Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Goodbye Summer.......no really

Vaux LeVicomte ~ Carla Coulson
As of today I was still operating under the assumption it was summer, still reading the newspaper on the veranda, still wearing linen (though technically incorrect), and still seeing green wherever I looked. I ignored all the blogs posting fall recipes, fall chores, fall clothing. But fall came today, cold, gray and wet and hard to ignore. OK, OK ..............goodbye summer of 2009 and goodbye to vibrant green.

But one last look at green in it's most fashionable way, here's another photo from stylish blog Dust Jacket Attic who I posted about on Friday..........my favorite image. So one last goodbye to green for now, but HELLO........
..............to Clive Owen. He's back as Man of the Week at Dust Jacket Attic by request and you can thank me. I am one of those women who has never even looked at another man in a very long marriage (kind of had a thing for Robert Redford though he kind of looked like my husband so that didn't count) but jeez.......he just turns me into the silliest, middle-aged woman ever. It's not like I am ever going to meet him or anything.

Hello Fall.
Isn't this the most gorgeous apple pie ever?
I found it over at the blog The Bottom of the Ironing Basket and
just had to share. She has a great blog too.
If this is what fall looks like, I'll have a slice.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some Serious blog Style ~ Dust Jacket Attic

One of the things I missed the most this past summer was visiting new blogs, commenting, and the pure energy I absorb from seeing and reading such creative blogs. I don't know how to tell you this but as much as I love gift wrapping, I need to mix up the posting subjects a bit coming up. The slant of this blog will always be the pleasure and beauty of gifting, but I really do miss my Glamour post days so they will definitely be back on the fall post schedule. I was an interior designer for 20 years (and still am) so you might see a bit more on that subject too. I love anything lovely, beautiful, stylish, original, colourful, creative, fashionable,or artistic, so if I see anything that captures any of those elements, I will be sharing it. Gift Wrap lessons and inspiration will be ongoing. So let's get this pretty mix going..........aren't these illustrations that I borrowed from the very clever and stylish blog Dust Jacket Attic simply stunning?

I love this blog, the layout, her keen design eye, her play list, and why she used the blog name of Dust Jacket Attic . She is a collector of 1st Edition Books with their original artwork......what a great connection. Dust Jacket Attic is one of my summer blog finds and she recently featured these fashion illustrations by artist Alena Lavdovskaya that were done for the Russian department store TSUM. I knew you would enjoy them as much as I did and I know you will love her blog. That's the other thing I missed in my self-absorbed summer of only blogging about gift wrapping..............telling you about the talent that is out there in this blogging world of style. I have a whole list of blogger women I want to share, so add that to the fall post list too.

I don't know what the Australian blogger girls are drinking in their water over there, but it sure gives them some serious style. Every blog has a unique style and I was trying to define what it was that I enjoyed about Dust Jacket Attic whenever I visited. Oops................maybe it's her Man of the Week feature? Nope, she replaced Clive Owen weeks ago, so that can't be it, though I admit that I had more fun commenting with him looking at me on the sidebar. But that's just a personal preference. I think it's the feeling I am wandering around a beautiful department store. I put it together today when I borrowed these gorgeous illustrations.

Go visit and tell her to bring Clive back.
She'll know who is sending you and make sure your speaker is on too.

All illustrations from ~ blog Dust Jacket Attic

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gift Wrap 101 ~ Lesson Two

Gift Wrap Lesson Two - How to measure, cut, and fold edges with no visible tape showing. If you missed Gift Lesson One click here for a look at what tape to use, it does make all the difference and is an essential tip. This gift box also shows the easy use of 2 somewhat-unmatched ribbons and how they can work with the right gift wrap colour. I will show you easy ribbon tying in this series ahead. A friend told me today when it comes to gift wrapping, she is always too matchy-matchy, study your supplies and look outside the colour box. This package is certainly helped with it's intense boost of topper colour in vibrant coral. Look for little items like this fragranced silk sachet as package embellishments. Makes the gift smell heavenly too, just another sense other than visual to make a gift more special.

