How To Guarantee Perfectly Centered And Straight Designs With Your Silhouette Cutting System

If you are a Silhouette (or Circut!) user, the video below is a serious game changer.

Take a peek. I walk you through exactly how I edit my designs in my Silhouette Studio software to guarantee perfectly centered and straight placement on my signs.

Two things to note:

  1. I use the exact same shape and method for every design. It really is super simple.
  2. This can be used for more than just signs. Think designs inside a frame, decals on a wall, etc.

Game changed, right? You can thank me later.

XOXO,

Nikki, In Stitches

PS…As always, I use Oracal 631 for my stencils. If you need to stock up, you can use my affiliate link from Expressions Vinyl, here. I buy my vinyl from them in 5 yard rolls so I can paint this entire sign with one large stencil. (This post was published in February of 2018. If you’re reading then, the rolls I just mentioned are more than 20% off. Again, click here to stock up. Happy Shopping!!) Be sure you sign up for the rewards program if you haven’t already!

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Senior Night

I do not take for granted the fact that I live in a community that appreciates my work so much that the high school basketball team ordered custom signs.

It is truly an honor to touch so many peoples’ lives, and it warms my heart to think that these plaques will travel with their owners to college dorm rooms this fall.

You never know who will take an interest in your work, so don’t be afraid to show it proudly.

And always be grateful to those that challenge your creativity and push you to be your best.

XOXO,

Nikki, In Stitches

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Teaching Is Good For My Soul

I always find my way back to a classroom.

Of course, so many of you know me through The Craft Academy, but my first love is sewing. And teaching sewing is quite literally my dream job.

There is something in the air at MADE Institute that gets my creativity flowing like no place else. I’m not sure if it’s being around other creatives…maybe their energy is contagious? Or maybe it’s knowing that for most of my students I am lucky enough to help them through their very first moments behind the wheel of a sewing machine…moments they may never forget.

Either way, teaching is good for my soul.

XOXO,

Nikki, In Stitches

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Back To My Roots

The new year is calling me back to my roots.

Back to sharing what I love, teaching, and most importantly…creating.

Hope to see you around here more often in 2018.

XOXO,

Nikki, In Stitches

PS…Take a good look at the subway sign above. Each painted line of text represents something special for the family it was given to…zip codes, anniversaries, initials, etc. The Roman numerals represent their seven grandchildren. You’d never know it, but that line only is actually a vinyl decal. This family is still growing. Just like it was an honor for me to make this sign, it will be an honor for me to update it when their family is complete.

DIY Tips

1. I cut and assemble the wood for my signs myself. Untreated, plain old pine is my favorite.

2. I use a vinyl stencil to paint the signs. Base coat the stencil first in your background color, then your desired color. You’ll be much happier with how crisp your lines look.

3. I use Oracal 631 for my stencils, and in this case, the Roman numeral decal. If you need to stock up, you can use my affiliate link from Expressions Vinyl, here. I buy my vinyl in 5 yard rolls so I can paint this entire sign with one large stencil. Be sure you sign up for the rewards program if you haven’t already!

 

 

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Work Table Wednesday: SIGNS!


Just thought I’d stop in today to share what’s on my worktable!

And invite all of you to do the same!

The last few weeks have been spent cutting, sanding, and painting…signs seem to be in high demand as fall inches closer.

I’d love to hear about what you’re working on! Feel free to post in the comments below!

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

PS…For those of you that will ask. Yup! The stained signs are done with my homemade tea and vinegar stain mix. I told you! I use it on EVERYTHING! And these are stenciled…all my stencils are made with my Silhouette!

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Create Your Own Story Wall

Every little thing on this wall means so much to me.

Special days, lyrics, favorite pictures…

It’s our story…literally from the day we met, to our most recent family photo.

It’s all there, with plenty of room to grow.

Plenty of room to fill it with even more of our story.

Ready to tell your own story?

Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

The “M” in the center is just a pre-made brown paper mache letter from the craft store. Give it a coat of black craft paint, let it dry, and then put on a layer of Martha Stewart’s Sterling Metallic craft paint…it will look exactly like punched metal.

You guessed it…the wood is all stained with my favorite tea, vinegar, and steel wool technique!


Those square frames…they aren’t really frames. Use your imagination when roaming the aisles of your craft store. Unfinished blanks from the craft store, with a piece of canvas textured poster board inserted in the center…instant (and simple!) frame.

The dates in the frames are metallic silver vinyl. I know what you’re thinking…but vinyl doesn’t stick to canvas! Nope. It doesn’t! But give the canvas a quick coat of paint, and it will stick on there forever! I use Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cake White…it’s a perfect match for the color of the blank canvas!

Because I know you’re going to ask…the dates in one “frame” are the day we met, the day we were engaged, and the day we married. The other set are our children’s birthdays. (And I Believe by The Four Tops was our wedding song!)

 

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Before And After Entryway…A Chalk Paint Makeover

Did you ever have a piece of furniture you’d been carrying with your for a long time knowing that one day you’d find the perfect project for it in the perfect place?

That was me.

See that brown wine rack up there?

