Friday, September 26, 2008

Storybook Five Bar Filigree

This is one of my favorites! The design reminds me of the iron gates you might see at an old estate. I would like to cut this in black and layer it over a landscape photo. In the meanwhile, I thought I would get it posted to share so some of you might be able to use it too!

Once again, this is very simply done by copying and pasting the element from the Storybook cartridge and flipping alternate rows to create more interest to the pattern.

The design is a bit more delicate than the other two I just posted but just be patient as you remove it from the mat. I started by removing the "extra bits" on the bottom row.

Then, once I had just the actual design remaining I was able to lift and gently remove the cut, leaving most of the leftovers on the mat. I did use my three inch putty knife to help with the removal. (You can see the "remainders" on the mat below).

You will have a pile of cute little extras that could be use on another projects - fat curls and thinner "waves" (they also remind me of little French Horns!). I did discard the rest of the offcuts - even though there are some that could be trimmed to use as well - I have my limits on space and patience!

When you turn the design vertically you can better see the "gate" effect I mentioned.

I did not do a baby bug version this time - I didn't like the look when I either stretched or squashed the design - I may try another way using multiples of the element and I will post if I do but please feel free to try it your own version if you have one of the smaller Cricuts (Personal or Create).

Storybook Five Bar Filigree

Storybook Hearts and Flowers Lace

This design was created very simply by using just one border element from Storybook which was flipped and rotated to create a secondary design. You can see the element I used outlined in red on the screen shot below.

I was able to adjust the design to fit comfortably within a 12 x 12 page. Once again I used the 12 x 24 mat and placed the paper at the one inch mark. Below you can see the design on the mat after cutting.

The resulting offcut is rather pretty and I could go back and recenter the elements a bit to make it perfectly aligned in the 12 x 12 space - I might do that if I think of a project to use this "leftover" (or just trim one side to make the spacing even).

There is a baby bug version on page one of the file again - I have not been able to test this and would appreciate any feedback if you encounter a problem with that cut. You could cut two and then overlap them to get the same effect on a page if you do not have the Expression.

Storybook Hearts and Flowers Lace

Storybook Lace with Diamond Centers

As soon as the Cricut Storybook cartridge came out I could see that it was full of wonderful elements for creating more complex designs. I have been putting together quite a few of these - here is the first in a series.

This design is created by a simple repeat of one element from the Storybook cartridge. I made the design in rows, similar to the Halloween design, but did not separate the elements with bars. Once again, I am reminded of quilt designs where the juxtaposition of one or two simple design elements creates new patterns and images.

Here is the basic shape used to create this design

By overlapping and repeating the design, a secondary shape is created

The effect of an entire 12 x 12 page of this element creates a design far more complex and interesting - there appear to be three rows of four of the oval designs with a fancy border around the edges.

This would be lovely as a page background or even as a doily for a tray of desserts. The elements are larger and thicker than the Halloween design so it is much faster to cut and easier to remove from the mat. One more idea (I haven't tried this - no time for baking lately) would be to use it as a "stencil" on a pan of brownies or a cake by placing it on top of the cake and sifting powdered sugar over the top and gently removing the paper (leaving the negative space creating the design).

Once again, this is set up to cut on a 12 x 24 mat. I have found that even when I use the full width, there is some variation in the loading process for the machine so I am making the design rows a bit less than 12 inches to avoid the possibility of the very edge of the design being flattened or cut off. Remember to place the paper starting at the one inch (1") mark on the mat.

I have also done a version for the baby bug - this is on the first page of the file. Be sure to change the view to the 12 x 6 mat. I have not been able to test cut the baby bug version - it previews fine but I would appreciate hearing from someone who cuts it so I can be sure there are no problems. Thanks!

Storybook Lace with Diamond Centers

New designs - finally!

In case you were wondering about the lack of posts lately, I was away visiting family with limited time and limited internet access and then, when I returned, I had some annoying internet issues which are (fingers crossed!) finally solved by the delivery of a new modem/wireless router today.

I have quite a backlog of designs to post so I will get started on them this afternoon and I hope you will find some that you can use. Please remember that the designs I share are for personal use only - this means you may not take my work and use it to make items to sell. I am happy to help you with your projects - just send any questions or suggestions to me at I do ask that you give credit where credit is due and I appreciate feedback when I create a design by request - I want to know if my design is what you had in mind and I love to see photos of finished projects made using the designs I create and share.

For those of you who subscribe to my blog, you will probably get several emails - I will try to put the posts up in "batches" to cut down on the number of emails but I can't really control how they are sent out so I hope you don't feel overwhelmed by the email updates - it will slow down again once I get all of these posted.

(The design you see at the top of this post is still in "testing" mode - it was extremely delicate and tedious to remove from the mat and I am planning on redesigning it, so there is not cut file available at this time).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Halloween (for baby bugs)

I received some comments from owners of baby bugs that they would like to be able to cut the Halloween design. I edited my original file so it can be cut in two pieces and either put together in a full sheet or used as two pieces. You could use it as a title or border on a scrapbook page or make shorter candle lanterns.

