I ran into my SIL's best friend Julee at the store yesterday and she said, "Jen...you are just too damn crafty. I don't know how you find the time to make all those cute labels and tags but I love them. I need to learn how!!"
Well Julee...it's your lucky day girlfriend! Julee isn't the first friend, family member or bloggy reader to ask how I make all the labels, toppers and tags I share on my blog. After spending the better part of a year trying to teach myself different software programs, watching tutorials and going through LOTS of trial and error, I can honestly say that making these labels, toppers and tags is EASY!!! And it can be easy for all of you too if you are willing to invest the time to learn how. Trust me...once you are comfortable with a program, you will be able to whip these printables up in no time!!
Before I even begin this little "tutorial," I have to make it known that I am a total amateur when it comes to this stuff. There are SO MANY smarter blogs and websites (which I will link to) that can teach you the same thing in a more effective way, but I am going to do my best to explain how I make mine.
Step 1: Choosing Software
A few of my friends have told me that they have no desire to learn how to actually design labels, toppers and tags...they just need to know what to do with a printable once they download it. And if that is your case...fear not. Those instructions come later. And in all honestly, there are SO MANY free and inexpensive printable files on the internet, you may have no reason to learn software and design your own. If that is the case...feel free to skip to the next step :-)
Now, if your mission IS to learn how to create and design printables yourself, then the first step is choosing the right software for you. There are some free options that you can choose from if you aren't interested in investing any money yet.
1. Google Picasa and Picnik. I found a really great tutorial on how to make toppers using these programs. Again, they are free so it may be a good place to start.
2. Microsoft Publisher. Since a lot of you may already have this program installed on your computer with your other Microsoft Office suites, it may be the perfect option for you. Here is another great tutorial on making printables in MS Publisher.
I have personally never tried either of these options because I knew I wanted to invest in some software to help with my digital scrapbooking. There are a million videos and tutorials on how to use Adobe Photoshop but I found it a bit too complex for me. Like I said...amateur :-) But if you already own Photoshop and know the basics of how it works, this would be your best bet.
Personally, I needed something a little more user friendly (and inexpensive) so I purchased the My Memories Suite scrapbooking software and now that I know exactly how to use it...I LOVE it!!! It's how I make my blog banners, toppers, tags, labels, invitations, thank you cards, scrapbooking pages, personalized picture projects, etc. It is incredibly user friendly and if any of you decide to buy this software and would like me to put together a printables tutorial...let me know in the comments and I will get working on one!
There are a lot of other scrabooking software products on the market so look around and see if you can try any for free. The key is to find a program that works for YOU! You want the process to be easy so that you can hop on at 11:00pm when you realize you have to bring treats to work the next day and whip up a tag in a few minutes. Of course, if that still isn't enough time for you, you can always find a free printable online...which brings us to Step 2!
Step 2: Downloading & Gathering Supplies
At this point, you have either already created your own printable, or you have downloaded one from the internet. Like I said, there are a ton of great free printables online for any occasion, and you can always find some super cute ones on Etsy (I hope to have my own store there some day :-). Once you have downloaded your file, you need to decide what you are going to do with it! If you are going to use your printable as cupcake toppers, you will want to print on thick card stock. If you are planning to use your printable as a label or gift tag...you want to print it on a full sheet label so that you can punch them yourself. You can find full sheet labels at any office supply store or online here.
Printing tags on full sheet labels is SO much easier than trying to glue them on a gift or treat bag (trust me...I learned the hard way). And if you are using them as a gift tag, there are lots of cute ways to decorate a package...
Now, in addition to getting yourself some full sheet labels, you also want to invest in some punches. My favorite brand of punches is Uchida Clever Lever Punches.
They have a ton of different shapes and sizes, but I think the two I use the most are the 2" scallop circle punch (perfect for cupcake toppers and smaller tags), and the 2.5" scallop circle punch (perfect for treat bags and larger gift tags). You can find all of their punches on sale for 40% off at Joann Fabrics online by clicking here. You can also find these punches at any craft store and sometimes at Wal-Mart or Target in the scrapbook isle.
So...once you have your paper or labels, your punch and you've downloaded a printable like this...
It's time to print!
Now, unfortunately, the next step is going to be most useful for Mac users because I am using iPhoto to show how to customize print size and print your tags. But hopefully, all you PC users will have similar steps in your print programs so you can do the same thing.
Step 3: Printing & Punching
Now that you have everything you need, it's time to print your tag. You will need to open your file in whatever photo program you have on your computer. I have a Mac so I use iPhoto. When I first select "print" for my tag, the default takes over and my file is stretched to the standard 8.5 x 11.
Obviously, this is a little too big for our project. So, we want to look to the bottom of the page where you see a pull down menu for "print size" and choose "custom". This allows you to change the size of the photo or image you are printing. I always size a quarter inch up from whatever punch size I am using. In this case, I want to use my 2" punch so I am going to customize my image to 2.25 x 2.25
This is how your image should look on the page now.
Now, because I want to print a full sheet of these tags and not waste any paper, I want to click on "settings" at the bottom of the page and select "multiple of the same photo per page".
Now I have my full sheet!
I have a rather inexpensive HP printer but my tags always print out nicely, especially when I select "best" quality.
After your tags are printed, break out your punch and hold it upside down so you can make sure your circle is lined up evenly.
Once you have your punched tag, you can make your toppers or attach it right to your gift :-)
If you like how this gift looks, I got the polka dot paper and green ribbon at Target :-)
So there you go friends!!! It really is so easy to get crafty once you know what you need. Just remember the 4 Ps...Paper, Printable, Punch and Printer!
Remember...if any of you would like a My Memories Suite tutorial or have the links to other great tutorials, be sure to share in the comments.
Happy Weekend everyone! Now get crafting :-)