This is the type of blog post that has the risk of making me look obsessive. I assure you I am not. It just happens to be what I do for a living these days so for me there is no such thing as being too particular. Gift wrapping should first and foremost be a pleasure. A creative task where the result is responsible for passing along the emotion attached to your gift. This is one technique that will get you started in measuring for gift wrap. I say one because truthfully I am showing my box upside down to show you measuring and once a gift box is filled I do not flip it over. My gifts are layered,wrapped and laid in a precise order so flipping the box would jumble the contents more than necessary. I actually do my fold to the back to accommodate a filled box but it is a more difficult technique so we will get back to that only if you tell me you need it. It is a good trick when you are dealing with a package and contents are delicate or fragile. Start by placing your box on the paper so you have one clean edge that doesn't require cutting. As a guide these side edges are just a tad more than the halfway point of your box height. This is the part where most have trouble, they just leave too much paper on the sides and it becomes awkward to fold crisply. It can be trimmed after if you have too much side paper, but it can be awkward so better to be precise as possible ahead of this step. Some place their box in the center ( I don't know why) and cut both sides, do this and you lose any hope of having those cut-off strips to use later.

Just by habit, I always cut on the right and that dimension is the same as your left. This leaves you with a nice size cut-off that we will discuss saving and using in a multitude of ways. I have already checked that the length is enough to cover the box with a bit of extra. But do not cut this length yet, just make sure you have the proper length and we will get to this step soon. As a guide, your length is the box size plus about 3"- 4". As an example, this box is 6 . 5" across by 4" high so total paper length would be 6.5" + 6.5" + 4" + 4" + 4" extra = 24" - 25" length. This is obviously more important to check if you have the size restriction in sheet paper (usually 20" x 28) not so much if it is a full roll unless the box is huge, huge. Some like to use those handy paper cutter tools but I should point out that they seem to work better on thinner paper, they seem to start-snag on better quality gift wrap or on a heavier or classic laid quality. I find I have better control with a good pair of sharp scissors but will use the paper cutter tool at Christmas when I am using larger rolls.

I should also point out at this time that I am not nearly as precise as you might imagine. I doubt my right-sided scissor line is exactly straight nor do I worry about it that much. I think the more you worry about it while the task is at hand the more likely you are to wobble with your scissors. Be decisive in your action and you will get close enough. Your edges are going to be folded up and tidy when we are done so no need to get obsessive about getting a perfectly straight cutting line. It is certainly a task that gets better with practise so use newsprint to repeat the action until you feel reasonably ready to cut into a good paper. If still nervous, always leave a bit more on the sides and you can trim closer before you finish. And if you are really, really nervous, mark your lines with a faint pencil line and yardstick before cutting. Better to be safe than sorry.

Your first piece of double-sided tape is on the underside and holding your sheet so you can move on with this gift wrap. Note that I am not folding a finish edge, for a good reason in this particular case. I am using the clean edge (uncut) so it's already perfectly straight. This particular paper is a heavier weight so I am trying to minimize the bulk of 2 folded edges on top of each other. If you are cutting both ends as you would in a roll and the paper is thinner, then you may want to fold both edges for a more finished look.

Bring the other side up and over and trim off the excess. You can see (look closely near the black handle) my extra 2"-4" of paper I am leaving. I need that for folding the crisp finish edge that will be the underside of this box.

Once the excess rear paper is trimmed off then fold your finish edge and here is the important part........

Place small pieces of double-sided tape on the inside to hold this edge down. Why? It will make your side folding that much easier in the end. Trust me on this. That edge is going to want to move when you get to the sides and that is where it can be frustrating in doing these finish details. My finish edge fold is approximately 2", wider than you might think necessary, but I like to leave myself a little leverage and room for the line of tape shown in the next step.

I use pieces of double-sided tape along the box length, don't make the mistake of going past the box length and taping the side paper portion that still has to be folded. It is going to help you maintain the side folding so it is important. If anything, I think the problem is that people don't use enough tape and all those gaps cause a messy look. If it is not perfectly smooth, remember my earlier comment, double-sided tape can be generally lifted up and placed back into a smoother position. Do the proper prep and your gift wrapping efforts will become surprisingly easy.

An underside with a nice crisp folded finish edge and no visible tape.

This isn't the only way to fold in the sides, but I do find gently pushing on the center seems to move the paper into natural angled folds. Use your hand or a folding bone to make these edges as crisp as possible. Again, practise this because it is repetition that will make your folding automatic and decisive. It results in a beautifully crisp folded edge, the true mark of a good gift wrapper.

