How to wrangle your thin dies - Part 1

If you're like me, you probably love the added dimension and interest that Stampin' Up!®'s dies add to your papercrafting. But you may also wish to skip some of the potential headaches that can arise when trying to keep all those frustrating little bits of metal under control! Today I'll be sharing some of my tips for handling and storing dies with minimal frustration.

Tip #1: Always put each die away immediately after using it.

LOL!

OK, who are we kidding here!?! WHAT serious papercrafter actually takes the time in the middle of his/her creative "zone" to put away every single tool one-by-one?!? Pretty inefficient, if you ask me.... 'cuz not only are you risking losing your creative mojo, but you just might need to use that exact same tool again only 14 seconds from now, right?!?

Ok. So let's start over, but this time we'll add in a dose of reality. Here's my approach:

I recognize that while I'm creating, things WILL be out of place. So I try to be ok with that. But that doesn't mean my workspace has to devolve into total chaos; my goal is to keep things at least moderately corraled so they don't get lost or damaged, and they can be returned to their rightful places with minimal effort and headache later. So while I'm working... 20180623_140226

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This awesome tray was given to me by a friend. But it's easily found at Harbor Freight, and it's easy on the budget. Designed for mechanics to hold onto screws and bolts and the like, it's got a heavy magnet at the base. So it can be attached to a metal tool chest or workbench - or not. I've found that without even attaching the tray to a magnetic surface, its weight alone tends to keep it upright and unlikely to tip over with normal use. And of course, the magnet at its base keeps the dies in place inside the tray regardless.

I LOVE this tray! But there *is* one lesson I've learned while working with it. Occasionally I've found that a smallish die just disappears. Totally vanishes from my work area! One moment it's there, and a second later it's not. But I've had this happen enough times now, that before I set off on an extensive exploration of my clothing, the carpet, the wastebasket, etc., I usually just need to pick up the tray and look underneath it...

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Now, has this ever happened to you? You're straightening up your workspace and come across an itty-bitty die that looks something like this.

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Quick now, what die set does it belong to? (Yeah, right!) Well, here's the shortcut way to find out.

Flip it over, and .....

 

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Read the 6-digit number engraved on it. That will be the Stampin' Up! product code! If you have absolutely no idea what set it belongs to, click here (store.YourPaperDreams.com), and type that product code into the search bar. If it's still currently available, the picture and name of its die set will come up so you can reunite it with its family!

Missing die identified
But if it's not currently available, you'll have to search through your collection of die sets, looking at the product code of each set, in order to find the rest of its tribe. Tedious, yes. But at least doable!

Which brings me to the topic of how I *store* my thin dies... and why. Check out more tips in my next post!


Stamparatus Success Tips

Stamparatus: A *must-have* positioning tool that will change the life of any stamper. Similar to the "other brands", except this one's on steroids!

If you don't already have your Stamparatus, you'll be able to order it beginning this Friday, June 1, at store.YourPaperDreams.com (Product #146276)

Recently I've been working on another one of my "making multiples" projects and have discovered several tips that have helped me fall even deeper in love with this gizmo (didn't know that was even possible!), and I'm sure it will do the same for you, too.

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My project uses a long piece of cardstock, and images are ultimately stamped over much of its surface. Because the end has to extend beyond the surface of the platform I was finding that while I was initially using the Stamparatus in my usual orientation (clear "wings" either folding in from top or a side) I was frequently either getting unwelcome creases or ink on the extended end, just from handling the whole set-up. Given that I'm aiming to make somewhere around 100 of these eventually, that was definitely proving awkward.

So I flipped it all around.... extending the excess cardstock up at the top, facing away from me - and positioning my clear "wing" pointing towards me.  And that change alone reduced the amount of stray inky fingerprints and creases I ended up with. I found that I got more ink on the stamp (and less ink on the surrounding clear plate) by placing one hand underneath the "wing" while inking the stamp with my other hand.  And best of all I could actually see what I was doing because it was directly in front of me!

