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Project | Cross Stitch Card

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Long before I was a scrapbooker, I was into cross-stitch. I’ve long been familiar with the concept of adding small pieces of cross-stitch to my paper crafting projects, but up until now I’ve not done it because combining Aida fabric with my paper projects takes extra steps to protect the fabric from fraying and adhere it.

But then this book from Annie’s Paper Crafts landed on my desk, and I discovered that there is a material that I’d never heard of before that makes it easy to make a cross stitch card: perforated paper.

Easy Cross-Stitch Cards cover

The book was Easy Cross-Stitch Cards & Tags, which contains 27 cross-stitch projects that are designed to be made with perforated paper and then finished into cards and tags using paper crafting supplies.

The projects are small enough to finish in a few hours of stitching. I made this sympathy card in a few evening sessions. Assembly instructions for most of the projects are detailed and also simple enough for even inexperienced paper crafters.

Cross-stitch Sympathy Card

Supplies:

Working with the perforated paper was surprisingly easy compared to working with fabric Aida. It doesn’t fray, and you don’t have to worry about accidentally catching a stray thread instead of the hole you are supposed to use. The only difficulty I had was that I had to be careful not to scrape the edges of the holes when pushing my needle horizontally to weave my thread ends in, or the paper would delaminate and the back layer would peel off.

The design of the patterns in the book are mostly very simple, using only a few colors. This is great for ease of stitching – and also for ease of modification of the color schemes. With only a few colors that you are working with, it’s a simple process to swap out colors from the pattern to create a different look and help make the patterns usable over and over. Below on the left are the three colors used for the sympathy card I stitched. On the right, are three possible substitutions that would create a more vintage – and metallic – look for the design.

Embroidery Floss

Easy Cross-Stitch Cards & Tags contains patterns for a wide variety of occasions, and currently retails for around $10 on Amazon.com.

Last Minute Father’s Day Cards!

I am the queen of procrastination, which means that I am often making cards for events at the last minute. Since last-minute is too late usually to shop for supplies, I’ve discovered that a great way to do this is to pull out my Silhouette Portrait machine and download a file.

Father’s Day cards this year was no exception. With Father’s Day coming, I needed to make some cards fast. Out came the Portrait machine. But while I had the machine out I decided to take advantage of how easy it is to create multiples, and create duplicates to put in my card stash and to donate.

I went with the Father’s Day Tie Card file by Sweet Afton from the Silhouette Store. Because it is a suit and tie design, it can be varied in color to create very different styles of cards.

It was fun digging through my old 6×6 paper pads looking for papers that would make good suits (not exactly something that I have a need for every day). I finally settled on papers from Basic Grey’s Kissing Booth, Echo Park’s This & That, and My Mind’s Eye’s Dolled Up (a Michael’s Stores special package). I also used Walnut Cream Bazzill (smooth) for the cut that makes the card bases. Dig around – you’ll probably be surprised that hiding even some very feminine collections there are suit-like materials!

The key to doing duplicates like this is to “batch process” your steps. First, I started cutting each of the cuts one at a time, using as many pieces of paper as it took to get the multiples I wanted. For the small pieces for the tie and handkerchief and lapel, I copied and pasted the cut so that I could cut more than one at a time out of a piece of paper. It made things faster and easier.

Father's Day Card Assembly

Then I sat down and started sorting and dry assembling the pieces. Once everything was in the right place, I got out inks to use to shadow the edges to give them some texture and depth. This was definitely the most time-consuming part of this whole process. I used my Ranger Inkssentials Ink Blending Tool to get a really soft touch with the ink.

For the inking, I used:

The result was a package of cards with an assortment of looks, although they almost all have the same base color scheme of brown and burgundy:

Father's Day Cards with SIlhouette
Silhouette Father's Day Card
Father's Day Cards with Silhouette
Silhouette Father's Day Card

There’s six total of those cards, and each one is a little bit different, with a variety of combinations of the papers for the jacket and the tie.

Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed in the assembly photo, there was a card in the bottom right corner that was dramatically different from the others, with a bright green base (Bazzill Apple Crush) for the shirt. Just for fun, I decided to make one that was retro-liciious!

I used a gray stripe from the Dolled Up pad for the jacket, imitating a sort of retro seersucker look. Then I used a bright plaid from the same pad, along with the bright green shirt, to get a bright fun look. This one didn’t seem right to ink, so I left it fresh, crisp and clean. The result reminds me of the look that the barbershop quartets wear on Main Street at Disneyland, although the color scheme isn’t right and it should be a bow tie. (There is a bow tie version of the file as well if you prefer a bow tie.)

