Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Questions, Comments, Requests, and some Answers!

I enjoyed my week as Guest Designer at Everyday Cricut very much and I want to try to answer some of the questions that appeared in the comments or emails.  It took me a few days to get through everything and to organize the answers.  I will try to put them into categories to make it easier to find what you may be looking for.  If I missed something, please don't hesitate to leave another comment or send me an email - it was a daunting task to read through everything!

Warning - this is a very long post - I hope you can find what you are looking for!

Design Studio:

I am very excited to know that many of you were inspired to use the Design Studio program (many people said that they have had it a long time but never use it).  I encourage those of you who own the software but haven't tried Design Studio to jump in and start using it!

If you don't own Design Studio yet, you should definitely download the trial version if you have a PC.   If you are a Mac user and have the proper set up to run Windows programs you may be able to use Design Studio.  I actually was purely a Mac user until a few years ago when I bought a PC laptop to use some of the Creative Memories programs.  It was a good decision for me since I did not have a laptop and now I can be "bilingual" and use both systems.

Did our Cricuts come with the cable to hook it to our computer?  The cord you need to connect the computer to the Cricut is a standard "A-B" USB cable.  If you purchased the boxed version of Design Studio there was an extra long cable in the box.  If not, it is a very common printer cable that you probably have at home already or can purchase inexpensively at an office supply store.

I can't afford to get Design Studio yet.  Design Studio is available at good prices often - both in retail stores and online.  Many people have found it for less than $30 so keep your eyes open and you may find a deal.  The investment in Design Studio will increase the creative possibilities of the cartridges that you own in ways you may not have even thought of yet - it is definitely worth adding Design Studio to your crafting tools.

Could you show how to make a template in Design Studio?  This question has me confused - I am not exactly sure what the reader was wanting - if it was you, please comment again so I can try to answer.

Welding is simple to do in Design Studio and practice makes it easier. I have been doing a series of Design Studio, beginning from the basics on the Cuttlebug Challenge Blogspot - the third installment will posted this Saturday and I will be explaining "all about welding."

Laptop vs. Desktop
If is generally easier to have Design Studio on a laptop so you can be "portable" with it.  You may want to set up the trial version on a desktop and keep the full version on a laptop so you can easily bring it to your Cricut for cutting and can also travel with the Design Studio (if you go to a lot of crops).  You can design on the desktop and simply email the file to yourself or put it on a disc or thumb drive to move it to your laptop.

What are shared .cut files?  I have hundreds of files that I have created and I share these free of charge.  If there is a file connected to a post there will be a bold title of the file at the bottom of the post.  This is a clickable link to the download site.   The files are stored on a couple of sites - some will download directly, others require you to wait 10 seconds for the download.  The oldest files were on MediaFire and I set that account to private when I heard that some people were having issues with that site.  If you run into that problem, let me know and I will try to email the file (most of those files are outdated since they were created before some of the program changes and updates).

If you find my blog helpful and would like to make a donation to show appreciation for the time and effort I put into these files and lessons, you can click the button near the top of the side column to leave a donation.  Please respect my copyright and terms of use for my designs and tutorials as posted in the side column and repeated here:

Copyright and use of my designs and tutorials  The content of my blog is COPYRIGHT 2008-2010 © Diane Campbell Payne. Original work is shared for your personal inspiration and enjoyment only and may not be used for publication, submissions, or design contests. Please do not represent my work as your own or use it to make items for sale. Please do not make copies of the lessons I share or my .cut files to give to others - they should visit my blog to obtain these directly. Thank you.

Easter Cartridge:

I used the Easter cartridge for several of the projects.  I admit to doing a fair degree of "enabling" but this cartridge is definitely worth having!  The basket is so nice and there is also a pillow box and cupcake wrapper on this cartridge in addition to all of the lovely spring flowers and chicks and bunnies.  There is a beautiful cross too.

I am sometimes surprised that people feel that cartridges are too expensive.  Most can be found on sale if you are patient for $30 to $40 - sometimes even less.  When you consider the number of images available and the versatility in the sizes I think the cartridges are a great bargain - I used to be happy to pay $10 (with a 50% off coupon) for one set of four sizzlits dies with just a few images and only one size.  Once you add Design Studio the possibilities with the cartridges are truly infinite!