20180530_080847[1]One of the tips I'd already discovered in the past was to match the size of the ink pad to the size of the stamp. (Full-size ink pads for larger stamps and Stampin' Spots for the smaller ones.)  I already have a decent supply of Stampin' Spots from having been a Paper Pumpkin subscriber for so long, but I've also recently been filling in color gaps by making up my own Stampin' Spots in colors I've been missing. (BTW, you can order a set of empty spots here and ink them up with the refill colors of your choice. You DO already have the ink refills that match your ink pads, don't you?!?)

Since I'm doing so many of these I needed a quick and efficient way to get my cardstock lined up each time I needed to work on its other end. And 1" wide blue painter's tape proved the answer to that.  I just plopped a piece of my cut-to-size cardstock down on the platform, temporarily held it in place with magnets, and laid the painter's tape around 3 of its edges. So going forward I could just insert each piece of cardstock right into that template and anchor it with magnets. So far, the tape has held up like a charm, and it doesn't seem to leave any residue either!

And finally, just a reminder to conserve your precious cardstock while you're still designing your layout, and substitute printer paper or something else fairly cheap whenever possible instead. Personally, I use grid paper and/or printer paper for stamping on while I'm developing my layout, and modest-sized scraps of colored cardstock when pulling together colors and layers. I'll only cut a piece of colored CS to actual size once I've got the fussing-around steps mostly behind me and am pretty confident the project seems to be headed in a direction that's gonna work.

So if you don't already have your Stamparatus, mark your calendar for Friday, June 1, jump into my online store, and get one headed your way! 


Stampar - WHAT?!?

11.16.17_GIF_STAMPARATUS

STAM•PA•RAT•US: Noun. 2017-2018 (and beyond); < rubber-stamper lingo; Latin stamp + apparatus>  1. a feature-packed device to assist rubber stampers with placing stamped images exactly where desired  2. a gizmo used to perfectly align up to 4 stamped images  3. a doo-dad which allows another attempt at stamping a fully-inked image if the first was unsuccessful  4. an amazing tool that all rubber stampers will want to own in order to make their stamping adventures more fun, easy, and oops-free. Synonym: "the most advanced stamp-positioner on the market"

Well, we've waited a whole lotta years, but it's finally (almost) here! Stampin' Up!'s feature-packed stamp positioner that blows all other similar devices currently on the market right out of the water! Why? Because once again, Stampin' Up! has created a tool designed FOR stampers BY stampers (LOTS of 'em, actually!)

So what's up with this gizmo with the funky name?

Well, I recommend downloading this PDF flyer for a quick overview.......

Stamparatus_flyer_image

and then checking out this video to see the Stamparatus in action:

Soooooo...... now that you have an idea what this little gem can do, we'll assume that by now you know you need one of these puppies for your very own self. (I mean, who wouldn't? Right?) So listen-up while I share how to be among the very first to get your mitts on one of these coveted treasures..... (Yeah, yeah, it's a little bit complex, but I think we can all catch on eventually...)

Stampin' Up! recognizes that this is expected to be a hot, hot item, but wants at the same time to avoid the disappointment of a potentially protracted back-order situation, as these Stamparatuses [Stamparati?] can only be manufactured and stocked at a finite pace. Therefore, Stampin' Up! has designed a clever "reservation" system that will allow you to (sort of) preorder yours before it is even manufactured. There will be 3 limited preorder/reservation periods between now and when this tool appears in next summer's Annual Catalog, and you may order up to one device during each of the 3 periods - while supplies last. The limited preorder periods will run during the following dates, but only until the maximum number of available reservations has been reached. (In other words, those who preorder early in the period stand a better chance of successfully reserving a unit than those who wait until later).

Preorder dates

As you see, the first reservation window opens this coming Thursday, Nov. 16th. At 2:00 pm, Mountain Time, to be exact. (Barring any hiccups like crashed websites and other technicalities, of course.)

To place your reservation you'll go to my online store and  look for the "Reserve" link on the Stamparatus page. (You must already have an online customer account set up in order to proceed; if you don't already have an online account, I urge you to go ahead and set one up now to be ready.) Then follow the simple instructions shown in this tutorial. Note that you must have a credit card available in order to place your reservation, but you won't actually be charged until your Stamparatus comes in.