Don't be stingy with the double-sided tape. Use what you need to hold the paper down well. Remember, the beauty of double-sided tape is that no one is going to see it, so tape away. By this point they are going to be impressed with your skill, the tape is the last thing they will notice. You can see I use two longer pieces on the angle instead of one small piece just at the top. NOTICE THAT YOU ARE TAPING ON THE INSIDE OF THE FOLDED FLAP......EVERYWHERE. Using more tape and in better positions will eliminate those somewhat-sloppy side gaps. Fold your bottom side up , then top one over.

Do a final fold on the flap and yes, more tape on the inside to hold it down nicely. How much tape will depend on the thickness of your paper.

Voila, no more visible tape!

Coming up ~ Gift Wrap 101 ~ Lesson Three
How to do a four-sided ribbon tie with flat bottom and no wobbly bottom.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gift Wrapping ~ Versailles style

Don't worry, just hold on to those scissors, the next Gift Wrap Lesson is coming up this week for those of you who are waiting to move on to Step 2. Sounds like many of you have stocked up on double-sided tape after Lesson One even if I do get in big trouble with 3M. I am sure 3M has a good double-sided tape. But just a small break here, something to motivate you before you progress to more practical concerns of how to cut and wrap paper (I know most of you already know how but are likely just indulging me). I just had to share one of the Wrap room gifts I did for a customer who wanted to give her friend a special birthday gift. Because the question often come up.........what do you get the woman who has everything? This Wrap Room idea might be just the thing, around here I refer to it as the gift that keeps on giving. Everybody has gift giving and every time she goes to wrap, she is going to mentally thank you.......... again and again.

If you have seen the new Wrap Room collection on my website, you know each presentation box is filled with wrapping supplies, gift wrap, ribbon, tissue paper, embellishments. But I realized you might not be seeing how this all looks when someone opens it up if you were giving it as a gift. I do have to say if something is this much fun to wrap, then it sure must be fun to open.........my intention when I created this concept. This is a new collection called Versailles which isn't on the website until next week but I couldn't wait to give you a sneak peek. The paper colours are intense and dramatic, red, orange and blue papers with a gilded damask pattern and the showstopper is the wide satin ribbons in equally bright colours that I had imprinted with Versailles in shiny gold. Purple satin ribbon on orange paper, hot pink on the blue, and regal red on red paper. Or any combination you like, that's the fun of this Versailles collection, I designed it so any paper and ribbon colour combination would work. I also wanted it to be a bit over-the-top, spectacular and drop dead gorgeous...............like I imagine Versailles was in it's stylish heyday with women dressed in gowns of high colour.

Customers can add extras, personal petite gifts from the Small Gifts & Embellishments section on the website that add to the fun of opening a Wrap Room gift. In this case it was a box of stationery note cards from France, extra spools of ribbon, Paris labels, and a MOR Lip Delight tied up in hand-dyed silk. The two tissue papers in this collection are chartreuse green and a vivid melon orange and I think the black and white stripe taffeta ribbon adds a fabulous finish. This new Versailles collection is the tabletop and demonstration pattern I am using in a upcoming event so you will soon see it's remarkable colour combinations.

Don't ask me what my favorite Wrap Room collection is.........I simply love them all. I just love the way they all look different and everyone can have their own little Wrap Room in a box. It does appear that women love the elegance and subdued glamour of the Paris Pink as shown above. An early order favorite and rightfully so..........feminine but sophisticated. Next up on the style board are Wrap Room collections that hit a more modern note. Modern sounds simpler doesn't it? Not so simple.......it will be my biggest gift wrapping challenge yet. Restraint is always more difficult don't you think?

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gift Wrap 101 - Lesson One

I did promise to get a bit more practical in showing you gift wrapping tricks of the trade. This is the first post in a series so you have some good basic skills for the holiday season ahead. I will use this gift shown above to illustrate a number of techniques and tips in a series of posts over the next week. How to go 'tapeless", how to measure and fold for neat edges, how to tie ribbon so the bottom is flat, and what to do with the gift wrap strips that are always at hand. Some of this I have touched on before but I have photographed step by step for those of you who are interested in learning the extra steps to a professionally wrapped gift. Gift wrapping is an art......but as I always say, it is not a difficult one, you just have to have the right tools at hand.

Lesson # 1 - DO NOT USE THIS TAPE if you want a perfect gift. Yes, it even says Gift Wrap Tape and though 3M may be the industry leader, I really wonder if they have tried it. I'm not going to get into a lecture about scotch tape (nor am I only talking about 3M) but I will tell you this about any satin finish tape..........it is really, really obvious and it doesn't stick that well on good quality paper which means you have to use a ton of it and then it really does look a mess. There is a much better way.

