The Last Seating Chart I’ll Ever Make

I’m serious. I’m done with seating charts forevermore!

Now that we got that warm welcome out of the way, let me explain –

I haven’t crafted – truly crafted – in months. What I mean by that is, I haven’t made something that someone is paying for and carries a big sense of responsibility for me. The last thing I remember making (without looking back at the blog) were the props for the corporate retreat, back in May/June, so that’s a good six months of not having that type of pressure on – thankfully.

This is one of those posts where I’m going to get raw, real, dramatic, just 100% every thought and feeling, so you understand me a little bit better, especially for people that don’t understand why crafts are expensive and why this is a stressful activity for those who do it for (some sort of) profit.

A fellow craft friend and sorority sister with whom I collaborated in the past when I was actively crafting reached out to me on Monday, January 7th to ask if I would be able to help her with a seating chart for a wedding, as she had a family medical emergency and wouldn’t be able to complete it in time for the wedding, on Saturday, January 12th.

Me, queen of procrastination and over-committing, thought to myself: “ok, it’s Monday. I have all week to do it, all my work tasks are on track (though they could use some extra time invested), and I don’t have anything crazy going on this week that would genuinely prevent me from saying yes. If I say no it’s because I’m lazy, and I don’t want to be lazy. I’ll do it.”

I said yes and got all the logistical points covered about font, color, etc. It should be simple enough (can’t you just feel the movie-type foreshadowing forming here? It’s so thick I can cut it through the screen) and I would be sending pictures to my friend every step of the way to guarantee an early delivery.

I went to pick up the materials (wood plank, varnish, vinyl adhesive and transfer tape) from her on Monday night, and as soon as I got home, I got to work and laid the first layer of varnish on the wood because that needed to be completely dry in order to apply the vinyl cleanly. She sent me the final seating chart that same Monday night, and that was that.

Tuesday, I applied a second thin coat because the coat from Monday was uneven in some places and also doing it at night didn’t give me the best visibility and I missed some bristles that fell off the brush and got stuck to the wood. No biggie, you couldn’t see them (especially once the letters were placed), but I’d know and deep down that’s what ALWAYS kills me.

Wednesday I started working on the design. I use the Cricut Explore machine for all my cutting needs and I’ve been obsessed with it since I own it, and I dared not speak ill of it… until now. My Cricut, more specifically, Cricut Design Space (CDS, the free online software used to design the pieces that will be cut) let me down, HARD. For some reason when you have “a lot” of components in a design, the design space interface slows down. It’s happened to me before, but usually when it’s image-heavy designs, not when it’s only text. I did the seating chart for my best friend’s wedding in one day (do not recommend) last time, and it didn’t freeze up nearly as much, even though that one had more names.

After the weekend was over, I noticed that the Cricut team posted on Twitter that they had received numerous complaints about loading time and they were working on the issue, so it was clearly not just me and not an exaggeration. #Vindicated! Also, I forgot to mention – on Thursday when I went into CDS, there was an alert for system maintenance at 11:00pm MT. You know, because I didn’t have enough things working against me…

Copying and pasting each block of names under their section in alphabetical order took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Every copy/paste moment included a 30-60 second lag on the program, and this was repeated for every single letter after the C. Once I had the first half pre-designed, I showed my friend the digital proof and she goes “forgot to tell you, they’re supposed to be in all caps. I’m so sorry!”

Basically everything I had done up to that point (a good two hours of work, at least), wasted. But at least she saw it then and not when I was already cutting, right? Silver lining.

I re-did everything and found a way to hit less keys and endure less 30-60 second spasms of the software, and finally got all the names digitized and ready to cut. By now, it was Thursday night. I do have a job, remember? Oh and did I mention my brother broke his ankle on Tuesday so I’m also kind of caring for him? Good times.

I finish cutting everything on Thursday night, and start laying everything in a “final position” way on the board but not sticking yet, because I need to make sure everything will fit before I start sticking. Once you put the vinyl down, there’s no going back, so this is the time to make adjustments. It actually seems like it’s just *barely* going to fit, even though I set it up digitally as I always do, but I didn’t take into account the easel prongs that would block some names from the bottom if I didn’t leave more space. I was supposed to meet back up with my friend later that day so she could give me the easel, which we’d forgotten to exchange on Monday when I first went to pick up everything else.

The most time-consuming part of the process with vinyl (usually) is weeding. Basically, removing all the negative space from the cut so that all that is left are the letters, and that’s what you transfer over.

