Let’s Fill Those Pockets, Part 1—Plus a Giveaway Prize!

Okay, fellow crafters, gather all your goodies from the previous post and let’s get started!

First, place your pockets nearby. Note that there are nine pockets and each of them opens at the top. (If you have it upside-down, your papers will just fall out. You’ll feel sad, bad, and slightly mad. No one has ever done this. Ahem…) Let’s do some math!

9 pockets = 9 papers, right?

Well, only if you want to make a one-sided PL, which is okay with me. My first one was one-sided. Then I thought, “Hey, what a missed opportunity to double my fun!” So I made sure there were enough papers for 9 + 9 = 18 sides. Does that mean you need to cut 18 pieces? Not necessarily.

If your papers are printed only on the front and the back is white, then you will need 18 pieces (2 per pocket) to cover both sides. However, the wonderful world of paper crafting has provided us with 2-sided printed papers, too. Here’s an example. One side is covered with sweet cherries and the other has a complimentary color/design of gingham. When you slide one of these cards in a pocket, you get a different design on the front and back. This can save you time, but you will want to have 2-sided papers that you really like. 

If you want more control over your colors and patterns, then you will want to cut 18 individual papers. Quick Quiz: Do you remember the dimensions?

2.5 inches wide
3.5 inches tall

How should you cut them? Very carefully! But seriously, folks, you can either cut them with scissors (trace your cards with pencil or make a template and use it) or use a paper trimmer like the one shown below. As you can see, I’ve marked the 2.5 and 3.5 inch lines so I don’t mess up. (Remember the old adage “measure twice, cut once”? Yeah, that actually works.) Having markers helps me get it right the first time. Do what you feel most comfortable doing. Using the trimmer looks like this:

      

 

As you can see, the 3.5 x 2.5 paper fits perfectly in a pocket.

  

It’s fun to move the pieces around until you get them in an array that makes you happy. Here’s mine, from various papers with a kitchen/Americana/fruit theme (front and back). Yes, I’ve made two of several papers, one for each side. It keeps my theme from running amok.

  

This post is running a bit long, so we will finish our PLs in the next post. Here’s a tip: scrounge around your craft room, home office, kitchen, garage, local craft store, etc. for little items that will fit your theme and the pockets. Ideas: stickers, buttons, tiny envelopes (!), misc. embellishments, quotes, photos, cards, decorative tapes, recycle-able stuff, and whatever your heart loves. We’ll be using them to decorate the pockets.

Okay, so here’s the GIVEAWAY!!! You will get points for each of the following. Each point gives you an entry into the drawing. The prize is described below the list.

  1. Subscribe to this blog. (If you already have, you’re my best friend. Truly.)
  2. Post a link to my blog on your Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter in the next 72 hours (ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 5, 2018). If you do all four, that’s more chances to win! Use the hashtag #heartfeltcraftblog so I can keep track.
  3. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
  4. Post a photo of your PL with its papers in place on the Heartfelt Crafts Facebook page. I’ll give you a “like” to show I’ve seen it.

Each entry will earn you a name on a slip of paper. I’ll put all of the papers out on my floor and let my adorable dog, Kirby, select the winner. Photos will follow!!!

Drumroll please! THE PRIZE!

The winner will be mailed a themed set of papers, stickers, and other goodies, perfect for making your own PLs or other paper craft. (Retail value around $15.)

Ready, set, CUT THOSE PAPERS AND GET POSTING!!!


 

A Bit about PLs: Background and Basics

Origins and Other Names for This Fun Craft

A crafter named Janet Lane takes credit for inventing the concept and the name “pocket letter.” She has a terrific website (www.pocketletters.com), and, for a fee, you can join a pen-pal service that lets you share your PLs with other PL creators. Check out her videos (free) to get all kinds of ideas. It’s almost as entertaining as watching videos of kittens doing silly stuff.

But wait…there’s more!

After the whole pocket letter phenomenon took off, crafters were finding a lot of other ways to use the trading card protectors to feature their work. The basics are all the same: nine compartments, each 2 ½” x 3 ½”, that hold all manner of creative expression.

Some call this pocket scrapbooking—use photos in some of the pockets and scrapbook papers and embellishments in the others. Many scrapbookers use a different pocket filler that is 12″ x 12″ to fit in their scrapbooks. For our purposes, however, we’ll focus on the 8½” x 11″ version.