Retro Father's Day Card

This card could also be turned easily into a tuxedo with some black cardstock (maybe some black glitter for the lapel!) and used for an invitation for a formal event or wedding party, like a groom’s dinner. Drastically different looks can be achieved by altering the papers used, a concept that greatly excites me about die cutting items like this because one of my favorite parts of scrapbooking is playing with pretty papers and seeing what I can make them do when I put them together! It always takes me forever to choose papers for a project because I have to shuffle and contemplate all sorts of options before finally selecting the perfect one.

While the front of the card doesn’t have a sentiment on it, one could be stamped inside the card, if you feel the need. I will probably do that to the ones I use, and then leave the donated ones blank so that they can be used for other occasions as well as Father’s Day.

What are your last-minute card tricks? Share them in the comments!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Slice Elite by Making Memories (2 of 2)

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk


Last month I had the opportunity to review the new Slice Elite Cordless Design Cutter from Making Memories. The Slice Elite weighs less than a pound, is cordless, measures 5″ x 5″ and can cut shapes, shadows and emboss a variety of surfaces, including cardstock and fabric. Shapes and letters can be cut to size in half inch increments ranging from one to four inches. The portable unit comes with a rechargeable battery and has about 60 minutes of cutting time when fully charged. Making Memories generously provided a pink Slice Elite starter kit plus paper and accessories from their two new product lines: Dilly Dally and Tie the Knot.

Products from Making Memories’ Tie the Knot and Dilly Dally lines

Since I had purchased the original model of the Slice just a month earlier, I was eager to find out if the Slice Elite really did cut 40% faster, cut materials twice as thick, and cut more precisely than its predecessor. The portability and ability to cut to size convinced me to purchase my original Slice, and I find myself using the Slice daily for crafting.


The latest model (the Slice Elite) is the same size and weight as the original Slice and is available in two new colors: pink and baby blue. The starter kit contains: the machine, power cord, glass cutting mat, 5 extra cutting blades, re-positionable adhesive, Basic Shapes design card, hex tool for adjusting the cutting blade and instruction manual. The machines work the same way but the Elite is faster and has a quieter motor and cuts more smoothly. Because I don’t own the optional “Hands Free” accessory kit, I hold the base of the Slice with both hands while it cuts.

The Slice Elite can easily cut through textured cardstock

My original Slice did a good job cutting paper and embossing cardstock. At times the cut shapes and letters were distorted or did not cut completely through the paper. This is especially true for textured cardstock. As you can see in the photo above, the old Slice didn’t cut completely through the cardstock but the Slice Elite cut through it easily.

This is the underside of the Slice Elite. The cutting blade can be swapped for embossing tips.

Either version of the Slice is easy to use. Each unit comes with a brief instruction booklet (nearly identical between both models) but I initially learned more from watching online videos. The written documentation was adequate for basic cutting, but I felt it was lacking for the more advanced tasks such as adjusting the blade and replacing the blade with embossing or drawing tips.

The Slice can cut perfectly proportioned shadows for the butterfly and snowflake above.

The Slice Elite is very easy to operate. The machine arrives partially charged but the manufacturer recommends charging it for an hour prior to its first use. Spread a thin ribbon of re-positionable adhesive on one end of the glass cutting mat and spread it coat the entire surface and let it dry (about two minutes). It has a slight odor and it will turn clear so you’ll know when it is ready. Making Memories also has a spray re-positionable adhesive which I have not tried yet. Place your media (paper, cardstock, etc) on the glass mat. Smooth it so it is firmly adhered to the mat.

Insert a design card into the slot on the rear of the unit. The power button is adjacent to the design card slot. Prior to cutting for the first time the Slice Elite requires a simple calibration process (the machine cuts a sample pattern). Then you can select a category and a shape to cut. Once you have selected a shape, adjust the size (default is two inches and most shapes range from 1-4 inches in half inch increments.) You can also toggle the image style between normal, shadow and mirror. After you have made your selections, press the select button in the center and the blade will rotate to the starting position and a small “x” will appear on the screen to show where the cutting will begin. You can pick up the Slice and place it where you prefer on the paper. When you are satisfied, press the large button on the upper right corner of the gray frame and firmly hold the base of the Slice in place while it cuts.

