of the score lines. To make the tabs, snip the vertical score lines at each corner, and then angle cut both the inside and outside edges of all 4 tabs. Apply adhesive tape to the tabs, as well as the bottom of the box, as it will be difficult to do this once the box is assembled.

Remove the adhesive backing on the tabs, and assemble the box, making sure that the tabs are adhered to the inside of the box.

I made the banner last.

I used on of my favorite sentiment stamps, and embossed it in white embossing powder onto the coral banner piece. I love the script font of this stamp, and the fact that there are tails on either side of the word. I cut the narrower white banner piece in half and adhered it to each end of the coral banner, as I felt like I needed some contrast against the decorative paper pattern. I finished off the banner with some gold foil hearts and a gold trim bow, and the banner is done.

Now comes the fun part–it’s time to put the project together!

I removed the adhesive backing from the bottom of the box and added it to the heart. I decided to use a Ferrero Rocher chocolate for my treat and it fits perfectly inside the box!

All that was left was to curl the banner and add it to the heart with glue dots. I love how the gold embellishments on the banner tie in with the gold treat wrapping, and I think all of the gold accents add a touch of elegance to the overall appearance.

I did want to show you a comparison of what the hearts look like with and without the box, in case you wanted to make the heart but felt that the box was a little too intimidating. The heart could totally be used as a decoration without the box; I think my only recommendation would be to use a decorative paper that had more traditional valentine patterns on both sides.

And, last but not least, I wanted to show you how the heart looks on our china. I couldn’t be happier! The color scheme works really well with the navy in our china pattern, and the gold rim on the plate ties in with all of the gold accents on the heart decoration. I did end up adding some heart table scatter to take up some more of the white space around the heart–it’s not exactly practical, but it helps with the visual presentation.

I’m excited that I now have a handmade Valentine decoration for our Valentine’s Day dinner tomorrow night. This project was exactly what I needed for this year–a simple, quick project that looks elegant and special! Now to plan the menu………!

Thanks for stopping by today! Happy Valentine’s Day to each of you, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

The Sweet Smell of Summer

Hi everyone– how are you? How has your summer been? It just seems like this summer has flown by, and I can’t believe that we turned the calendar to August this week. I haven’t had much time to spend in my craft room until several weeks ago, when I found myself in need of some thank you gifts. I thought I would stop in and show you what I came up with.

I wanted these gifts to be somewhat special and out of the ordinary, so the most time-consuming part of this project was coming up with just the right idea. In times like this, I always refer back to my project photos and, in doing that, I ran across this picture of a Christmas stocking stuffer I made 11 years ago:

This is an envelope sachet that I made for my Mom, and she kept hers hanging in the bathroom. The minute I saw this picture, I knew I had found my project!

I had forgotten all about making these sachets, and how excited and proud I was of how they had turned out! I hadn’t been stamping for very long when I made these, and I remember how giddy I was that I could make something other than a simple card! I had gotten the idea from another Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, Carla Brasher, who had posted this project on her blog as part of her 12 Weeks of Christmas series. Her website is no longer active, but I was able to find a picture of her sachets on Pinterest. I used her instructions for the basic construction and sachet filling, but I changed the appearance of my sachets.

Fast forward to 2021. A lot has changed in 11 years, and in thinking about this project, I knew I could modify the instructions to make the sachet size more realistic, and the whole process more streamlined. To begin with, I changed the envelope size from 4 3/8 x 5 3/4 to 3 x 3, which is closer to a traditional sachet size. Secondly, I purchased some scented sachet material instead of making my own filling with corn cob bedding and essential oil. This method was certainly more convenient given my time constraints, but it isn’t a cost effective solution if you are mass producing these sachets. I will list the instructions for making your own sachet filling at the end of this post.

I chose to use a peach scent for my sachets. It seemed appropriate, since the peaches are at their best right now, and I have some new peach-themed stamps and paper that I was excited to use.

I started by cutting two coordinating patterns of paper to the measurements listed above, and attaching them to the base and flap of each of the envelopes. Once that was done, it was time to determine how to embellish the sachets. I wanted them to be soft and feminine, and this ended up being much more of a challenge than I had anticipated. After several hours and lots of trial and error, I finally landed on a neutral die-cut peach, some lace and a little bling.

I attached the die-cut peach to the lower right corner of the envelope before I added the filling. I used dimensionals so that the die-cut would be able to move freely as the filling shifted around inside the envelope.

Now it was time to fill the envelopes.

The scent of this sachet was fairly strong, so I only added 1 tsp of the mixture inside the envelope. I didn’t want the scent to be overpowering, and this amount also allowed the sachet to remain relatively flat. There was a little over 4 tsp of filling in this bag, so you would be able to fill 4 envelopes out of 1 sachet packet. I then sealed up the envelopes and added the rest of the embellishments, and my envelope sachets were finished.

