Handmade calligraphy Christmas cards

I really wanted to make my own Christmas cards this year. Last year the twins were so young that we had barely any time to prepare for Christmas at all, let alone make cards. In fact, we didn’t even post any cards! This year I was resolved to do better.

I had an idea that it would be pretty quick if I created a calligraphy design that I could repeat easily for each card. I chose to write ‘Merry Christmas’ with a couple of swirls and it took me about an hour to fine tune my design. I’m really not very good at swirls! I see so much beautiful swirly calligraphy, but I just don’t seem to be able to design something similar myself at all. I guess it just takes practice.

Anyway, once I had my design sorted, I created the layout and used my light box to see the layout behind the card blank so I could write on the card. I originally was going to use red and green card blanks but when I placed them on the light box I realised that I couldn’t see the guidelines because the card was too thick! So I had to use white card instead. But I do like the combination of white and gold at the moment so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

I used gold and silver Manuscript italic marker pens and the script is my own – it’s a bit of a hybrid between italic and foundational hand!

Once I was up and running, it didn’t take too long to do the 30 or so cards that I wanted. I was really pleased when I laid them all out together, I think they look great!

 

Metallic calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

I managed to get them them in the post last week so they’re currently winging their way to the UK. I missed the last guaranteed post by quite some way so I hope they turn up sometime in December!

Did you handmake your cards this year? Please share a photo or a link if so, I’d love to see what you came up with!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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DIY wall display

I’ve been thinking for a while about finding something to hang on our wall which could be used to display cards and things. We used to just put them on the coffee table or TV unit but now the twins grab anything like that as soon as they see it and crumple or chew it all up.

Some friends of ours have got something like this, and I was so pleased when I found it online because every time I see theirs I think about getting one myself! It’s pretty reasonably priced too. But unfortunately the shipping to Hong Kong is over double the price of the item!

So I thought I would make something myself. I also thought I would be a total cheapskate and use things I already had to make it! And this is what I made:

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Having now finished it, I think if I did it again I would do it a little differently, so I’ll give you another method for making something like this at the end of this post.

If you want to make it the way I did, you will need:

  • 4 hooks (mine are hooks with Command strips, since we are only renting this place and can’t put too many holes in the walls)
  • Ribbon
  • Needle and thread
  • Pegs

1. Measure out where you are going to put your hooks. I arranged mine in a 40cm square.

2. Attach the hooks to the wall.

3. Make the outside edge of your frame with the ribbon. I looped the ribbon around each hook and sewed a few little stitches on top of one another where the ribbon overlapped at each corner and then sewed the ends together. Doing the corner stitches was the trickiest bit! It was so hard to keep the ribbon as taut as possible whilst holding the ribbon together to make the stitches.

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4. Mark out where you want your criss-cross ribbons to meet at the frame. I decided to mark out roughly thirds.

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5. Cut the ribbon to the correct lengths and sew in place with a few little stitches on top of each other at the ends and where the ribbons cross. I wrapped the ends of the ribbons around the ribbon frame and sewed through all three layers at once. This should help stop the ends of the ribbon fraying.

When sewing these ribbons in place, be sure to keep everything nice and taut without distorting the overall shape.

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6. Use your pegs to attach your items to display (btw, in this photo, you can also see my wire button heart and birthday candles card).

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Aren’t the pegs great! They are the only thing I actually bought for the project, everything else I already had. I got them from Living Plaza for HK$12 (approx. £1) per pack!

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When I was in the middle of this project (which only took me a couple of hours, by the way) I thought it was going to look really rubbish! I just couldn’t get the ribbon nice and taut. However, I did the best I could with it and I’m actually really pleased with the result.

An alternative way of doing a display like this would be to use a wooden picture frame, or make a wooden frame yourself by nailing wood together. You can then attach the ribbon to the back of the frame using drawing pins (thumb tacks), and put the little stitches where the ribbons cross. This is actually what I did to make an earring display that I use on my stall at craft fairs!

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Let me know if you have a go at your own wall display. It’s a great way to remind you of nice things people have sent or things you’ve been to!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Updated – craft supplies in Hong Kong

A while ago I wrote a post on where to buy craft supplies in Hong Kong, and it’s by far my most popular post! Since then I’ve become aware of a whole load of other great sources of art and crafty goods so I’ve added these to that post and totally updated it.

