Cut-out Quote Prints

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If you have an X-Acto knife and something on your mind, this project is for you. It’s open for interpretation in every way–color, style, quote, etc. I decided to try this after seeing this image on Pinterest (via thatshappy.blogspot.com) and deciding that not even my nimble little crafty fingers would be capable of such a feat with just a swivel-headed X-Acto knife. There’s challenging yourself, and then there’s setting yourself up for failure. Not that I can’t laugh at my own mistakes, of course. My first attempt at this cut-out quote has script lettering. I had my method all worked out; I wrote out the quote in a thick marker and outlined the script in pencil so I could see the cutting line better. I got halfway through and was left with this mess:
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The moral of my story, I guess, is that cutting with a craft knife is hard, and until you’re a seasoned pro, block letters are your friend. Anyway, here’s how to make a successful cut-out quote:

What you need:
– card stock (various colors)
– X-Acto knife & self-healing mat
– pencil
– scissors
– paper cutter
– ruler
– tape
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What to do:
1) Using a pencil, draw out the quote you wish to use in block letters on the paper you wish to be your primary color. (Use the ruler to keep your words straight–if that’s what you’re aiming for.)
2) Use your X-Acto knife to cut out your words.
3) Use your paper cutter to make 1″ wide strips of various colored paper for the blocked-out letters. Make sure the strips are long enough to span the width of your primary paper.
4) Flip your primary paper over and lay out your colored strips however you want your pattern to go. I used horizontal stripes in an orange-yellow-pink-purple pattern.
5) Tape each side of your strips to the back of your primary paper. (See image below.)
6) Flip your print over and voila!
7) You can use some of your scraps to create the counters in letters. (“Counters” are the little holes inside letters like p, e, a, etc. You’re welcome.)

I’d be lying if I said the cutting weren’t tedious, but it’s worth it in the end!
Happy cutting!

Paper Foxes

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Alternate post title: “Fold-a-fox!” But I decided that was too lame, even for me.
Anyway, these paper creatures are simple, adorable, and best of all appropriate if your college mascot happens to be, say, the Marist red foxes. Ok, so I’m pulling from experience with this one, and in honor of Marist’s Fox Fest yesterday, I folded up one of these foxes.

What you need:
– red, white, and black paper (I used card stock, but that weight of paper isn’t necessary.)
– scissors (and paper cutter, if you have one)
– clear tape
– glue stick
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What to do:
1) Cut a red strip of paper, about 2″ wide, 2 white semi-ovals, and three small black dots (2 of them identical) as pictured above.
2) Fold both ends of the red strip of paper in and up so that the two sides of the bottom half meet in the middle. (See image below)
3) Trim the top of the shape to about 1/2″.
4) Turn the shape over and seal the open seam with a piece of clear tape.
5) Glue white shapes and black circles onto red paper as shown below.
6) Starting from each upper corner, trim the fox’s ears by cutting diagonally into the center where the ear meets the head.
7) Make a celebratory fox scream, you’re done!

Magazine Page Origami Bows

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Thought the only way to recycle magazine pages is to shred them into a fun shape? Nope! With a few snips and a little attention to detail, your old magazines can make you tons of these nifty origami bows, which I found through my trusty friend How About Orange. They’re pretty versatile; you could go the traditional route and slap them on top of a gift (they’re flat, so they’re great if you need to stack or mail gifts!), or just stick a few on your wall to jazz things up.

Get your fingertips ready for some creasing, because this project is super cute, but it requires a gentle, yet precise hand.

What you need:
– 1 magazine page
– scissors
– ruler

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Any magazine page will work, but the more colorful the page, the more colorful your resulting bow will be. I decided to be punny and make a bow out of a page about bows.

What to do:
1. Using a ruler to measure, trim your magazine page to a 6″x6″ square. (You could use any size square, really, but 6″x6″ is a good practice size.)
2. Follow these steps (via Let’s Create)
3. Voila! Repeat as necessary.

FYI:
For those of you who aren’t up on your origami lingo, “mountain fold” means to fold the paper so that the crease is popping out toward you; “valley fold” means to fold the paper so that the crease is indented downward toward the table.

Happy folding!

Cut & Paste: Magazine Scrap Decor

IMG_0780This craft is a cute way to upcycle old magazines and make some one-of-a-kind wall decor. Best of all, it requires minimal supplies though the cut and paste technique required can get to be a bit tedious. My inspiration for this project came from this pin, but there were no instructions attached, so I decided to eyeball a recreation. It was definitely a success, but I need to add a very important disclaimer: do not attempt this project without a paper cutter! I mean, you could, but your poor crippled fingers would probably never be able to grasp an object ever again by the time you’re done. Alright, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but whatever.

