Red Felt Circles or Pretty Pink Flowers {Tutorial}

You know those little round circles of red felt on a sewing machine spool pin? Did you ever wonder what they are there for? Mine disappeared long ago, and I never worried about replacing them. Most machines I’ve ever seen or used didn’t have them, so I figured it wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t too long ago that I found out they are to protect the paint under your spool of thread, as that spool constantly spins there. Ok, I knew it before, but I didn’t think it really mattered until I got old machines.

Now if you have a new plastic machine, your machine may not have them or need them. If you have a “modern” metal machine with the spool pin on the back, you may not care. But if you have an old metal machine with the spool pin on the top, you may decide it is worth protecting that paint. You don’t want to wear down that 75-100 year old paint any further. But perhaps you don’t really want an ugly red felt circle there either.

I prefer a pretty pink flower. I’d heard about and seen pictures of spool pin doilies. So much prettier than that red circle! So I decided to make some to dress up my old ladies. Even when those ladies themselves have seen better days, like Jocabed, my 122 year old Singer 27, this pretty little doily can dress her up far better than a red felt circle could.

Spool Pin Doily {crochet} ~ from Me & My House

Spool Pin Doily {crochet - tutorial} ~ from Me & My House

Perhaps you think there should be other flowers in this garden. I didn’t stop at just pretty pink flowers. I decided to make some white ones out of #10 bamboo crochet thread (on Natalie, my 90 year old National 2 Spool).

Spool Pin Doily {crochet - tutorial} ~ from Me & My House

And I tried a purple one out of #3 cotton crochet thread, because that’s the only size they had of purple, (on Ruthie, my 85 year old Singer 66). I wasn’t as thrilled with the #3 thread. Too thick, IMO.

Spool Pin Doily {crochet - tutorial} ~ from Me & My House

If you’d like to make some Spool Pin Doilies for your sewing machine – new or old, you will need #10 crochet thread and a size D crochet hook. You can download my instructions /pattern. FREE to use, just don’t copy, repost, or claim it as yours. Instead share a link to this post (not to the file) so your friends can get their own Free Pattern. Thanks.

Enjoy!


 

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What Goes Around Comes Around {How-to}

Years ago I crocheted many baskets, rugs, and other accessories from fabric strips. The rotary cutter, mat and acrylic rulers made it sew easy to create yarn from fabric. That trend ended and I haven’t cut fabric yarn since.

T-shirt Yarn How-to ~ from Me & My HouseBut it’s back! especially in the form of the new trendy T-shirt yarn. Same idea. New twist. With a stretchier yarn. And an even newer tool that can help (even though I don’t have one yet.)

T-shirts. They seem to multiply in the drawers. Our children (hopefully not we) outgrow them. The images start to fade or flake off. They stretch out into weird shapes. So what to do with them? You hate to throw them away, unless they have holes or huge stains.

You could throw them in the rag bag. But there are some better uses. We’ll look at one today, since we’ve kind of been on the yarn theme, and some others at another time.

Just like I strip cut those woven cottons, years ago, we can strip cut these cotton jerseys today, and not even have to buy new fabric yardage to do it.

Here’s how:

1. Line up the bottom of the hem and cut the hem off.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (1) ~ from Me & My House

Tip: T-shirts without side seams are best, but ones with side seams work too.

2. Cut evenly spaced strips (1/2″ – 2″ wide, but 1.5-2″ better for braiding than knit or crochet) across the width of the T-shirt. BUT! stop the cuts 1″ from the side furthest from you. IOW, do NOT cut clear across the T-shirt to produce individual rings of fabric.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (2) ~ from Me & My House

I’ve cut at 1″ and 3/4″. I measured the “Fettucini” jersey knit “yarn” by Lion that I purchased, and it is 3/4″. I think that is a good size. 1/2″ will give you even thinner yarn, and more yards of yarn per T-shirt.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (3) ~ from Me & My House

Realize, the size of the T-shirt will determine the yardage you get from it. Using small children’s T-shirts will require quite a few to get enough yardage to make something. So if you don’t have a lot of T-shirts the same color, you will get a scrappy striped effect. From a men’s small T-shirt, I get about 25 yards of 1″ wide, and 36 yards of 3/4″ wide strips.

shape cut plus
Oh, I about forgot to tell you about a great tool that can help make this go really fast and give great results. (Perhaps I about forgot because I don’t have one yet.) The Shape Cut Plus is a slotted rotary cutting guide with slits every 1/2″ to guide your rotary cutter. Make your strips 1/2″ wide or in any multiple of 1/2″ that you desire. If you plan on cutting a LOT of T-shirts into yarn, or if you do strip piece quilting, you’ll find this ruler (and others in this line) invaluable. The Quarter Cut Slotted Ruler will cut at 1/4″ increments, but is smaller, for a smaller area.