If you don't have the Easter cartridge but want to try making the simple card you could use the egg on A Child's Year and add circles to form the scallops.  Then you could create  your own decorative layer using flowers and swirls.

Easter Egg Card:

Can this be done on the Gypsy?   Yes - this is a very simple file to create in Design Studio or with the Gypsy.  I gave explicit directions in the video so you can just repeat these steps with your Gypsy.  I don't post files that I have not test cut and I have had a problem recently with my computer not recognizing the Gypsy so I was not able to transfer the file to test it or create it on the Gypsy and then transfer it back to my computer to share. (I will be trying to sort out that problem this week).

I am a Total Cricut Newbie - can I do this? Yes!  Nearly any shape can be made into a shaped card - some will work more easily than others and have a more natural fit.  Set up your size guidelines, place the "front" shape in the guideline with a bit of overlap at the center, then check weld, copy, flip, and slide the second shape into position.  If you need to add a "patch" to make the join stronger you may need to "burp" the design by copying one side, deleting it and pasting it back again, which changes the order in which the shapes were added and fixes most bad welds.  If the sides do not work nicely for the join, try welding the two shapes at the top for a different look.

Easter Eggs:

These are super fun to do and there are so many possibilities.  I tried some more methods and will be posting about them soon.

I haven't dyed eggs in years... Well this may be the time to try it!

Can you use painted wooden eggs?   That is a good idea - children can't break these!  You may want to paint them rather that attempting to dye the wood surface.  Another comment mentioned papier mache eggs as a possibility if you are worried about breakage.

Do get one of the little pumps to empty the eggs if you can - they are so worth it!

Can you use clear contact paper?  I imagine it would work if stuck down firmly - the important thing is to keep the dye from seeping under the edges.  Another reader said that contact paper leaves residue -  I am not sure if would be a problem for the short time it would be on the egg.

Don't be afraid of vinyl - it truly is very easy to cut and does much better with fine details than paper.

Can you use the vinyl more than one time?  It is easy to rip the vinyl when removing it from the egg and I am not sure if the stickiness would be strong enough for a second time but go ahead and try it if your vinyl looks serviceable.

Can I do this with any cartridge?  Yes of course!  Just look for thin designs for the best intricate results.  You do not need the Easter cartridge unless you want that specific basket

Did you cut the vinyl with a regular Cricut?  Yes - just use a regular blade - you do not need the deep cut blade -  ANY Cricut can cut vinyl!  The only reason you need the Expression is to cut larger sizes (such as for wall words).  (Remember - to "kiss cut" try medium speed, medium pressure and blade depth 4).

These are great for older kids.  There is also no reason not to just do them for yourself!

I am not sure I can get that small of a design to cut.  Remember, vinyl cuts more easily than paper

That takes too much patience!  Most of the designs are pretty simple - the cherry blossom one was fiddly

It was exciting to me to see how many people say they will try making these eggs.  Someone suggested adding glimmer mist to the finished eggs - I don't have any glimmer mist to try this but I think it would be very pretty.

I think it would be a great idea to do one for Baby's first Easter and start an annual collection for an egg tree.

What is in the bottom of the Easter basket? It was a string of Christmas bead garland - iridescent clear beads - they work great for holding the eggs in position for photos.

Will you teach how to make the German wreath?   I might try making a video but it is really simple -just tear the tissue paper into small pieces, dip them in the glue and arrange them so that they fit together without too much overlapping.

Several people left compliments about my photos - thanks!

Wild Card Wednesday

Can I make this with the trial version?  Yes you can if you have the Expression and the Plantin Schoolbook cartridge.

What do I do if my computer dies - my DS is stuck on an old computer.  If your computer dies you can call PC to transfer the software to a new computer.  They are usually very quick to do this over the phone.

A few people mentioned that they like the Twisted Papers site that I used for one of the images.  You should definitely check out Twisted Papers.  They have some freebies every month and the prices for their vintage images are very reasonable.  If you join their Facebook group you can get more freebies - they add more at every 100 fans.

You can also simply use the certificate as a layer on your card by cutting it at the proper size.

Using scraps is fun and a great way to work with your kids - they can use up the leftovers and get creative!