Then when the approximate shipping date nears (better put it on your 2018 calendar right away so you don't forget), be sure to keep an eagle-eye on your email inbox (including your junk box, too), as Stampin' Up! will notify you when your Stamparatus has been placed into your shopping cart. And at that point you'll go into your order, add more items to your cart if you wish, and then submit your order. Be very careful not to accidentally delete your Stamparatus from your cart because there will be NO way to add it back again

So be ready to act quickly on Thursday to be among the very first lucky owners of a Stamparatus! I'd be VERY surprised if available reservations last until November 30th.... or even anywhere close to it!

Please note that the "sale" of this item will not actually take place until you close out and submit your order next February (or March or April, depending on which reservation period you used). Your "reservation" will NOT count as a sale, and as I understand things currently, I won't even be able to see that you've reserved one. (But you might wanna tell me anyway.....)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ok, so yeah, that was a whole lotta words, so here's the Cliff Notes version:

  1. Recognize you want need a Stamparatus.
  2. Make sure you have an online shopping account already set up so you don't have to fiddle with it on Thursday. (You probably do have if you've shopped online with me before, but no harm in double-checking: store.YourPaperDreams.com)
  3. Set an alarm to reserve your Stamparatus (store.YourPaperDreams.com) at 2 pm (Mountain Time) this Thursday, Nov. 16. (Or as soon thereafter as you can, being aware there are a limited number of reservations that will be accepted.) You'll need to provide a CC number at the time, although it won't be charged at the time of reservation. (BTW, if the system crashes due to high use, please don't give up; just continue to try again a few times every 10-15 minutes or so.)
  4. Mark your calendar to keep an eagle-eye out for an email from Stampin' Up! (approx. Feb. 1), that lets you know your Stamparatus has been added to your shopping cart.
  5. When you receive that email from Stampin' Up! go into my online store again (store.YourPaperDreams.com) and complete/submit your order. (Remember THAT is the point that you actually purchase your Stamparatus.)

Thoughtful Branches - Fall Leaves

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Yep, this time it's a fall card! Again, a "Lynda version" of a card that's been all over the 'net, and I loved the contrast between the die-cut lacy leaves and the solid, multi-color ones. Some versions of this card "out there" use a fun, but rather messy inking technique. But since I had designed my version for class, "messy" wasn't something I particularly wanted to tackle.

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So here's how WE got a similar multi-color, autumn effect.  It's a pattern that you repeat for each individual image:

 

  • Start with a clean stamp. (Good idea to keep a damp paper towel handy.)
  • Ink up the stamp with Daffodil Delight, but do not stamp with it yet.
  • Lay out all your remaining leaf color inks in order from light to dark, left to right, and have a sponge dauber at hand for each one. (At my class we laid out Pumpkin Pie, Old Olive & Soft Suede.)
  • Onto your yellow-inked stamp, "daub" (is that a real word?!?) a couple of other colors directly onto small areas of the stamp..... one at a time, and always working from lightest to darkest. So because of the order we'd laid out the inks, that would mean Pumpkin Pie followed by Old Olive, OR Old Olive and then Soft Suede.  Pay attention to where you daub each color on the stamp so you don't overlap sections entirely.
  • Once that was done, there would be 3 colors on the stamp (Daffodil Delight + 2 others), and after "huffing" on it, it was time to stamp the image (onto a scrap of Whisper White cardstock).
  • Clean the stamp and get ready to repeat the process for the next leaf.

We stamped (and then die-cut) enough of these colored leaves for not only the front of the card, but also one or more for the inside, too. 

And we followed the same process for those little "flowery-leafy-thingies", too. 

After layering up the main pieces on the card front, we made the banner with the sentiment and anchored that in place.....

And then the lacy-leaves (cut with the corresponding stem-and-leaves die from this bundle - from Gold Foil paper) were laid in place to give a general shape to the layout. And finally, all pieces were tacked down with either strategically-placed dots of glue from the Fine Tip glue pen or the Tombow Multipurpose glue. (Repeat after me, Lynda's cardinal rule of glue-use:  "Less is more. Less is more. Less is more!")

A large (retired) pearl finished it off (and ensured it would cost an additional 21-cents to mail)!