 

3. When you get about to the arm pit or where an image begins, cut your strip clear through to the end, cutting the top part of the T-shirt apart from your connected strips. The ink from the images will not create a good yarn. Don’t include them. This also goes for if their is any small logo at the bottom or such, cut it off before beginning your strips. And one more note, same goes for if there is a tag in the side seam. Cut it completely off, or you’ll have a hard lump there.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (4) ~ from Me & My House

4. Now you have several fringe-y looking strips all connected on one side.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (5) ~ from Me & My House

My poor illustration that may be clearer than the pics.

tshirt-yarn-1

The magic happens with our next cuts to make one continuous long strip of yarn. Lay your cut piece out so you can see the whole part that is hooked together, (turn so side seams are in middle, not at top and bottom.) Begin at the left edge (where the hem was) and cut (beginning even with where the lower cuts start,) at a diagonal to the first cut where the upper cuts end.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (6) ~ from Me & My House

Then diagonally lower cut #1 to upper cut #2, lower cut #2 to upper cut #3, and so on.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (7) ~ from Me & My House

When you reach the last bottom cut, you will cut diagonally off the edge, and you will have 1 long continuous strip. (I also cut the seams off the ends, if the t-shirt has side seams like this one does.)

T-shirt Yarn How-to (8) ~ from Me & My HouseMy poor illustration that may be clearer than the pics. The shirt is turned here so the side seam (where connected), is in the middle, not along the top.

tshirt-yarn-2

5. Stretch out your yarn, really stretch it out. The edges will curl. I grab from side seam to side seam and pull, just like taffy. Then move on to the next side seam, stretch, across the whole length of the yarn.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (9) ~ from Me & My HouseT-shirt Yarn How-to (10) ~ from Me & My House

6. Then wind yarn into a ball. Start by wrapping around a couple fingers. Wind.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (11) ~ from Me & My House

And wind.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (12) ~ from Me & My House

And wind.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (13) ~ from Me & My House

And wind. Now you have a ball of yarn to crochet or knit into all kinds of useful things.

T-shirt Yarn How-to (14) ~ from Me & My House

A scarf (or the beginnings of one pictured here.) Crocheted with a size 50 crochet hook! (6 stitches per row. First row single crochet, rest double crochet.)

T-shirt Yarn How-to (15) ~ from Me & My House

A trivet for a hot pan, or a mug rug, or the beginnings of a floor rug. (Chain 5, slip stitch into ring, ch 3 dc 9 (making 10 stitches), join, ch 3 dc in same stitch and 2 dc in each stitch around (making 20 stitches), join, ch 3, *2 dc in next, dc in next* around, 2 dc in last. Finish off or continue for larger circle.)

T-shirt Yarn How-to (16) ~ from Me & My House

Or dish rags.

Or a purse or tote bag.

Or ….

Don’t throw the tops and sleeves of your shirts away yet. I’ll be back with more tips for repurposing those into useful things too.

Do you make T-shirt yarn? What have you knit or crocheted with it?

Rag Quilts {How to}

Baby Girl's Rag Quilt ~ from Me & My HouseMy babes aren’t the only ones that can snuggle in a soft and cuddly, homemade with love blanket. Even if you’ve never quilted before, you can make a baby rag quilt, like the ones I pictured in my last post–easily and quickly. No intricate cutting. No tricky piecing. No fancy sewing. Just straight cuts and seams.

Baby Girl's Rag Quilt {back} ~ from Me & My House

You’ll need:

(See note at end.)

Planning:

For a baby sized quilt either a 6×6 or 7×7 pattern works well. With finished squares of either 6″ (for the 7×7 pattern) or 7″ (for either), your blanket turns out at 42″ or 49″ square. 42″ is a good “normal” size for a baby blanket, and 49″ is a nice large baby blanket. (Smaller blankets can be made, but babe will outgrow them soon. I prefer these larger sizes, to wrap babe in, not just throw over.)

A 7×7 pattern requires 49 front squares, 49 back squares, and 49 “batting” (middle layer) squares. A 6×6 pattern requires 36 for each of the 3 layers. I use flannel for all 3 layers. (For a regular quilt, you could use actual batting for your middle layer.)  The squares are each cut 1″ larger than the finished square size for the front and back, and at the finished size each for the middle layer.

For a 42″ finished 6×6 pattern, you need to cut a total of 36  8″ squares for the front, 36 8″ squares for the back, 36 7″ squares for the middle/ batting layer.

For a 42″ finished 7×7 pattern, you need to cut 49 7″ squares for the front, 49 7″ squares for the back, 49 6″ squares for the middle/ batting layer.

For a 49″ finished 7×7 size, you need to cut a total of 49 8″ squares for the front, 49 8″ squares for the back, 49 7″ squares for the middle/ batting layer.

You could also make a larger 6×6 pattern with 9″ top and bottom squares that finish at 8″, (and 8″ middle layer squares,)  for a 48″ square quilt.

For a smaller, 6×6 36″, cut a total of 36  7″ squares for the front, 36 7″ squares for the back, 36 6″ squares for the middle/ batting layer.

