Sunday, 26 March 2017

One cut, three projects

Hello Silhouette fans! Maria here again today to share with you how I made three scrapbook pages using just one Silhouette cut!

If you are anything like me, you like to make the most of your paper and use every single bit of your scraps. The same goes with what you cut with your Silhouette machine!

For this set of projects I used the Sunburst Square design from the Silhouette Store, and used it in three different ways: as a stencil, using the normal cut and using the negative space.


- Silhouette Cameo or Portrait
- Scrapbook cardstock and paper
- All the other ancilleries to finish off your layouts or projects.


This is a very straightforward process: On your Silhouette Studio, open your desired file. I went for the Sunburst Square, but I think other background cuts would work as well. This design comes with an outer box that I don't want to use, so I ungroup the shape in order to delete the outer box.

Once I have deleted the square, I selected all the shapes again and grouped them all so I don't accidentally modify any of them.

Now I decided to flip my design because one of the ideas I had for my layout was to place the photo on the right had side. This step is totally optional, and not necessary at all for backgrounds which are symmetrical. However, I wanted to flip it to have the photo on the right, as sometimes the back of the cardstock doesn't look as "clean" as the front after a cut. As it happens, and you'll be able to see below, in the end I didn't flip my cardstock! Simply select your shape, right click on your mouse and choose "Flip Horizontally"

I wanted to add a bit more interest to my cut, so I added some lines to the sunburst which I will perforate so I can hand-stitch throught them. Just add the lines and position them where you want, and when it comes to the cut settings, select them all carefully and choose perforate.

And that's it! Now you have one cut that you can use in three different ways!

Here are the projects that I created with this cut:

1) Cheeky Smile layout: I used my cut as a stencil. I postitioned it over some blue cardstock and I used acrylic paint and sprays to create the splatters. 

2) Usual Suspects layout: My original plan was to flip the cut and use the other side, as this side was all full of white splatters and ink. As it happens, I actually loved the way that this looked! The splatters give certain texture and interest but it is not obvious at all at first sight.

3) Wonderful You layout: I used the remaining bits of my cut, which I had already added perforated lines to. I hand stitched some of the "rays" (didn't use all of them in the end) and created my layout.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has encouraged you to make the most of your cuts!
Read you soon,


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Introducing NEW Chalkboard Cardstock - Family Menu Board

Family Menu Chalkboard by Janet Packer for Silhouette UK.  Make a custom menu board using chalkboard cardstock. with a FREE header shape cutting file.


Janet here with a project using a NEW product for the UK, Silhouette Chalkboard Cardstock.

Family Menu Chalkboard by Janet Packer for Silhouette UK.  Make a custom menu board using chalkboard cardstock with a FREE header shape cut file..

The cardstock surface is similar to that of the Silhouette Chalkboard Vinyl, but slightly smoother. It is of similar thickness to medium-weight cardstock having a peel off backing sheet covering a sticky adhesive surface. I experimented (played) for a while before making my project and found the Silhouette Chalkboard Cardstock had these properties:
  • Chalk, chalk pen, white marker, and Silhouette Sketch Pen all wipe off.
  • Vinyl adheres well, but also can be removed completely.
  • It cuts beautifully, and with experimentation can be partially cut to the backing (like vinyl), or cut all the way through (like regular cardstock).
  • The backing is VERY sticky, so no need for extra messy adhesive.
  • Pieces can be layered, or used back-to-back, for sturdier projects.
I had a lot of fun and was very pleased with how my family menu chalkboard turned out.


Family Menu Chalkboard by Janet Packer for Silhouette UK.  Make a custom menu board using chalkboard cardstock. with a FREE header shape cutting file.

What You'll Need
Black Picture Frame (**)
Silhouette Chalkboard Cardstock
White Matte Adhesive Vinyl
Clear Transfer Material
White Marker Pen
Silhouette Pen Holder
Downloaded Typewriter Key Font like LW Type Print
Downloaded Sketch Font like Rivka Wilkins' Madilyn Font
Downloaded Plain Font like LW Perfect Type Font


STEP 1: Draw the Frame
Measure and draw your picture frame in Silhouette Studio®.  In the diagram the black lines correspond with the frame edges, and the blue line to the glass/picture size.  The cardstock sheets are US Letter size so you'll need a frame with picture size the same or slightly smaller.

STEP 2: Make Days of the Week
Type M, T, W, etc. in the typewriter key font on one line. Drag the solid bar to the left to make the text into a column. Further help on how to do this can be found in this project Vertical Text Card. Resize the text and space it out using Line Spacing to fit the frame aperture size.  Cut these from white vinyl.

