Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas inspiration ... traditional, vintage and whimsical


In my last Creative Evening Workshop at our Toronto store, I talked about how easy it is to make your home look like a page out of a magazine by simply co-ordinating your home decor and gift wrapping projects. That does not mean that you have to go out and buy all new decorations or wrap every gift the same way. What I try to do is select a theme that works for my family/home and try to keep my colours limited to just a few. You will find it much easier to shop for supplies and decorations and everyone will think that you had a designer help you decorate for the holidays.

To show you what I am suggesting, I created three different inspiration boards using pins from my Pinterest boards and then I created three project boards using my diy projects and our products! 


First, here's my Pinterest Inspiration Board - I called it Traditional:
Here you will see some new decorating trends like chalkboard art combined with burlap and natural elements and textures. The colours are earthy with traditional reds and greens, snowflake white and woodland browns. 

Now here's my decorating and wrapping  ideas using the Traditional theme and colour combinations ...
Our Gingerbread collection works well for a traditional Christmas theme. I added burlap ribbons and bags, kraft and black wrapping paper and boxes, red and white striped ribbons and bitty bags, twine and red and green accents. Natural elements like felt ornaments, pine cones and evergreen branches make you feel like you are at the cottage. Gingerbread men and yummy cookie gift jars take you back to when you were a child. I added small details like a rhinestone buckle for a "Santa inspired" gift wrap and clear  glittered ornaments to remind you that it is okay to add a some sparkle to this theme.

 My next Pinterest Inspiration Board is Vintage:

This is where everything old is new again. Your colours will be more muted and it's okay if things are distressed or tarnished. But not everything has to be aged because it's okay to mix old with new. Just make sure that you use a few colours when you mix and match. And it's all about texture so mix it up - rough and soft, shiny and worn - it all goes together.

I fell in love with our vintage inspired Carneeval collection as soon as I saw it and I had a great time designing projects that would work together as part of my vintage theme ...
You can see that my reds go from burgundy to bright red to burnt orange with this collection. Felt, burlap and woodsy elements that were used in the Traditional theme also worked with this theme and I mixed them with gold and silver glass glitter and the gold Moonlight in Paris bags and boxes. Vintage holiday graphics and old font styles are perfect with this theme. Distress inks make paper tags and cotton bags look old and worn.

And my last Pinterest Inspiration Board is what I called Whimsical:
This theme can be very sweet and child like or very sophisticated and elegant depending on how you approach it. The jewel toned colours are not what one would normally call traditional Christmas but they certainly do make you smile when you look at these pictures. Think Dr. Seuss and Cindy Loo Who, colourful candies and paper cut out snowflakes. 
I combined our Celebration Trees and silver Moonlight in Paris packaging products for this theme. I used polka dots, stripes, glitter and anything that made me smile in these projects. The purest whites make every jewel toned colour pop. I showed you chalkboard art on the traditional inspiration board and I can see them here too. Snowflake paper punches make white paper bags and tags look more festive. Glitter accents and ornaments are a must for this theme. 

I hope that I have inspired you to look at your Holiday decorating and packaging projects in a different way this year. As I finish writing this post and look out my window, I can see snow falling. Tomorrow is the first day of December and I know that tonight my youngest daughter will be pulling out the advent calendar that I made for her first Christmas 13 years ago. The countdown begins!

By the way, we have just opened a new Creative Bag Pinterest account and have been starting to add lots of great packaging and party boards.You can check it out here!


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Paper Straw Wreath Tutorial

This paper straw wreath is a fun project that you can create in a couple of hours. The hardest part is waiting for the glue to dry between layers. 

You can keep the wreath sweet and simple as I have shown above or you can add a decorative element to the centre ...
like I did with the my paper pops! If you are interested in learning how to make paper pops, check out my tutorial here. I have Christmas messages on my paper pops but I could see changing these out for different holidays or to say happy birthday. I have a feeling one of these paper straw wreaths will make it's way into a party theme next year.

Here's how to make a paper straw wreath ....
 Supplies: I used a 6" wood wreath form, 4 packages of paper straws (100 straws), 2 pieces of white cardstock, gel medium, scissors and baker's twine for hanging. 
Note: I used red striped paper straws but you can use whatever colour(s) of paper straws you want to match your decor.