When cutting is done, the Slice will display a completed message on the screen and ask you to press the Menu button which will lift the cutting blade. If you do not turn off the Slice it will automatically turn off after 15 minutes of non-use. Lift the Slice unit off the glass mat and gently lift an edge of the paper and pull it off the glass. It will easily lift off the glass. To remove your diecut you can use the Slice spatula, a fingernail or a razor blade. I’ve tried them all. The Slice spatula works best on thicker mediums like cardstock but can sometimes dent the rounded edges of a diecut. Personally, I prefer a razor blade because it is so thin.

Re-positionable adhesive is spread on the glass cutting mat

The re-positionable adhesive on the glass mat can be re-used multiple times before reapplying. I can get anywhere from 5-12 (maybe more) uses before cleaning the mat, drying it and reapplying the adhesive. The adhesive is water soluble and I find it easiest to wet the mat with water and gently rub off the used adhesive into the trash.


Because embossing tips don’t come with the starter kit, I didn’t extensively test them or create projects for this review. However, I did have to contact Making Memories customer service due to the lack of documentation about embossing settings. I had a crafty friend who had never used a Slice help me perform some speed and image quality testing between both Slice machines. We embossed perfectly with the old Slice but continually tore to shreds cardstock with the Elite model, despite numerous adjustments.

A customer service representative from Making Memories assured me that my embossing tips were compatible with both models and she suggested that I decrease the Tip Height Setting by one to help prevent paper damage while embossing. The Tip Height Setting is a new adjustment on the Elite model and is the last adjustment, after Radial Home Offset. I didn’t see a reference to this setting anywhere which was disappointing. But after adjusting the Tip Height Setting I had much better results while embossing on cardstock.

Digital stamps from In A Scrap Creations

While preparing this article I cut many, many shapes and letters out of many weights of paper, cardstock, vellum, vinyl and lightweight cardboard. Because the old Slice and the Elite both come with the same “Basic Shapes” design card, my friend and I were able to cut simultaneously. These “races” did in fact verify that the new Slice Elite is faster than the older model. It is also quieter and you don’t have to hold the base while cutting quite as firmly as the older model. In side by side image comparisons, we found the cuts from the Elite to be more precise. Curved areas and open areas were in general more cleanly cut and straight edges were straighter.

From upper left: Design card, hex tool, extra blade holder, embossing tips Bottom row from left: Cutting blade (and housing), extra cutting blades, embossing tip

Here are a few of my tips for optimal Slice use: I think the Slice works better when it is plugged in versus running on the battery. I prefer a razor blade to the Slice spatula because I can lift the die cuts with less edge damage. Although I cut most media “pretty side up”, I find colored Slice vellum (discontinued product) works better cut pretty side down resulting in less white edges. The cutting tips are small and can get lost on a craft table. When I replace a cutting tip with an embossing tip I put the sharp cutting tip in the embossing tip box so it doesn’t get lost. Design cards are the same size as cards from my digital camera and can be stored in Nintendo DS game storage cases (don’t tell your kids!) The Slice has three cutting speeds and I use the low or medium setting because I find the images to be the most precise and the unit is easier to hold in place while it is in use. Lastly, with a little practice you can cut images very close to each other for maximum usage of paper and cardstock.

I can fit another image in the upper right hand corner

I am very happy with my Slice Elite and have used it during every craft session since receiving it. I find the portability and small footprint to be helpful in my craft space. I’m able to maximize use of my designer paper because I can cut anywhere on the paper. The themed design cards are small and easy to store. After waiting for several years to invest in an electronic die cutting machine, I’m very happy with the Slice Elite by Making Memories.

Digital image from Squigglefly

Pros:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Flexibility to cut designs or emboss anywhere on a page
  • Themed design cards are small and easy to store and are available in many varieties
  • Very easy to alter image size or special effects such as mirroring or shadows
  • Design cards can be used on both the original and newer Slice models

Cons:

  • Written documentation is brief, users without access to online demonstration videos are at a disadvantage
  • Maximum size for output is four inches
  • Unit tends to slip while cutting slicker surfaces such as vinyl, vellum and metallic paper
GIVEAWAY!
The great folks at Making Memories are giving away the newest member to the Slice Family, the Slice Fabrique to one lucky reader. Just answer the any of the following questions in the comment section of this article on this blog to be entered:

Do you have a need for a portable electronic design cutter? What die cutting machines do you own? Do you create die cuts and emboss on one machine or do you use different machines? Are you a current Slice owner- would you upgrade to the Slice Elite?

Thanks for sharing your opinions, we love to hear what YOU think!
You have until Monday, April 18th at 6pm CST to leave your comment.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!