9 Patch Quilt Pattern ~ from Me & My House.jpg

9 Patch

To determine how many squares you’ll need of each for different colors/patterns, you will need to either find a 6×6 or 7×7 pattern, or draw one out. (Some are included here. The patterns of my finished quilts pictured here are not exact, due to the amounts of fabric I had. i.e. the inclusion of the purple squares in the first pic.)

If your fabric is wider than 42″ (not counting selvages, and less than 48″) after pre-shrinking, you will get seven 6″ squares, or six 7″ squares, or five 8″ squares across the width.

Use this to determine how many rows of squares you need to cut from each fabric for your pattern. (Remember you need 1 more whole row, even if you only have one more square than the previous row. So depending on how many colors you are using, it may end up more than the base amount listed.) Then multiply the number of rows needed by the size of your squares to get the length you need. Remember that this amount will be needed after your fabric is pre-shrunk, so add a bit extra. Flannel usually shrinks a few inches.

The back of the quilt can either be all one color/pattern, or varied as my baby girl’s quilt is. If you are using all 1 fabric, you will need about 1 7/8 yards for a 42″ quilt, and 2 1/4 yards for a 49″ quilt. (This is after pre-shrinking, and if the fabric is 43+” wide.)

The middle/batting layer can be any color that doesn’t show through your top or bottom layers. You will need about 1 1/4 yards for a 42″ quilt, and 1 7/8 yards for a 49″ quilt.

Need ideas for layout? You can use a “scrappy” pattern, just randomly placing blocks, usually making sure that none that are the same are touching. Diagonal stripes is an easy one, that can be done with any number of rows – first picture this post. Or a 9 Patch (4 times for a 6×6 – repeat, or vary as above). Or a Trip Around the World pattern (shown in 7×7).

If you know how or learn to make Half Square Triangles, you will be able to do many other designs. (It will take just a bit longer.) I’ll show you how to do that with an easy technique in a future post – and many other designs. You can also take a peek on my Pinterest page. Many of the patterns there are just squares and HSTs.

 

Cutting:

When cutting from new fabric yardage, these quilts can be cut very quickly with a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. When using leftover/scrap fabric, that is not even strips, it takes a little longer, but the rotary cutter makes it much faster than cutting each square with scissors.

So, lay that fabric out, and start cutting squares. Be sure to cut on the grain of your fabric, and be sure your squares are squared up.

If you’ve not cut with a rotary cutter, mat and ruler before. Lay your fabric, folded in half with selvedges meeting (as it comes off the bolt,) making sure it hangs straight. Fold the fold up toward the selvedge making sure to keep this fold straight – use the lines on your mat. Lay your ruler across, perpendicular to your selvedges, near the end, and cut to line your end up straight. Then move  your ruler over the number of inches required, again lining up at top and bottom for a straight cut. Continue cutting these strips until you have as many as you need. Then take each strip and turn it sideways and cut at the same measurements to get your squares. Keep your cuts on your mat (or you’ll ruin your table) and keep your fingers out of the way.

Trip Around the World Quilt Pattern ~ from Me & My House.jpg

Trip Around the World

Stack ’em up:

If your back is all one color, you can just make a big stack of your back squares, and a big stack of your middle/batting squares. Your top squares will need to be stacked in the order they will be on the quilt. I turn each row catty-wompous in the stack, just to help me keep track. If your back will also have a pattern, you will need to lay it out with the fronts, to make sure you get the right ones together. (i.e. Make your 3 layer sandwiches ahead of time, and lay them on top of each other according to order in row.)

Sewing the Squares:

You will begin by sewing the layers of the individual squares together. This forms the “quilting”. You will make a sandwich of 1 back square face down, 1 middle/batting square centered on it, 1 top square face up.  You will stitch each “sandwich” diagonally, from one corner, through the center, to the opposite corner. And then stitch again, with the other 2 corners, forming an X across the square.

Tip: I sew all the squares of a row, in a string, with the first diagonal. Then, I go back and sew the second diagonal, all in a string again. I think this is faster than sewing an X on each square individually. I don’t worry about backstitching since these stitches will be sewn over.

Also, I just eyeball my diagonal seams. If you don’t trust yourself to get accurate diagonals, press the top square of each sandwich along the diagonal, then open back up. This press mark will create a line for you to sew along to get straight seams.

 

Sewing the Rows:

After sewing X’s through each square sandwich, grab a row of squares and stitch the sides together with 1/2″ seams, with backs facing, according to your pattern. (Since I sew mine in a string, I already have them in the order of the pattern for the row.)

Take the top right square of the pattern, put it face down, (making sure the top is at the top, if it has a pattern). Lay the next square for the top row on top of it, with backs together, lining up edges, (making sure its top is at the top.) Stitch the two squares together on the right edge with a 1/2″ seam.

Open these up and lay face down. Put the next square for the row on top of the previous one (at the right), lining up right edges (and tops and bottoms), stitch with 1/2″ seam. Repeat till you get to the end of the row.

 

Baby Boy's Rag Quilt ~ from Me & My House

 

Sewing the Columns:

After stitching the squares together for each row, lay out your rows in the proper order for your quilt. Grab the top row and the next row, and put their backs together, lining up long edges. I open the seams between squares, and pin through each intersection of the squares, before sewing, sew my intersections line up nicely. Sew with 1/2″ seams. Add the rest of the rows the same way.