What you need:
– Any type of paper
– Paper cutter
– Scissors
– An old magazine
– Pencil
– Glue stick

IMG_0762What to do:
1. Draw the outline of your desired shape onto your paper. If you don’t trust yourself to draw a cohesive shape, you could easily find a template online and print it out.
2. Cut out your shape(s).
3. Using a paper cutter, cut one magazine page at a time into 1/2″ strips. The more colorful the pages you choose, the better.
4. Spread glue onto your cut-out shape, and start gluing down your magazine strips side-by-side, the bottom of the strips starting at the horizontal halfway point of your cutout.
5. Once the top of your shape is covered in magazine strips, flip it over and trim the excess magazine strips with scissors.
6. Flip your shape back over and repeat steps 4 and 5 on the bottom half of your cutout.

I decided to make this craft a 2-parter, so I cut out a small heart to accompany my main cutout. Since this cutout was so small, I only used one row of magazine scraps rather than two rows horizontally stacked.

This project turned out super cute and made a great addition to my dorm wall. If there’s anything the experience taught me, though, it’s that if you choose to do this project sitting on the floor, take a break every 20 minutes or so to spare your back some soreness. The project was certainly worth it though; you have total creative control. Other ideas to try would be spelling out names or shredding pages to keep with a certain color scheme. One magazine could probably make at least 10 cutouts, so experiment away!

IMG_0781Happy scrapping!

Tried It. Loved It. Print Your Own Post-it Notes

Flash back to Mid-March and you may remember that I mentioned the DIY blog How About Orange and their original template for printing your own Post-its. Well, this little project was too cool to ignore, so I tried it and now I’m here to rave about the results. IMG_0734

If you have a few Post-its and a printer loaded with paper, you’ve got everything you need for this simple but unique project.

What you need:
– 6 Post-it notes (any color)
– Printer with black ink
– Printer paper
– Pen/pencil/marker/anything that writes

What to do:
1. Visit How About Orange and download the free template from this page. Print out one copy.
2. Stick one Post-it on each of the 6 squares on the template page. Make sure to press down hard on the adhesive so they’re stuck tight, and make sure they’re lying as flat on the page as possible.
3. Load the Post-it covered template page back into your printer so that the page will print with ink on the Post-its. *Each printer is different, so make sure you know which way to load your paper to print on the right side. For most printers, your Post-it side of the page will be facing down.
4. Print another copy of the template. If you loaded your paper correctly, the template should print onto your Post-its.
5. Write your custom message on your printed Post-its and share the love!

When I tried this craft, I avoided a paper jam, but occasionally the bottom corners of my Post-its would bend up and get a little stuck in the printer. Nothing serious, though; just make sure you keep an eye on the page as it’s printing to avoid a jam.

Happy posting!

Paper Plate Gift Boxes

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The next installment of makeshift gift-packaging begins now, with paper plate gift boxes! They don’t have tops, so they’re not ideal for transporting top secret materials. But if that’s really your aim, I’d go for something a little sturdier than paper plates anyway. But to stay on track, these are the perfect alternative to small Easter baskets; they’re perfect for gifting fresh berries, candies, or Easter eggs. They’re open for decorative interpretation, too.

I came across this project as an image on Pinterest, but when I clicked on it for step-by-step instructions, everything got really foreign really fast, and long story short I was left with just the photo stream for guidance. So I gave the project a go, and figured out a step-by-step set of instructions that should be very helpful if you’re planning to replicate it!

What you need:
– a paper plate
– scalloped scissors
– standard scissors
– 4 paper clips
– decorative tape
– ruler
– pencil
– ribbon (optional substitution for decorative tape)

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What to do:
1. Cut about 1/4″ along the entire edge of the paper plate with scalloped scissors.
2. Turn the plate face down and using a ruler, find the line where the plate measures 7.5″ across. Trace the line in pencil.
3. Rotate the plate 90 degrees and repeat until there are 4 intersecting lines (forming a square in the middle). Mark an “x” on the correct lines as illustrated below.
4. Cut on the lines marked with an “x” with regular scissors.
5. Take one cut section and fold it upward, creasing it where the cut line ends. Fold up the adjacent section, and hold the corner in place with a paper clip.
6. Repeat until all 4 sides are folded upward and supported by paper clips.
7. Run a line of decorative tape along the outside of the box, removing the paper clips one at a time as you reach them. The tape will now hold the box’s shape.
8. Once the tape is adhered, pinch the corners of the box to sharpen the edges.