Where did you get the strawberry paper?  It is from the DCWV Sweet Stack and is the center part of a sheet in the stack.

Can I do this card without Design Studio?   You can make nearly the same card - I will show how to do this in a future post.  You only need the trial version to cut this card if you have an Expression and Plantin Schoolbook.

What is a downloadable cut file? When I make a project I often create a .cut file to save for repeating the project in the future.  This is something that I usually share with readers. You can click on the link at the bottom of the post, save the file to your computer and use it to cut the same project.

I can't afford to buy Design Studio yet.  You can do a lot with the trial version until you can afford to get it.  There are also good prices available often so watch the sales!

I think it is easier to move things around on the mat with the Gypsy. Remember, you can use your arrow keys in Design Studio or the handles around the box.  You can also set the position precisely using the Shape Properties Box.  Both tools are good choices and give you great creative potential.  Which one to choose is determined by different user preferences.  For Mac users, the Gypsy is probably still the best alternative.

"I still wonder why you don't use your gypsy more or make gypsy files for us gypsy users!"
I prefer working on my laptop with the larger screen and quicker access to the precision input of sizes and locations.  My explanations should be simple enough for you to easily duplicate these projects on your gypsy.  My gypsy is not communicating with my computer right now so I can't test the files if I save them as .gypsy and I don't like to share any file until I have tested it.  Also, two of the projects involved the use of "hide selected contour" which will not work on the Gypsy at this time.

My Cricut and Computer are in different rooms.
This is difficult logistically.  Is it possible for you to put the Cricut on a wheeled cart and take it to the computer room for cutting?  I have heard that some people have been able to set up a wireless connection  - if I find the information I will post about it.  Maybe there is a laptop in your future!

What about other softwares?  There are at least two outside programs that use the Cricut to cut.  I have tried them both and understand why some people enjoy using them.  The ability to cut any font and the easy shadows are very attractive features.  The programs are not approved by PC for use with the Cricut and they have stated that using them will void your warranty if it is still in effect.  It is a personal choice and I am happy with what I can do with the Design Studio.

What did you use to cut "thanks" on the card? I used the Cuttlebug "With Gratitude"  A2 Emboss and Cut Combo - it is one of my favorites and great for a quick card.

And, is there any cartridge available where the people who first invested in their cricuts, can make frames like the cut-out ones you made? They were incredible! I bought my cricut 3 weeks before the Expression came out!  The frame on the card is on the Plantin Schoolbook cartridge but you can cut the file on a small machine if you have that cartridge.  It is now frequently sold by online retailers independently of the machine and can even been "purchased" with reward points on the Cricut site.  You can also design something similar using nearly any cartridge.  I will try to create one or two of these in the near future and post them.

Layout Thursday

"I think it is time for me to start understand Design Studio a bit better. I downloaded the trial but I need a cord for it, is it just a simple USB cord? Or do I need a special one?  I answered this in another question above - it is a simple "A-B" USB cable and is the same one that is commonly used for printers.

" you have instructions for how to hide a portion of an image, I think it is called hide contour??"  There are several tutorials and a video on my blog - check the label "hide contour" - here is the LINK.  The video is at this LINK.

"I LOVE the SU Paper you used for the children! I just got it a few weeks ago in my "Sale-A-Bration" order."  The paper is actually from a K & Co. stack called WB Gypsy Baby (Wendy Bentley).

"I had no idea I could be doing this much with my Design Studio!!"  It just keeps getting better and better.  The Design Studio expands your creative potential exponentially - I can't imagine not having it!

"Thanks for sharing! Wish I had a 12 x 12 cricut instead of 12 x 6. That would be fun!"  The Expression is great but you can do a lot with the smaller machine - Design Studio will give you the ability to do many of the functions that are  built into the Expression on your baby bug.  Some of these are already available on the Create.  Watch for sales and you may be able to move up to the larger machine if you really want the size.

"Do you handwrite all of your journaling or have you found a good way to print it. The Cricut really isn't efficient for journaling (IMHO). I end up printing things out and then cutting around them using center cut. It is one of the few times I cut without DS."  I often hand write but also do some computer journaling.  You can use several methods to get the printing in the correct position.  Check Kay's blog, Clever Someday for an explanation of the "hinge" method.