You know…the one that was missing the glass in the front door long before I ever stumbled upon it nine years ago in a tiny little hodge podge antique / pottery / garden decor shop outside of Scottsdale, Arizona?

You know…the one I carted to four different houses in three different states because I *knew* one day I would find the perfect project for it in the perfect place?

Well, it turns out it just needed a partner to complete the set!

I found the purple mirror for $8 at GoodWill. A coat of white chalk paint later (plus a little gray dry brushing on top!) and my entryway is now complete!

I’ve given all of you my “go-to” method for painting and aging furniture with chalk based paints before. You can find it by clicking here! You know me…I keep it simple. Base coat, dry brushing, and wax…I promise anyone can do it!

And the part I love the most about this little makeover? The front of the wine cabinet.

IT’S POSTER BOARD!

Again, I keep things simple around here! I painted a piece of the thickest black poster board I could find grey. Cut the design using my Silhouette. Weeded it as a stencil and painted it right on there! Some of the grey paint lifted with I peeled off the stencil, but that was totally ok by me…it looks like it’s just as old as the cabinet itself! You can find the design I used for free from The Graphics Fairy here!

Enjoy!

Nikki, In Stitches

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Philly Home Show Make and Take Workshop

Just a quick note today to all my local readers…

Ditch your Valentine and come craft with me this Sunday!

I’ll be teaching dry brushing and stenciling techniques at the Philly Home Show. Everyone in class will take home the adorable project you see above.

I’ll also be demonstrating Silhouette cutting systems and how I used them to create the stencil for this project.

My class starts at 4:00pm but you can find the entire workshop line up by clicking here!

I hope to see you there!

Nikki, In Stitches

P.S. Thanks to Jen T by Design for the “hello” we use in the project. You always so graciously let me use your designs. I can never thank you enough…you are the best!

P.P.S. If you need help with your Silhouette cutting system but can’t make it to this workshop, you know you can always have access to my lessons in the Crafting With Your Silhouette monthly program. Click here for more details!

P.P.P.S Are you planning en event and would like to me to teach a workshop? I’d love to talk more about what we can create together! Nikki@NikkiInStitches.com

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Rustic Wooden Pallet Picture Frames

The wall above my sofa in my living room has been empty since the day we moved into this house. I claimed it was because I was waiting to find the perfect piece of art to fill such a large space but really I knew I wanted to build something for up there…but I didn’t know exactly what that something would be.

Fast forward a year (yes…I know. That’s a long time to have a huge blank space in your living room. My husband told me so many, many times!) and I stumbled across this post from Sweet Georgia Sweet on Facebook. I was instantly in love with the idea of pallet frames, and equally excited about finding a project I could make myself. I’m determined to literally DIY as much of our house as I can.
Give me a weekend snowed in (Thank you winter storm Jonas!), and I’ll give you pallet picture frames!

The full how-to is below!

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

Materials:

  • Raw pine wood wall planks (Don’t let the name of these scare you! They are simply really thin tongue and groove pine planks you would use to create a wainscoting look in your house. You can buy them in long 8′ planks, but those may be hard for you to not only transport but cut down to size by yourself. I actually found mine in a twelve pack of planks that were 32″ long…MUCH easier to handle!)
  • Two 1/4″ thick plywood squares, one cut to be 20″ and the other 17″
  • 1″ wood screws
  • 14″ canvas (This was a custom size I ordered from EasyCanvasPrints.com. I am NOT an affiliate for them, I just found them…and their 60% off coupon when you sign up for their email list!…and thought it was a great deal!)
  • Nail for hanging canvas
  • Mounting hangers for the back of your pallet

Equipment:

For this project I used both a chop saw and a table saw, as well as a drill and hammer. Please don’t let that last sentence scare you. You can absolutely ask your local hardware store to cut your lumber for you, just go prepared. Have your specs exactly mapped out so you can tell them precisely  how to cut each piece!

NOTE: In the directions below, I’ll work with the exact dimensions I used. You can absolutely adjust the size of these to be whatever works for your space! If you need help scaling the project, just ask!

Directions:

  •  Make your “pallet.”
    The pallet construction is VERY basic. I used nine vertical planks going across, and two horizontal cross bars behind. You can see in the picture below exactly how I have them put together…even where I screwed them together. I did cut my planks down a bit. They started at 32″ and I cut them down to 30″. (Why 30″ you ask? Because with nine planks across that gave me a square!) I also trimmed off the outside edge of the right most plank and the left most plank. Remember, these are “tongue and groove” planks so they do not have flat finished edges. I simple ran these two through my table saw to give them a nice flat clean edge! If you don’t mind the tongue and groove showing on the sides, then feel free to skip that part!

  • Paint your largest (20″) plywood square and screw it into place in the center of your pallet.
    My 1″ screws came through the pallet in the back, but I didn’t mind. If you want a more finished back of your project, you can switch here to a shorter screw. Just be sure when you screw in into place the screws are placed about 2.5″ in from all the edges. This will ensure they will be covered by the next layer of plywood!