Fall leaves card


Thoughtful Branches - A spring/summer hydrangea

2

At my card classes earlier this month we capitalized on the versatility of the Thoughtful Branches Photopolymer Bundle and stamped up cards representing spring/summer, fall and winter. (See an additional fall card here.) Today I'd like to share our spring/summer card. Isn't it fascinating how the same stamp/die combo turned one way and stamped in orange can be a pumpkin....

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 yet  flipped over and stamped in a different color becomes a hydrangea?!?  Yes, I do believe this bundle from Stampin' Up!® is truly one of the top most creative and versatile they've produced. And I'm so sad that in only 3 more days it will go away. 

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The color palette for this card is simple and fresh - generally monochromatic with its Whisper White, Basic Black, Pool Party & Bermuda Bay. The basic idea was something I'd seen online, but then I added my own tweaks, including the jaunty angles of the layers for an extra punch of fun.

For the hydrangea, we first tinted a piece of Whisper White cardstock a light shade of Pool Party with one of our new sponge brayers.  Then stamped over that with Bermuda Bay before die-cutting that wonderful lacy shape. Then layered that piece over an oval (of Pool Party cardstock) to provide the sense of dimension.... just as I'd done with the pumpkin.

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The stem & leaf were die-cut as well (Basic Black), and the stem adhered to the underneath oval with tiny spots from the Fine-tip glue pen. To back the leaves, we traced the shape of the die itself onto scraps of Pool Party and cut them out by hand before adhering behind the detailed black layer. The black polka-dotted layer comes from Pop of Pink Specialty Designer Series Paper, a HOT DSP package found in the still-newish annual catalog. (You can never have too many polka dots, can you? And when they're black they go with EVERYTHING!)

And here's a fuss-free tip for cutting a banner exactly the right length for your sentiment:

  1. Cut a piece of cardstock as wide as you wish your finished banner to be, and plenty longer than you want its finished length to be.
  2. Notch one end with the Banner Triple Punch.
  3. Orient the notched edge according to your ultimate design, and stamp your sentiment close to the notch.
  4.  Then clip off any extra length - to yield a perfectly-sized stamped banner!

Stay tuned for the "fall" and "winter" examples -  from our card classes earlier this month!

  Product List

 


When the packaging's just gotta coordinate with the contents

Packaging collage

I had occasion recently to wrap a baby gift. Now, this wasn't just some random baby gift, but rather, in celebration of the upcoming arrival of my 2nd granddaughter. So if there's ever a reason to spend a little extra time wrapping something, I figure that that would qualify. I'd picked out this adorable little 3-piece set - 2 onsies and a coordinating pair of pants/leggings. Yes, I know the pant legs will be too long; manufacturers have had DECADES to figure out babies' legs aren't proportioned to the rest of their bodies yet, but for some reason they refuse to adjust accordingly. But I digress. I had this cute little clothing ensemble and it needed to be wrapped. Appropriately.

So the first thing I reached for was cardstock in colors close to those of the clothes. Minus purple, of course; I already knew that wasn't
gonna happen. But I was Botanical-Builder-Box-close-up-800-wmsurprised to see how tough it was to match the other colors, too! Especially a yellow-green. Came up empty-handed there, too. But eventually I ended up pulling out some scraps of retired In Colors: Strawberry Slush, Pistachio Pudding and Coastal Cabana...... and then added Bermuda Bay, Pink Pirouette, Wisteria Wonder and So Saffron to round out my options. 

To determine the size of the box I folded (and refolded) the 3 items until I
could stack them up into a size I could create a box for (using only 8-1/2" x 11" cardstock, 'cuz that's what I had available). Luckily, I determined I could do that with a box 5-1/2" x 7-1/2"..... and 1-1/2" deep. YAY!  So I just trimmed a half-inch off the bottom of a full sheet each of Wisteria Wonder (for the box bottom), and Pink Pirouette for the box top. (Leaving me with 8-1/2" x 10-1/2".) Scored 1-1/2" borders all the way around for the bottom, and just the teeniest smidge narrower for the top.  (This technique leaves the box top just that itsy-bitsy bit larger so it'll fit over the bottom.) 

Botanical-Builder-Box-800-wmAfter assembling the box I determined that that much surface looked just a little bit  "flat", so I added a layer using the Brick Wall embossing folder. Figured that made a decent base to work with, and the fun was about to begin.