If my seams are off a bit, I line up the center ones, then work my way out with pins, then sew.

After all the rows are sewn together, stitch around all 4 sides of the quilt with 1/2″ seam.

Cutting the Fringe:

Now comes the most time consuming step of the whole thing. Put on some music, an audiobook, or  a movie. 🙂 Snip (with good, sharp, pointed scissors – spring loaded ergonomic ones are best) about every 1/4 – 1/2″ along each and every seam, being careful to not cut through the stitching. (Like you are cutting fringe.) This creates the “ragged” look, after the blanket is washed a couple of times.

In fact, after snipping, run it through the washer and dryer a time or two, by itself, to begin this fraying.

Done!

There you have it. All done. Quick. Easy. Soft. Cuddly.

 

Note: Links are affiliate links to what I have/like. I’ve found these to be better quality that last, don’t have to be replaced, work well, prevent strain better than other brands I’ve tried.) Use what you have available.

 


 

Helpful Hearts

I’m taking a little detour from paper crafting in this post. The cards I need for this month are done, and I need to prepare for a crochet class I’m teaching. In keeping with the Valentine’s theme that I started with cards last month, (but didn’t get pics of,) I’ve designed a fun Valentine’s project.

I’ll be teaching beginners how to crochet, and we’ll be making Heart Coasters. They’re easy enough for anyone who has learned the basic stitches, and a fast project for beginners to complete without getting overwhelmed. And they provide a handy, furniture-saving place to put your glass or mug. They’re crocheted with Peaches & Cream cotton yarn.

Crocheted Heart Coasters ~ from Me & My House

You can make some too. Download my instructions here. FREE to use, just don’t copy, repost, or claim it as yours. Instead provide a link to this post (not to the file). Thanks.

Hope you enjoy them.

Entered at the All Things Valentines Link Up at Joyous Notions. Check it out for All Things Valentines.

 


 

 

Tri-shutter Shoes Card

My almost final card for 2013 is for another daughter’s birthday. (Still one more to go before the end of the year.) I’ve been wanting to use the Tri-shutter fold for a while now, so that was the easy part. Choosing paper wasn’t as easy. I wasn’t able to get anything specific for this (oh, the ideas I have,) so had to go with what I had. (Yep, need to use the wonderful stash on hand.) I was happy to find something with shoes on it in the stack (I love,) Kellerkurtz & Company by Paper Studio. (All my girls love shoes. I used to own 80 pairs. Father-in-law managed a shoe store.) Anyhow, I started with shoe paper and just started adding pretties that I thought she’d like.

Tri-shutter Shoe Card ~ from Me & My House

The card base is from the Old World stack from DCWV. I liked the combo of the red and neutrals. (They are generally her faves.) To make the Tri-shutter, cut the 12×12″ in half (6″x12″), then score on the short side at 2″, 4″, 8″ and 10″. Accordion fold the card and crease with your bone folder. (Look familiar? Same as Double Z card, up to this point.) Then open, and cut (on the long side) between the 2″ score and the 10″ score at 1.5″ inches from both long edges. Then refold with your middle section going the opposite direction as your top and bottom ones. Re-crease with your bone folder.

Tri-shutter Card ~ from Me & My House

You may choose to mat different places or sizes than I did (measurements above). They aren’t all standard, but I had my reasons. I rounded the corners and inked the edges of the mats, and inked the card base too.

The embellishments on the front start with a metal flower from Queen & Co. with a flat back pearl center, and 4 small tags from a printable from Eclectic Anthology, attached with a “Love” brad from the Prima Engravers collection. The stamped key is from Prima Engravers collection. It is heat embossed and has a flat back pearl also.

Tri-shutter Shoe Card ~ from Me & My House

Inside, the “31” number tiles and gemstone with a shoe on it are both from Paper Studio. I took the postcard from a printable from The Graphics Fairy and added the Scripture verse to it and printed it out, then stamped it with Birthday Wishes from Inkadinkado and Flourishy from Recollections. It is mounted with foam “pop” squares on the Kraft card stock (from Recollections). The “Cherish” and “Memories” stamps are from Studio G. All the above are stamped in Rich Cocoa from Memento. The flowers are from the same Prima set as the key and are stamped in Bright Pink Stampabilities dye ink.

On the last page, the chandelier is from the same stamp set as “Cherish”. It is heat embossed, and it and the shoe are blinged with “diamond” gems. (I had every intention of putting these shoes on the front and the others on the back, but mis-glued and didn’t want to start over. Shh. Don’t tell her.) The bookmark and the pocket for it (cut from another bookmark) are a free printable from Janet K Design. I Mod Podged the  bookmark so it would hold up better. The red bling is from Queen & Co. Everything is inked in, you guessed it, Vintage Photo Distress Ink from Tim Holtz.

