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Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY – American Girl Craft Kits

Reported by Christian Tamez


Like any crafter who likes American Girl dolls, I was pretty excited to find some American Girl Crafting items at Michaels, and even more excited to get to try some of the crafting kits available. The American Girl Card Making Kit was one that I received, and it wasn’t long before my kitchen was filled with stickers, glue squares and very cool American Girl cards.


The card-making kit is advertised as being able to make 21 cards, but I found that if you really wanted to do a good job decorating the cards, you’ll really be able to make closer to ten. There’s fourteen doll punch-outs you can use; the first one I chose was Addy. I used some of the included glue squares and placed them right over the purple marks on the back of the punch outs to securely adhere them to the card. Following the purple marks, I placed my adhesive squares and placed the Addy punch out right over the area as directed on the card. Then I proceeded to decorate the front with some of the stickers included.


As I moved on to the second and third cards I wanted to make, I realized it would be a good effect to layer some of the flat stickers with the included bubble stickers for texture. Most of the bubble stickers were round and fit nicely into the center of some flower stickers for Kit’s card, and then I used the same idea with the stars stickers when I created Molly’s card.


Each character is divided into a theme, with different coordinating collections of stickers, even though they all can be used interchangeably with any of the characters or cards. One of the nice things about this kit is the included message sticker you can use on the inside of a card to create a personalized message for the recipient.


For Molly’s card I used one of the included punch out messages which included things like: Thank You, Happy Birthday, Good Luck, Thinking of You, Get Well Soon, and a few other little sayings along those lines.

Putting these cards together was simple enough to not even need to read the directions, and the cards are fairly small, so they can be completed quickly without become boring to an easily distracted child. If you want to add a personal touch, put in a picture of one of your own beloved dolls in place of a punch out! Plus it’s all stickers, how can you go wrong?


Pros:

  • Nothing extra needed to complete this kit, other than a pen or pencil to write something in the card. No glue, or messy adhesives, markers any of those dangerously messy kids crafty things.
  • High quality stickers and materials included, the cardstock is firm, and the flat stickers have a nice matte finish. The bubble stickers add a cool dimension when layered on
  • Envelopes are included so you can send these out, if you just happen to be using these on a trip with your kids, or you could make them in advance and send them out, either way the envelopes are handy.

Cons:

  • The cards are made to be used for specific characters and even have a little saying on the back of them about this intended character. I’m not a fan of Rebecca Rubin(she replaced my beloved Samantha) and I didn’t use any of the cards SHE was on the back of.
  • Some of the stickers were really stuck to the page they were supposed to easily peel off of, this resulted in a few torn stickers. If I had problems with them a child definitely would.
  • I would have liked more stickers or fewer cards, because you can’t decorate all twenty one and have them all decorated enough with the included amount of stickers. More bubble stickers please!

I was lucky enough to get another little craft kit a try, and did a video demo to show you just how fun these kits can be! I hope you enjoy it!

GIVEAWAY
The folks over at EK Success are giving away a kit to one lucky reader. To enter simply answer any of the questions below in the Comments section of this article on our website. One comment per person, please.

Have you ever tried any of the American Girl Crafts items? Do own an American Girl doll? Are you excited to give one of these kits a try? Be sure to write a comment and let us know!

Winners are chosen at random. Contest closes Sunday, June 12th at 6pm CST. Good Luck!

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway: Donna Downey Products

Reported by Julie Tiu

A nifty package of crafting goodies from the Donna Downey camp arrived at my home last week and I could barely wait to open them up. Ms. Downey is a craft-media artist, author and instructor and has joined with Prima to design a fabric scrapbooking line. I own one book by her which has inspired a project or two, so I was eager to see how I might use these supplies.

Out of the box I received The Unity Stamp Company‘s “Where You Are” stamp set, a canvas apron, pink daisy fabric iron-on, fabric shape and canvas buttons by Prima. I decided to document my fun with a little video, but for those of you who may not be able to view or hear it, just keep on reading.