Now, I have to confess that I love flowers (DUH! Those of you who know me aren't surprised, are ya?), and after 20 years of working with flowers in the paper and ink world I've figured out it's not likely I'll ever tire of them. And whenever I can combine flowers with DIMENSION, so much the better. So it's really no wonder the Botanical Builder Framelits have become my "go to" faves these days. 

So this is the result. I shaped the flower petals and leaves with a bone folder and also wrapped some elements loosely around a white gel pen. (Ugh! Just realize that's been retired. YIKES! How'd I miss that?!?) All the flowers are glued to a belly band that simply slides off to open the box. I love belly bands on boxes for this purpose; you can get as elaborate as you want with the decoration, and yet nothing has to be untied or otherwise destroyed when it's time to access the box's contents.  A perfect packaging solution in my book!

Buy NOW, get a coupon for NEXT month!

Now here's something ELSE really cool! Right now (and through the remainder of July, actually), for every $50 of product you order through me (at one time, that is), you'll get an emailed coupon worth $5 towards product(s) you order NEXT month. (Specifically Aug. 2 - Aug. 31 .) And there are no limits as to how many $5 coupons you can accrue; you'll get one for every $50. So for instance, if you like the Botanical Builder Framelits AND the coordinating Botanical Blooms Stamp Set I've used on this project, well, guess what?! ? Conveniently, they both add up to $50, and BOOM! you've earned a coupon to spend next month! Or choose $150 in product (ordered at one time) and get not only THREE $5 coupons for next month ($15 value, that is), but also $15 in Stampin' Rewards THIS month, too! Get the idea?!?

Here are the products I used on this project; items that are currently available (at time of this writing) will link to my online store:

 

Strawberry Slush 8-1/2" X 11" Card Stock
Strawberry Slush 8-1/2" X 11" Card Stock
[131295]
$6.95
Pistachio Pudding 8-1/2" X 11" Card Stock
Pistachio Pudding 8-1/2" X 11" Card Stock
[131294]
$6.95
Coastal Cabana 8-1/2" X 11" Card Stock
Coastal Cabana 8-1/2" X 11" Card Stock
[131297]
$6.95
White Signo Uni-Ball Gel Pen
White Signo Uni-Ball Gel Pen
[105021]
$4.00

 

 


Thinlits & Framelits Dies Storage

Framelits-dies - storage-magnetSo I've spent much of the past week and a half or so digging in my storage rooms, discovering, purging and organizing things I haven't seen since I moved out of my house just about 3 years ago. Some of what I've run across has caused me to raise an eyebrow, and some has been cause for celebration. One example of the latter category was running across a generous supply of now-retired Stampin' Up! magnetic sheets. In fact that discovery was SO exciting I think I literally exclaimed aloud! You see, I've been out of magnetic sheets recently, and consequently have been struggling with storing my new "Delicate Ornament Thinlits Dies". Seemed I only had a choice of leaving them stuck (and I do mean STUCK) to the sheet they arrived on, risking bending them out of shape every time I peeled them off, or dumping them loose into their plastic jacket. And neither option was making me very happy.

So it was particularly exciting to run across this generous stash of magnet sheets, even though retired. And now that I've Framelits-dies-storage---magnet2tamed my "Delicate Ornaments" dilemma, here's my simple tip:

  • Cut a piece of magnet sheet (5-1/8" x 6" works for this set), and (because it's peel-and-stick) adhere it to a piece of cardstock or DSP backing board exactly the same size. (Get your dimensions by measuring your storage envelope and choosing measurements slightly smaller.)
  • Arrange the dies, flat-side-down, so they fit on the magnet sheet.
  • Insert into the storage envelope.
  • Stop being frustrated!

That's all there is to it! Sometimes, it's just the little things that make me big-time happy!

 


Garden in Bloom meets Fun Frames

Get the Look - Garden in Bloom meets Fun Frame

One of today's trendy looks is creating a focal point from a grouping of individual elements. Often, the sentiment is included as one of those grouped elements, and there may also be subtle texture or other visual interest in the background. This card features all of those.

Those who've been following me for a while know that some of my favorite techniques involve applying ink in non-traditional ways. This card features two such examples.