I think I was getting predictable this week, but it goes to show you that you can reuse the same paper stacks, stamps, inks and even embellishment packs and get totally different looks from them. You don’t have to have a lot to do a lot.

What is your current go-to–whether that be paper stack, ink, stamps, punches or whatever? What do you find yourself grabbing time after time?

 


 

ThanksGiving Place Cards

ThanksGiving Place Cards ~ from Me & My HouseThis afternoon, my only daughter left at home and I started nailing down details for ThanksGiving dinner. We will have 29 people at our house, so we have to pre-think the logistics a bit. She commented that we should get the place cards done today, so it wouldn’t be a last minute rush. My girls enjoy doing things like that. I’m glad.

I told her I had a few new little stamps for Fall/Thanksgiving, that I’d picked up from the dollar bins, that we could use. So we started designing.

We worked together, but I was also working on other (Christmas) projects, so she did all the stamping, inking and gluing. (I made the name labels, cut and scored.) So THANK YOU Shekynah, for all your help making some great place cards for this year’s table.

The card base is dark brown card stock (Colorbok) cut 7×3.5″, scored and folded in half. The mat and label are cut from Ampad Earth Tones card stock. The mat is 3.25″ square. The Harvest-Give Thanks and Be Merry stamp, and the pumpkins and leaves stamps are Studio 112 (2 different mini sets). Edges are inked in Vintage Photo (Tim Holtz Distress Ink,) and corners of the mat punched with Tonic Studio ticket-tag punch. I typed all the names into a table in Pages on my computer, (with the rectangles a bit larger than my punch,) then printed them and punched them out with the EK Success Photo Labels punch. All layered together with my ATG gun.

I was actually pretty impressed with how fast these all went together. I told her, “Wow, if we can do these this fast, maybe we could make homemade Christmas cards.” 🙂 She agreed. She likes to make cards.

So much for having all my cards for the year (except that one last one for the very end of the year) done last week. But we had a great afternoon doing it. And it took far less time to make all those cards today than the one card that I will be sharing with you next week. Well, actually, the one next week took a lot longer design time than the design and making of all of today’s cards.

See all the cards I’ve posted.


 

Happy Birthday Dad

Typing Memories Card ~ from Me & My House

Some of my earliest memories are of my father typing. My dad was a pastor and when I was a child, when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I’d reply, “I’m going to type, type, type, and work, work, work and shut the door and not let anyone in.” Evidently I remembered the times when dad needed some peace and quiet in our home with 5 children, but I wanted to be like him. 🙂

Thus the inspiration for my card for my dad’s birthday today. My dad is also an avid reader, so the “book page” background was a natural too.

Inside I included a few other goodies that remind me of him or seemed to go well, the car 3¢ stamp, bicycle, and compass gem with “Enjoy the Journey” stamped. I also had to color the bicycle seat red (just because.)

Typing Memories Card (inside) ~ from Me & My House

The front paper mat is from the same stack I used on the last card, Heirlooms from DCWV. I cut the corners of it and the inside mat with the ticket punch from Tonic Studio. (Yep, I must’ve had it before I did the tags on the last card. It is a double punch–tag and ticket.) Card base is Recollections Kraft card stock from Michael’s. Card stock for stamps and interior is from Ampad Earth Tones (from Walmart). Edging in Tim Holtz Vintage Photo Distress Ink. Stamping with Rich Cocoa from Memento, (I think. See previous post.) Christmas Green is only dark green I have, a Stampabilities pigment ink from Hobby Lobby. Most of the stamps are Stampabilities from Hobby Lobby: Typewriter and “TYPE” from Typewriter set, 3¢ car stamp from Time & Travel set, bicycle from Vintage Outdoor set. “Enjoy the Journey” is from Recollections (I don’t see a name on it). “Memories” is from Studio G. “Happy Birthday” is from Hero Arts Many Birthday Messages. The Compass brad is from the Prima Engravers collection. The wood buttons are Hobby Lobby (see last post.) I tend to not mention ribbons, but they are usually from Walmart, Hobby Lobby, or JoAnn’s.

Again, being a man’s card, I didn’t heavily embellish it (even though I know this one will be saved.) I love that it so represents my dad, and hope he enjoys it (and doesn’t open his internet until after he opens his card today.)

I’d love to see the men’s cards you’ve made.

See other cards I’ve made and posted.

 

http://teachinggoodthings.com/blog


 

Papercrafting Supplies 201: Stamps

Now the fun comes! You have your basic supplies of paper, measuring and cutting tools, and adhesives from the Papercrafting Supplies 101 series, and it’s time to move on to the decorating supplies. Although you could probably put together a plain album and even a decent card if you’re able to do nice writing or calligraphy on it yourself, most people are going to want to add a little extra pizzaz to their paper crafting projects.

What you actually buy, for all of these extras, is going to depend totally on personal taste. You know you and your paper crafting needs and desires. No one else does. What do you like? What type of paper crafting are you doing? Who are you doing it for? If you are making products for others, children’s birthdays, albums for friends and family members, etc. their needs and taste will also come into play for what you buy.