STEP 3: Add Menu Items
Use a sketch cursive font to type out your menu items, you can either write in one big block with wide line spacings, or make separate lines of text for each item. If you plan to change the items, it may be better to make separate lines. Once you have text size, character spacing, and position as you want (plus line spacing, if you have one big block) you can write it onto the cardstock with a pen. I used the Silhouette Pen Holder and a favourite white gel pen. Add a cut line to trim your chalkboard cardstock to size.

N.B. If you are tempted to ungroup your words and 'fine tune' individual letter spacing, it is advisable to make a complete copy first and place it off to the side, as you won't be able to edit the words later once the letters are ungrouped.

Draw your menu items, and cut the chalkboard on your Silhouette. Use the Adhesive Cardstock cut settings as a starting point, test cut and adjust accordingly. Then apply the vinyl letters with clear transfer material.

Family Menu Chalkboard by Janet Packer for Silhouette UK.  Make a custom menu board using chalkboard cardstock. with a FREE header shape cutting file.

STEP 4: Make a Header
Make a complete frame to fit around your project if it is small, or make just a header if it is bigger.  I designed my own curved header shape. You can either design something similar (as in the diagram below) or download the centre piece here.

The downloaded piece (Chalkboard Header File) just needs to be welded on to a rectangle the size of the top of your frame.

Family Menu Chalkboard by Janet Packer for Silhouette UK.  Make a custom menu board using chalkboard cardstock. with a FREE header shape cutting file.

STEP 5: Decorate the Header
Make a text decoration for your header to cut in vinyl, or write with a pen. Use a font which complements the days of the week and which will cut or write well.

If you want curved text, curve it around a shape which reflects the shape of your header (see Niki's post here).

Once your design is sorted, draw with a pen and pen holder and then cut, or if using vinyl, cut the vinyl and the cardstock and then apply vinyl.

STEP 6: Assembly and Finishing Touches
To finish, place the large chalkboard piece in the frame leaving the backing layer in place. Replace the glass and backing pieces. Remove the protective backing from the adhesive on your header or frame and press it onto the frame.
(optional) Cut an additional piece of shaped cardstock to match that of the part which stands proud of the frame. Stick it on to the back, so the part that stands proud of the frame is a double thickness, otherwise leave that section with the backing paper on.

Family Menu Chalkboard by Janet Packer for Silhouette UK.  Make a custom menu board using chalkboard cardstock. with a FREE header shape cutting file.

(**) Note on the frame: I re-cycled an old certificate frame, originally with a bevelled edge. I covered the rather unpleasant red-brown stain with matte black acrylic paint and also turned it around, having the flat rear frame surface facing front.

I love chalkboard items and using this chalkboard cardstock is an easy way to obtain a very neat and effective look. I hope you'll try it.

Bye for now,

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chalkboard cardstock  white vinyl clear transfer tape

Friday, 24 March 2017

Rhinestone Setter

Just a quick post today as  I recently got my hands on the rhinestone setter and I'm afraid that everything may have to sparkle now. Using this tool will allow gems to be set on to an item which can not be placed under an iron. 

To try out the setter I choose a design from the design store for a rhinestone heart and loaded the rhinestone template material into my cutter. (I would normally have used the backing board at this point to arrange the gems but I was eager to test the setter)   

 The template was placed sticky side down and a handful of gems sprinkled over. The rhinestone kit comes with a brush that somehow manages to get all the gems into the cutouts the right way up, ready for setting (which saves a lot of time on larger designs).


The rhinestone setter takes 3 batteries (not included) which fit into the bottom of the machine. once you have inserted the batteries and replaced the cover you will still need to turn the setter on this is done by pushing the blue bar towards the metal tip. Now the setter is in standby mode and will not heat the tip until the button is pressed and held in.

It is recommended that the tip is allowed to heat for 15 seconds and then it is simply a matter of touching the tip against the rhinestone long enough to melt the glue.
 I found that I didn't need to keep the tip heating all the time as I was only using small gems. It's such a simple thing to do to add a gem or two but wow doesn't make a difference.

I can see this little tool being used regularly at craft fairs to add names to items, just bring a template of letters. It will also be a handy craft tool during power cuts.
Add a little sparkle to the world!
Don't get the iron out someone might give you a shirt.


Cute rhinestone heart swirl Design ID #6625


Thursday, 23 March 2017

PixScan from Start to Finish

Hey there, Niki here again with a confession. I have had a PixScan mat for over a year now and I have never used it. Yes I am ashamed of myself, but am going to put that right today and also hope this tutorial helps those who have also never used theirs. I was scrapping with friends recently, there were 12 of us and out of those 12, five had a PixScan mat that they had never used, so I'm guessing that there are a few more people out there in the same situation!