Take a look if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Featured blog: Minted Strawberry

Today’s post is part of a series of features on blogs and Etsy shops that I love. This time it’s the turn of Aki from the blog Minted Strawberry!

Minted Strawberry is a beautiful blog featuring great craft and jewellery DIYs. Aki is so talented, I don’t know how she comes up with all these ideas! I’ve bookmarked so many of her ideas to have a go at myself!

Here is Aki to tell you all about it…


 

Describe your blog in one or two sentences.

   Minted Strawberry is a craft/DIY blog that focuses on creating and sharing handmade jewelry, accessory, printables and (sometimes) home decor. 

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What made you decide to start a blog?

   I wanted to share my ideas and printables with more than just my family and friends. I decided to start a blog as a way to log all my crafting adventures and to help me improve in many outlets – crafting itself, writing, photography and patience!

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How did you choose the name of your blog?

It’s actually pretty simple – I loved the color mint (still do!) and I love strawberries. It’s color + sweetness, which represents what I love and what I blog about (most of the time anyway). :)

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Where do you get your inspiration?

   I get inspiration from current trends in the market as well as my own surroundings.

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What has been the highlight of working on your blog so far?

   It’s having the opportunity meet people I wouldn’t have met if I never blogged as well as trying out new craft products!

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What do you like to do when not working on your blog?

   When I’m not working on my blog, I would be sketching or playing MMORPGs (because I am a nerd at heart). I also have a small shop wherein I make and sell custom cake toppers (https://www.etsy.com/shop/MintedStrawberry) and freelance graphic design page (https://www.facebook.com/graphicblend) and I’m working on opening an Etsy shop for it, too. 

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What is coming up in future posts?

   I don’t know – I’m a very when-inspiration-hits-me kind of person, but definitely Fall and Halloween themed stuff! I love skulls so I’m most likely going to be working on a project with that. 

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What are your top three favourite blogs?

  It’s so hard to choose! I have a ton – but probably the ones I visit the most are A Pair and A Spare (http://apairandasparediy.com/ – she has gorgeous everything), Noveau Cheap (http://nouveaucheap.blogspot.com/ – for my daily dose of make-up stuff) and Birds Cards (http://www.birdscards.com/ – she has the most amazing cut files for the Silhouette). I know, my reads are very diverse, but they’re all craft/fashion related.


Thanks Aki! If you like what you see, head on over to Minted Strawberry to see even more!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Hand decorated initial letter babygros

I’ve been meaning to decorate some babygros (also known as onsies, for our American readers) for some time now – since before the babies were born! Finally, I’ve got round to it :)

Puff paint initial letter babygro DIY

I think they would make a great new baby gift, or just something nice to make for your own children (as I’ve done).

I was inspired by this tutorial from Alisa Burke to use puff paint (also known as 3D paint) to decorate my babygro. Isn’t her design amazing?!

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Unfortunately, as I realised when I used the puff paint I bought on this tutorial, it’s very hard to draw designs with these paint tubes, so sticking to dots is best. I recently saw this embroidery design on pinterest and thought I could do something similar with my babygro!

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For this tutorial you will need:

  • A plain babygro (onsie)
  • Puff paint (I used 3 colours per design)
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Double-sided sticky tape (or normal sellotape)

1. Cut your paper down to a size that will fit inside your babygro. Draw the initial that you want to use in the design in dark pen (as you can see, I’m not very good at drawing letters freehand so I have to measure it all out!). To give an idea of scale, my babygros are size 9-12 months, and my letter is 5cm high.

Draw out your initial

2. Use the double-sided sticky tape (or sellotape) to stick the letter in position inside the babygro so that you can see the letter through the fabric.

Place initial inside babygro

3. Start going round the letter with dots in your first colour. Space your dots 2-3 dot widths apart and space your dots out more as you get further away from the letter. Try to finish so that your dots end up covering an oval shape around the letter.

