Monday, 1 June 2009


Welcome to the first issue of The Next Level, a magazine style read designed to be more than a weekly Challenge blog, but a meeting place for you all to dip into and out of during the week to try out new ideas, tutorials, hints and tips and downloads in addition to the weekly Challenge. We also want you to be a part of The Next Level and have an input into it every week, so we have two sections at the end of the issue called - What's New Out There and Have your Say - more details later on. We have had such a massive support from everyone over the two week build up to launch day, you have been amazing and thanks to you spreading the word, we now have over 700 Followers, which has far exceeded our wildest expectations.

So here we go - here is the content of your Issue 1 Magazine this week:-

Blog Candy Winners

Design Team Announcements

Sponsors and Prizes for the Challenge this week

Challenge of the Week

Hints and Tips


Grab Some Stash

Your Challenge entries

What's New Out There

Have your Say

Sponsoring The Next Level


The Blog Candy winners this week are Follower No. 505 Louby who wins the first pack of designer papers, ribbons and embellishments and the second Blog Candy winner is Kristyn - Follower No. 199 - who wins the chocolate and pink paper and embellishment pack. These numbers were selected at random. Congratulations Louby and Kristyn - we will be in touch with you to arrange to send out your packs.

Design Team Members. We had over 200 applications for the Guest Design Team so you can image what a hard job it was to choose the team that will take us into the next 8 weeks, but we got there eventually. The team were chosen to bring a different design approach and speciality to The Next Level so that there would hopefully always be a new and different interpretation each week to the Challenge project. The team will be supporting us each week for the next 8 weeks and also over the coming weeks there will be a weekly feature tutorial from each Design Team member so that they can share their knowledge with you - so here they are :-

Abby, True, Mindy, Debbie, and Beth. Clicking on their names will take you along to their own blog sites so that you can see their beautiful creations. We found it so very difficult to chose just 4 which was the original idea, so we decided upon. However, we have an extra twist, each week we will choose one Challenge card/project that we particularly love, and that person will be invited to become a Guest DT member for one week. They will have a two week heads up on the forthcoming Challenge design to give plenty of time to be creative and will feature for just that one week alongside the rest of the full Design Team. Our very first One Week Guest is an amazing 11 year old, Fern, who absolutely inspired us with her beautiful creations, please go along and visit her blog, you will see what we mean. So next week, you will see the full Design team in operation, with Fern as the Guest, so lots of ideas for the Challenge for Week 2 and beyond.

This week we have two fantastic prizes generously donated from our Sponsors for the week. First is a package from SirStampalot which includes 4 double sided sheets of My Mind's Eye Pretty Please designer papers, Art Impressions Front and Back stamps Annie and Peter, (Annie is featured on Ann's card this week) two lengths of ric-rac ribbons and a pack of brads. Please click on the link to visit their fantastic website - a crafter's dream.

Our second Sponsors of the week are a fantastic Digital Download site The Digichick where you will find so much inspiration for digital fans out there, and even if you are not yet into digital papers and design, maybe now is the time to 'dip your toe into the water' They are donating a $15 voucher to be used on a download of your choice - click on the link to see what a brilliant choice you will have. Both Ann and Dawn have used papers from The Digichick this week in their design creations. Here is an idea of what is on offer :- So now we have given you a taste of the prizes on offer this week, let us move on to the Challenge for the week ahead - we hope it inspires you and really makes you think.

Our very first Challenge is to make an Aperture/Cut out Card - that is a card with an opening in the front. There are no restrictions on the size of the opening, where it is placed, or the size and shape of your card - you decide. We felt that by giving you this flexibility we will all hopefully see a wide range of different ideas and styles that we can share and gain new inspiration from in our own future creations. There is one additional compulsory element though - your card must have your own hand made faux Prima Lollipop flower/flowers on it. These flowers are really pretty, and quite easy to make. We had originally added a UTube video as a tutorial but unfortunately there has been problems with linking to this, however the photograph tutorial near the end of this Issue will allow you to read the make-up instructions on-line or print off as you wish. You can use one or any many flowers as you like, you can choose how many layers of papers in your flower and its size - its all down to you.

Posting your entry - Important

We have decided to go with the 'old fashioned' method of posting your entry with a link as there have been so many issues with Mr Linky at the moment.

Please post your challenge entry link under the separate section headed Challenge Comments to be found towards the end of The Next Level issue. This way you can add a brief comment as you add your link. Please follow the tutorial under Hints and Tips on how to create a hyperlink if you are unsure how to do this so that we can come straight to your blog without the need to copy and paste the detail.

The two prizes from our Sponsors this week will be chosen at random by selecting two numbers from the total number of Challenge entries for the week, allocated by entry order and the winners will be announced at the start of next week's issue, together with the Feature Weekly Guest Design team member.