  • Paint your last plywood square (17″) and screw it into place in the center of your pallet.
    Again, just be sure your screws are about 2.5″ in from all the edges so that your canvas will cover them!

  • Place a nail in your top most layer to hang your canvas from.
    Do a little prep work and measuring here. You want to be sure your canvas is centered. Measure to the center of your canvas, and also how far down the hanger is on the back. Adjust your nail placement accordingly!

  • Mount your finished pallet to the wall and then hang your canvas from the center! The nice things about these is that as your kiddos grow older, it’s so easy to swap out the canvases!!

PS…The “graphics” for today’s post were actually created in my Silhouette Studio software. Yup, like I’ve said so many times…you really can do so much more than just cut paper and vinyl with your Silhouette CAMEO or Portrait! If you’d like to push your Silhouette crafting to new levels, stop by and take a peek at the Crafting With Your Silhouette monthly program. I’d love to see you join us in class! Click here for more details!

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How To Stain Wood With Tea, Vinegar, and Steel Wool {Now The ONLY Way I Stain!}

Staining wood with tea, vinegar, and steel wood really couldn’t be much easier. You’ll see in the tutorial below that the steps are very simple…but just like many things in life…the secret to getting it just right is in the details!

The how-to be low is short and sweet.

But pay close attention to the tips tucked into the material section and the “IMPORTANT NOTES” afterwards…you’ll love the result even more if you take the time to get it perfect! 

Also, many of you asked for a tutorial on how I actually constructed my frames…that’s coming next week! Stay tuned!

Materials:

  • RAW wood (This is important! Any finish on your wood is going to effect how the ingredients react. If you’re using wood that already has a finish, wood that is old and you don’t know if it’s been finished/sealed/waxed etc., or if you have wood that you’ve sanded down to remove any of those things, YOU MUST FIND A PLACE TO DO A TEST PATCH! The bottom of the table top, inside a drawer, somewhere! I personally have only ever used this method on raw wood and people ask me can it be done on wood that’s been finished. There are so many possible finishes it is impossible to give a definite answer. You MUST test it first to see!)
  •  

  • Vinegar / Steel Wool Combo (This is pretty easy. Fill an old mason jar with vinegar. Dump in a clump of steel wool you get at your local hardware store. Let it sit FOR A LONG TIME! I let mine sit for about a week. Actually, to be totally honest, I keep a batch of this stuff brewing in my garage year round so I’m ready to stain whenever the feeling hits me, but I know not everyone stains wood on a whim. You’ll see that after about a week the steel wool has almost completely dissolved and your potion looks like rusty water…that’s just right! If your steel wool floats at the top and doesn’t sink to the bottom after a few days, just get it a quick shake…most times the steel wool breaks up almost immediately. Let it sit for a few days more though before you use it!)
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  • STRONG tea (The stronger the better! And any tea will work…as long as it’s strong! An important note here is that while you can let your steel wool and vinegar mix sit for ages in your garage, the same is NOT TRUE for your tea. After awhile your tea loses it’s “umph” and won’t react. Make a fresh batch for each project!)
  • &nbsp

  • Paint brush (Don’t waste money on a fancy expensive brush! I do like a wide brush when I’m staining like this, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot!)

Directions:

  • Paint your wood with your tea and let it completely dry.
  • Paint your wood with the vinegar / steel wool mix and watch the magic happen.
  • Repeat these two steps one more time if you want a darker stain.

See what I mean? The actual technique couldn’t be easier, right?

*So here’s the quick science lesson here which may help you understand how this works, and why the set up and steps are important. At least, this is what I *think* happens here…remember I was a math major, science isn’t really my thing!*

The tannins in the tea react with the steel wool and vinegar mix. That’s why the stronger the tea (the more tannins!) and better the reaction you will get. Make sense? The first coat, the tea, will really not do much. After it dries, you may not even be able to see a difference in the color of your wood! But the magic happens when you then apply the steel wool / vinegar mix…You will instantly see the color change!

IMPORTANT NOTE #1: Yes, you will see an instant change in color when you apply the steel wool / vinegar combo, but that’s not where the change stops. Your wood could continue to darken for an hour or two! DO NOT jump to repeating the steps until you’ve let your piece completely dry. You may find that after a few hours, you really don’t need/want that extra coat and once you put it on there, there’s no going back!

IMPORTANT NOTE #2: You don’t have to do both steps again. Maybe you put the tea on again and it darkened just enough? Don’t feel like you have to finish with a coat of the steel wool and vinegar.

IMPORTANT NOTE #3: Be careful at your corners! Really be careful anywhere the mixtures could pool or where you may accidentally get a little more, like at the edges of your pieces. Those places are really getting an extra coat, so they may be end up being darker! Don’t overload your brush and you’ll minimize the possibility of this happening!

IMPORTANT NOTE #4: If you’re like me, you’ll probably want to finish this with a coat of wax. I just use clear. Let the stain itself do the work for you. Let the wax just give it that nice polished look!

So now my little secret is out! Have fun staining away! And send me pics of your finished pieces…I’d love to see!

Nikki, In Stitches

 

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