Now I had some bad moments with transfer tape for my best friend’s wedding making the menus and the seating chart, so I already had a little bit of fear here. One more thing worth mentioning – my friend hadn’t measured out the vinyl but she said if I needed more, she could overnight it to me. I was like no worries, I have plenty of vinyl at home I’m not using and need to get rid of. My vinyl has been sitting in my garage, in hot and humid Florida. I’ll just end that thought here, for now.

Did I mention I woke up on Thursday with (at best) a cold (at worst, the beginning stages of a severe bronchitis with bronchospasms – aka I couldn’t breathe by Sunday)? When I tell you I’m the queen of “perfect storm” moments…

So it’s Friday. My CEO and part of the management team are in town for an event they did plus they’ll be doing some planning during the weekend. From the moment I woke up on Friday until 8:20am on Saturday morning, I did not stop working on that seating chart. This is not an exaggeration.

This is where it really got bad: I met up with my friend around 5:00pm, got the easel, showed her a picture of the first half of the names “placed” to make sure they fit and told her “don’t worry, I will deliver it done tomorrow” and had an out of body moment thinking “you will regret this promise.”

I went back home and started sticking. The title “your seat awaits” went pretty easily – big letters were not my concern. Actually, sidenote – when my friend asked me to do this, I asked her how it was sticking vinyl on wood because I hadn’t worked it before, and she said “it’s a lot of rubbing” which is not ideal, but what I expected from my previous experiences. I measured everything out carefully and started with the As. All good. Then I went with the Bs and for some reason, the letters would not come off the transfer tape onto the wood. I think it’s because it was a fresh piece of transfer tape and those tend to be a little more frisky. So I start rubbing the next transfer tape pieces on random surfaces to create some “wear” so that wouldn’t happen again. C, D, E, F, G, H, J – done. It took about two to three hours to do them. It was about 1:30am when I was ready to move on to the next side. I believe the vinyl my friend had was enough for half of the name, and the vinyl I had did the other half. I don’t know which half was which, but I have a feeling her half did the first and my half was the second because…

As I start rubbing off the K, L, M, things are starting to slow down like they did for the letter B. And I come to realize that it might be because I did the second batch of names with my vinyl, which was sitting in my garage for months with heat and humidity, and that’s probably why it’s not sticking as well as the other one. Now, I can’t quite put into words the level of frustration that it is to try and lift transfer tape and all the little letters and periods in “Mr.” coming back up and not sticking to the wood, but at 3:00am and with a deadline, I reached a level of desperation I don’t often get to. It was panic attack central. I was playing anti-anxiety music, trying to calm down and remember how every time I’ve ever freaked out about anything, I’ve always pulled through, and this time would be no different, because I had made a promise and my word means everything to me.

My brother tries to help calm me down with his presence (he’s not even remotely a little crafty) and then I run an idea by him. I have another roll of new vinyl I got which might work better but, I’d have to re-weed everything from O-Z so it’s probably going to take just about the same amount of time, but it will frustrate me less so it might be better for my mental health. He says go for it. I opened a brand new Cricut Design Space project and try with just the letter O. For some reason the font came out slightly smaller, but the weeding was fast (only 3 names) and it gave me enough push to decide to do the rest. I re-digitize the remaining letters (because the original design takes too long to load to even try to cut it) and while that’s happening, I decide to go stick the Ps so I can do something valuable with my time. I discover that removing the transfer tape diagonally instead of laterally kind of helps.

The new batch is cut and as I’m weeding it, I realize that the backing of this other vinyl is too slippery and the letters are moving around and won’t sustain the spacing/will look crooked. So… I gave up on the newly cut names, and go back to my original, unsticky vinyl.

As I finish up the Ts, I realize I cut off two names from the S group and now I have nowhere to put them (and even though at first the letters don’t stick, then they don’t come off… even though I tried, so I had to do double peel duty on the Ts). So it occurs to me that I should join the R & S and use the space that was originally for the S for those two names (thankfully the space, even though scrunched, was just enough for two names).

I then go down and do the Z to make sure the space is even from the bottom and then realized that my worry that I’d run out of space made me save too much and now I’d have extra space. So I got artsy with the Y and Z to make up for the excess space.

And then it was 8:20 am. I clocked it when I sent the picture to my mom.

I had to deliver the chart at the reception venue which was about an hour away from my house, and be there by 1:00pm. It was also a friend’s birthday and I had committed to making crafts for the room of the hotel where I was also supposed to stay, except that I had a virus and horrible bronchitis by this point, but I had still committed to the (simple) decor…

I passed out and woke up at 11:30am to get ready to leave by 12:00pm. I printed my friend’s decor, took everything to the car, had a mini photo shoot and left by 12:05pm.

