Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Technique of the Week: Paper piecing

This week, I’m sharing my favourite technique, or at least the one I use the most often: Paper piecing. If my favourite magazine is anything to go by, its quite a popular one in the world of card making but I particularly enjoy it as it allows me to combine my sketching and drawing with my paper craft and gives me freedom to create my own designs and styles. It’s also a great way to use up scraps of paper!

I tend to use my own sketches at templates but I do occasionally use existing ones so its no biggie if you aren’t as skilled with  a pencil. This post however is going to go through my process from sketchbook to greetings card.



The first thing I do is sketch out my design. I have a small sketchbook especially for my card making where I can jot down a new idea or sketch out a design. My book is A6 which means that even if I fill the page, it will still fit onto the front of my preferred size of card blank. It also means I can actually draft out a full design. (I’d love to say it was planned that way but unfortunately it was just a happy coincidence). I do occasionally use bigger sketchbooks.




Once I’m happy with my design (and this can take a couple of attempts and quite a while depending on how carried away I get with the sketching. I have been known to completely finish and shade in with extra details before now), I get out my trusty tracing paper. As an architecture student, I used this almost as much as normal paper so I always had some lying around whether a clean sheet or an old drawing or even just scraps. I then trace over the line drawing, not necessarily in very much detail – some things can be added in free-hand later.



2014_0729-0027With the basic template done, it’s time to start transferring the different shapes onto coloured paper. I flip the trace over so that the design is reversed. This is for two reasons. The first, so that I can transfer the design simply by drawing over the template again; the second, so that pencil marks will be on the back of the paper and out of sight without me having to rub them out. When tracing the shapes onto paper, I make sure to leave a little extra in order to glue the layers together, occasionally using on piece for a couple of sections – here, the face and the ear were one piece, with the hair placed on top. Once all the pieces are cut out, the picture can be assembled (this bit can be a bit messy!)



To finish off my paper piecings, I add detail with a black pen. This depends on the style I’m going for and can range from simply outlines to more detailed shading.

2013_0425-00052012_1118-0019While I tend to keep the more detailed ones for the frames, simpler designs are great for greetings cards. This Iron Man birthday card was made with very few different shapes. The hand was stuck on using foam pads to give the design some depth but all of the detail was done with black pen and a sharpened white pencil in order to mimic the comic book style.
In contrast to this, the Suits themed birthday card focused on mainly the silhouette of the character, with very little detail added to the hair. I was unsure how obvious this design would be to the recipient but as she is an avid Suits fan, she understood the reference immediately (phew!).


Would love to know what you think of my Technique of the Week posts so leave a comment below! Any suggestions for future posts more than welcome!

Happy 100th Post!

Although I will be posting my new weekly entry later this evening, I wanted to do something a bit more special for my 100th post, so here we are.

Nearly two and a half years ago I manned my first table selling my cards at my hall of residence's fundraiser and not long after that I sat down and wrote my first post (I'm still slightly in awe that I managed to stick with it!).

This blog was started to share my makes and ideas and to record my progress of starting a small business so it makes sense to look back on the last 100 posts and to see how far I've come.Team Photo


2012 not only saw the start of my blog but also of the London Olympic Games. I loved taking part in my own “Card-lympics” (even more so when I Googled the phrase!) and although a fair few of them have been sold, I’ve still got a small handful of them (I was very reluctant to let any of them go to begin with!)


Magazine article


In August I got a mention in Papercraft Inspirations, the magazine I read, when they published one of my cards from my blog. I was particularly pleased with that card and have since made it at least once. I was thrilled to see my card in my favourite mag.




October saw me making my first ever paper-pieced picture, inspired from one of my cards. I figured I should trial my idea and keep the first one for myself. The 10th Doctor still sits on my desk and will definitely be coming with me to Bath. Since that first one, I’ve made Alice in Wonderland, Marvin, Pokemon and Jane Austen. I should really start making those again soon . . .





These were a big hit when I attended my first craft fair at Victoria Baths in Manchester. Despite the cold, I had a great time although I’m pretty sure most of that was down to the fact that I had a really successful day. I hope to one day repeat that success as none of the events I’ve done since then have even come close.





Six months on was Victoria Baths II and although it wasn’t as successful, it was much warmer and really interesting to see how far I’d come in that time. By this point, I had a whole table to myself and managed to fill it!.





In September, I started taking my cards to the next dimension and am still experimenting with new 3D shaped card – I even have a new one to try out soon! While I’ve had a go at all sorts of shapes, there are a couple that I keep going back to. If I had to pick a favourite, I think it would be my hiking ones.