I covered the front of the wood wreath with a piece of white cardstock. I traced the wreath shape onto the white cardstock, cut it out and glued it down using the gel medium.

Then I tied a long piece of baker's twine to the wood form to make it easier to hang later. 

I cut a second circle out of the cardstock with a 2" hole in the centre to use as a guide when positioning the paper straws on the wood form. Tape was used to hold the second cardboard circle to the back of the wood form. Do not glue this paper to the wood form because we will throw it away when we are done. 

The paper straws will be glued to the wood wreath form in layers. Every layer will have 24 straws that are evenly spaced to form the circular shape. 
1. The first layer of straws are all full length. Position your first 4 straws, as shown in photo 1, using a generous amount of gel medium. Allow to dry.
2. Now position 5 straws inside each of the quarters, as shown in photo 2, and in the close up in photo 2c. Again, wait for this layer to dry.

3. Cut 24 straws down to six and a half inches.  These 24 straws will be positioned in between the first 24 straws and on the same layer. The second set of straws will line up with the inner edge of the wood form ... you can see a detail of this in  photo 3c. 
4. Now we are ready to build on top of our first layer of straws and start our second layer. Cut 24 straws down to five inches. Hold onto the smaller (approx. three inch) straws because we will use them in the next step. Glue the 24 five inch straws on top of and in between the first layer of straws. Be careful to evenly space out the straws, see photo 4c for a closeup of the spacing. Allow to dry before going onto step 5. 

5. The next 24 straws that we will add to the second layer are going to be the three inch straws. They will tuck into the spaces between the 24 five inch straws. As you can see in photo 5, I squeezed one end of the three inch straw so that it could easily fit in between the straws on the second layer. See photo 5c. Glue each straw in place and allow to dry.

6. And now we are ready for our third and last layer. These last 24 straws are all full length. I glued them DIRECTLY over the three inch straws on the second layer. See the detailed photo in 6c. Remove the paper circle that was taped to the back of the wood form.


Once your paper straw wreath has completely dried it is ready to be hung up for all to admire.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Burlap Wreath .. do it yourself ... no sewing required!

I presented this burlap wreath at last week's "Countdown to the Holidays" workshop. And as promised, here is the tutorial for how to create one of these yourself. 

It's a very simple - no sewing, no glue! This project requires a roll of burlap ribbon, a foam wreath base and lots of straight pins. 

Because I adore the felted holidays accessories and ornaments that we in the stores right now, I tucked one of our beautiful felt birds into my wreath to add a fun little detail.

As I already mentioned, you will need a roll of burlap  ribbon, a foam wreath and lots of straight pins. I realized when I started to cover my wreath with burlap that the softest burlap ribbon we have would work the best for creating the large soft loops. In my first two photos you will notice that I used two different types of burlap - you only need one kind, use the 4" wide burlap ribbon! I did not need the whole 10 yards for my 12" wreath, there was burlap left over to use for some of my packaging projects (yeah!). 

So the first step is to completely cover your foam wreath with burlap. Wrap the burlap around the styrofoam and use a couple of pins to keep the end of the burlap in place. 
Tip: I used "T" pins for this project.
Next you will start to make large loops with the burlap ribbon and secure each loop to the foam base using two pins under each loop. Work your way half way around the wreath, and then reverse the direction of your loops if you want your loops to look like mine. 

Leave a little bit of open space at the bottom of the wreath so you can add a burlap bow. To make my bow I formed a bow shape with the burlap ribbon and used a couple of pieces of jute to tie the bow together. Pin the bow in place on the wreath. 

To hang the wreath, I added a piece of jute to the top of the wreath as show above. The wreath is pretty enough to hang as is if you want to keep it simple. 

If you want to add a felt bird like mine, use a couple of long straight pins to hold the bird in place. I used natural coloured burlap but we also have burlap ribbon in different colours - this wreath would also be stunning in red, green or white burlap. 

My next post will be how to make the paper straw wreath that I also presented at last week's workshop, so stay tuned! Here's a sneak peek of the paper straw wreath ...