Because the Cricut will not cut to the edge of the mat, you will need to do a bit of hand trimming. I did move things to make this minimal but there will be some small cuts required to finish the border rows and, depending on the exact position of your mat in the Cricut, you may need to "finish" the edge of some shapes.

Above is the first page of the file - the top half...

Below is the second page of the file - the bottom half...

Put them together and the result is very close to my original design.

By placing the two pieces with an overlap of the border bar at the bottom of page one and the top of page two, you can create the full sheet design.

Here are a few of the interesting offcuts - these are bits from between the cats. I think they look like a pipe and the hook for Captain Hook! The hook could come in handy on Friday, September 19th - National Talk Like a Pirate Day! (click on the link to go to the website - who knew!)

I had quite a struggle to get this to work when I tried to replace the bar on the original file with a square or rectangle from George - every time I tried to duplicate the shape I got the dreaded red "X" due to the quirky nature of these shapes on George (they don't take kindly to drastic values to change their shape - stretch too far and you will see the "X").

After several variations of the "X" screen, I got smart and searched for a shape on one of the other carts that I could use for the bar - I found the shadow or blackout of the "money" shape on Cuttin Up (lower right corner of keypad on shift) gave me a rectangle that would agree to be stretched!

So I was finally able to make a file baby bug owners can use!

While I was at it I edited the original file to make a version that requires only two cartridges (Paper Doll Dress Up and Cuttin Up) because I know there are some Expression owners who don't have Plantin Schoolbook for one reason or another. If you substitute another font for Cuttin Up, you will also need to change out the bars with a rectangle from a cart you own (or use the original file I posted with Plantin Schoolbook).

I test cut the baby bug pieces on the Expression so there is a chance that the baby bug mat will be slightly different. If you try it and have any problems, please contact me at so I can repair the file. I also did not test cut the revised Expression version - to be perfectly honest I was just getting tired of cutting and removing this design from the mat. I feel confident that it will work perfectly but please let me know if you encounter any difficulties.

One more note - I ignored my own advice and used the softer paper to do the test cuts and once again I had an issue with the small details - it was very difficult to remove the eyes and other tiny holes. Be sure to use paper with that "hard"finish to help you get clean cuts!

Have fun with this - I'd love to see some of your projects!

Happy Halloween (in two pieces)

Happy Halloween Full sheet (no Plantin Schoolbook)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Halloween Lantern

Another way to use the Halloween full page design is to create a lantern for decorating. These could be used for party decorations or just to brighten a corner for a bit of fun.

After cutting the design, turn it over and apply the adhesive - I used Creative Memories Precision Point adhesive pen. I dotted it all over the design and let the adhesive dry to clear.

To line the lantern I used orange glassine. I actually had this in my house from a long ago purchase when I lived in Germany where it is used to make intricate folded stars for the windows (among other things). Below is a photo of the label from the glassine I used. (It is at least 13 years old so the price will probably be higher!).

I applied a piece of orange glassine cut a bit larger than 12 x 12 to the back of the design - being careful to lay it down evenly and smooth out any bubbles.

Colored glassine should be available at a large craft store or online. You could also use cellophane or vellum - a translucent material is best for light diffusion but cellophane would be a bit more "sparkly" (even though you could be able to see through it to the light source).

After applying the glassine you could hang the design in front of a light source or in a window

I trimmed the glassine even with the cut design on one side and the bottom and left a small amount of a border above the top row of cats. For the final side I left an edge that was about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wider than the cut design. Here is a photo which shows this border for the overlap more clearly.

I applied sticky tape to this border so it could be used to join the design in a cylinder for the lantern.

I rolled this glassine lined design in a cylinder shape to "train" it to curve nicely

Once I had the shape started I used some soup cans to help hold the seam steady as I adhered the frame to the narrow border where the sticky tape was applied. The Progresso cans were about the right diameter!

I pulled back a bit of the paper liner on the tape at a time and carefully aligned the edges and smoothed the seam with the support of the can surface below.

Some options for lighting the lantern include candles, electric candles and LED lights.

If you use an electric candle you should also use a shade holder to help keep the paper lantern away from the bulb which will get hot.

If you use a tea light or votive candle, a tall glass cylinder vase will help to protect the paper lantern from the flame. They are readily available at craft stores for a few dollars - just be sure that the circumference is about 11 inches so you will not have trouble sliding the lantern over the vase.

An LED light will provide a bright blue white light and will not get hot at all, so this is probably the safest choice and the choice that could be used if the lantern would not be attended constantly. I got this light for use in a closet - it is battery operated and turns on by pushing the dome top. The first photo is the light turned off and the second is the light is turned on.

So - how do these look when they are lit with these varying sources of light?

Here are photos of the lantern lit by different light sources - first, the electric candle.

Next, with the tea light candle (photo on the left) and the votive candle (photo on the right).

The LED light is a bluer light and, with this particular light, the lowest holes for the eyes in the pumpkins do not get lit due to the thickness of the base - the light starts to show the design about one or two inches from the bottom of the cylinder.