No decorative tape? No biggie. I did a second version of this project using clear Scotch tape and some satin ribbon.
IMG_0749Follow the instructions the same way, replacing decorative tape with clear tape; when you’re all done, tie a piece of ribbon around the outside of the box, and tie a bow in the front just as you would if you were tying a bow on a wrapped gift.
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These gift boxes are super versatile and require so few materials that now there’s no excuse for gifting without some sort of wrapping effort. Unless of course you’re lacking opposable thumbs (looking at you, Easter bunny), then you have an excuse. Experiment with all the different decorative variations this project prompts, and happy Easter/Passover/Eastover.

Happy crafting!

Custom Embroidered Bookmarks

Batman bookmarks. (Look how SEO savvy I am!) But really, these are a cool and simple handmade gift that you can easily personalize for anyone–or yourself! (What up, spring break beach reading!?)

My original inspiration for this project came from these cardboard bookmarks laced with embroidery floss (via Handmade Charlotte, but when I found myself lacking an upholstery needle, I made do with an average needle and thread and some colored cardstock. I decided to go with a monogramming style, and when I finished that one, I realized I still had plenty of yellow thread, and all I could think was How cool would this look with Batman on it? (Sadly, I have this thought quite often.) So I made a second option, proving that you really can embroider just about anything into these bookmarks.

What you need:
– colored cardstock (heavier than printer paper, lighter than thin cardboard)
– needle
– colored thread
– scissors
– ruler
– pencil
– glue

What to do:

1) Trim your cardstock to a bookmark-appropriate size. (This is a total judgment call.)
2) Thread your needle and knot the end 5-6 times to make sure the knot is big enough not to pass through the needle hole in the paper.
3) Using a ruler, measure out and mark with a pencil where you want your threading holes to be. Using a ruler will also help keep your threading straight.
4) Use the needle to weave in and out of the cardstock. This will create embroidery visible on both sides of the bookmark.
5) Once you’ve gone all the way around the edges, tie the thread off with another 5-6 knots and trim the excess thread as close to the knot as you can.
6) Using a pencil, mark threading holes outlining a design you wish to embroider. (I chose a monogram “B”.) These holes will be your threading points; you can use as many or as few as you’d like. The more holes, the more rounded your shape will be. The fewer holes, the more geometric looking it will turn out.
7) Thread your needle between all of your marked points, in a “connect-the-dots” type order. Be sure to thread through each straight line twice to thicken the line. Use both sides of the bookmark, but make sure your design is followed on the front. When you’re done, the backside will look a bit messy.
8) Cut a small piece of same-color cardstock and glue it over the messy design on the back side of the bookmark.
9) Flip back over to the front, and voila!

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Of course you have tons of creative liberty with this project. Monogram with any letter, embroider differently around the edges (or not at all), or add your own fun shapes.

To create a different design, follow the same exact process. My Batman bookmark looked super geo-cool on the back, so I opted not to glue paper over it:

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IMG_0680All in all, this is a fun project that you’ll improve at the more times you repeat it. Simply changing the color scheme can make this a handmade gift for just about any holiday. It’s even a craft you can give to boys! (A rare find.)

Happy weaving! And when in doubt, use a thimble. Handmade bookmarks are less cute when they’re spotted with blood.

Maps

Love maps as much as Karen O? Or maybe you’re just looking to memorialize a trip in a display-worthy manner. Regardless, maps make a cool, unique base for room decor crafts.

After spending fall semester of my junior year abroad in London, I became a pretty severe Anglophile generally filled with wanderlust. As my time in London wound down, I spent a considerable amount of time browsing ideas to immortalize my time there in craft form–collages, scrapbooking, framing, etc. I got inspired by this gem I found on Etsy, which is unsurprising considering my previously-established obsession with heart-shaped things (only exaggerated by my friend’s suggestion that I create a “found hearts” blog. Which I did. And gave the punniest web address. Here.)

Anyway, I was all about this bespoke nine-heart map. I loved the vintage colors and white-on-white frame and matting, and even the term “bespoke,” once I looked it up. (In case you’re wondering, it means custom-made, or made to order). I planned on using the locations of the various European cities I had visited while abroad, and I was all but shaking with crafty giddiness when my gaze lowered to the price tag. £240. Or from my bank account, $380. I kid you not.

My disappointed spirit went straight for Amazon.com, where I decided that even if I had a few million dollars, I wouldn’t spend that much on a few map scraps in a wooden frame and that my best bet was to buy a few vintage maps for considerably cheaper, and mount and frame them myself. Easy enough, right?… except when I couldn’t find any “vintage” maps for sale anywhere online. Alright, maybe I understand the price hike of the bespoke frame a bit better now. Regardless, it was out of my price range.