Papercrafting Supplies 201: Stamps ~ Me & My House

For that “extra”, again we’ll look at 3 categories: stamps and inks, punches, and embellishments. I’m classifying stamps and inks as one category, as you can’t use stamps without inks, but will be presenting separate posts for them, so they don’t get too long. (This one on stamps is going to be pretty long anyhow.)

I divide stamps into 3 types of designs, of which you’ll probably want some of each: sentiments, single design (which I generally call decorative, though of course all of them are decorative,) and background. There are also 3 basic kinds of stamps: mounted rubber, cling rubber, and cling clear. Let’s start with the types of designs.

Types of Designs

Sentiments are word sayings, like Happy Birthday, With Deepest Sympathy, Just Because, etc. You can buy sets with an assortment of sentiments for various occasions, so you can probably start out with just one set. That will probably be cheaper than buying many individual stamps, but if you want to totally customize your collection, you can buy individuals. You may also want to branch out, (at least over time, after getting your initial set,) to several variations of the ones you use most, such as several types of birthday greetings, either in one “birthday” set or various single stamps. But perhaps you aren’t making cards. Do you still need word sayings? Probably. There are also stamps that say things used in albums, such as, Memories, Family, Summer Fun, etc. and other word stamps that are useful on your other paper projects. Look for sets or individual stamps that cover your paper crafting needs.

Single design, or decorative stamps are used to add a focal point. These are designs such as a flower, or a clock, or a suitcase, or a cake, or a person, … You will use these types of stamps on nearly all your work, and they’re the ones you will buy the most of. Again, you can buy singles or sets with several single designs that relate to each other. Many times a set will have several single designs and a sentiment or two that goes with them. Build your collection over time based on what you like and what is needed for the types of projects you do. Small mini sets can be picked up for $1, large sets may be $25 or more. But consider what you are getting in the set. (This and the following apply to Sentiments also.) For the number and size of stamps, as well as quality, it may be worth it to get a few more expensive sets, than many cheap sets/individuals. Besides, the big box craft stores have frequent sales marking stamps down 40-50%, or with a coupon for one item 40% off.

The last design type is background stamps. These are large stamps that cover a whole area, such as the entire front of a card. You may or may not choose to use background stamps. They are not as necessary as the other two types, but some people enjoy using them. Unless this is something you really enjoy using, you will probably only have a couple background stamps for occasional use, if any at all. Choose a couple of good multi-functional designs.

Kinds of Stamps

Papercrafting Supplies 201: Stamps ~ Me & My HouseThere are 3 basic kinds of stamps. Mounted rubber stamps are the traditional type. These are an etched piece of rubber that is mounted on a cushion on a wood block, usually with the design stamped on the top of the wood, making placement easier. Rubber stamps provide a crisp, clear impression, even with fine details. They can be used with nearly any type of ink, and are quite durable and will last a REALLY long time, a lifetime or much more.  They are really high quality stamps and only have a couple of cons. Since you can’t see through the wood mount, you can’t see exactly where your stamp will be. (There is a solution for that called a stamp jig.) Also as your collection grows, it will take up quite a bit of storage room. Also rubber stamps tend to cost more than the other options (because of their quality). Wood mounted rubber stamps are usually sold individually. Occasionally you’ll find a few mini’s in a set, and of course small alphabets come in a set.

Papercrafting Supplies 201: Stamps ~ Me & My House

More recently, the newer clear cling stamps have gained much popularity. These  can be made of photopolymer resin or (more commonly) vinyl, and they are unmounted. To use them you temporarily mount them to an acrylic block, that they cling to, while you ink and stamp with them. In fact you can mount several at once, to stamp a complete design, of sentiments and decorations in one stamping. Therefore they are super for getting everything lined up just as you want it. Then you clean them (see below), take them off the mount and return them to their package. I love clear cling stamps because you can see exactly where you are stamping your design, since they are see through, and because of their popularity there are a lot of great designs available. But clear stamps have their cons too, and their quality varies greatly.

Photopolymer stamps are better quality, sturdier, and closer to rubber in hardness and performance than vinyl stamps. They are usually made in the USA. Vinyl stamps are usually cheaper (in quality also), usually made in the Orient, and may not produce as sharp an image, tending to wobble more and to cause the ink to bead up. (But there is a wide variety of quality available.) Because they are more flexible than rubber, you need to only press lightly or your image may smear. But you do need to gently press evenly, all over the stamp, to transfer the image. Also a plus is, because clear stamps are flexible, you are able to bend them to do stamping around a curve, a fun technique. Most clear stamps come in sets, large or small, unless they are a background stamp in which case they may come individually.

The problem some (many?) clear cling stamps have is ink beading. The ink may not spread evenly over the whole stamp, but rather bead up on the stamp. That may be fine if you’re going for a distressed look, but not so nice if you want a crisp clear sentiment stamped. Different brands and qualities of clear stamps, as well as different inks used, are better or worse at beading. (Cheap stamps may also tear easily or break down over time. Never use acetone, bleach, or oil based inks with clear stamps. Solvent based inks, such as StazOn will also cause them to deteriorate.) Good quality clear stamps will serve you well for years, but perhaps not decades.