First colour puff paint dots

4. Repeat step 3 for the two other colours, spacing your dots as evenly as possible.

Puff paint monogram onsie

Dotted handmade onsie initial letter

And that’s it! Simple :)

So simple, I made two!

Hand decorated initial letter babygros

Monogram puff paint onsie

Initial letter dotted babygro design

I was gutted that I made a smudge with the paint on the ‘J’ babygro and I wish my dots were a little more evenly sized, but overall I’m really pleased with how they came out!

Here are my glamorous assistants to model the finished products (very difficult to get good shots of them, they kept trying to grab the camera!)

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Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Featured Etsy shop: Live Your Dream Designs

Every fortnight Occasionally, I’m featuring Etsy shops and blogs which I love. This week it’s the turn of Joyce from the Etsy shop LiveYourDreamDesigns!

Joyce makes the most beautiful 3D cards which she sells on Etsy and through her website. Here she is to tell you a little about her craft…


Origami Architecture is the combination of two ancient Japanese art forms. Origami – the art of folding paper & Kirigami – the art of cutting paper. The result is a single sheet of cut and folded paper that when opened displays a three dimensional image. My goal is to amaze and delight you with the magic of Origami Architecture.

Conservatory of Flowers pop-up card - Live Your Dreams Designs

I made a living designing and building theatrical props and costumes for 25 years. In the early 90’s I discovered Origami Architecture. I made a few designs and offered them to my friends in “the industry”. The cards were so well received that I left my costume design career in 1993 and began making cards full time.

Christmas Carousel pop up card - Live Your Dream Designs

I design and make all my cards in my studio here in Los Angeles. I have 2 lasers in my studio to cut my cards. I draw my own designs. The usual revision rate is 18 before I am happy. I choose the exterior paper carefully and write the text for the back of my cards. Then the paper goes to an off set press for printing. When it comes back I laser cut and fold each piece individually. Then I apply the exterior paper. It is still a one card at a time process. I am usually supervised my my two cats, Tigar and Trouble. I love spending my days making these cards. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to look at a table full of finished work and think “I did that today”.

Box of 3 Alcatraz pop up cards - Live Your Dream Designs

I enjoy the process of designing these cards. It suits me. The drawing work is fairly technical. More like drafting than like drawing. It requires a highly developed sense of form, space and design. I think intuitively in 3 dimensions. Most of my images are architectural. I enjoy architecture and it works well with my art form.

A Smithsonian Christmas - Live Your Dream Designs

I make handmade greeting cards because I believe that in today’s world of e-mail and cell phones, people are hungry for more personal, human contact. Sending or receiving a handmade card is a wonderful way to express our care and love for one another.

Box of 3 Griffith Observatory cards - Live Your Dream Designs

I enjoy the process of making and selling these cards, and especially the gleam of light in your eye when you open these very plain looking cards.

Joy Tree pop up card - Live Your Dream Designs


Thanks Joyce! Aren’t her cards amazing?! Check out LiveYourDreamDesigns on Etsy to see the full range!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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DIY papercut name bunting

Apologies for the lack of posts last week, I really wanted to have this craft ready much earlier but the twins aren’t napping well at the moment so that means my “blogging time” is much reduced! However, finally it is done :)

Let me introduce my tutorial for papercut name bunting!

handmade name bunting

I’ve been planning to do name bunting for the babies’ room for a while now and over time it’s taken different forms in my head, but after seeing this picture (below) on the Heart Handmade UK blog I decided to do a papercut version!

Talking-Table-Fiesta-Mexican-Paper-Banner

I have to admit that my previous attempts at papercutting haven’t been particularly amazing, so I was definitely keen to keep it very simple this time! Even so, it ended up taking me quite a long time. I chose to draw the outline of each flag in Photoshop Elements before cutting it all out by hand. I think you could do this craft an awful lot quicker than I did if you either know how to use Photoshop (I am very much a beginner) or drew the letters and shapes out by hand. For the really sophisticated among you, you could cut out the letters with a Silhouette or similar papercutting machine and then it would be a really quick craft!