I went to the stamps first, since that’s my strength (or weakness). There are eleven designs ranging from small to large sizes on unmounted rubber. The pre-cut sheet was pretty easy to disassemble, but I found the larger stamp to have a weak point, which made it a little difficult for me to remove. Seriously, I thought I ripped the foam and broke the rubber stamp. Fear not, I didn’t. The larger stamps did not fit on my largest acrylic block. I’m too frugal so I rigged something together. The designs, mostly nature in theme, are extremely versatile as you’ll see. I used dye inks, pigment inks and even used some acrylic paint. The stamps performed well on paper and on fabric.

The canvas apron actually looks different from the one posted at Prima or Donna Downey, although there are a few projects Donna has done with the one I have. The apparently newer version has two side pockets in lieu of the center pocket. The packaging says “one size fits most,” 41″ across the bottom (above ruffle), 22″ down from the waist, a 72″ waist/tie and center pocket. It’s definitely the largest canvas I’ve ever worked on. In all, the apron appears to be of good quality, looks well-made. I did not gesso or prime the canvas, and just started working on it…

… and using the stamps directly on the canvas, even ironing a piece of velvet (embossing) with a stamp, a bit of sewing which was no problem for my not-so-fancy Singer sewing machine, a few embellishments here and there – came out with this summer apron. Don’t forget to heat set any stamped or painted images on your projects!

A little bit about the iron-on: measures at 7″, very nice quality, lightly flocked, instructions were very clear. I ironed the design for 15 seconds, cooled it completely, but then it wasn’t totally adhered, so I ironed for another 15 seconds, twice. Maybe it’s because I was ironing on canvas? Peeling off the paper was nerve-wracking for me, but was very happy with the vibrant results.


The 6-1/2″ dressform fabric shape and buttons are cute and are again, versatile pieces. My daughter and I dressed the shape a few ways, but was not able to complete a project with it this week. The dressform is finished on two sides, and not symmetrical which lends to whatever you need it to do. It does not have adhesive, either, which really isn’t a problem, just an observation. We have several ideas, and will probably create a wall hanging for either my daughter’s room, or maybe the laundry room.


Apron retail price: $14.99
Rubber stamps: $49.99
Canvas buttons: $5.00 (Pkg. of 9)
Fabric dress form: $2.50
Iron-on (Pink and Orange Daisies): $3.00

Items can be purchased through Donna Downey’s website.

Pros:

  • Product costs seem reasonable
  • Can purchase online
  • Rubber stamps designs can be used in many applications
  • Embellishments (buttons, dressform) have endless use
  • Iron-on had clear instructions and color is very vibrant

Cons:

  • DD products are not yet widely distributed in stores
  • Apron might be an intimidating project for beginning DIY-ers
  • Had to touch up paint on stamped images on apron
  • Iron-on may not adhere on thicker material on the first try
  • Need large acrylic blocks for the larger stamps

Have you purchased any Donna Downey scrapbook materials? What has your experience been? Please fill us in on how you feel!

GIVEAWAY!

Donna Downey is giving away her brand new Unity Stamp Set, Insightful Meadow to one lucky reader. This stamp kit includes 4 image and 2 quote all Un-Mounted Deeply Etched Red Rubber stamps. The stamps are pre-cut and mounted on repositionable cling foam and they can be used with any acrylic block or Unity Handle. To enter this drawing leave a comment on this post or any Vendor Spotlight: Donna Downey Products. Have you had an opportunity to use any of the above products in a project? Or are you thinking about it? One comment per person, please. You have until Wednesday, May 5th 6pm CST to enter.

SPECIAL OFFER!
Also, Craft Critique readers can enjoy a 10% discount on all purchases at DonnaDowney.com until May 30th. Use coupon code DD101 at checkout to take advantage of this offer.

Disclosure

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

Iron Me On: 30 Sheets of Awesome Fabric Transfers, by Mike Perry

Reported by Jen Geigley


I’m a big fan of iron-ons of all kinds, so when I spotted this book of fabric transfers illustrated by Mike Perry, author and illustrator of Hand Job, I had to check it out.

It’s called Iron Me On: 30 Sheets of Awesome Fabric Transfers and it’s chock full of gorgeous illustrations of all sizes, ready to be made into wearable art.