When I arrived back in the states, I couldn’t wait to get crafty with abroad memorabilia, and I still had that bespoke map frame in mind when I ran into the Graphics Fairy. Literally, the Graphics Fairy. This blog has tons of free-to-use vintage prints, including (conveniently for me) a map of England. With the addition of printed maps of Spain, Ireland, and France, as well as some black scrapbooking paper and a silver Sharpie, I created this:IMG_0611

This is currently taped to the wall above the head of my college bed. It not only goes with the color scheme of my room, but it reminds me of the awesome places I’ve visited and maps just make really cool bases for crafts.

This wasn’t the end of my map crafts. I had on-hand the small walking map of London that my abroad school provided me upon landing at Heathrow. It had seen a bit of wear, as I used it pretty often to navigate around the city, which I thought gave it a nice “real” quality. However, I didn’t see myself needing a walking map of London again any time soon, so I decided to take the book apart and spread the pages onto a corkboard, using the map as the background for pinning up pictures from my adventures abroad. It was a really easy project overall, with the map pages needing just a bit of trimming to fit the shape of the board. Here’s the turnout:

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For more inspiration, check out a few more map-related projects on my “wanderlust” Pinterest board!

How to Preserve Flowers

The estimated number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day in 2012 was 224 million. V-day is the number one holiday for florists in terms of fresh flower purchases. So what do you do when your bouquet starts to wilt? You could dry them and press them, ultimately leaving you with a pretty, organic set of non-stick stickers to use in various crafts. However, if instant gratification is more your style, there’s a few alternatives that don’t take months to create.

1) Dry Preservation
This is the simplest method and will dry your flowers in a way that they will retain their shape and most of their color. This works exceptionally well with roses, but you have to make the decision to dry them before they begin to wilt, or you’ve got a lost cause on your hands.

Once your roses are fully blossomed, but not yet beginning to wilt, gather them together at the stems and tie them together near the bottom. A hair tie or other elastic band work best. Next, attach them to a wire hanger or a string and hang the roses upside down in a warm, dry, relatively dark place (a closet is typically ideal for this).
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The darker the storage area, the more likely it is that the flowers will retain their color. Keep the flowers hanging for about a week to 10 days, or until the flowers are crisp to the touch. Removing them before they are completely dry risks molding.
Once the flowers are dry, take them down and arrange them as you please; no more water-changing maintenance!

2) Potpourri
An alternative to a dry arrangement, if you’d like to appeal to your sense of smell instead, is to recycle your roses or other flowers into potpourri. Again, roses are particularly good for making potpourri, especially if you dry them before they’ve lost all of their scent. For this project, remove the petals from the flower once it has fully blossomed, but before its petals turn brown. Lay them flat in a single layer on paper towels somewhere that’s out of your way for a week or more until they are fully crisp.
Once the petals are dry, you have quite a few options in terms of how you want your potpourri to smell (or really, how fancy you want to get with the project). You could add a complimentary spice, like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla beans. Or you could skip to the next most important ingredient, essential oil, an aroma additive that when mixed with the natural aroma of the flowers gives off a lasting scent.lavenderoilLavender oil pairs particularly nicely with the scent of roses. You can grab some, or other essential oils at the Vitamin Shoppe. An easy alternative is to use a few drops of your favorite perfume.
Once you’ve settled on a scent, put a drop of the oil on each of the dried rose petals, and then put the petals in a sealed container (Tupperware is perfect for this). Let the petals mellow for about 10 days in the sealed container, shaking it gently every few days to keep mixing the scents. After this time, you’ve got easy and (most importantly) cheap potpourri! Say goodbye to that bottle of Febreeze stashed under your bed- this is the real deal.

You can leave your potpourri out in a dish:
rosepotpourri(image courtesy of lizbethsgarden.wordpress.com)

Or split it up into small fabric bags and play potpourri Santa to your friends so that everyone can wake up and smell the (dried) roses.

Origami Pocket Hearts

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Keeping in the spirit of Valentine’s Day (I will literally use any excuse to make heart crafts), these little guys are perfect for making in bulk and distributing to your friends or roommates. The whole idea is very circa-elementary school, but it’s still cute. Friends need love too!

To make these hearts, it’s best to use paper lighter than cardstock. Wrapping paper or other decorative paper is idea, but if neither of these are available, you can easily make your own with printer paper and a few coloring utensils:
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For folding, I used this tutorial but made some modifications because I found it a bit unclear. So, I made my own set of step-by-step instructions, which you can find here.

After your hearts are folded, write a message on a small strip of paper, fold it in half, and tuck it into the pocket on the front side of the origami heart. Then grab some tape and attach the hearts to your friends’ doors/walls/etc. Remember, it’s the little things that count!