Anyway, this is how to make your own name bunting using the method that I did…

For this tutorial you will need:

  • Photoshop Elements
  • Printer
  • Coloured paper
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler
  • Ribbon
  • Glue (I used dry roller glue)

1. Choose your pattern design. I chose to have a zigzag cutout on each letter, so I found a jpeg of a zigzag pattern on Google to use as my background pattern. The pattern was larger than I wanted so I created an A4 size image in Photoshop (as this is the size of the paper I want to print onto) and repeated the pattern to fill the image. Save as a jpeg and name this Photoshop layer ‘Fill layer’.

fill layer

2. Create a new layer in Photoshop and draw the outline of the bunting triangles. Keep this layer at the top at all times. I used the ‘snap to grid’ option and the rulers to make sure that the triangles were the right size. My triangles were 12cm wide and 12cm high. I added a 1.5cm tab to the top of each triangle for attaching to the ribbon to make bunting.

bunting triangles

3. Use this tutorial to create letters in Photoshop Elements with the zigzag pattern in (ignore step 7, we don’t need this). I used the font Tondu from dafont.com which created nice, simple, bold letters.

bunting letters design

NOTE 1: In order to position each letter separately within each triangle, I quickly discovered I needed a separate layer for each letter, and consequently a separate (repeated) fill layer.

NOTE 2: The tutorial above uses some sort of grouping function (Ctrl + G) to make the patterned fill layer only show through where the letters are. I found that once you have applied the grouping function, even if you un-apply it, you cannot reposition the letters – so make sure they are where you want them to be to start with! If you are going to do what I did, and make several versions of the same image with different letters (if you want more than 3 letters in your bunting), find your widest or largest letter (in my case ‘k’, but if you are using an ‘m’ this might be the one to use) and use this to determine the position and size of your letter in each triangle. The snap function and rulers make it easier to consistently place letters in the same place in each triangle. Then change the letters to the ones you want.

4. Save the Photoshop image as a jpeg and then edit the letters in the Photoshop file to create additional pages of letters, saving each one as a jpeg when you are done. I wanted my letters to be a mix of colours so I selected certain letters for certain pages (I needed 11 letters in total). I found the best way to edit each letter was to:

  • Click on the associated fill layer to select it
  • Click on the eye on the fill layer to hide it
  • Press Ctrl + G to ungroup the layers
  • Edit the letter
  • Click on the fill layer again and press Ctrl + G again
  • Click on the eye on the fill layer to unhide it

5. Print out each page of letters on coloured paper.

printed bunting letters

My bunting was destined to be hung against a wall so you won’t be able to see the back of it. Therefore, I printed the image backwards so any visible print lines will be hidden on the back of the bunting. Luckily Photoshop has a nice feature for printing an image in reverse: Print > More Options > Iron-on Transfer, then check the box which says ‘Flip Image’.

Photoshop printing in reverse

Annoyingly, after carefully sizing my triangles, I didn’t realise that Photoshop had re-sized my image for printing so they came out slightly smaller! To avoid this, check the setting ‘Select Print size’ is set to ‘Actual Size’.

6. Using a craft knife, first cut out the patterned letters on each page (this makes it easier to cut the fiddly bits).

cut out patterned letters

Then cut around the bunting outlines, leaving you with a bunch of triangles with tabs.

cut out bunting triangles

7. Score along the line between the triangle and the tab on each piece, and fold. I used the back edge of the craft knife for scoring but a bone folder or similar might be better.

score tab on bunting triangles

8. Leaving a nice long end to hang your bunting with, start gluing your triangles to your ribbon. I used a dry roller glue as this will not crinkle the paper. I firstly glued the ribbon to the top of the triangle, and then glued the tab down over the ribbon. Be careful to glue the triangles on the right way round – I started gluing mine on backwards and had to start again!

glue ribbon to triangleglue triangle tab down

Be sure to keep the spacing between your triangles even. I used a gap of 1 inch between each triangle.

9. Once you have finished gluing the triangles in place, cut your ribbon to length and hang your bunting!

papercut name bunting

papercut triangles

papercut patterned letters

I was really pleased with how it turned out! I think my bunting is pretty cute, and it looks great in the babies’ room. I hope you like it too! Let me know if you have a go at making your own. You could write any word or phrase with it. It would be great for a wedding or a party, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading!

Rachel