"I have the Design Studio but my computer was wiped clean and I cannot find my stuck and can't use my design stuido. SIGH...."  If you have your receipt you may be able to call Provo Craft and get a new serial number.

"PC needs to put more of those "window" cuts on the carts. They are so neat!"  You can actually create these in your own custom sizes using Design Studio - I will be posting some soon.

"I apply what you have shared and do the same thing on the Gypsy. :)"  Most of what I have explained can be readily transferred to creating Gypsy files - two exceptions are the use of hide selected contour and the multi-page color previews.

'cute page. I didn't know grass was on baseball!"  The cut I used was actually on the Sports Mania cartridge.  You can make a similar one by welding a grass strip from one of the cartridges that has it (such as Plantin Schoolbook) to a larger rectangle.

Fancy Card Friday

"just learned how to change the name on the tabs. I use that to label what cartridge I used to do the design so if I cut again I will know what to have in my jukebox."  You can also check what cartridges are needed by checking the "this project" view at the bottom of the drop down menu in the Cricut Cartridge Library at the top left of the screen in Design Studio.  I usually put the names of the cartridges needed in the title of my file but this can get long.

"I use transfer paper for everything, (Check my blog for a cool new idea using it) but for lifting stuff off the mat, I find that drywall mesh works much better, plus it has a built in grid for alignment. Thanks again for some lovely cards that I can make."  This comment came from Kay who is one of the most clever crafters I know.  Be sure to check out her blog   Clever Someday for lots of great information.

"Hmmm. I don't think we have the hide contour feature on Gypsy."  This function is not currently available on the Gypsy but I have been told by Provo Craft Product Development that there are plans to add it (and also plans to add grouping to Design Studio).

"if you are new to this and can only afford 2 cartridges, which should they be? mostly do simple scrapbooking pages, words/frames, nothing too fancy.. yet!"   That is a tough question - a lot depends on your personal taste.  Several top favorites of mine are A Child's Year for the realistic shapes, lovely cards, tags and font, Storybook for the flourishes and frames, and Graphically Speaking for the incredible variety of items and titles for scrapbook pages.  Once you have Design Studio and can weld your own words, the font cartridges are really a matter of your personal style.  If you like shadows on your words be sure to choose fonts that have a shadow function to make perfect shadows in Design Studio for your welded words.

"beautiful ideas and excellent instructions.  Were you a teacher?"  I actually am an attorney but gave up practicing law when we moved overseas.  I did think about becoming a teacher when I was in high school.  I really enjoy sharing the excitement of creating new things with the images and shapes available on the Cricut cartridges by using Design Studio.  I also have a natural tendency to want to tell people how to do things (!)

"I thought I saw something that you had posted about searching for things inside of DS but can't seem to locate it tonight."  You can use the Keyword search in Design Studio to find elements and images It is in the drop down menu in the Cricut Cartridge Library at the top left of the screen.  Unfortunately there are some cartridges that do not have the keywords entered in the program.  You can add your own keywords by right clicking on a key and typing the word into the box, then clicking "add keyword" at the top.  These added keywords will not be retained if there is a full program update.

"I have become addicted to saving my leftovers..but it has gotten out of hand. How do you keep yours organized so that you can go back later to "use" them. Or do you try and use them within a day or so and then don't have to store the pieces? I have a plastic container with lots of snack bags with my cuts..but I really am not using them enough. Not working."   I try to use them right away and make as many cards as I can.  If not, I keep groups in a project box or bag to pull out when I have a few minutes to play - this way the coordinating colors are together.  I also punch small shapes from the leftovers that I can't trim up for cards and store these in small ziplock bags that I throw in a basket to pull out when I feel like making some serendipity cards!

Core'dinations Gemstone Cardstock

Where did I get that pretty cardstock?  I bought mine on sale at Joann's.  I think I paid the 4 or 5 for $1 sale price - at my store it is regularly 59 cents (which still isn't bad).

Expression vs. Smaller Cricuts

One comment was that a reader wished she had an Expression so she could cut cards with her Cricut - You do not need the Expression to make A2 cards.  I have many files for A2 cards that can be cut on the Personal Cricut (baby bug) or the Create available on my blog.