Others use the pockets to hold artists’ trading cards (ATCs). Crafters who like to dabble in various art forms create a pieces of art on 2 ½” x 3 ½” cards made of different kinds of paper. This YouTube video from art supply store Dick Blick® explains ATCs and the papers available:

Basic Supplies 

My favorite part of any craft is going shopping for the supplies—or looking around my office, kitchen, garage, bathroom (oops, maybe not) for ideas and objects.

Trading Card Pages: These vinyl pages hold nine trading cards, 2 ½” x 3 ½”. Now they will be holding your beautiful, quirky, wonderful pocket letters!!! I have found several brands (Avery, Ultra Pro, Office Depot), and they come in packs of 10 to 100 for between $3.50 to $15.00, respectively. Super reasonable!

 

 

Cutting tools: You can just use scissors if you want. However, I found that using a cutting ruler thingie saved me a lot of time and was more precise. I like the 12″ paper trimmer by Fiskars. You can find them at any craft store—and even at my favorite place to spend too much money, Target.

 

 

 

 

Adhesives: Glue stick, glue dots, Elmer’s glue, double-sided tape, basically anything that you can use to get paper to stick to stuff and stuff to stick to paper. To get a 3-D effect for some designs, I like to use Glue Dots and Foam Adhesive pieces.

 

 

 

 

Paper: Now we can get creative! It helps to start with a theme or color palette. You can use construction paper, notebook paper, gift wrap, scrapbook paper—basically anything you can cut into the card shape and glue stuff onto. (It helps if the paper is stiff enough to be able to slide into the pocket. For that reason, I don’t recommend using toilet paper. For this.) The easiest way to get a good theme going is to find a pad of printed paper that paper crafters use for scrapbooking, cardmaking, and general paper wizardry. Each pad has its own theme or color scheme and costs from about $5.00 a pad to $6.99 and more for specialty papers.

Extras: The craft stores are filled with all kinds of embellishments. You can use buttons, stickers, washi tape, sequins, adhesive jewels and dots, lace, ribbon, etc. You are only limited by your imagination (and budget and possibly federal laws that prohibit the mailing of certain substances).

Some of the themed pads also have matching add-ons. The easiest, fastest, but not the least expensive, way to make PLs is to get a group of that kind of stuff. This can be fun—and expensively addictive. Here’s a set I used recently. (All items purchased online at www.scrapbook.com.)

         

And here’s the PL I made using some of these kinds of items (plus some other kitty items I had around):

   

So, that’s all you need to get started. Gather your papers, adhesives, cutters, stickers, tapes, and card pocket holders—we’re going to put one together in our next post! Join me, won’t you?

Spoiler alert: There’s going to be a giveaway offered in the next post. You could be a winner! Of course, you’re already a winner in so many ways, but why not add this to your list? (Oh, and be thinking of someone with whom you’d like to exchange PLs. It’s a team sport.)


 

 

 

 

What the heck is a pocket letter?

When I first heard the term “pocket letter,” I thought it might be something simple like a letter in a pocket. 

Or could it be . . . a letter ON a pocket?

I’m not seeing the craft possibilities yet. Oh, I know! It’s a letter that USED to be a pocket! I feel so smart.

Wait. What? That’s not it either? So what in the heck is this newfangled fun craft thing that so many scrapbookers are crazy about—and that has the unofficial endorsement of the United States Postal Service?*

My friend Jennifer sent me a link to a Pinterest folder: Pocket Letters. She suggested we try to make some and send them to each other. I was in Ohio and she was in Florida, so it was kind of a nice way to do a craft together—but apart—you get it.

So we did. And we agreed to photograph our PLs (we quickly created an abbreviation to keep from having to write or type the words over and over again) and to post them on Pinterest for others to share and adore. That was almost a year ago! We have had a blast. Let me show you some and give you some ideas for how to start your own #PLPenPalProject.

A Few of Our PLs

This one has a friendship theme. I made it very personal for Jennifer, the recipient. The middle row, far right pocket has samples of some washi tape I wanted to share with her. I wrapped 3-ft lengths around a piece of mylar I cut from some packaging. Good use for that mylar stuff instead of throwing it in the trash!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer sent me this one with a birds-of-a-feather theme. She included stickers for me to use (middle row, left) and some adorable feathers!

As you can see, coming up with a theme is half of the idea. Then you can have fun finding all kinds of things to add. Some themes we’ve used or seen others use include:

  • back to school
  • our home state (Ohio/Buckeyes for me!)
  • by the seashore
  • quotes about pennies, with a penny in each pocket
  • owls (whoooo doesn’t love owls???)
  • kitties (see above, but kitties)
  • fall/autumn
  • Christmas
  • patriotism–4th of July
  • summer fun
  • coffee and tea
  • sweet stuff (cupcakes, candy, etc.)
  • I could go on all day, but you get the idea. Check out the Pinterest link for tons of ideas!

