Ready, Set, Holiday Craft!

It’s early November, and to some well organized crafters and those who participate in craft fairs – well they’ve been ready for weeks if not months for the holiday season. But how about the rest of us who just starting to think about holiday crafting?

Today I’ve got some tips to share and my own plans for this holiday season!

There’s no such thing as too early, first of all. Every major project and every deadline I am up against other things try to get in the way, someone gets sick, or I get busy and then blink – the holiday is here and I’m either done weeks ago and thrilled, or scrambling and stressed. Which would I rather be? Prepared, of course!

So as soon as you are thinking about what you might like to do, or what craft projects you might like to take on go ahead and get started!

Don’t over-buy. This one is key and I’ve gotten better about it over the years but the thing is, you don’t want to have 30 extra ornaments or 5 extra rolls of kraft paper hanging out cluttering up your place because you either wildly overestimated your crafting time or thought you needed WAY more than what you do. How to best avoid this problem?

Make a plan and keep a list or three. Having both a clear craft plan and lists (who you need to make for, what things are done, how many cards you’re making, etc) will not only help keep you on track and answer that question “what do I craft now?” but it will also help you avoid over shopping, buying too much (if you’re making 20 cards, you don’t need supplies for 100!), and help keep order to what can be a chaotic season.

Keep goals and expectations real. The facts are that I will make handcrafted fun (in-depth projects) up until about the 5th of December, and then starting back up again on Christmas Eve. There are a few exceptions, but overall if I want to hand craft gift card holders, customize gifts, or make things for people it happens primarily in November. So in making my plans and goals for the season I know that other than some light wrapping or a tag or two – early is the way it happens in this house.

Along these lines, I also encourage you to craft what makes YOU happy. Utilizing very simple wrapping, skipping cards, purchasing pre-made things – there is no shame in any of this! In fact some years, I skip mailing gifts or cards or scale WAY back and other years I go wild. It all depends on how my life is looking, and what works for me. I think it is important especially at a time when it is easy to get wrapped up in what you think you “should” do that you can just keep things very simple!

This year I will be making a few (maybe 6) cards, doing as always a few fancy packages (but not all!), and crafting some ornaments and small easy DIY gifts. I will be sharing tutorials with you this month (so you’ve got time to craft as well!) as well as doing a few round-up posts. What specifically do I have planned? Felt will play a big part – I’m making some ornaments, coffee cup holders (already did one – love it!) and I will also be doing some gift card holders for teens, decorating a few boxes, and really just leaning into the LOVE I have of craft.

Some of the years that things have been simple and small are the most satisfying craft wise, so I intend to just play, enjoy, and see where the season takes me. A wild idea (like the 150 or so hour bigger than life scrappy pillow gift…) could take hold. You never know!

That was a LOT of fun to make and actually ended up being a rare December holiday crafted item. I think because I was able to do it in the car waiting for kids, appointments, etc. and it was so portable. I will tell you I notoriously write my Christmas cards that way – so that I them using the time I have wisely.

Stay tuned – the video tutorials start up Nov 4 on YouTube (link at top of blog), and I will be back to post here on my blog round-up of favorite tutorials, shopping ideas, and much more! But first: time for me to go make my holiday lists!

ScanNCutDX: Which Model?

There are several models of the ScanNCutDX, so which is right for you? In this article I will go into each, and who I would recommend it to you. Now note – the usual disclaimer I do work with Brother as a paid consultant, but all ideas and opinions are my own. The short version is this: ANY of the models will work great, it’s a matter of what your own budget and preference is!

Above I am pictured with the ScanNCutDX SDX125 model. This is the model you’ll see me demoing whenever I am at an event (such as GenCon, above) and this is the model you’ll see available widely online and in shops such as scrapbook stores or chain craft stores too. It is often seen on HSN, and you can even (affiliate link) get it on Amazon.

This is the least expensive model, and the key differences are that it won’t read PES embroidery files, can’t 24″ scan, and it doesn’t have as many built-in files. Often it does not have as many “extras” come with it as far as accessories, but the bundle can vary depending on where you buy it and if a deal is going on.

Next up – the machine you see used in most of my videos and projects: the SDX225 innov-is edition. This machine does have more extras, can read PES embroidery files, can scan 24″, usually comes with more accessories, and this machine is also only available from authorized Brother dealers.

Third – the SDX230D aka the Disney ScanNCut has its own bundle of extras including exclusive Disney cut files, and is only available through authorized Brother dealers.

So who should get which machine? It depends on how you craft, and if you’ll use the extras of the dealer exclusive models or not. I rely heavily on built-in patterns and I do a fair amount of 24″ scanning and intricate work so for me, the 230D is a DREAM machine as I also scrapbook and create a lot of Disney inspired crafts. The SDX225 is equally capable – just minus the Disney!

The important thing to remember: They all have a built in scanner, they all cut up to 3mm thick, and they all do pretty much all of the wonderful things you see me craft. So depending on budget as well as how much you’ll use the added designs and features of the dealer models, there really isn’t a wrong choice all 3 machines are super fun to craft with.

I LOVE the ScanNCut for many reasons- from the built in scanner to being able to work it stand-alone without a computer or tablet. I happily work with Brother specifically because I use their machines (I don’t use their machines because I work with them- its mutual love!) and I mention that because I want you to know what I do and share here is always truth!

A few resources before I head back into the studio and craft some more:

Did I miss anything? Have questions I ca answer? Do let me know! I am always happy to share tutorials and ideas with you here and on my social media channels. Happy Crafting!

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Scrapbooking 101: What is the goal?

We’ve talked about workflow, supplies, and the why of it. Next up? Let’s talk about having a clear goal with each scrapbook album or project that you take on.