Another person said she had the smaller Cricut so she couldn't cut vinyl.  This is not true any machine can cut vinyl.  If the sheet of vinyl is too large simply trim it to the mat size.

I hope that I have addressed most of the questions - as I said, feel free to ask again by a comment here or send me an email.

Remember, tomorrow is "Hello Thursday" and there will be some new cartridges announced on the site.


  1. Thank you! This answers so many of my questions! I have DS and am still learning and your site and tutorials are so helpful!!!

  2. Wow - what an incredible post. It is just packed with good information and explanations. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer the questions!!

  3. What a great post Diane! I don't think I learned anything new, but then I too love using DS. Completed 3 layout yesterday and two more almost complete. All planned out and laid on on DS.
    LOVE IT! And thanks so much for your great instructions. It was from you that I learned how to group phrases and titles for all my layouts. Hugs from Minnesota!

  4. Excellent, excellent article! Martha

  5. You've given people a lot of very useful information today!

  6. Thanks for taking time to answer the burning questions! You are wonderful source of info.

  7. Thanks for answering all those questions. That was nearly as good as the actual posts last week :)

  8. thanks so much, Diane, for all the helpful tips here! I think I was one who asked a question over on the Everyday Cricut blog while you were there, but I didn't see an answer posted...
    I'm new to DS (just got mine for Cmas), but I wondered if there was a way to make a shadow for your welded words if that feature is not specifically available on the font. I only have 2 font carts right now - Plantain Schoolbook which came with my Expression and Jasmine. Do you know which font carts come with a shadowing feature? I plan to order a couple new ones soon.
    Thanks again for all your tips!
    at cox dot net

  9. Diane,
    Thanks for answering the questions. I'm amazed that you have time to do all you do! I really learn a lot from you. thanks for sharing! :)

  10. Diane,
    DO you think you can do a video how to change a .cut file for the expression (like a 12x12 design) to a 12x6 mat for use on the bug & create? I know the image needs to be made smaller but a way to get started may be needed(at least for me!).thanks

  11. thanks so much for answering all those questions! As always, you did an awesome job!

  12. Hi Diane,
    I ordered Design Studio last week after going through your "whole" blog, downloading the trial version and following your blog! I love your easy directions. You make it look so simple.

    After reading your post tonight, I'm curious. Can you load Design Studio on more than one computer? Lap top and desk top?


  13. Hi Charlene,

    You can make a shadow for a welded word if you are using a font that has a shadow option. I have a video in the side bar that explains this process. Most of the basic font cartridges have at least one font with a shadow option.

    You can check the handbooks in the cartridge library under the information tab on the site to see exactly what is available. One major exception is the Lyrical letters font cartridge which has seven fonts and therefore no room for shadow keys.

    You can make a semi-acceptable shadow, depending on the size and shape of the word by using the same letter in a slightly larger size. The shadow will not be perfect in the cases of letters with openings or multiple legs since the proportions will be off.

    When there is not a true shadow option available, an alternative would be to cut the word again in a contrasting color and then offset the two when you put them on the page, giving the effect of a "sun " shadow.

    As far as choosing another font or two - it is really a matter of personal preference. Take a look at the cartridge sample sheets and handbooks and see what appeals to you the most.

    Have fun choosing your new cartridges!

  14. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for the suggestion - I will try to do a video showing how to do that soon. I do have a blog post about turning a design to fit the smaller mat (check the post from September 7, 2009).

    I try to create files that can be used on the smaller machines whenever it is possible.

    Is there a particular file you'd like me to use to demonstrate?

  15. Hi Cyndi,

    You can only install the full version of the program on one computer. You can install the trial version on as many computers as you would like.

    With the trial version, you can design with all of the cartridges but you can only cut with the "native" cartridges for each machine - George for the Personal, Don Juan for the Create and Plantin Schoolbook & Accent Essentials for the Expression.

    You can move a saved file that you created with the trial version to the computer with the full version by emailing it to yourself and downloading it onto the computer with the full version. You can also save it onto a CD or an external drive that you take to the computer with the full version and then browse to the location where it is saved (or move it to the Cricut Projects folder) on the computer with the full version for cutting.

    For most people it is preferable to have the full program on the laptop for portability but that depends on your particular situation and computer setup.

    I hope that helps - let me know if you have more questions.


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