Now that you can tell what PLs are, I’ll walk you through making one of your own in our next post.

P.S. Go get some baseball card protector sleeves:

 

*I made that up. But I’m sure they appreciate the increase in actual snail mail that’s hitting their inboxes—I mean, mailboxes—lately. Maybe they don’t like the lumpiness or the fancy, schmancy hand lettering on the envelopes. Hey, for 50¢ (so far, but who knows what with tariffs and such—just kidding!!!), it’s a heck of a deal to send these things. Maybe they’ll even get where they’re supposed to go–and in one piece!


 

Super-Easy Pet Cushion Project

We have a new member of the household. His name is Kirby—after tossing around dozens of names and circling back to the one that really describes what he does best, sucking up stuff on the floor and making it disappear. He’s a Pekingese and an Easter baby. Yep, the Easter bunny brought this little fellow on April 8. (Which just happens to be MY BIRTHDAY, too, and was too much of a cosmic coincidence for me to ignore.) Having a little pocket pet offers all kinds of crafting opportunities, including the creation of costumes and outfits that he’d be mortified to wear if he had just an ounce of self-awareness. In due time, my little puppy, in due time.

I’m starting with more basic projects, however. He’s being crate-trained, as most household dogs are, and I can’t stand the thought of his little puppy underparts lying on the cold, hard, plastic, cookie-sheet-shaped, slide-out base of the cage. I also don’t want to give up any of my good towels. Here’s a chance to use my crafty brain to cook up something simple, yet wonderful.

I scavenge through the house, looking in drawers, closets, and my sewing area. Voilà! I spy some oldish pillowcases whose matching sheets have long since been used for dust covers in the garage. A little feminine, yes, but he’s a modern pup—it’s all about recycling. I take the first pillowcase to my sewing station, flatten it on my cutting board, and unroll a batch of batting. Using the pillowcase as my pattern, I cut a folded (doubled) piece of batting about an inch smaller around the edges than the pillowcase. Then I insert the doubled piece inside and pin the four layers flat. Using a larger stitch than normal, but not a full basting stitch, I sew around the perimeter of the pillowcase, securing the batting.

That’s it! All done! It is the perfect size to fit inside the doggie crate, and it’s pretty, cushiony, and so washable. I’ll make 3 or 4 so I can rotate them between wash days. Kirby doesn’t even mind the darling little ruffle on the end. See? He’s just happy his owner is such a crafty lady.

 

 

Once a Teacher…

always a teacher, at least in my heart. I think that’s true of so many of us who spent a few years in the classroom but moved on to other careers or responsibilities, like raising our own kids. It’s been more than (ahem, garble, mutter) years since I stood at the doorway, greeting students on the first day of school. I was as nervous and excited as they were, maybe more so. But none of us looked nervous. No, that would have been so uncool—and a huge mistake for me. To teach a herd of teenagers, one has to be confident, a bit aloof even, and definitely able to deliver “the look” with deadly accuracy. I think it took me about 4 years to accomplish all that.

I loved teaching, loved the teenagers (really!), loved the subject matter (writing, literature, and American history), and loved the growth I saw from their freshmen through senior years. I didn’t like the drama, but that mostly came from other teachers and the administration. Honestly. Why did I leave teaching? Long story…that ended in Florida and began a new chapter working with children’s and YA literature. It’s all been very good.

So, what’s my craft du jour that dovetails with this post? How about something simple you can make for either your teen student or a teacher buddy? It’s fresh, functional, and fun!

  All you need is a small terracotta pot (with bottom), a bit of Styrofoam, a silk flower, and some school supplies. I used green paper clips, green pencil-top erasers, pencils, highlighter, scissors, ruler, Post-It notes, stickers, glue stick, red marking pencil, and pencil sharpener. Glue the pot to its bottom, sliding it toward the back so you can place stuff in front of the pot. Then shove the Styrofoam down into the pot. Glue a wooden clothespin to the back of the pot so it can hold notes and sticker sheets. Push down into the Styrofoam the pencils (sharpened is easier), highlighter, glue stick, scissors, ruler, and flower. Put a small Post-Note pad and sharpener in the bottom . Sprinkle the green paper clips and erasers around the objects, covering the Styrofoam. Voila! A desktop delight for teens and teachers alike.