I was so tired from the all-nighter I almost didn’t realize I didn’t have enough gas to make it as I pulled into the gas station to get water… so I got gas, made it to the venue, delivered the seating chart, and thus concluded the nightmare that was the last seating chart I’ll ever make.

It came out beautiful, and no one would be able to gauge a second of the struggle it entailed just from looking at it. And that’s crafting, at its best.

These are the types of projects that yield equal amounts of fulfillment and anxiety. I can’t believe I pulled it off and I’m so happy I did and it’s in the past, but I seriously had the worst burst of anxiety and panic thinking of the consequences if I didn’t finish it – lose a friend, give her a bad reputation with the event planner (or even circle of planners, because they all talk and can destroy a vendor with just a word), “ruin a bride’s wedding day” because everything is so high stakes in that emotional “best/biggest day” of the couple’s lives… I’m surprised I didn’t need a defibrillator with the amount of thoughts and pressure I felt at the time. I can tell you, I was close.

Not quite sure how to close this other than thanking the universe and every holy power that intervened for me to retain some semblance of sanity and finish the project so I could deliver on my promise. Any comments, stories, or whatever reactions you may have, feel free to sound off below. I just felt all the feelings all over again so I’m reluctant to stop typing until I can feel something else… Jk, bye!

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Top Amazon “Prime Day” Deals For Crafters!

Hi crafty friends! I know I usually post on Tuesdays, but since Prime Day begins today at 3:00pm EST, I figured saving some cash was worth breaking the rules!

 

Here are some items for a few crafting disciplines you may want to look into and take advantage of the Prime Day discounts –

As crafters and maybe small business owners, there are many devices that may fit your needs, so take a look at the offers for those tools here.

I’m posting this now and will keep editing throughout the day as I see new deals pop up. Also keep in mind, Target, eBay and other companies are also showcasing a good amount of discounts to compete with Prime Day, which means there are even more chances to score some awesome deals for all of us. YAY!

#MyBestFriendsWedding Final Chapter – The BIG Day!

Guys, can you believe it?! Just over a year ago, I began this series of posts following the journey of my best friend’s road to the altar, from the proposal & the surprises I gathered for her, the engagement party & proMOHsal, saying yes to the dress, the bridal shower, the stamp serendipity, the bachelorette, rehearsal, all leading to this: the big day.

Michelle’s vision was absolutely beautiful and cohesive, and it came to life to perfection (as perfect as possible considering something ALWAYS happens when it comes to parties or big events). Of course, that was to be expected, given that she’s a kick-ass event planner for her job, but corporate and social events are very different, and she managed to pull off a gorgeous wedding in the middle of back to back big work events and constant travel. So let me start off by saying: congratulations biff! You did it, you did it real good!

From the moment the planning began, she made me part of the process and I was so happy to be there every step of the way that she’d let me – everything except whatever had to do with the bridesmaids, because obviously she wanted me to be somewhat surprised with that part. Originally, there were more things that I would make/do, but as time went by, she wanted to focus on big pieces and the rest either got done a different way, or was scrapped altogether (for example, I really wanted to make hotel “do not disturb” signs for guests that came out of town, but it ended up not making sense to do it because of the logistics). All gorgeous pictures courtesy of Melissa Perez from   @SimplyCaptivating!

In the end, this is what I did make:

  • Custom Champagne Flutes for the Bridesmaids: even though we ended up not using them because we went from having all the time in the world to rushing out of the house, so the rosé just sat there, poured in our custom glasses as we made our way to the church in the party bus… they’re still cute ❤

     

  • Bride Jean Jacket: I made this literally the night before the wedding during our sleepover because Michelle forgot to give me the jacket after the rehearsal dinner, and it was a mission to get the vinyl to stick (and I cut it wrong, but we won’t talk about that because no one could tell, and you can’t either 😉 …)

  • Cake Topper: inspired by one Michelle found on Pinterest and made out of layered rose gold card stock (and I had to cut it several times, but we won’t talk about that either…), it looked so stunning at night, especially in the background of the picture where Michelle’s parents are giving their speeches!