Over the last nine-ish months, I’ll admit, my cards (and my blog) got rudely pushed to the side in order for me to concentrate on my final year at uni. It wasn’t necessarily intentional, I just didn’t have time to do both and no good enough excuses to spend an evening aimlessly making cards. However, now that I have finished uni for now (and with a 2:1 to boot!), I can get back to card making with a vengeance and last week saw my first Technique of the Week, a series that is going to make me publish at least once a week but hopefully will challenge my blogging and give it more of a purpose. 


While I am now back in North Wales, I won’t be seeing Manchester again for a while and this time in two weeks, I’ll be down South in the city Miss Austen herself lived in. A new location and a new job with regular hours mean plenty of new opportunities for me and my cards. Here’s to the next 100!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Technique of the Week: Tassels

This is the first of who knows how many posts talking about the different techniques I use on my cards. My aim is to write one every week sharing either a tutorial or just some inspiration from techniques I use regularly and maybe a couple of new ones. 

This week's technique of the week is tassels. It wasn't what I originally planned to write about but with current happenings, it seems to fit quite well. As you may have seen in my previous posts, its graduation time and yesterday it was my turn to stop being a graduand (my new word!) and become a graduate. I made a few cards for some close friends of mine who were graduating with me, which is where today's technique comes from. The tassels made would then form part of a cap embellishment to go on the front of the cards. I originally found a tutorial through Pinterest (where else!), but having used it as a starting point, I chose to make my own.

Tassels are really straightforward to make but can be fiddly depending on the size of the tassel and the length of you fingernails! (Shorted makes life so much easier I found out). All you need to make a tassel is:
  • Some thread/string/wool. I used black thread for mine as they were only going to be small but obviously, to make bigger tassels, you would use a thicker material.
  • A piece of cardboard. My tutorial uses foam board as clever me had a clear out earlier in the week and this was all I could find. Cardboard would work better but essentially you need something that is thin and stiff. The size of the cardboard will determine the size of the tassel.
  • Scissors.
To start, cut a short length of thread and lay it across the top of the cardboard. This doesn't need to be too long but needs to be long enough so that it can be tied. The tail will also be used to attach it to the cap itself.
Next, its time to start winding. Starting at the bottom, wind the thread around the board, making sure that you wind over the piece of thread at the top. How many times you go around is up to you, for this one, I went around 20 times. Once you are back at the bottom, cut the thread from the spool.

That thread I mentioned in the first step? Tie it.
Try and make it as tight as possible. I double knotted it just to make sure.
Flip the card over and cut the thread at the bottom. This makes the tassel and also lets you remove it from the card.

This is where it can get fiddly.
The next step is to tie the middle so that it actually resembles a tassel. To do this, wrap some more thread around and knot it. I try to wrap it a couple of times before tying the knot. It can be messy when you are wrapping but once it's knotted, it's easy enough to neaten and arrange. The ends can then become part of the tassel as well once trimmed.

When attaching it to a black card cap, I threaded the tail through a needle and poked it through the centre of the cap, securing it with a bit of cello-tape and trimming the ends.

Three tassels made three caps for three cards. I chose to use my school colours as we are part of two universities. I didn't want to make three identical cards which also let me try out different ways to place the cap.

Having the owl throw it up in celebration was a very simple way to us it: the tassel doesn't need arranging or sticking down.

The second card was for a fellow Welshman, and having found this foam dragon in my stash, it was just crying out to be used. I should have however, trimmed the cap down to compensate for the foreshortening (see the third card). The other thing to remember when actually putting the cap onto a figure is to stick the tassel down - otherwise it'll get in the way! Although it would kind of fit in with this goofy looking dragon.

The third card is probably the most traditional of the three. I added a bit of glue to keep the tassel off to the side. This card was also embellished with a degree scroll. This was simply made by rolling a bit of white paper around the end of a paint brush, using glue to seal the end of the strip. To finished I used a bit of red thread to tie a bow around it and flattened the scroll slightly so that it adhered to the card front easily.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Minions Are Taking Over!

Most of us have come across Despicable Me, in particular, those little yellow minions. The minions are very popular with my friends and recently I have been commissioned cards featuring them. Because they are some crazy characters, it opens up a whole load of ideas and essentially anything works, the madder, the better.

The first card was actually from last October and was a personalised birthday card. I wanted to imply the chaos wreaked by them so rather than having one minion on the front, I chose to show minions all over the place. These were paper pieced and the card was finished with a hand written sentiment and lots of stars.

My second card, more recently commissioned, was again for a birthday. The specification ("a purple minion doing something stupid please") was a little more specific but still gave me a lot of free reign over the design. As the birthday girl was a mutual friend, I was able to design something suitable. I don't think this minion actually looks that out of place slumped in this cocktail glass . . . .

The third card, for the friend who commissioned the previous one, was for graduation rather than a birthday. In a similar way to the previous cards (and almost all of my cards), this one was paper pieced and featured a purple minion wearing a mortar board. My friend, Min, has been regularly referred to as a minion, so this fit well.