Mention Monday: Cut Out + Keep

cut out & keep

The coolest thing about CutOutandKeep.net is that, unlike most of the other sites I’ve featured, it is a crafting community with collaborative user-generated content. The main purpose is to make and share craft tutorials, and with over 150,000 site members, the quirkiness of some of the projects sees no end.

There are a bunch of different areas of the site–everything from project instructions and contests to the week’s featured “superstars” and even a free, online magazine, “Snippets” (Don’t get the pun? Refer back to the site name.)

But back to what really matters–the crafts. The project area of Cut Out + Keep takes a Pinterest-esque block format, with a lengthy sidebar of categories and subcategories to help you stay sane while browsing through the seemingly endless labyrinth of DIY projects.

cutout projects

Once you come across a project that catches your eye, be it the zombie baby doll (quirky may be an understatement here) or paper feathers, click on the thumbnail to be brought to a screen that gives you everything you could ever need to know about the project–images, time commitment, difficulty level, and step-by-step instructions.


by Tabby via CutOutandKeep.net

Never before have I thought to create a LOST shrinky dink Dharma Initiatve polar bear, nor would I if left only to my own devices; so if you’re looking to think outside the box and open your mind to some potentially weird but also awesome crafts, check out the craft community on Cut Out + Keep.

Happy crafting!

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Mention Monday: CraftFail

craftfail

Odds are, if you’ve ever attempted a craft you’ve seen on Pinterest, you’ve butchered a craft you’ve seen on Pinterest. Now there’s a home for your self-proclaimed failure on the Internet, where you can bask in the failures of fellow DIY-ers, get your daily giggles in, and feel a little bit better about yourself. Cue: CraftFail.

This site sports a Pinterest-inspired layout, featuring the original pinned photo as a link to the craft fail. In other words, you click on what was supposed to happen, then you get the side-by-side comparison of the intended craft and its failed attempt. You’ll look at some of them and think Hey, that’s not so bad, or Eh, the frosting on those cupcakes is messy but they probably still taste good. Then there’s crafts like this “Bombed Button Bowl” that leave you speechless:
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via CraftFail

This site provides hours of entertainment and self-esteem. But don’t worry, all of the craft fails are self-submitted, so it’s not like these crafters are being punished by public humiliation for their miserable attempts at crafts. The site calls itself a “friendly fail site” It’s all in good fun.

Have a craft fail that you want to share with the world? You can easily submit your funniest fail and let the world laugh with you. There’s a comment section under each fail, and more often than not, people comment that they had the same not-so-successful result on a project. Failure loves company! (Or something like that.)

Happy craft-failing!

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!

9

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.

Mention Monday: How About Orange

how about orange

Today I’m paying homage to the super-colorful and crafty blog How About Orange. Between all of the DIY projects, free downloads of fonts, desktop backgrounds, and print templates, and my favorite section, time wasters, you could easily kill a few hours in one sitting clicking your way through the oodles of creative content on this blog.

How About Orange is the free-time side project of professional graphic and textile designer Jessica Jones, so a lot of the design aesthetic of the things featured on the blog is modern with a good deal of white space and color blocking. There’s tons and tons to explore on the site, so my advice is to start at the most recent post on the homepage and keep scrolling until you find something that catches your eye to click on (it shouldn’t take you long). Following a particular train of thought on this website is made easy as can be; at the bottom of each post there are 5 links to “Related posts you might like.”

related postsThe topic tags are clearly designed for like-minded people, because the posts I “might” like have been spot on. (Get out of my head!) Even the time-wasters lead to more time-wasters that I waste time wasting my time with. But seriously, play this color wheel game and tell me it’s not awesome in a nerdy, graphic designer-y kind of way. Warning: highly addictive.

Getting back on topic, the craft projects on How About Orange look fun and feasible. There are tons of printable templates to help you out, though for an extra challenge you could try to add your own twist to the projects. One I found most notable (no pun intended) is this template for printing your own Post-it notes:

diy-printable-post-its
via How About Orange

I already pinned this project to one of my Pinterest boards and I have every intention of trying it in the near future. No worries, my test results will certainly be posted here to make sure it’s worth the printer ink. (Did you know that printer ink actually costs more per mL than human blood? Ew.)