  • The Seating Chart: since I can’t put into words the stress, amount of time, anxiety, logistical work, glue, and panic attacks this caused me, I’m just going to say this is probably my proudest accomplishment TO DATE. EVER. I’m pretty sure the two months of insomnia I had leading up to the wedding were over the seating chart alone. Also, because I messed up my table (on purpose, trying and erroring as usual) I literally finished the seating chart AT THE VENUE, during cocktail hour. But, it came out PERFECTLY ❤ Also, I may or may not have spent time taking pictures of people looking at the chart… First, the process:

 Some action shots from my phone

And the final result, with STUNNING shots by @SimplyCaptivating 

  • “I Do” Shoes: I love Pinterest. But also Michelle’s shoe soles were ribbed so I have no idea how long the vinyl stayed on… It was all for this shot!

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  • Signage: a Welcome sign adorned with flowers from @EverAfterFlorist, a wedding sign to let guests know they were at the right venue, and a social media sign that never made it out to the party… has there been any item without mishaps? HA!

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  • Table Menus: 15 tables. Two menus per table. 30 total. Incredibly tedious and long process to make them. Gorgeous outcome ❤

Seriously, I cannot believe that it has all come and gone so quickly since the day Brian texted me to let me know he was proposing. It’s been such an incredible experience to be by my friend’s side through this huge milestone moment, and I’m so happy to have been able to help and put a personal touch to so many aspects leading up to and during the big day. Thank you all for following the journey!

Travel Gift DYI: Worldly Robe

I’m not usually in favor of hand-making gifts for my friends – there’s nothing wrong with it but I just feel like the types of items my friends like are not usually things I can make myself – but I broke my rule for this one, and it actually wasn’t by choice.

My good friend and I (we call each other twin due to our similarities) went to enjoy some summer pool parties in Las Vegas in summer of 2017. While at one of these pool parties, my twin noticed a girl wearing a gorgeous teal robe that had a world map in some orange pattern fabric in the back. It was very pretty and as soon as she said it I made a mental note to look one up for her after the trip, which would be her birthday gift the following January.

The trip ended and I began my search for this robe. I looked for weeks – on Google, on Etsy, on any site that had a working search engine – and I found nothing. There wasn’t a single map robe to select from. I was at a loss for words trying to imagine what kind of custom-made job this was when the light bulb went off: I could make it myself!

Again, I’ve never felt like my crafts would make a nice enough birthday present, but this one seemed like the perfect fit and I knew my twin would love it, as she loves travel and all world-themed paraphernalia.

I found a robe on amazon and I stuck with the teal because she loves that color too, and I decided to go with gold glitter heat transfer vinyl (HTV) for the map.

I had a little bit of a hard time deciding how big to make the map, because it’s not going to look its best stretched out across the whole back, so after some googling, I figured that 16.5 inches would be a good width for the map. I cut it (using my Cricut as always) and prepared it for ironing and went over it like 45 times with the iron to make sure it stuck well. In the end, I was very happy with the final result!

Then, I was at the liquor store one day and came across these world map glasses (kind of like these, but in gold instead of etched) that perfectly complemented not just the color scheme, but the vibe of relaxing in a nice robe while having a drink, and my gift was complete.

My twin absolutely LOVED the robe and she definitely appreciated it, although she did not really remember the girl in Vegas – which I had a feeling would be the case. It still turned out to be a great gift & surprise!

Do you make gifts for your friends often? What’s your recommendation for ensuring “store-bought” quality results? Leave a comment below with your tips or links!

Who needs paper when you have tiles? Moroccan Place Tiles!

I’m usually worse than a safe box when it comes to keeping things a surprise for events, but this time it’s been harder than ever because for the most part, the things I make are for random people so I can do #CraftingWithKathy episodes on Snapchat/Instastories or ask my friends for opinions, but since it’s all for Michelle’s shower, I can’t show anything to anyone because they’ll be there too. Since I’m kind of dying inside not being able to share what I’ve been working on for months now, and the shower is already this week, I wanted to show you just one little detail of what you’re going to see for my best friend’s Moroccan Bridal Shower, so make sure to look out for the recap post next week!

Trying to keep in line with the theme in all areas of the party, one of my favorite details is the place cards, or rather, place tiles that we’ll be using. Michelle’s mom Marta is taking care of putting together the seating chart, and since we’ll be putting the plates/napkins/cups already on the table, the place tiles will serve as 1. seat assignment, 2. weight to keep down the plate and napkin, and 3. a favor for attendees to take home.

I found an idea for the Moroccan place tiles on Etsy, but theirs showed the names in writing, and when I attempted it I didn’t love my penmanship for this, as you can see in the pictures below. I tried a few different markers and color swaps, none that I liked.

