5 Simple Ways To Take Your Design Up A Notch

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/674241

Do you have a page on your work table that you are struggling with? Maybe the design won’t gel or you can’t make up your mind about which embellishments to use. Regardless, your project isn’t going anywhere until you figure it out.

I’ve got some ideas for you today that will help you add a little *something* that can take your design up a notch. After creating a long list of ideas, I went to the web in search of examples. The links below take you to examples from designers and fellow bloggers showing these ideas already in action.

1. Repeat something

Take a triangle, hexagon, flag, banner, or a doily and repeat it throughout the background of your layout. Make an interesting pattern with triangles punched from different pattern papers. Add groupings of hexagons to the bottom left and upper right of you layout to help create diagonal flow. Add a row of banners to the top of your page pointing down to your photos. Or just add the shapes in three clusters at the title, the photos and the journaling. The clusters will help draw the eye around the page.

2. Stitch it

Whether you machine stitch or hand stitch, the simple addition of thread can take your layout from OK to fabulous. Add stitching lines over your chipboard title. Create a stitched shape to highlight a special photo. Stitch the edges of pattern paper strips. Add some stitches to die cut shapes to ground the elements to your design. If you don’t have a machine, give the Sew Easy a try. It’s inexpensive and you can add different attachments to create a variety of stitches.

3. Layering

Layering is a simple way to add dimension and depth to your design. Create a compelling background by layering up pattern paper blocks in different sizes. Layer several sheets of pattern paper to create a frame for your photos. Layer journaling blocks with flags and stickers to create a fun embellishment cluster. Starting with the largest in back, layer different styles and colors of flowers from your stash to create unique embellishments. Keep in mind that layering paper does not add height and bulk to your page the way that layering chipboard does. (Not that layering chipboard is bad – chipboard is fun too!)

4. Negative space

Whether you use an electronic die cut machine or your own collection of punches, cutting shapes from the background creates a distinctive design. Take a strip of cardstock in a contrasting color and cut out a variety of butterfly shapes. Back each shape with a different pattern paper to create a fun border. Unique shapes work too! Cut out the words of your title from cardstock and layer pattern paper behind it. Punch hearts into some cardstock and add the negative as an embellishment.

5. Vary your photo sizes

We all love the convenience of 4×6 photos, but having photos in odd sizes on a page can create a really dynamic design. If you only get 4×6 prints, instead of cropping your photos when you edit them, get them printed and then crop them so that you can create some smaller sized photos. Combine a large photo with a few smaller ones. Line up smaller photos on white cardstock to create a photo strip.

The next time your design gets stalled, give one of these ideas a try and see if it doesn’t take your design up a notch!

Thanks for stopping by today.


  1. Yay! I can comment today 🙂
    All great tips, Tammy!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I know. I still don’t know why comments are getting turned off but I’m paying more attention now! 😀

  2. Wonderful post for today. I’ve read it several times and bookmarked several links. TFS

  3. I love the idea of repeating, I’m really good at that because my brain works that way. I love the look of layering, but have just always had issues with the delivery. Great tips today.

  4. Great post! These are wonderful tips. I usually have to just step away when I’m getting nowhere, and eventually something comes to me. If I have a little patience, which is a challenge.

  5. Great tips, now I just need to get some layouts done 😉

  6. I agree about the negative spaces. There is so much you can do! Leave them or add paper behind them. I just have to use them MORE 🙂

  7. So many great ideas, Tammy. Thanks for putting them all in one place (and for featuring one of my pages too). 🙂


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