As you know, this week there is just the 2 of us on the Design Team on Issue 1, but next week we will be joined by our 5 new Guest Design team members and our Weekly Guest, so there will be lots more 'variations on a theme' to share with you all - but here are a few items we have prepared for the Challenge this week - clicking on each photo will enlarge it - there are also more details and photos on our individual blogs.

Madge (Ann)

AllPinkGirl (Dawn)

Problems getting around the Blogs due to the Internet Explorer Operation Abort message. Unfortunately Blogger have still not as yet resolved this issue, but there is a workaround for the time being. If you go onto a blog that opens the page momentarily and then the Operation Failed error message appears - Click OK - the page closes and a white screen appears - just click the back browser button and the page should re-load again normally and allow you to move around and leave comments as usual. You may in some instances need to do this a couple of times.

Creating a thicker fold line for your card. If you want to matt and layer the inside of your card, remember that you will need to allow for the extra width when placing your card fold. The best way to do this is find the half way fold line and do two small pencil dots at the centre line top and bottom, and then score two fold lines, one just each side of the centre mark. This then gives the extra space needed and allows you card to close nicely.

Lollipop Flower. A photographed tutorial to support you on the creation of the flowers for this week's Challenge is located near the end of the issue under a separate section so that you can quickly link to this and print it off if you wish to refer to it in addition to the video tutorial.

Creating a hyperlink on your Challenge entries. Below is a tutorial on how to create a Link to make it easy for everyone to quickly click to visit your blog page.

When you post your challenge entries in the comments section would you please add a direct link to your blog page to make it easier for people to just click on the link to visit you without the need to copy and paste into the address bar. This is quite a simple process (when you have got used to it) so here are some guidelines on how to do it.

1. First open up your blog page with the Challenge entry on the page and then at the top of the title bar you should see your own blog page starting with http:// etc etc.

2 .Highlight your address bar by right clicking and select copy from the drop down menu.

3. Until you are used to creating the link, it is best that you open up a word document and then carefully type in the exact line as below. Then remove the letters URL and in their place insert your blog address bar by pasting this into the line in between the inverted commas - make sure that you do not delete these - they are needed to make the link work. You may find it simpler then each week just to go back to where you saved this link and just copy and change the URL section to link in with the relevant page of your blog and then you are ready to copy and paste your link again on the comments page.4. It is always worth previewing your entry on the comments page before you publish it just to make sure that it appears as a hyperlink so you know it will run properly - it should just show the words Here's my entry with no other detail.

Changing the colour of your Digital Designer Papers
The beauty of digital paper is that it really does enable you to change the colour, the size and many other features. Summer Driggs has a wonderful blog where she creates the most beautiful packs of digital papers and elements, all free to download, but in addition she has done a tutorial on how to change the colours of your papers to fit in with your theme. Please follow the link below, not only to become more creative with your digital work, but whilst you are there, check out the wonderful packs of papers and embellishments she has available. See more detail on the 'Grab Some Stash' section below.

Here is a sample of a before and after digital paper after following the instructions ....



Click on this Link to have a go

Faux Prima Flower Tutorial

Ann has prepared a Tutorial that was put together as she made the Lollipop Flowers this week and you can find this on a separate entry near the end of this week's issue to print off in isolation if you wish to refer to it whilst making your flowers.

This week follow the links below to two really great sources for designer papers and embellishments. Our sponsors The Digichick have a gorgeous freebie paper pack download, so click this link to go direct to download this for free Whilst you are there however, do stop and browse the gorgeous digital stash at really great prizes, with lots of information too for support and ideas.

Also pop along to Summer Driggs blog, where you will not only find the Selective Colour tool tutorial for this week but a load of great freebie digital papers and embellishments for you download . Here is the latest freebie on offer and the link is ...

If you like the flower detail and the envelope nameplate on Ann's card this week, this is also a a freebie from Summer called Energy, here is the link

Whilst you are visiting Summer's blog, please note that all the packs are free, but if you could spare a moment to read about the donations Summer is looking for please to support the family of a very poor little girl, baby Bree and any small donation would really be greatly appreciated.


  1. Oh wow there's so much here - I think I'll be busy for a full week!! Thanks for the tutorials - Congratulations to the lucky blog candy winners i'm off to read this properly!!

  2. Well you called yourselves "The Next Level" and you have certainly lived up to your word - and beyond. I have never found anything like this in blogland!

    This is simply fantastic.

    I have never learnt so much from one blog posting - thank you. It is like a mini magazine.

    Can't wait to have a try at those lollipop flowers.

    Congratulations. I can tell this is going to be a HUGE blog and a great place to visit.