Anyway, if you’re looking for a crafty and colorful way to kill time and get inspired, check out How About Orange. Happy crafting!

The Easiest Way to Hang Frames

Speaking of neat tricks (despite poor Internet video quality), I found the secret to life on Pinterest. Well, it’s at least the equivalent to the secret of life if you’ve ever struggled to hang a picture frame or cork board on your wall using nails, tacks, or even Command strips. The first nail is a piece of cake. Just hold the object you’re trying to hang up to the wall, make a tiny pencil mark at the corner, and pin the wall at the mark. But then comes that awkward and terrifying moment when you’ve got to eyeball the distance between the two nails. The distance is too far for a foot-long ruler to cover, and you don’t have a measuring tape and level on hand. What now!?

This life hack will change your frame-hanging life forever. All you need is the object you’d like to hang, the means by which to hang it (hammer and nails, thumbtack, etc.) and some masking tape.

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1.) Tear off a piece of masking tape that reaches from one desired hanging point to another.IMG_0626

2.) Remove the tape from the frame and stick it lightly to the wall at the spot where you want the frame to hang.IMG_0627

3. Insert one nail/push pin/Command strip into the wall at each end of the tape.IMG_0628

4.) Remove the tape from the wall, and hang your frame from the pins. They should be set the perfect distance apart!IMG_0629

Four incredibly easy steps and you’ve mastered the art of hanging level frames on the first try. Boom!

Happy hanging!

Mention Monday: A Beautiful Mess

a beautiful mess

Back in the day when A Beautiful Mess had a Blogspot domain address, it caught my attention because I thought it may be related to the Jason Mraz song of the same name. It kept my attention, though, with its DIY project section. The difficulty level of the projects range from as simple as a Sharpie mug set all the way up to a light-up headboard (which is really, really cool, by the way). There’s a ton of DIY fashion projects for the sewing-savvy too.

The site is organized into 6 basic sections, and covers tons of crafty ground: DIY projects, photography tips, recipes, home decor inspiration, fashion, and beauty tips and inspiration. It’s all well-organized and chock-full of pro-level photography to make every craft, recipe, and outfit appealing on first glance.

There’s a friendly, narrative style to the writing and flow, as well, which makes it hard not to feel like you’ve been longtime friends with Elsie and Emma, the two co-authors of the blog. As far as craft instruction goes, things couldn’t be much clearer, and the photography leaves little to the imagination (in the best way) in terms of how-to.

My suggestion for one of the easiest and cutest dorm-friendly projects to try is this framed paint swatch wall art (unsurprising considering my well-established affinity toward paint swatch crafts):

me too

Happy browsing & happy crafting!

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!

Mention Monday: Design Seeds

For those who love color… design-seeds_logo

Or those who just left the color palette lecture in their layout and design class and have polychromatic hues on the brain, like me, there is Design Seeds. Color lovers will love perusing this site for color palette ideas, design inspiration, or even just for a touch of thoughtfully-selected color to brighten up your day.

Design-seeds.com is predominantly made up of a collection of images and their associated color palettes, which are arranged in an aesthetically pleasing strip beside the image. Each palette is given a cute but logical name for reference purposes (think nail polish color names, only less ridiculous and more purposeful). Next to each featured palette are a handful of links–to palettes of similar colors and various social media outlets by which you can Tweet, pin, share, blog, or send your favorites.

This screenshot gives you a good idea of what the site is all about:

cocktail_hues_palette

But wait! If you’re still not impressed, or need to be a little more specific for design purposes, you can search palettes by color value or theme as well. Or, you can browse the Fresh Hues blog, which is more photo-heavy and totally credible, considering the designer’s lengthy resume of color design work.

Printing the palettes and chopping off the color panel side is also a viable alternative for using paint swatch cards, if you’re too far away from a Home Depot or other paint retailer to stock up on these nifty little color samples to use for any number of crafts (like my Valentine’s Day card, which you can check out here).

Another fun alternative to browsing the site is to check out the Design-Seeds Pinterest page, which gives you way more bang for your buck in terms of palettes-per-inch, and a more detailed way to browse palettes.

I leave you with one of my favorite palettes of the day:InkSpots600Happy hue hunting!

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!