There are two important things to note about using a PixScan mat:
1. when you use it for the first time you have to go through an extra step to calibrate your camera. This is an annoying but easy step, and once it is done you won't have to do it again, until your change cameras/phones.
2. You cannot just stick a piece of patterned paper to your PixScan mat and watch it magically cut out all the things on the page. You have to do some work to create the cut file.

So, here is how to do that first step: calibrate your camera. There are plenty of tutorials out there but I didn't find one that was absolutely complete so I'm here writing my own and I really hope you are able to follow it and get through this step without any hiccups.

Step 1 - click on the PixScan icon on the top left of your screen. This will open the Pixscan window on the right side.

Step 2 - Click on the 'Import from File' triangle and another option for 'camera calibration' will appear. Click on 'show calibration text card' and a screen of dots will appear on your screen. You also have to set the paper size to A4 - this is a dropdown selection box next to the option to show the test card. You now need to print this Text Card. Simply go to File - Print, and wait for it to pop out of your printer.

Step 3 - one you have your white piece of paper printed with tonnes of dots all over it (the Calibration Test Card to use its proper name), take a photo of it with your camera or phone - whichever device you will be using with your PixScan mat. I used my iphone. IMPORTANT - when taking the photo, you must take it straight down (no angles) and you must not have the edges of the paper showing in your photo. You do not have to have every single dot in your photo, so miss off a few rows from each edge to acheieve this - ensure your camera screen is full of dots, and dots only, taken from above and take your photo. I found this worked better in good light so there weren't any shadows to deal with.

Now you need to get your photo off your phone and onto your computer. Initially I thought the best way to do this would be to email it to myself. I did so but when I opened the file in my Silhouette software I got an error message. I tried to send it to myself via Facebook Messenger, and same problem. I SHOULD have plugged my phone into my computer and taken the file that way becuase when emailing it to myself or sending it via FB it somehow changed the properties of the photograph and the software didn't recognise it. An alternative way to do this if you don't want to mess around with cables and the way I did it, was to save the photo to Dropbox, (I have the Dropbox app on my phone and a Dropbox account) then open the file on the computer.

Once your photo of the dots is safely on your computer, under the Camera Calibration menu on the right of the screen, click on the + sign, which will prompt you to open a file - browse through until you find your photo and open it.

Once you've clicked to open your photo, the software should automatically recognise it and begin to calibrate. It should come up with the name of your camera - see under the Camera Calibration on the right side, there is 'None', 'Auto' and now 'Apple iphone' - that's my phone and the software recognised and named this all by itself. That is it, calibration done and you should not have to go through this process again.

So now on to the fun part - actually using the PixScan mat to cut something that is pre-printed.  Put your pre-printed design onto your PixScan mat. It has to sit within that 8x10" (ish) box on the mat, so you can't do this with an entire sheet of 12x12. I choose a small piece of patterned paper that had multiple butterflies all over it. Once on my mat I took a photo of it, using the camera I have now already got calibrated (my iPhone). I transferred the photo from my phone to the computer (by the same method, Dropbox, but using my cable might have been quicker), and then I went to File-Open, browsed for my photo and opened it.

The software then calibrates the image and imports it onto an on-screen PixScan mat. The PixScan mat on the screen appears all by itself, no need to set this in the Design Page Settings.

Now that the image is on the screen, you need to treat it as any other PNG or JPEG that you have imported. At the moment it is just a pretty image, there are no cut lines. I therefore used the Trace tool to trace the butterflies. The Trace tool picked up all the middle parts of the butterfies too and some of the outer edges of the piece of patterned paper. I therefore clicked 'Trace Outer Edge', which then provided me with some red cut lines.

Now that I have my cut lines, I needed to tidy it all up a bit - I released the compound path so they were all individual parts, deleted all the half butterflies around the edges and any other extra cut lines I didn't need.

  Once happy that only the full butterflies were traced and that all the other cut lines were deleted, I selected all the butterflies, and opened the offset menu. I knocked the offset down to 0.045 and clicked 'apply'

 I then removed the inner cut files, leaving only the offset so that my red cut lines were nicely outlining my butterflies - my fine is now ready to cut.

So I opened up my cut settings, loaded my PixScan mat into my machine and sent to my Silhouette. It then reads the registration marks on the mat, and cuts out the cut lines.

 Here are my finished butterflies, all beautifully cut in just a few moments.

 So to all those people who, like me, have had their PixScan mat for some time but un-used - I really hope this tutorial encourages you to get it out of the packaging and give it a try!

Happy scrapping xx 


PixScan Mat