Because of this, I decided to stick to my tried and true: my Cricut. Cricut and vinyl never ever fail me, and the best part is I made a video (I’m getting better at documenting!) to showcase the process for anyone who may be intrigued as to how to put this together:

I am OB-SESSED to no end with how these turned out ❤

For the materials, I used:

  1. Moroccan Tile from Home Depot
  2. Rose Gold Vinyl (purchased mine from an Etsy shop that recently closed)
  3. White Adhesive felt sheets from JoAnn

A Small Personalized Gift for the Best Dad Ever!

My dad is the best dad ever. Don’t @ me.

He got my brother and me tickets to go to El Clasico friendly game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in Miami. We were beyond ecstatic to go to the game and experience the energy of that match that NEVER gets old between two of the biggest franchises in the world, not to mention the opportunity to see players like Messi, Bale, Neymar, etc. live. It’s something not everyone gets to do, and we were so grateful to him for that awesome gift. The only problem? Our dad is a Real Madrid fan.

Just kidding. You’re free to love any team here on this blog, it’s a safe space for all ❤ Anywho, our dad was originally supposed to go to the game with us, but due to some unfortunate AF circumstances, he could no longer make it. We were heartbroken because of course, he got us this amazing gift and we wanted to enjoy it with him, and also, we got him a sick team jersey which I customized for him, and it would’ve been awesome for him to wear it at the match.

Some logistics info: all the teams change their clothing up every year. We were able to find a 2017-2018 season Real Madrid jersey for him, but we got it blank because he doesn’t really have a favorite player on the team, and he actually dislikes Cristiano Ronaldo (biggest fan contradiction ever, I know, but I LOVE it!). So, I decided that it would be cool to put our last name in the back of the jersey, that way he could sport it forever without worrying about players being traded or leaving (forever traumatized by LeBron James and Wade, what am I supposed to do with my Heat jerseys now?!)… Back to the team logistics – I couldn’t for the life of me find the 2017 font, so I had to settle for the 16-17 season one, but it still looked pretty good.

Once my dad was finally able to come see us, we gave him the jersey and he LOVED it!

Love you pa! Thanks again for the tickets to the game, and glad you loved your shirt ❤

Buying vs. Making: Concert Shirts for J. Cole!

Let’s talk about concerts for a minute, shall we? It has gotten truly ridiculously expensive to go see your favorite musician lately. Ticket prices + venue fees + parking/Uber cost + refreshments/food at the venue + artist memorabilia = where do I file for bankruptcy?! It’s a lot. When I was little, of course I’d beg my parents for the shirt or hat or bandana or keychain or any memento I could keep as a souvenir, but now as an adult, I dare not even glance over at the merchandise section.

I usually wear normal clothes to concerts, but as the date for the J.Cole concert in Orlando was approaching, my brother suggested I should make some shirts for us. I was super surprised he had this idea because 1. Neither he nor I are the type to do this and 2. I really hadn’t thought about making myself any artist-related clothing item for a concert, ever. But this was a cool moment for me, since my brother never asks me to make anything and I was so touched he wanted me to do it that I was 100% in.

When it comes to these things, I try to be as frugal as possible. If it’s not something I can see myself wearing often, I will not splurge on it. Plus, if it’s a DIY, it should be cheaper, right? Right. So, when it came to the Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV), I decided not to buy any, but make use of what I already had. No need to spend extra or go crazy with that. And for the shirts, since I had the experience with the ones I made for my Game of Thrones watch party, I knew I’d find something at Walmart. I found a black shirt for me for under $4, and even though my brother actually didn’t like any of the options there, he ended up finding a v-neck at TJ Maxx for $4 as well. With the amount of HTV I ended up using, each shirt basically came out to $6!

When it came time to design it, I wanted to have J.Cole’s face and hair silhouette which has become a big part of his brand, and also incorporate the crown from his Born Sinner album artwork. I ended up designing/cutting/putting it all together the same day of the concert because #ProcrastinationNation. And the crazy thing here was that since I was only using what I had, there was no room for error. Whatever I’d cut, it had to work. Because of the amount of each color I had, I decided that my brother would get Cole’s face silhouette, and I’d do my shirt with only the crown. I looooved how they turned out!

 

And here’s the best part of it all: during the concert, there was a lot of camera focus on the audience, and at some point my brother caught us on the jumbotron, BECAUSE he recognized the print on his shirt! It was so cool to see my shirts on the big screen, looking like official merch, but made by me :’)

 

Guess who’s never paying for merch ever again?!?