Why you scrapbook, what format you take, and what style you prefer are all personal preference with no wrong answer. The only thing I regret and wish I’d done differently? I wish I had a clear goal or plan going into each album vs simply making scrapbook pages and “figure it out later”.

Having a goal changes things because it sets up an end game. It says what direction you are headed and helps to guide some of your creative choices.

For example – if I know I am working on a “one year in one album”, I can adjust how many pages (or how many stories to combine!) knowing I need 12 months to fit inside. Some years are quieter and I can stretch out, while others are packed and I take multiple stories and fit into single pages. This is true for any album project though – having parameters will help ensure full album success vs pages that won’t fit or half empty albums.

The point, goal, or end game does not have to be restrictive or hinder your creativity – simply create a framework for you to operate within. I will note as well – it can be flexible!

For example, if I wish to make a mini-album of a particular event or create in some other way I absolutely can! In these instances I can vary from the norm and create a side project- with its own goal.

Some of my current and past “scrapbook end game” include:

  • Specific long vacation album created
  • Mini album for event, topic, or vacation
  • Annual 12×12 album with assorted styles of pages within

My current goal? I want to go through and actually remove and put into storage the pages that I have that serve no purpose. The pages there because I had some idea or assignment and made a page with a photo – but no particular story or sentiment. A page that holds no special place now. This will help me narrow down my shelves of albums as well as better organize and show me what I have.

I do not intend to go backwards scrapbook wise and fill gaps or “fix” things – just organize into a far more cohesive and manageable past. This project will be done probably more in winter on dark/rainy days when I can’t film projects or as spare time allows. I’ll be sure to post how that goes! In the meantime I’ve got 6 open/in progress albums to work on when not working on my other projects.

So do tell: what are you working on? And what subjects would you like to see me cover in scrapbooking and beyond?

Apple Walnut Bread

Every so often I find myself with leftovers and in need of baking. On this particular day I had a few too many apples as well as some leftover (homemade) applesauce in the fridge. What to do? I made up my own recipe for apple bread on the spot, and today I want to share it with you.

Combine (in order listed) in a bowl:

  • 1/2cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depends on your preference!)
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce (flexible! A bit more or less is fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • walnuts (to taste – I added about a cup)
  • apple chunks (I added 2 small apples cubed to around 3/4″ cubes)

Bake at 350 in a buttered (the butter is key! adds crispiness!) loaf pan it makes 2 smaller or 1 large loaf of yum. About 55 min- test that it is fully cooked of course.

Once it is cooled you can enjoy! I sliced mine up and froze it in parchment paper so that there are single servings of yumminess just waiting in the freezer. If you have a favorite fall bread- do share! I love simple baking!

HTV (heat transfer vinyl) basics

If you work with any electronic die cutting machine (or have access to one!) heat transfer vinyl can be one of your best friends and go-to materials! Why? What is it and why do I love it so? In this article I will cover the basics, my favorites, and when I use it.

HTV (heat transfer vinyl) is a material that comes on a transfer (clear) sheet in matte, glossy, flocked, glitter, and other finishes. To use it you simply apply it to a fabric surface and use a press or iron to heat set it. That easy!

There are a lot of brands available, and the quality can vary quite a bit. I have found Siser (found at Michaels, Amazon, etc – here’s an amazon affiliate link) to be an excellent choice for quality, getting good consistent results, and variety of colors. I am picky about color!

The only ‘hard’ thing about HTV is weeding. For this you’ll need some kind of needle or pick tool, and some patience. You see you will weed or remove all of the bits you do NOT wish to transfer off. This leaves you with your design on the transfer sheet, held beautifully in place. This transfer sheet/backing is VITAL to designs (like above) where there are tons of intricate bits and pieces that would move and wiggle without it. It is possible to transfer without it (if you ever needed to) – it’s just harder in general.

When might you do that? Well I had a sheet of glitter iron-on and I was just doing simple sturdy hearts. That material runs thicker, and I wanted to use every single bit of it so it made sense in that example. Most of the time (like the above design!) it would be a nightmare to attempt.

So when and why would you want to use it? Well any time you want to add a design to a fabric item without sewing is the short answer. Here are a few projects I’ve used HTV on:

  • pillow case
  • t shirt
  • sweatshirt
  • skirt/dress
  • apron
  • table runner
  • placemat/napkin
  • quilt/blanket
  • wall hanging
  • chair covering
  • curtains
  • luggage/purse/bag
  • scrapbook album cover

Essentially, if you can heat set the vinyl on, you can use HTV.

Your advantages? Speed and precision. While the above top took me several hours to create for Rebecca, it would have taken days and been nearly impossible for me to get the level of cut detail with most any other medium. I have created custom gear bags for Elizabeth for sports, personalized my luggage, and of course created one of a kind aprons and attire for myself and family.

Essentially you cut a design, weed it, and then apply to your surface. Here are few tips on the process:

  1. Never EVER touch your iron or heat source to the vinyl directly. I have melted more than one element on accident. It isn’t fun!
  2. Feel free to layer/heat over time multiple pieces, but always make sure the previously set vinyl is covered/not directly touched by iron
  3. Some vinyls are tougher than others! For example, I find most of the glitter to be really hearty vs some matte finishes that are very finicky
  4. Don’t do this in a hurry! Be relaxed, take your time.
  5. If all goes wrong you can work over and put new vinyl over the top in most cases.

I have added some favorite vinyl colors, the felt mat I use, and a few other products I recommend to my amazon craft page if you care to check out more here is the link.

From text to characters, custom to working with .svg or cut files that are pre-designed there is a lot of fun to be had with heat transfer vinyl! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Also, if you have any suggestions or favorite projects I’d love to hear from you and see them!