Back to beading. There are 3 ways you can reduce beading on your clear stamps. First, your clear stamps (especially vinyl ones) should be conditioned by washing them with mild soap and water before using, to get manufacturing residue off them. A second step, that some  recommend for all clear stamps and others only resort to if the washing doesn’t remove all the residue, is to go over them with a (good old pink pencil) eraser, then rinse, before using. Other crafters sand them lightly with an emory/manicure board, rather than using an eraser. (I’ve had to do this on some.) The third step some do (instead of the second for some, in addition to it for others) is to first “prime” clear stamps by inking with a pigment or VersaMark ink. Some just do this before using the stamp the first time, and leave the ink on the stamp to dry. Others stamp it into VersaMark before stamping it into a dye ink, each time. This leads us into, the types of ink you use also can make a difference. (I’ll talk about that in the post on Inks.) Others claim the only conditioning a clear cling stamp needs is stamping a few times onto scrap paper. With a little TLC, clear cling stamps can be a good choice, especially if you get photopolymer ones, but even vinyl (which you will find far many more of than any other kind) can be worth adding to your arsenal.

Papercrafting Supplies 201: Stamps ~ Me & My HouseThe third kind of stamps are unmounted or cling rubber stamps. These are kind of the best of both worlds. You get the sharp, crisp images and durability of a rubber stamp and the convenience and ease of a cling stamp. Unmounted rubber stamps are just like wood mount rubber stamps, without the wood. You put them onto an acrylic block when you want to use them, just like the clear cling stamps, making much less storage space needed. Although you still can’t see through the stamp itself, it is mounted to an acrylic block that you can see through, making placement easier, and allowing for mounting multiple stamps at once for a complete image. Although these stamps themselves (not the images they produce) don’t look as “cool” as the clear stamps (usually grey foam cushion), they really have the benefits of the other two kinds combined, making them an excellent choice. (Just a quick note about using multiple stamps on one mount. You need to be sure all the stamps are the same thickness. Clear cling and rubber cling are not the same, and some brands of clear cling may not be the same as other brands of clear cling. Doing a test stamp is always a good idea anyhow.)

My personal preference for stamps, if I can find similar stamps at close to similar prices, leans toward the photopolymer as a first choice. (I just really like that see through design.) Cling rubber is second. Although wood mount is what I began with, (all there was back then,) I really try to stay away from them because of the storage issue and placement issue. Although I’ve had my share of frustrations with vinyl stamps, and they probably come in as my least favorite; because they are the most plentiful, readily available and cheapest, I have the most of them.

Stamp Mounts

Papercrafting Supplies 201: Stamps ~ Me & My HouseYou will need an acrylic mounting block to use both your clear cling and unmounted rubber stamps. You can get thick block or thin blocks, plain blocks or blocks with grid lines, straight edged blocks or wavy edged (for finger grip). You can even get a stamp press that has foam corners that raise it off your work surface, suspending the stamp in mid-air. You just press it down, for even stamping and no shifting. I recommend either the stamp press, and/or thick blocks for getting a good hold on them, and ones printed with a grid for making it easier to line your stamp up straight. I also prefer the straight edged blocks to make it easier to line up straight with your paper edge, but that’s totally personal preference.

There are many different sizes of acrylic blocks. Your block needs to be larger than your stamp; but you have better control over it, if it is not too much larger. Therefore having a few different sizes is handy, at least a 2×6″ and a 4×6″. I’d probably add a 2 or 3″ square also. Another option is to get the Fiskars Stamp Press. It can be used with stamps of all sizes, yet you still get nice even pressure.

The surface you stamp on will also make a difference in how clear your stamping is (as well as how you ink your stamp). Some recommend stamping with a mouse pad (or special stamping mat, or even a magazine or a few layers of newspaper) under the paper for a clearer impression. Others say you should stamp on a hard surface. In general, the pad is more needed for the clear cling stamps, as they don’t have the cushion built-in that rubber stamps have. Experiment to see what works best for you. Whichever you do, be sure your surface is flat and stable.  As for inking, gently tap your stamp on your ink pad (or, many prefer, ink pad onto your stamp, especially for large shaded areas) a few times. You can also give a gentle twist, if you want. Do not press too hard or you can over ink your stamp and cause smudging.

One final note, on cleaning your stamps. Mild soap and water works great. Wood mount stamps, of course, should not be submerged in water. Many people use baby wipes, but be sure to get ones with no alcohol and no aloe in them, and no anti-bacterial wipes. I use my homemade wipes that are made with a mild soap and other gentle ingredients. A bit of glycerin (with your soap and water) in your cleaner (homemade wipes) can be helpful for reconditioning rubber stamps. There are also specialty stamp cleaners, if you want to spend the money for them.

Stamps are a fun and easy way to add some pizzaz to your paper crafting projects, and there are so many different designs available. Start looking at stamps and find ones you like, and I’ll be back soon to talk about Inks.