    Thanks again

    Love Jules xx

  3. What a great start. Love the ease of reading and the content is great.

  4. I can't believe I actually won a blog candy! So super sweet :-) Thanks bunches!

    I'm really just blown away by what y'all have already accomplished. There's so much already on this site & it's just DAY ONE!!! This blog is going to quickly become a staple in the crafting community :-) Congrats!

  5. FANTASTIC Start to a new blog, it's just superbe. Will endevor to try the 1st challenge and make my very 1st lollipop flowers, they look fantastic. beatuful makes by the DT.


  6. Blooming Heck!!
    What a great start to the new challenge - so much information to take in and I love the tutorials.
    thank you

  7. Congrats on the start up! Love the challenges, have made some lollipop flowers before, looking forward to making some again!

  8. Woah, what a gigantic beginning! I must say I love what you've done for the first issue - keep up the good work girls!


  9. Wow what a fabulous first issue and challenge, i love the examples. I got straight to work and here's my card.
    Can't wait for the next challenge.
    Hugs T x

  10. What a fantastic start to a new blog, the content is amazing, I am sure you are going to be a great success, especially with the tips and freebie links. Well done to all of you on the team.
    Can't wait to create one of those gorgeous flowers. Thanks everyone.
    Suzi xx

  11. Wow what a great start to a new blog, lots of information. A lot to take in for a new blogger like me but its fantastic to learn.
    Congratulations and keep up the good work girls.

  12. Congratulations on your launch..have fun with it. I look forward to seeing all issues :)

  13. wow, very impressed ! so much stuff in one go !!

  14. Wowww,wath a beautiful creations,l love the images and colours.
    So gorgeous papers.

    Hugs Riet.x

  15. WOOWEE!!!! I love the format and all the incredible goodies, you ladies have put out an amazing blog-a-zine. Hey I may have just coined a new word. LOL!!! Keep up the good work this is truly ground breaking. Hugs XXX Beth

  16. I'm gobsmacked. I really didn't expect this. There's just so much on here, hints, tips, tutorials AND freebies. Thank you so much.
    Beryl xx

  17. Well done both: This is a great start!

    I was ahead of you on having already visited Summer's great blog but you read my mind on wanting to make some of the lollipop flowers: That is going to be a first for me: They look a great way to use up scraps too!

  18. Oh Wow!!! so much information all the tips. Thanks.

  19. Wow Ladies this was Power Packed with information. Thanks so much, I enjoyed reading it and look forward to downloading the digi packs and entering the challenge. Your samples are amazing. Congratulations

  20. Teresa said...
    wow this is gonna be my station for inspiration
    you have packed so much in
    well done ladies

    did you know the utube thingy says its private and we need an invitations???

    sending English hugs
    Crafteresa xx

  21. How can I view the video because it is invitation?

    Great information

  22. Oh I soooo loved doing this. It was so much fun.

    Here is my card. Hope you like it.

  23. WOW!! Such great cards & altered from you! Filled with inspiration!! Thanks!

  24. Fantastic start to your new blog, so informative and a great read, thanks for all the links and tutorials, can't wait for the next one. Love the cards.

    Chris x

  25. Fantastic start girls - the blog is brilliant! Here's my take: Here's my entery
    Sorry the photo is terrible - the card looks tonnes better in real life. x

  26. I really wish you had not posted the tutorial for changing the colour of your paper. I have wasted all week trying to get a copy of Photoshop on my computer but it won't work. Got it on my laptop but could not get the tutorial to work.
    So frustrating!!!

  27. Eileen, I am sorry to hear you have had problems with trying out the Tutorial on Changing your paper colour. I think you will find that the trial editions of Photoshop are quite limiting, but you may want to check out a full edition of Photoshop Elements which is considerably cheaper than the full Photoshop and has tons of fantastic features that will be able to create lots of effects and changing the colour of your papers.

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  29. What a great start to the blog which is packed full of informations. Had fun to make the flowers!

    Here's mine!
    Hope you like it.
    Hugs xx

  30. Thank you so much for this issue! I got so much out of it. The digi papers are amaizing I've picked them up even though I'm not a digi scrapper/cardmaker... Thinking of going hybrid though.... ;)

    I have done your first challenge. It was fun!
    click here to see

  31. What an amazing blog, so many great ideas and things to check out - congrats to you, you really have done a fabulous job.
    I even attempted the challenge - but no laughing please..

    Here's my entry

  32. FANTASTIC BLOG, so much to read and look at.

    my entry is Here thanks for looking,

    Sarah xx

  33. Great blog and i wish you all the luck in the world!

    Here is my Card

  34. Brilliant first issue. Had a great time reading it and making the project. Have a good week. Here is my Entry

  35. Fantastic first issue,
    Super DT work,