The diagonal lines of the background represent the first such technique. To get that look, I inked a stamping sponge (just by pouncing it on the Blushing Bride pad), and then dabbed it onto the center portion of the Brushstrokes stamp. I was careful to avoid extending the ink as far as any of the edges of the stamp, as that would give a harsh edge when stamped. Rather, what I was looking for here was a softer, more cloudy look, where the inked image just kind of fades in and out. Once the ink was applied, I stamped the background at that jaunty angle for yet more visual interest.

Another favorite way I like to use ink a little "out of the box" is when I want a piece of colored cardstock that's more subtle than the intense colors of our regular cardstocks. In this case I wanted a Blushing Bride flower, but a much softer shade of it than the Fun Frame it would be backed with. So I just burnished Blushing Bride ink onto a scrap piece of Whisper White cardstock with a stamping sponge before stamping the flower image onto it. (My version of "burnish" is to rub ink down into the cardstock in a circular motion. I actually do try to rub the ink right into the cardstock, so I start with a light hand and then get firmer and firmer as I rub in circles. Every time I reload the sponge from the ink pad I am careful to tap my sponge off once or twice onto my scratch paper so I don't accidentally get a "blob" of ink when I first touch the paper I'm working on. You can always add more ink, but can't take it away if you get a "blob", ya know.) So once I decided I had the color intensity I wanted for this, I just stamped the flower image (from Garden in Bloom) right onto my newly-colored paper and then fussy-cut it with Paper Snips.

The leaves are stamped in the more usual 2-step method this stamp set was designed for..... and then also fussy-cut.

When I first introduced this card at card class last month several of the ladies groaned at the assumption they'd have to cut out the center section of the embossed Fun Frame. But no worries there; it's just it's own layer of Whisper White cardstock (1-1/4" x 1-15/16") - stamped and applied on top of the frame! Easy-peasy!

Even though none of these elements is popped up on Stampin' Dimensionals I still wanted to retain a suggestion of depth anyway. So I only applied adhesive to the center areas of the frame, doily and flower, leaving their outer edges free.

Oh! And a tip for applying the sequins: place a tiny dot of Fine-tip Glue where you want the sequin to be, then lay the sequin right over it. Remember - that's a "TINY!" dot, in order to avoid a glue smear!

Don't you think this same general layout would be fun to work up into a Christmas card? I'd love to see your examples if you do that!

 

Product List


Guest Artist - Watermelon Mini Treat Bag

P8060056Kevin Boyer has earned a reputation as an excellent stamping party and class host, and I suspect one of the ways in which she encourages awesome attendance is the darling handmade favors she prepares for everyone! Last month I had the privilege of gathering with Kevin and her friends again for a card-making class while I was visiting back on Whidbey Island.

For that event Kevin had picked a watermelon theme for her favors - using the new In Color "Watermelon Wonder", as well as various watermelon-flavored candies and gum. The main bag is cut with the Mini Treat Bag Thinlits Die, ribbon is 1" Dotted Lace Trim, and the darling seeds are actually punched hearts cut in half! (The heart punch, white ribbon, tag punches and "Yum Yum" stamp are retired, but sure still work well here.... and I think the green and lighter pink are also retired cardstock colors, as well. Guessing at Strawberry Slush and.....??????)

Thanks for yet another awesome party and take-home favor, Kevin!

Product List

Small Heart Punch
Small Heart Punch
[117193]

Monochromatic Welcome Cards

P8060057-web

Today I've been working on welcome cards for some new team members. Since Tempting Turquoise is our Paper Dreamers' team color, my welcome cards always feature that color - usually in a monochromatic theme.

For today's cards I started by spritzing a rubbing alcohol & ink-refill combo onto a section of the card.... deliberately leaving the upper left corner white to give the overall look some intentional "white space". That dried pretty quickly, and then I added the more distinct spatters with Gorgeous Grunge. The 2-step butterflies (from Garden in Bloom) were stamped onto another piece of Whisper White cardstock and then fussy-cut to maintain their true white backgrounds. Faux stitching anchors the end of the banners and self-adhesive pearls finish off the butterflies.

Here's how I got the "Welcome" letters aligned.

 Product List