Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cheap Tricks! Printed faux-paper-pieced backgrounds

Edited to add:

So sorry to lecture, I just didn't want anyone else to get the wrong idea:

Having received some confused comments over this idea, I thought maybe I should be more clear. For the record, I never use anything I haven't bought or been given as a freebie. And this idea is intended only as a time saver, or a way to get more use out of your digital papers (bought or freebies). I always trust that my readers know I don't ever intend that anyone should take things that are not meant for use. (Such as previews that are online for that purpose only).

The idea here, if you're not scared away, LOL is to use digital previews that come with digi papers you buy (or get free) to get a quilted look but save yourself the time of cutting & pasting the different papers into a document.

Do you go gaga over the look of
all those paper pack covers?

& &

Or the other kinds of packaging that sometimes comes with them?

Is it just me, or is there something about those little strips of
different papers all cozy together like a quilt?

I love them! And since they often come as a preview sheet
with most digital packs nowadays, I thought I'd try
printing them out for hybrid projects

Well, this is the digital or hybrid equivalent of
recycling paper packaging in your projects...

(Altering digital papers to make
faux paper pieced backgrounds)

You can go
from this:

click to check it out at

to this:

Printed digital preview sheet mel stampz

I printed the digital snippet above at a percentage to make
it teeny to fit a card & then stitched it.

-It saves ink since you are only printing bits
-It's faster than cutting up bits of papers.
-You can customize it to the size of your project background.
-And for me it's a way to force myself to use
colours that aren't turquoise. ;-)

This might not work with all brands of digital preview pages,
since quality likely differs, and not all of the Cosmo Cricket packs come
with them, but I thought I'd share this since it was such fun.

(use photoshop to create digital snippets
of digital paper pack "covers")

Step 1) Buy a digital paper pack, or download a free one. Open the preview sheet in PhotoShop or similar software & use the rectangular marquee tool & control C to copy a snippet of it.

Step 2) Create a new document & paste the snippet in it. Alter it however you like. You can desaturate it for black or grey and white. Change lightness or saturation, or even change the colour.

You can even change colours or patterns by copying & pasting strips!
If you want more of one colour or pattern than the original snippet has.

Here's an example of a hexagon paper I made:

cosmo cricket filled hexagon papers
(This won't print since it's a low res Photoshop document, but if you'd
like help with how to make your own please just let me know.)

It uses these Cosmo Cricket digital paper packages
that I bought at


Hey Sugar:

Odds & Ends:

Honey Pie:

For a detailed tutorial on how to create custom patterns
& use them to fill, please visit this post:

For the hexagon template (free download),
please visit this post:

Hope this weird little tidbit is of use to some of You;
It just gives me the thrills! ;o)

P.S. I am not affiliated with any of these companies. This is just some stuff I bought & messed around with.


alexandra s.m. said...

Absolutely BRILLIANT Mel!
Thank you so much for your idea and freebies ;-))

leslie (crookedstamper) said...

You are a digital Goddess! I don't have the patience for this stuff. THANK YOU for sharing with us!

Carole M. said...

neat idea Mel and even printing onto fabric .. and stitching. Love the hexs too; thanks for sharing great ideas that take us places.

Glennis F said...

Wow - what a neat idea! TFS

paperpapier said...

Thank you so much for sharing this BRILLIANT idea! You are simply a crafting GENIUS! Looking forward to the hexagonal is SUPER AWESOME!
Big hugs....

Tigger652 said...

I love this idea! I cannot wait for the hexagon so I can experiment with it too. I have been trying to figure out how to make zig zag stripes and color each one differently. No luck on it yet too wonky or too narrow etc etc... Thank you for all you share.

Noreen said...

Another Great idea! I always love your cheap tricks!

Erum Tasneem said...

Hehe I do this too! Cant say this out loud as we arnt aloud to do so. But I dont sell those cards :/ they are just for me :) I am making a card at the moment based on this very thing, using freebie digi papers that go well together. It's for a DT post so you will see it on oct13th I think :)
Will wait for the hex pattern.

Weezy said...

The hexagonal template is just gorgeous, nice to know someone else is sneaky too by maximising the possibilities of the crafty bits and pieces you buy!

Linda said...

Mel, I am looking forward to the hexagon template... love the quilt/paper feel of it! you are so very clever, have you thought that your migraines are from your very active brain cells??

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Thanks for liking this stuff, gals! Carole, I love your printing onto fabric idea.

Dear E.T., heehee You are so sweet! But I don't think it's against the rules if you buy the digital pack, since you could just get the same look by cutting & pasting each digital paper or by cutting the printed paper. I hope I'm not breaking some rule that I don't know of? Hugs, mel

liannallama said...

Oh, I love the hexagons! I have been making a hexagon quilt and the shape is now an obsession!

Aimeslee Winans said...

ohmygawd, mel, i am waiting with bated breath for the honeycomb template!!!!!! be still my heart! xoxo, aimeslee

Dragons Lair Designs said...

encoraging people to take digital previews of paper packs and create there own papers with them !!!! |I am sure designers who work hard to create the papers in the first place wouldnt like this especially as you can grab a preview on any site ...

Is that encloraging people to buy ... me no think so

I (and many other designers i know) get so irritated over things like this especially when us designers work so hard to create stuff and then the pirates come along and just help themselves both with papers and scrap stuff and now digi stamps too as creative as this i dont think its a good idea :(

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Dear Dragons Lair Design,

I am sorry that you misunderstood my post and the comments. It clearly says "Buy a digital pack & or download a free one" in the very first step of the tutorial. I would never encourage anyone to steal. The idea is simply to take a shortcut and print the preview piece that you buy (or are given for free), instead of having to cut & paste several pieces digitally and then print.

If you knew me, you would know that I am a HUGE supporter of digital businesses at my own expense & I always give credit to those businesses and even take time to post pictures that link to their stores. I support many small digital businesses because I believe in them.

Your confusion may have come from E.T.s comment. She is a dear friend & was concerned that I might be promoting something not allowed. If you read the post or the other comments, you would see that I addressed the concern & read the terms of use carefully. See just three comments above yours? That's me: If you buy the digital pack, you could just get the exact same look by cutting & pasting each digital paper or by cutting the printed paper.

This simply saves time. Also, the vast majority of artists upload previews online which are 72 DPI and will not print anyhow. In fact most of them even include these same 72 DPI previews when you buy.

I was very sorry to receive your message since it is the first of its kind that I have had. I hope I have addressed your concern.

And as much as I care about the industry and those who work towards it, I do feel compelled to say that I do not intend to walk on eggshells, or be creatively limited by the fact that though I am honest, my ideas might encourage dishonest people to do something. I can't be responsible for others artistic morality.

Best of luck in your business,