Monday, April 22, 2013

My eCraft Electronic Cutting Machine

I’ve been eyeing electronic cutting machines for quite a while and finally settled on the Craftwell eCraft.  I chose it because I wanted a reasonably priced machine that I could cut my own designs on. I did a little research before buying it, so I was aware that there would be a bit of a learning curve and I was also aware that some people outright hated it.  However, it made #2 on Top 10 Reviews for electronic cutters, so I figured it couldn’t be all that bad.  I was right.  It does have its quirks, but overall I am very happy with it.

Here’s a card I made with it last weekend.


Everything on the front of the card was cut with the eCraft.  The design behind the flower is one of my cut and fold patterns.  I drew it in Open Office Draw and saved it as a .svg so I could import it into the eCraftShop Pro software that comes with the eCraft.  The flower is from the Cut Flower Easter Cut-it set from Lettering Delights.  The frame is from the Delilah Tags set and the font is Taiga.  I cut all the white pieces from linen textured vellum and the turquois pieces are cut from card stock.

The eCraftShop Pro software that comes with the eCraft is extremely limited.  If you want to separate the layers of a layered .svg, and you most likely will, then you will definitely need some third party software to do that. I asked the folks at eCraft if the ability to separate layers of .svg files was going to be built into the software in the future and was informed in no uncertain terms that there were NO plans to make ANY modifications eCraftShop Pro.

After fighting with the software for about a week, I went in search of an alternative and found Make the Cut (MTC). MTC has a plug-in  for the eCraft so that you can send files directly from it to the machine, but be warned, it is extremely slow!  If I’m going to be cutting a lot of shapes, I typically manipulate the shape in MTC, save each layer as a separate .svg and then import it into eCraftShop Pro to send it to the eCraft from there.

One of the features of the eCraft that is slightly misleading is that it does not require a cutting mat.  While that is technically true, you DO need to use a carrier sheet with most papers.  When I say carrier sheet, I mean you will need to place a piece of cardstock under the paper you are cutting.  If  you set the blade depth properly, you will be able to use the same carrier sheet multiple times before you have to replace it.  To keep it from slipping, I use a repositionable glue stick to adhere the paper I’m cutting to the carrier sheet.  Be warned though, you do NOT want to put that adhesive anywhere where it will get on the rollers!  They are a pain to clean.  Also, you don’t need to use very much adhesive at all.  The instructions on the glue stick I have say to use two coats.  You don’t need that much.  One very light coat is plenty.

So, after all that, am I happy with my eCraft? Yes. 

If I could turn back time, would I buy it again?  Most likely, given the same budget.  If I could double my budget, I think I’d probably go with a Zing instead.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pinwheel Bouquet

I have some more freebies for you today from My Memories, three cute sets of pinwheels.  Just download and print them as-is or use the template to design your own.  You do not have to have My Memories Suite to use the templates, but it does make it easier.  These freebies will only be available until April 21st, 2013, so be sure to grab yours today.

Here’s an encouragement card I made with three of the pinwheels.  Instead of printing them full size, I resized mine to 2.5 inches.  I found some background paper in my stash that matches the colors perfectly.


This project needs to be printed on both sides of the paper, so play with the placement and sizing on some scrap paper with your printer in draft mode first.

Here are links to the downloads:

If you would like to purchase your own copy of My Memories Suite 4, be sure to use coupon code STMMMS97442 to receive $10 off the software plus a $10 gift certificate to spend in the My Memories store.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Making Photo and Page Masks For My Memories

Today, I learned how to make masks to use in My Memories Suite.  It all started with a post on the Facebook group.  One of the members posted a page that had been created in another program using a page mask and wanted to know if she could do the same thing in My Memories and apply paper from a specific kit to the mask. I had been playing with creating .svg files to use in MM so, I thought I’d see if I could make a mask as well.

So, I broke out the crayons and scribbled a quick frame on a piece of white paper.


Then I scanned it and imported it into Make the Cut using the pixel trace tool.  I had to fiddle with the settings quite a bit, but I finally settled on using the luminescence setting with a threshold of about 225.  I then exported the mask as a .svg file and saved it into: C:\Program Files\My Memories Suite\Components\Shapes\Users.

I opened a new page in My Memories 4, added a photo, then used the shape tool to add the .svg mask over the top of the photo.  I filled the shape with blue paper and here’s the result:


Papers for this page and the next page are from My Kid bundle.

Next, I got to thinking about layering multiple masks, so I ran the frame through make the cut again, this time setting the threshold to about 190 (I can’t remember the exact number) and the resulting frame had a lot more transparency.  I layered that over the first frame, filled it in with a darker paper and ended up with this:


If you’re going to try a frame this complex, be aware that it takes a LOT of memory and your system will bog down.  So far, the only way I’ve been able to free up the memory again is to exit My Memories and start it back up.

Next, I thought I would try torn paper, so I tore The middle out of a piece of scrap paper and ran it through MTC’s pixel trace utility. Here’s how it turned out:


And another:


And finally, I decided to make a complete page mask.  One thing that’s really nice about using .svg files in My Memories is that you can shrink or stretch them to fit any page or picture and as long as you do the resizing before you add the digital paper, there’s no stretching or skewing of the paper.  Here’s a rectangular page I made from my square page mask.


The papers and embellishments on this page are from the Spring Fling designer pack.

I did not have the memory problems with this page that I had with the layered masks, which confirms my theory that the more nodes and vectors (jagged edges and holes) you have in a frame, the more memory it’s going to take up when you use it.

If you don’t want to shell out the money for Make the Cut, I found a free online svg conversion tool here:  It’s not as flexible as Make the Cut, but hey, it’s free and it worked very well on the images I tested.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of My Memories Suite 4, be sure to use coupon code STMMMS97442 to receive $10 off the purchase price plus a $10 gift certificate to use in the My Memories online store.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Drumroll Please…

The winner of the MyMemories 4 Suite give away is YouGoGirl!  I believe you have my Facebook details, so please contact me there.  Congratulations!!!2013-04-01_0657