For the packaging, I started by placing each sachet on top of some shredded paper at the bottom of some cellophane bags. All I needed now were the bows and tags, and I kept the design elements similar by using the same card stock, patterned paper, and lace. I layered my gift tag and tried to mimic the look of the sachet envelope with the base tag.

I am so pleased with how these sachets turned out! They are exactly what I had in mind–somewhat special, out of the ordinary, soft and feminine thank you gifts. The sachets would also be perfect for shower or luncheon favors, or as a craft class project.

Now, before I sign off, I wanted to give you the DIY instructions for the sachet filling. You will need some corn cob bedding, and essential oil in a scent of your choice. I remember purchasing the corn cob bedding at Walmart, but I discovered this week that neither Walmart or major pet stores carry it in store anymore. You can order it, and here is a picture of what PetSmart offers:

I followed Carla’s instructions and added 2 cups of the bedding and 1 oz. of oil to an airtight container. It’s better to start out light on the oil and add more if needed vs. adding too much at the beginning and having to start over. I stirred the mixture around twice a day for 5 days to make sure that the oil was completely absorbed. You may need more or less time, depending on what part of the country you live in. It is important to make sure that the mixture is completely dry before you add it to your envelopes, because otherwise you run the risk of the mixture staining the envelope and whatever material is sitting under or next to the sachet. Carla added 2 Tbsp. of filling to each standard A2 sized envelope; you would add much less if using a 3 x 3 envelope.

Making your own filling is definitely more cost effective if you are making a large amount of the sachets, but it is not without it’s inconveniences. You need to allow enough time on the front end to order and receive the bedding and oil, as well as the time to prepare and allow the filling to dry. Also, given the size of the bag of bedding that is available, you are going to have left-over bedding and filling, if you use a 3 x 3 envelope. You would have to consider all of these factors when planning out your project.

Thanks for spending some time with me today. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

Hello Autumn!

Happy First Day of Fall! As if on cue, I noticed this morning that some of the leaves in my yard have already started to change colors.

I’m somewhat surprised to see such vibrant colors–we have had a very dry summer and I wasn’t sure we’d see much color change at all. Seeing these trees come alive in my own yard gives me hope that we will have a colorful Fall season in spite of the drought, which would certainly boost my spirits. There is nothing like Fall in New England!

Just as the season is changing outside, it is also changing in my craft room. I spent part of this past weekend getting out all of my Fall stamp sets and supplies, and it was like old home week. I have lots of favorite sets, and the more I saw, the more excited and impatient I got to start designing new Fall projects! I made my first project yesterday–a card–and I thought I would share it with you.

I chose to work with a very bold and different for me color palette:

I have seen this color combination more and more recently on all sorts of home decor items, and I think it’s really striking. I love adding in some blue with my fall projects, but I have never thought of adding in turquoise, so this will be fun to try.

This series of pictures will show you how this card came together:

Hello Autumn indeed! The card base ended up being the most important element on this card, as it provides the contrast and subtle interest to allow the pumpkins and lettering to stand out. I was able to balance the bold colors with some softness and charm by bringing in the scalloped edge of the vanilla panel, and adding the sweet, little “hello” tag. The tag is my favorite part of this card–I love adding little tags to my projects!

I plan to spend the rest of today decorating the house for Fall, and this card will be a great addition to one of our displays. Thanks for stopping by, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

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!

IMG_7757

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.

IMG_7759

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″

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ring of Daisies-Part II

Happy Friday, my friends, and thank you for coming back for Part II of my series. Today I get to show you the coordinating daisy candle rings that I created for our table. I’ve never made candle rings before, but after having so much success with the napkin rings, I was anxious to give them a try!

When I pictured this project in my mind, I envisioned white candle holders and taper candles so that the candle rings would really stand out. I didn’t want to use traditional candle sticks, but wanted to repurpose and paint a jar or glass of some kind to add some charm and interest to the table. I also wanted the holders to be low profile, so that my husband and I could still see each other over the candles. With these criteria in mind, I went “shopping” around my house and I finally settled on using wide mouth half-pint mason jars. These jars have a great shape, but I was a little concerned about the wide mouth. I didn’t know whether I could make a daisy big enough to cover the entire opening, without distorting it’s shape. I guess I was about to find out!