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

gifts in a jar with {free} recipe/label downloads and packaging ideas

I like using jars to package gifts and I thought that I would share with you two of my favourite recipes for jars. One recipe is for cookies and the other is for hot chocolate. Who doesn't love cookies and hot chocolate?! I also created two free digital downloads for the jar labels so that you can package your gifts in a jar like mine.










The first recipe is for M&M cookies. I layered all of the ingredients in the 4 cup jar as per the recipe directions. The label that I attached to the front of the jar with baker's twine contains the directions for making the cookie dough and baking details. 

I used some of our printed holiday tissue to decorate the top of the jar ... simply cut the tissue paper into circles, place over the jar top and secure with a ribbon. I used two layers of tissue paper on my jar. 














You will want to print these labels on white cardstock for best results.





The other recipe in a jar is for 
a peppermint hot chocolate mix. 
I made them to fit into a small 1 pint jar but if you want to make this in a larger jar just increase the recipe to fit the jar size. 

I created a label for the hot chocolate that could be inserted into the jar top to fit between the ring and top insert. 
The label has directions for how to make the hot chocolate. I printed the label on kraft cardstock but you could print it on white cardstock if you want a different look for your packaging. 
I also created the art a second way with a kraft paper look so that you could print it on white cardstock if you are unable to find kraft to print on. (We have kraft cardstock in the Creative Studio at the Toronto store only)

I tied a beautiful May Arts ribbon onto the jar lid and attached a felt acorn ornament for fun ... it's like getting two gifts in one. We have lots of beautiful felted holiday ornaments in our stores. 

If you want to give your labels an antique/vintage look like mine use distress inks on the edge of the labels after you have cut them out. I used Tim Holtz vintage photo on mine and used the blending tool to give a soft aged effect. I will be demonstrating this technique at my workshop this Thursday. 



I got excited when I realized that our 1 pint jars would fit perfectly inside this holiday gift box from our Carneeval collection. I created a fun bow for the top of the gift box from ribbons, jute, burlap and silk ribbons, Here's how I made the bow ...
I used ribbon scraps to create this bow ... if I was making a bunch of these for wedding or party favors I would purchase an assortment of ribbons and twines in different textures and widths. I cut wider ribbons in half to give some of the ribbons a vintage, worn look and used a large jingle bell for the centre. Gather all of your supplies and cut the ribbons to between 6" to 7". 

I tied jute around my gift box four times and tie a knot at the top. You will want to leave the ends of the jute long so that you can tie the ribbons to the top of the box. 

Layer your ribbon scraps in a circle like you see above. Mix up the layers so that the ribbon textures and colours are not all bunched together. 
Next I used a clear twist tie and gathered the ribbons in the middle. Place the ribbons on top of the box and use the jute to secure the ribbons to the box. Tie the jute right over the twist tie to hide the twist tie.

I squished the ribbons to make them stand up a bit and cover the top of the box. It's kind of like working hair product into your hair to give it volume!! You have to tease the ribbons a bit to get them to look right. Using baker's twine or jute, attach the jingle bell to the middle of the top few layers of ribbons. You can add a gift tag to the top by simply looping a string tied to the tag around the bell. 

I will be demonstrating these bows at the December 6th "wrap it up" workshop at our Toronto store.  

I have lots more holiday projects and packaging ideas to come ... sign up to receive my blog posts by email so that you don't miss the fun!

Friday, 16 November 2012

packing inspiration in the LCBO's holiday 2012 Food & Drink magazine

Have you picked up the newest copy of the LCBO's Food and Drink magazine? The holiday 2012 issue is in stores now and there are lot of fabulous packaging ideas using many of our products!!

I love reading this magazine, not because it is free or because the pictures are always so amazing, no I read it because I know that I am always going to find fabulous recipes and entertaining ideas. Over the years I have collected drink recipes for entertaining at the cottage, food recipes for every holiday as well as packaging and decorating inspiration. I thought that I'd share with you some of the packaging ideas that caught my eye in the Holiday 2012 edition ... of course, all of them are using products that can be found at Creative Bag!!

We have some of the most incredible ribbons in the stores right now ... the May Arts ribbons are some of my favourties. 