This is how your gift package will look if you actually use any satin finish Gift Wrap Tape. You really can do better than this and I am going to tell you how..........

If I go to all the trouble to wrap a beautiful package with pretty gift wrap and gorgeous ribbon, I do not want to see tape......it's that simple. I don't think anyone does. I certainly know that my customers don't want me to send out a package with obvious scotch tape all over the place. Your absolute best tool for gift wrapping is double-sided tape. It is the single best tip I can give you. It is not difficult to use, actually it is easier as it does allow some movement if you make a mistake. As you will see in the next post, it is used on the underside of all your paper edges so if you have to move your paper a bit to pull tighter no one is the wiser. When you find double-sided tape, stock up on it as it can be difficult to find in some areas. I can promise you once you make the switch to "tapeless" wrapping, you will never use a visible tape again. In fact, you might even start to feel downright superior about your new find and technique.
My second essential tip is that you remove the spool and put it into a office tape dispenser. This means you only have to use one hand for pulling a piece of tape, the other hand is where it should be......holding and taping the paper tightly in place. To try and pull tape with a regular dispenser is cumbersome and impossible. No one can do this nicely, not even me. When you purchase double-sided tape, you have to pull off the first bit before it gets to the part that is sticky on both sides. I am embarrassed to admit that when I first bought double-sided tape it took me awhile to figure this out.

Double-sided tape eliminates any visible tape so your folded edges are beautifully finished. Doesn't that look much nicer?

I am showing you the underside of this sample gift for two reasons. First to show you how the switch to double-sided tape eliminates all the messy tape along the bottom..............so much better don't you think? My next post will show you how to use double-sided tape and how to measure and fold your paper. The post may go over 2 days as it is photographically longer. After that I will show you how to tie ribbon so the bottom is flat as you see here. When I learnt this technique, I couldn't believe how much nicer it was to eliminate the wobbly knot at the bottom that results from using wider ribbon. For those of you who feel a four-sided ribbon tie is too intimidating, I will also show you a easy way to get the same look. You are going to be such pros at this gift wrapping thing!

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Friday, September 11, 2009

The week that got away..........

It isn't that I haven't been thinking of you...........just had one of those weeks where it got away from me. Along with busily shipping out new Wrap Room gift wrap sets (so fun to package up), I was working on a floor that we weren't sure wasn't going to heave apart. My studio has a dyed radiant-heated concrete floor (toasty in the winter) and runs under the entire 120' length of our house. It became a mystery over the past few weeks as it turned darker, the darker that comes from water leaking everywhere.Ohdear........the lawyer was here, the engineer was here, and through a bit of deducing the potentially serious problem was solved. The good news is our house will remain standing, I don't have to move my business, and I will be toasty warm again this winter. I am also doing my first Gift Wrap presentation for a lovely group of women at an event at the end of the month and trying to get organized to inspire some gift wrap beauty. I am also doing "Gift Wrapped" centerpieces for the tables (which I will show you when they are done) which I hope to finish off when we return from an out-of-town wedding on Sunday. So it wasn't that I wasn't thinking of you............it just was one of those weeks! I do have a good blog post list going so I do plan on being up to speed on gift wrap posts next week.
A heartfelt thank you to all the readers who commented with their good wishes and congratulations to our son's recent good news. It was wonderful for him to read all your good wishes. Have a great weekend........I get to dress up for a wedding tonight!

Photo by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jumping for Joy.............

We got these best news on Wednesday and we are all jumping for joy!

Remember in the spring, I told you our son was home for 5 months to study for a

big medical board-exam, his biggest exam ever.

He passed with flying colors!

Soon he will head out to his clinical rotation sites in the U.S.
We'll be back to the empty nest....but a happy one.
If our kids are happy, then we're happy. True?

Well done Austin........................very well done!

We are embarrassingly proud of you (and we should be)

It's a holiday weekend ahead......

so have a little fun. We will be for sure!

Something that makes you feel younger!

Coming up........gift wrapping posts of a practical nature.
Get those scissors ready.
Top photo by Chris Everhard ~ Sarah Kaye/Second photo -unknown/Bottom photo by Polly Wreford ~Sarah Kaye


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