Hearts and Envelopes

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I want to show you how to make a small gift bag that would be perfect for packaging Valentine’s treats. The best part about this bag is that it starts with a common household product. It’s called a bag-a-lope, and, while it’s not a fancy name, it’s certainly very descriptive of the end result. A bag-a-lope is simply a bag made out of an envelope. I learned how to make one at my very first stamping class, and I recently came across the printed instructions I received at that class. It’s relatively simple to make; it doesn’t require a lot of supplies; and it’s a good idea to have in your back pocket should you have an unexpected need for a small gift bag!

Let me walk you through the basic construction first, and then I will show you the bag-a-lopes I made for Valentine’s Day this year.

You can make a bag-a-lope from any envelope. Most of us have both standard and legal sized envelopes around, and I am going to show you the basic construction using a legal sized envelope. You can use a standard envelope, but it ends up being a tall, narrow bag, so it isn’t as versatile. When you use a legal sized envelope, you actually cut it in half, giving you two bags that are the perfect size for small gifts.

The first thing you want to do is seal your envelope at the top, end to end.

Now cut the envelope in half. Each half will measure basically 4″ x 4 3/4″. The next step is the most important one:

With the open end at the top, fold in or score the two long sides and the bottom at the same measurement. For most bag-a-lopes, the fold measurement is 1/2″ or 3/4″. There is no set measurement–it really depends on the size of your envelope and how large an opening you need or want for your bag. If you use a larger mailing envelope, you might end up folding each side in an inch or more. The important thing to remember is to have all three fold measurements consistent. In this example, I have scored all three sides in at 1/2″. Make sure that you press each fold line both towards the font and towards the back of the bag to really set those lines.

Once you have your fold lines made, you can decorate your bag between the side and bottom folds, which is indicated by the cardstock. If you are going to cover the entire space between the fold lines with paper, then use the side with the seam in it. If you are going to stamp, or just use a small tag or embellishment on the front, then use the side without the seam.

Once you have decorated your bag, it’s now time to start to open it up. Start at the top of one of the long sides, and gently begin to open up the envelope as you work your way down to the bottom. Once you get close to the bottom, you will begin to see a triangle form. Gently push up from the bottom of the bag while you finish opening up the side to help with the triangle formation. Do the same for the other long side of the envelope.

When both sides of the envelope are open, your bag should look like this. Stand the bag up flat, and give those triangles a good press. Then put adhesive on the underside of the point of the triangle, and adhere the triangles to the bottom of the bag. I like to use glue dots for my adhesive.

And that’s it! From one legal sized envelope, you just made two small gift bags that each measure 3 1/8″ x 4 3/4″, and are 1″ wide. These bags are the perfect size for small gifts or treats. You can finish the bag any way you like–I’ve shown you two different options in the picture above. You could add a ribbon handle by punching holes on either side of the bag, and tying knots in the ribbon on the inside of the bag. This would allow you to deliver a treat to someone’s house by hanging the bag on the front door handle. The other option is to tie up the treats in a separate bag, add a tag, and place the treat bag inside of the bag-a-lope. The sky is the limit, and the wonderful things is that these bag-a-lopes are very versatile and adaptable to a variety of needs.

Now that you have a general idea of what a bag-a-lope is and how to make one, I want to show you a set of Valentine bag-a-lopes I made this week. I love to give my kids something homemade and handmade on the holidays; especially Valentine’s Day. We are meeting both of our kids tomorrow for separate, Covid-approved visits, and I wanted to bring them a little something special that they can put at the table on Valentine’s Day.

I bought this Valentines kit from Stampin’ Up! last month that includes notecards in 2 designs; layering cards in both the landscape and portrait orientations; and gold foil lined envelopes in 2 different patterns. The more I looked at this kit, the more I decided that I wouldn’t use it as it was designed. So I decided to “de-construct” the kit and use the contents to decorate some bag-a-lopes that were more my style. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I was a little timid at first cutting all of these cards up. Once I had my first bag done, however, I just let my creative juices flow, and the ideas came faster than I could create them! I used a standard A2 card envelope for my bags, as I wanted them to be solid white inside. The envelope measures 4 3/8″ x 5 3/4″. I cut 3/4″ off one side for the opening, and scored the other three sides at 3/4″. Here’s what I came up with:

I told you that I de-constructed the kit! I used every element in the kit in some way, and, along with other Valentine stamp sets, punches, and dies that I had, I was able to come up with six different bag designs that have the personality and charm that I love. Not even the envelopes were spared. It’s a lot to take in looking at all of them together, so here are some pictures of smaller groupings for you:

I had a wonderful time making and decorating these bag-a-lopes, and I can’t wait to give them to our kids! I am hoping that they will put these on their tables, so that they have a little treat to go along with their Valentine’s Day dinner. I will do the same for my husband and I. Here’s a picture of the bags all filled, along with a picture of how one of the bags will look on our table:

That’s all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed today’s treat packaging idea, and that you’ll give making a bag-a-lope a try. Stay safe and healthy, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

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-