Ribbon, jewellery boxes, coffee bags and paper bags are used to package shortbread cookies on this page. The ideas are simple to recreate and make homemade gifts look like they were purchased at a fancy bakery. 
Wood serving cones are perfect for serving finger foods at any party ... these look so festive when filled with shortbread.
I have been packing s'more favors in our clear chinese take out boxes ... this is another twist on the same idea using our clear boxes.
This is the first recipe I can't wait to try with my girls ... homemade marshmallows!!! I love the simple packaging using our clear food bags and ribbon bows. These would make wonderful hostess and teachers gifts paired with a container of hot chocolate.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

countdown to the holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate the spirit of coming together and I have found that no matter what holiday you choose to honour ... every child loves a countdown calendar.

I designed this fun project so that it could be used during the holidays but as you will see, it could be left up all year round if you to post family pictures, notes, etc. 

I used our small cotton bags and iron on transfers to create 25 small treat bags. Inside each bag, you can add a candy, small toy or notes with activities to do that day ... like baking cookies, go to a movie, you get the idea. The bags are hung on a large wood canvas with clothespins. Sounds easy? It is. Follow along if you want my detailed instructions ....

1. Gather your supplies: large wood canvas (mine was 24x36" and can be purchased at any fine art supply store), black board paint, foam brush, sandpaper, 25 cotton bags (I used the 4x6" bags, 2 iron on transfer sheets, iron, transfer paper, white china pencil, 25 large wood clothespins, glitter tape, ribbon and E-6000 glue.
2. Paint the wood canvas with the chalkboard paint. I did two coats of paint on mine.
3. I wanted to give the edges of my chalkboard a worn look so I sanded the edges and sides of my board once the paint was completely dried. I also gave a random light sanding on a few areas of the front as well. 
4. I created a "doodle" frame that I added to the black board as a graphic element. I wanted 5 rows of five frames. Because I knew that I wanted them to be evenly spaced out and didn't want to make a mistake on my board, I traced my doodle frames onto a large piece of kraft paper first to work out the placement. 

If you want to use my doodle frames ... you can download the art here.

5 & 6. After sketching out the placement of my 25 doodle frames on the kraft paper, I used tracing paper to transfer my final design onto the blackboard. I used painter's tape to hold the kraft paper in place while I was tracing.
7. After you have completed the tracing step, remove the kraft paper and go over the doodle frames with the white china marker. This should give you a chalk like effect ... except you can't wipe it off so it will always look like what you draw.
8. I used regular size (large) clothespins for this project and white glitter tape. You can use any colour of glitter or decorative tape that you wish or just leave the clothespins natural.
9. Next choose a ribbon or twine to decorate each clothespin. I used a red ribbon with a white stitch like detail ... you may want to select something that suits your home decor. I tied a simple knot with the ribbon to secure it to one side of the clothespin by the spring and cut the ends of the ribbon on an angle.
10. E-6000 glue was used to attach the clothespins to the blackboard. I used the doodle frame as a guide and positioned each clothespin in the same part of the frame. 
11. I'm not going to go into detail about how to use the iron on transfers because I have blogged about using them many times before. You can download the art for numbers below .... just remember that the transfers have to be printed backwards to work properly and my downloads are already reversed for you. Once all of the bags have been numbered you are ready to add them to the blackboard. 


Download the second iron on page here
There was some blank space at the bottom of this transfer so I added two "ho ho ho" graphics that can be used on larger canvas bags for gift giving ... perfect for a hostess or teacher's gift. 


Here's another picture of the finished project. Here's an idea for the countdown ... each day as the kids remove a bag, replace the bag with a picture of family and friends from past holidays. That way when all of the bags have been opened you will have 25 pictures hanging up. 

Use this blackboard all year to display the kid's artwork, pictures, notes and appointment reminders. 

Getting married soon? The blackboard and clothespin concept would work to display seating plans too ... adjust the doodle frames to the number of tables you will have at the reception and add some cool graphics to the top ... you know this will be popping up in one of my wedding themed workshops next spring!

Note: large clothespins, glitter tape, E6000 glue and chalkboard paint are all available at the Toronto Creative Bag store only.