Each page has several images on it that you can cut apart and rearrange, or use as-is, plus several pages of alphabets that you can use to make custom word art.

I decided to start with a couple of kid-sized t-shirts for my daughter, so I tore out a page with a large design on it (which was made super easy by the nicely perforated pages).

It’s important to pay attention to the instructions in the book. If your t-shirt is new, you should pre-wash it to remove the sizing. Iron your t-shirt or fabric before you begin, and you’ll need to heat your iron to the high/cotton setting, allowing it to heat up for at least five minutes. Don’t use an ironing board, as it will not hold the heat necessary for the transfer to work properly. The book suggests a plywood board or other hard surface (I used a glass table).

Carefully place your transfer sheet onto your shirt, image side down. The paper can be slippery, and it’s extremely important that you don’t lift your iron at all for the full time recommended for each transfer (from 3-5 minutes). The book suggests firm, even pressure on your iron as you work. You also must be super careful not to shift the paper while moving your iron, or shadowing/double images can and will occur. This is tough to do, but if you’re careful, it can be accomplished.
Don’t peek until the time is up! This is also tough to do, but if you move your paper away too early, you’ll find that certain parts of your image may appear faint or unfinished. There’s a little trial and error to this process, but if you do pull it away too early, you can usually try to match it back up, lay the paper down and try again (but you risk making a double or shadowed image).

My first transfer turned out pretty good! I held the iron in place for a full 4 minutes and the image was vivid and complete. I immediately found these transfers to be different than others I had used in the past. Right away, I noticed that there is no translucent ‘halo’ around these iron-ons; it looked as if I had used fabric markers or colored pencils to doodle directly onto the shirt. There was no texture to the image, either, which I liked.

I chose to add a second image of a bird to the bottom corner, and added that next.

After this first project, I was confident I could use two images on the same surface with some space in between, but next I wanted to try some closer layering of the transfers.

I picked out these two images and decided to start with the top ‘blobby’ illustration first, and then add the skateboard guy after, to reduce the chance of moving either one of them accidentally.

The first transfer worked beautifully:

But as you can see, the second one shifted considerably, and created a double image on my shirt. Like I mentioned earlier, it is really tough to keep the transfer pages from shifting under the pressure of the iron. I had also let my iron touch the pink and green area from the first transfer while ironing the skateboard guy, and when I moved my iron to another area on the shirt, pink and green got all over the other half of the shirt. So, the end result of this t-shirt was a bit messy and frustrating.
I decided I wanted to try a canvas tote bag next, and chose to iron-on two pages of images, side by side.

It worked, but the colors definitely didn’t come out as bright on the canvas as they did on the t-shirts. These also took a lot longer. Over six minutes each. And I had to lay them down/match up the images several times as the images weren’t transferring evenly. A couple of hours later, the colors actually started fading, which I found odd.

And when I opened up my bag…

I found that the images had bled all the way through to the back side (so take note … not all fabrics will work well with these transfers).

So I went back to the tried and true t-shirts, now that I was more experienced with my iron-ons. I successfully transferred several images onto a yellow t-shirt, and was really happy with the end result. Cotton t-shirts will definitely be your most reliable surface to work on. You’ll notice in my first photo of this post that I had considered adding iron-ons to a pair of Vans, but after the canvas tote bag mishap, I decided against it.

All in all, I made some super fun things with the Iron Me On images. Here’s one last look at my projects.

Pros:

  • Extremely cool illustrations
  • High-quality ‘feel’ of the transfer is very nice
  • Customizable designs that you can cut up and rearrange
  • The book folds up to hold cut pieces of transfer papers for future use
  • Vibrant colors
  • No iron-on ‘halo’

Cons:

  • Unpredictable on different fabrics
  • Hard to keep transfer papers from shifting while ironing
  • Time-consuming (3-5 minutes for each iron-on… sometimes more)
  • Can bleed through fabric
  • Not easy to layer


Cost:
$12.95

Do you love iron-ons? Let us know what you think of Mike Perry’s Iron Me On (available at Amazon.com here) … what would you make with these transfers?

Disclosure Statement

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