For this photo I place the lantern on top of a plastic dome (from a store salad bowl) to raise the lantern above the light and show the details at the base. If I used this light source for more designs I would be sure to plan for the thickness of the side of the base and not place any intricate cuts in the first inch or so of the design.

The LED light is definitely the safest since it does not get hot and there is no open flame but the candle gives more of a "glowing" effect and could be used as long as you were in the room to monitor the burning.

I have many more of these designs for various holidays and occasions - I'll be posting them as I get them test cut. In the meanwhile you can try your own versions tailored to your family celebrations - I'd love to see what you create! The .cut file for this design can be downloaded from the post immediately before this one.

Happy Halloween - full 12 x 12 page

I decided to try again to do a true "full page" design. I did a lot of frames a while ago and had to make design decisions based on the inability to cut all of the way to the edges of the mat. So I thought about it a bit more and realized that I could at least get the "side to side" dimension to be a true 12 x 12 by using the 12 x 24 mat and placing my design (and my paper) at the one inch mark. So that is what I did!

Halloween decorations are everywhere already so I had Halloween on my mind and decided to use some of the shapes on the Paper Doll Dress Up cart for this project. This is a great cartridge - at first I could not imagine why I would need it with two sons (who are now 23 and 19!) but even if you never cut a doll there are so many "extras" on this cartridge that is well worth the investment!

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I am also a quilter ( least a buyer of fabric and planner of quilts - once I get the top designed and pieced I am not very good about following through to finish up!). I often find inspiration from quilting designs and methods. For this full page cut I thought of a round robin group I was in a few years ago where each of the six members added a row to the quilt design - and also added some borders between the rows. Here is a photo of the quilt top that I received after the other five members of my group added their rows (it started with the row of stars second from the top where one has a red square in the center).

So, with this "add a row" quilt in my mind I set out to create my design....

Using the concept of rows of design elements separated by borders I created this design (screen shot of preview shown below)

I chose a size that seemed appropriate for each shape and added a number of these elements in the same selection box. Then I used kerning, nudging and welding to make the rows approximately the correct length. I used the shape properties box to obtain the exact values to fit the space - the width was always set at 12 inches and the height rounded to the nearest even value. In some cases I compressed the design when I changed the height to fit my pattern by using longer rows (for example, the bats are "squished" from their original proportions so their wings are not spread out as far). I chose the Cuttin Up font for the words - I thought it had a light hearted feel and I was not trying to make this look "scary."

I originally planned to have a border at both the top and the bottom, however, I decided I liked the look of the cats silhouetted along the top row - when the bar was added the tufts of fur at the top were hidden - so I deleted that bar. I purposely made the bar at the bottom extend beyond the bottom margin on the mat so that the paper would not be cut. The bars were done with Plantin Schoolbook and were set to be a bit more than 1/4 inch high and 12 inches wide. To do this height sizing you need to use the handle at the center bottom of the selection box and slide it until the value you desire shows in the height box of the Shape Properties box. If you just type the value in the box, the program will default to a height of 1 inch (I hope that this issue is fixed in a future update of the software - it can get very fiddly pulling and sliding the handle to get to just the value you desire).

Below is a photo of the design on the mat after cutting - fair warning... this design takes a long time to cut - over 15 minutes - so get it started and then go have a cup of tea or call a friend while you wait for it to finish!

Here is a closer view of the cut design showing the tiny details

and here is what the mat looked like after lifting the design- it takes quite a bit of patience to lift and clean the tiny details - I didn't even try to remove the tiny eyes of the bats! The eyes and vine details on the bottom row of pumpkins are also tricky to remove, but you can get them out. Just take your time and be careful!

I did discover that the type of paper you use makes a difference. The first time I cut this design I was using good quality black cardstock by Making Memories but the "finish" to this paper is a bit softer than some and getting the tiny bits out was very slow and frustrating. I have cut the design two more times (you will see a second project using this design in a different post) and for those cuts I used the cardstock I got in a huge bargain pack from Costco - the black paper from this pack has a smooth and hard feel and the cuts were much easier to remove. That paper was made by Pacon Corporation and I have not seen it anywhere else (and it hasn't been at Costco for quite some time). So you should experiment to find a brand of paper that works well for you for this type of complex cut.

The cut on the orange background above was my first test cut and the one on the beige background below is the second test cut - I tweaked the spacing of the letters a bit and made a few other minor changes in the final file.

You could use this design on a page and add photos on top or frame it to display during the holiday season.

Here is my first test cut framed and hanging on the wall in my scrap space (it is in the prototype version of the Creative Memories page frame and the mat opening is 12 inches high but only 11.5 inches wide - the current version have a true 12 x 12 opening and I plan to get new mats cut to retrofit these older frames).

You can also display it framed and placed on a free standing easel, as seen below. This frame is a very inexpensive plastic frame (the type where you bend back the corners and load the contents from the front).

I hope you enjoy this design - I have others in this format planned but have not had a chance to test them so I will post them sometime soon (I never post designs until I have tested them - I don't want to waste your time if there is a problem!).

You can make these for holidays, birthdays, weddings and other special events. I have another project using this design that is posted separately which would also work for various occasions.

Happy Halloween - full 12 x 12