 


 

Twist & Turn Card

I’ve finished the last (3) of the cards for a while. (One left for this year, at the very end of the year, and I’m not making it ahead of time, because she lives here and crafts with me.) 🙂  I can only share one today though, because the other two haven’t been given yet, and are both to people who may possibly see these posts. So stay tuned.

Today’s card was a fun one to make. It’s a twist and turn card, that is easy to do but creates a unique, fun shape and design. It just opens normally, (but people wonder and try to do differently.) 😉 I put tags in both pockets, but it is great for a gift card too. I’ve also seen it online with a large die cut on the front, rather than using it as a pocket.

Number Twist Card ~ from Me & My House

The base is a simple half-sheet of 8.5×11″ card stock, cut 4.25×11″. (I used Recollections Kraft from Michael’s.) Score on the diagonal. Lay so the length is horizontal, then fold left (large) side up and crease with bone folder. Then score in half vertically, fold and crease with your bone folder.

Need a visual?

Twist 'n Turn Card ~ from Me & My House

I matted all 4 sections with “pretty paper”. The lower mats are cut from 2 pieces, each 2×5.5″, cut on the diagonal from top left corner to lower right corner. If your paper does not have any directional pattern to it, you can use just one piece and use the 2 cuts, 1 for the front, one for the inside. My paper had direction, and I wanted 2 different designs, so 2 pieces. (And yes, I wanted the Bingo board to go sideways, so you could better see what it is.)

 

The upper mats are cut from 2 pieces, each 4.5×4″. The cut is made on the 4″ side at 2″ (the middle) of the left side down to the lower corner of the right side. You will use the top part of this piece. You can use plain (instead of patterned) paper or card stock on the inside if you’d like to put your sentiment there. I put my sentiments on the back of my tags.

I also chose to mat the left of the inside of the card. Typical you may not do that, but if you’re like me and want to, you’ll need a piece 5.5×4″ and will need to cut off the bottom and the right side at angles. (I don’t have measurements, I just marked and cut it to fit.) And I chose to make tags for the pockets. I believe they were 2.125×4.25″ and cut 1/2″ over and down on the diagonal–or maybe I had my Tonic Studios tag (angle) punch by then and used it. The mats for them were 1/4″ smaller in length and width.

Number Twist Card ~ from Me & My House

I matted each place with a different patterned paper, as my emphasis was numbers. The receiver and their family continually joke about age, so the sentiment on the back side of the tag in the front pocket was “It’s just a number! Happy 57th.” (The other tag has our signatures on the back.)

The papers I chose are from DCWV Heirlooms stack. Edges are inked in Tim Holtz Vintage Photo Distress Ink. The embellishments are: Bingo number, brown buttons (in a glass bottle, so cute,) and Clock gemstone from Paper Studio. The stamps (on the left inside) are from 3 different sets, and stamped in Rich Cocoa from Memento. (I think. If not, they’re also Vintage Photo) Pocket watch: Stampabilities “Time & Travel” set, “Time” and clock: Fiskars “Journey” set, 36 and #25 with flowers in urn: Kaisercraft “36” edge stamp.

Hope you enjoy my fun little “Numbers” card. If you make (have made) a Twist and Turn card, I’d love to see it.

 


 

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Victorian Card

Our daughter’s card was my design challenge this past week. I knew I had to use the buggy stamp set for the baby card. Grandma’s card came together pretty easily, although I did change it at the last. But I didn’t know at all what I was going to do for this one, except I wanted 2 things, a different fold to it and to make it Victorian-y–I had new tea pot and birdcage with bird stamps I knew were “her”.

Victorian Birthday Card - from Me & My House

I began with the double Z fold card foundation from a damask looking card stock (Old World collection from DCWV). (See scoring measurements at this post.) Next I began looking through my printable downloads, and decided rather than just matting the sections of the card, to add some elements instead. The card on a card and tags just grew from there.

Victorian Birthday Card - from Me & My House

The front has a card on the card, with a teapot (Michael’s–Timeless Traditions) and sentiment (Fiskars–Latte Love) stamped inside (and colored with my Copics). I also aged the paper with Antique Linen, (Tim Holtz Distress Ink). Pink ribbon and flat back pearls finish that part.

Victorian Birthday Card - from Me & My House

In the first opening, I cut out the tags from this printable, from Astrid’s Artistic Efforts, Freebie page. I stamped the birdcage, birds (Stampabilities–Vintage Outdoor), and sentiment (Inkadinkado–Birthday Wishes), and colored with Copics, added the key (7 Gypsies,) ribbons, flower (Paper Studio), and gems.

Victorian Birthday Card - from Me & My House

The next opening got 3 stamped and colored roses, a narrow side pocket (cut from printout) for 2 tags (also printouts), that I dressed up with some ribbon and pearls, then aged the backs with Vintage Photo Distress Ink, and signed.

Here’s the whole card opened out.

Victorian Birthday Card - from Me & My House

I loved working on this card, and probably could have continued dressing it up. But it was a card after all. 🙂