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I have painted a lot of mason jars and I prefer using the chalk paint pictured above. It provides excellent coverage and I love the opaque look it gives the jars. I put 3 coats of paint on each jar and then sanded the surfaces with extra fine sand paper to expose some of the words. I finished off each jar with a coat of the cream wax paint, which softens and smooths out the chalky finish. After you apply the cream wax, let it dry and then rub the jars with a cotton cloth to bring out the shine. Before I put the jars aside, I stuck the tapers in the middle of the jars with this candle adhesive that we purchased from Current many years ago. It really works and a little bit goes a long way!

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With the candle holders finished, I now needed to concentrate on the actual rings. When I initially thought about making the rings, I figured that I would just cut the flowers in half and wrap them around the taper candle. Wrong! I off set the petals as I add each flower layer, so if I cut the flowers in half, the entire flower would just fall apart. Once again, making these candle rings proved more challenging that I originally thought. I have got to stop coming up with these complicated ideas!

Instead of wrapping the flowers around the candles, I needed to make a ring to just slip over the candles. I measured the tapers and discovered that the candles were about 1″ in diameter where the candle ring would sit. I also measured the opening of the jars and determined that using the enlarged flower would cover the opening perfectly. So I put on my engineering hat and went to work. It took a lot of thought and failed attempts, but I finally figured out a way to create an open ring in the middle of the flowers while keeping them intact. Here come the pictures!

 

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And here come the circle punches again! I created rings by punching a 1″ circle out of  both a 1 1/2″ and a 1 3/4″ circle, and these rings helped hold the flower layers together when I cut the middle out of each flower. I ended up just using 2 size layers for each flower, and used a larger scallop circle for the flower center.

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I started out by making 8 enlarged flowers and punching out 8 of the larger daisy punch. I applied adhesive all around one of the 1 3/4″ circle rings and also added a little adhesive to each individual flower petal just beyond the circle edge. I centered a flower on the circle ring and pressed it down. Then I turned the flower over and snipped out the middle of the flower. As an aside, what does the picture above remind you of? You’re right; a ship’s wheel. You might be seeing that return on a future project. But I digress…..

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I then added another flower, offsetting the petals and then turned it over and snipped out the middle again. It would have been much quicker to just put all four layers on and then use the 1″ circle punch to remove all four layers at once, but the hand punches can’t cut through more than one layer of card stock at a time.

I followed this same process until I had all four flowers layered together. Here’s what one flower size layer looked like at this point:

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Look at that–I did it! I created a flower layer that stayed together even with the middle cut out of it! Pretty impressive for a non-engineer!

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I then started over with the next flower size and followed the same process to complete all four flower layers using the 1 1/2″ circle ring. When this size flower was finished, I put some foam dimensionals on the larger layer and attached the two sized flowers together.

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For the inner ring, I carefully snipped each scallop and glued 2 rings together, offsetting the scallops. I’m not planning to attach this ring to the flower layers; I’m just going to slip it on over the flower.

And now for the moment of truth–what does it look like when I put everything together? Will the flower ring stay together after I slip it over the candle? Let’s find out:

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What do you think? I absolutely love them, and I think they turned out even better than I imagined! The shape of the jars add so much charm and interest without detracting from the flower rings, which is exactly what I set out to accomplish. Now let’s see what they look like on the table along with the napkin rings:

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Notice that my husband and I are practicing our social distancing! I kept the table settings plain and simple so that the napkin and candle rings would stand out. The woven placemats bring in some texture without adding color, and the lace trim on the cloth napkins compliments and highlights the sweetness and charm of the daisies.

These rings weren’t quick and easy to design and make, but they were definitely worth all of the time and effort. I absolutely love having the kitchen table decorated for Spring, and the overall effect is simple, soft and charming. It makes me smile every time I walk by or sit at the table.

It’s been great to spend some time together these past two days, but I am ready to take off my engineering cap; step away from the daisy hand punches; and move on to easier projects. All of this shelter in place time is perfect for crafters like me, so I am sure we will be together again soon. You are in my thoughts and I hope you stay healthy and safe. Until next time, remember:

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

-C-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rings of Daisies–Part I

I am still making paper daisies here–I can’t seem to put these hand punches down! Once you get a rhythm going, they come together so quickly and are addicting! While I was making all of the flowers for my Spring frame (see post here), an idea popped into my head to try and make daisy napkin rings and candle rings. I could just picture how sweet the kitchen table would look all decorated for Spring. Turning the picture I had in my head into a reality proved to be more challenging than I would have imagined, and required much more engineering that I am used to or good at. I have worked on these projects for two weeks and am finally ready to show you what I came up with. I decided to divide the “big reveal”  into two parts, as each post will be very photo heavy. So, are you ready for Part I? Then let’s go!

