Halloween Inspiration

IMG_8541_webHalloween has officially begun at my house! Our little family celebrated by going to Frightmares last weekend and starting work on costumes—well, the kids started thinking about their costumes, and I started working on them.

(Photo to the left of Silhouette Halloween Tags now in the shop).

I’m always a happy girl when this time of year rolls around. I feel renewed with the autumn weather. I’m ready for the heat to be replaced by cool breezes and and falling leaves.

And then, of course, there is the all the halloween decor. Many years, I don’t get to pulling things out until the last minute. But these year, our studio has producing so many fun halloween designs! The end result—lots of goodies to hang all over my home.





(All of these designs can be found in my silhouette shop and digiplayground shop)


And yes, we’ve already watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus.


Hope you have a moment this week to pull out or make some pretty things! I’m going to get to work on costumes and start planning my Halloween kids party!

Happy Haunting,

Episode 13: Halloween Haunted Mansion for Silhouette and

IMG_7894_webThis idea has been in the works for several weeks now. I’m so thrilled to finally be able to present my Halloween Haunted Village! This is made completely from SVGS files that you can purchase from my Silhouette Online Shop or (for other cutting machines).

There are several pieces to this village. You can mix and match or purchase the entire village. Here are the pieces you can buy in this set (links for purchase available 9/21/15):

Pumpkin Mansion
Ghost Mansion
Spider House
Witch Tower
Haunted Tree
Haunted Fence
Cat House
Tiny Bat House
Tiny Crow House

Most of these pieces (in particular the larger pieces) have a circular opening at the bottom so you can place an electric tealight. I can’t describe how awesome this village looks when all the lights are off and the tea lights make these IMG_7899_1_webhouse glow! If you want ALL the larger houses to glow, make sure you use, orange, white, cream, or transparent paper (like vellum) for the bases of your houses. Several of my houses (shown here) use a black or kraft paper base. These do not show the light nearly as well as the lighter based houses.

My kids were thrilled with this set! Charlie ended up playing in my office for most of the afternoon with the lights off, moving around the pieces and tea lights in this set!


Of course, this set has a lot of working parts so there is a video on how to assemble it! I cover several of the pieces that I feel will help you. I hope you enjoy it!


2015-2016 Carina Gardner and MiniLou Team Calls!

I’m so excited that we are finally able to open up three calls for a creative team, design team, and style team for MiniLou and Carina Gardner, Inc.! I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now so I’m glad we are getting this in before the holiday season commences.

These are small teams where we send you product in exchange for you coming up with ideas, doing a small write up, and taking photos. All submissions need to be sent to our Marketing Director Jill at or Here’s the breakdown:


For the time being, we are only taking submissions that require physical products from the US. If you are International and want to apply for digital scrapbooking product and/or silhouette files/svg products, we are happy to receive submissions from you!

Have questions? Feel free to email us!

Looking forward to seeing your submissions!


Carina Gardner SVG Files Now at!


I just got back from a quick vacay with the kids before school begins next week (You can see me taking a leap from a rope swing on my facebook page here). When I opened my email, I found this gem (the image to the left). So the time has come to make a big announcement…

For all of you out there with digital diecutting machines (but not a Silhouette), you can now get my SVG files for YOUR machine at! I have been working on this for the last couple of months and there are files up there ready to go!

Every week, we are working on getting new files up so be sure to check back often. I have a 900 + back log of silhouette files that we are reshaping for your digital diecutting machines and all of them will be available at DigiPlayground. So you will see a mix of new and old going up every week.

Annnddd…to top it off there is a 40% off sale going on NOW through the end of the week (ends August 23, 2015). Take advantage and stock up on some goodies!

Happy cutting!


PS. Psst, exciting news about MiniLou! SVGs for KIDS ONLY projects and activities are coming soon here:

Episode 12: Circus Party Train Album Tutorial for Silhouette

I’m so excited to share with you my Circus Party Train Album. As suggested, it is an accordion train that fits nicely into a single album. This album is made using my Circus Party papers that I designed for Carta Bella. The album can be purchased from my Silhouette Shop. I hope you enjoy!