Part I is all about the napkin rings. I thought that this would be a quick and easy project–all I had to do was make the daisies, and then velcro some ribbon onto the back of each flower; much like I had done with my Easter napkin rings posted here. Wrong! I discovered that the flowers as is were too small to use as a napkin ring–they really needed one more layer.  If I had a third larger daisy punch, this would have been a piece of cake, but there isn’t such a punch. So this meant that I needed to figure out another way to add one more layer to each flower.

I soon realized that there were two issues that I needed to solve in trying to add on to each flower–not only did I need to lengthen each petal, but I also had to make sure that all of the petals were lengthened evenly. After a lot of trial and error, I finally came up with a process which my pictures will help to explain:

In order for the process to make sense, let me show you what supplies I used to make a 2-layer flower as pictured on my Spring frame:

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The only thing you need to take away from this picture is that you need 4 flowers of each daisy punch size to make up the bottom and middle layers of the daisies like I used on my picture frame.

To make a third, longer layer you will need an additional 8 flowers from the large daisy punch, plus (4) 1″ circles and (4) 1 3/4″ circles. I have punched the 1″ and 1 3/4″ circles out of navy card stock for visual effect:

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I used the different sized circles to ensure that each petal and flower were lengthened evenly. The next few pictures will explain this in more detail.

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The first thing I did was to glue the 1″ circles to the middle of 4 of the daisies, and then I cut off each petal beyond the 1″ circle, so that each petal was approximately the same length as all of the others.

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I then placed a 1 3/4″ circle in the middle of another daisy, and glued all of the petals pieces onto the shorter petals by placing them just beyond the circle edge. This is what it looks like once all of the petal pieces are glued on:

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I continued following the above steps until I had 4 lengthened flowers. This definitely was “futzy” and time-consuming; but worth it! I put an enlarged flower next to the smaller, original sized flower for comparison:

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You get an even better idea when you see the size comparison on actual napkins–I used rubber bands to gather the napkins and just sat the two flowers on top.

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The third layer makes such a difference, don’t you think? The smaller flower just gets lost  on the napkin–it just isn’t commanding enough to stand out.

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To create the actual ring, I used 6″ pieces of a white textured ribbon and 5/8″ white velcro dots.IMG_7556

I joined both sides of each dot together and stuck one in the middle of each ribbon and another on one end. I placed the flower on top of the middle dot and then brought the ribbon around and joined the two ribbon ends together to make a ring.

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And the napkin rings are done. Whew–thanks for enduring all of those pictures! As a reward, here is the picture you have been waiting for–the table all set:

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Well, I can’t show you the entire table yet, but here’s a sneak peak of a table setting. This will have to hold you until tomorrow, when I will post Part II–the candle rings.

Until then, I hope you are all healthy and safe, and that you are adapting to the new normal in our daily lives. It sure is a challenge, isn’t it! You are all in my thoughts, and until tomorrow, remember:

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

-C-

 

It’s Spring?

When you look at the calendar, today is the first day of Spring. When you look outside, it is anything but Spring. Where is the warmth and the color? Since I can’t detect signs of spring outside, I decided to create my own version of spring that I can enjoy from inside my home:

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When I think of Spring, I think of flowers and pastel colors, so that is how this project started. I had recently learned how to make these paper daisies, and, because they were so much fun and easy to make, I ended up with a whole pile of them. I wanted to turn these flowers into some form of home decor, so I searched online for different ideas. The idea I kept coming back to was displaying the flowers on a frame, and when I found this frame on Amazon, I knew it was exactly what I had been looking for. The frame reminded me of a white picket fence, which was the perfect backdrop for my flowers.

This frame had a clip on it and was designed to hold a 4″ x 6″ picture. I didn’t want to use a photograph, but thought maybe I could find a free Spring printable to use instead. I hadn’t searched for long when I ran across this printable. I printed out the 4″ x 6″ size, cut it down, and mounted it on a coordinating piece of cardstock.

I now had all of the pieces for my home decor projects; all that was left to do was put it all together. I played around with the placement of the flowers and leaves until I was happy with the arrangement, and then hot glued them to the frame. The printable didn’t require any extra adhesive–the clip was strong enough to hold it securely.

I had so much fun decorating this frame that I ended up making a frame for our son and daughter. Our daughter’s frame looks just like the one pictured above. The frame I made for our son is different in that it uses a specific color combination, and I stamped a spring scene rather than using a printable:

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Here is a picture of the two different frames side by side for comparison:

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I’m happy with the way both of the frames turned out and couldn’t wait to send them to our kids. My frame is now in a corner of the pantry sitting on a metal cookbook holder that I had spray painted last fall. It is just what this dark corner needed!

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This frame has brought some beauty and color to my environment, and, with all of the extra time we are all spending at home, it is amazing how much it has brightened my spirits to have seasonal decorations around to look at.

Take good care, my friends, and, as always remember,

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

-C-