(links will be available soon)

CircusPartyTrainAlbumCaboose CircusPartyTrainAlbumCage CircusPartyTrainAlbumElephant CircusPartyTrainAlbumEngine CircusPartyTrainAlbumEnvelopes CircusPartyTrainAlbumEssentials CircusPartyTrainAlbumLion CircusPartyTrainAlbumPocket

Pen Pal Letters—Silhouette and Digital Scrapbooking Tutorial

IMG_7136_1webI was recently introduced to these amazing letters that you place in Artist Trading Card Page Protectors. The idea was introduced by Janette Lane, and I have been so inspired by what she is doing. Creating these little works of art means quite a bit of scrapbooking paper, washi tape, ephemera, and other little bits and goodies. I have been wanting to make some of these letters for my girls (letters to them when they are older), and created a number of silhouette and digital scrapbooking files so that I can make them. Links for all the current products I have that relate to these kinds of letters are below (in both my silhouette and digital scrapbooking shop).

Be sure you check out Janette and what she is doing because it is truly inspiring!

The image above and to the left I did for my daughter Siri who is a harpist. You’ll notice the envelope at the bottom that I plan on putting her letter in. I’ll also write a few things I love about her on the “I love” card from the starter set. I’ll add a few stories about her growing up on the tabbed set.

I think I’ll hide it away for her 18th birthday. It will be a treat for both of us!


The one below I made for Felicity for her 18th birthday. The envelope is in the left hand corner and I am loving this little fold over scalloped tab I am using in the center top to write a little story about her now. I’m hoping she loves the silly ipod in the bottom left hand corner and the tabbed pieces in the right hand corner (I might throw a few fun pictures in there for her).


My take on the Pen Pal Letters is simply another way to document bits of our lives for my kids. I love the way Janette is using them to build a fun community and create something beautiful!


Happy pen pal-ing!


Please note: some products not released yet and links are not available.


CarinaGardner_penpal_bakingbeachprev copy CarinaGardner_penpal_birthdaygamesprev copy CarinaGardner_penpal_fullprev CarinaGardner_penpal_hellostarterprev copy CarinaGardner_penpal_musicdaysprev copy CarinaGardner_penpal_tabbedprev copy



(link to all the silhouette Pen Pal Letters here)

penpal2.5x3.5letters_verticalenvelopespenpal2.5x3.5letters_horizontalenvelopespenpal2.5x3.5letters_starterpack1penpal2.5x3.5letters_starterpack2penpal2.5x3.5letters_starterpack3penpal2.5x3.5letters_bakingpack1 penpal2.5x3.5letters_bakingpack2 penpal2.5x3.5letters_bakingpack3

penpal2.5x3.5letters_beach1 penpal2.5x3.5letters_beach2 penpal2.5x3.5letters_beach3 penpal2.5x3.5letters_birthday1 penpal2.5x3.5letters_birthday2 penpal2.5x3.5letters_birthday3 penpal2.5x3.5letters_days1 penpal2.5x3.5letters_days2 penpal2.5x3.5letters_days3 penpal2.5x3.5letters_games penpal2.5x3.5letters_games2 penpal2.5x3.5letters_games3 penpal2.5x3.5letters_tabbed_h penpal2.5x3.5letters_tabbed_v01penpal2.5x3.5letters_hellopack1 01penpal2.5x3.5letters_hellopack2 01penpal2.5x3.5letters_hellopack3

Alphabet Photo Album Tutorial for Silhouette

I’m so excited about my Alphabet Photo Album series that can be purchased from Silhouette. There are so any ways to use this album. Tutorial below along with a few ideas for using this album!



1. Cut a single photo into one letter. Simply lay a large photo behind the letter and trim the photo.

2. Use multiple letters together to create a name (like C-H-A-R-L-I-E) and only put photos of that person in it.

3. Choose a theme like S-U-M-M-E-R and capture favorite moments from the season.

4. Add journaling and/or capture a specific photo shoot or time of year.


5. Create an alphabet album highlighting each letter. For example, an apple orchard experience with your children all captured in the letter ‘A’ or a swim party in the letter ‘S’.

6. Do a single letter album to highlight a holiday. For example, ‘C’ for Christmas—

7. Or highlight the holiday by spelling out the holiday like E-A-S-T-E-R.

There are so many great ways to use this album for a gift or keepsake. Here’s how you put it together.


1. Cut  out SVG files. You will have two pieces—a front overlay and a back piece with holes for attaching it to other album pieces. (PS All the Alphabet Photo Album pieces go together).


2. Use tape or a glue stick to adhere the photograph to the back of a framed window. I used scotch tape, but you may use whatever adhesive you would like to make  your picture stay in place.



3.Finally, simply place the letter on back piece to create a simple collage of fun photos.

Hope you get to make one of these fun album!













Rectangle Card Boxes Tutorial for Silhouette

I’ve been adding quite a few of these box cards to my silhouette shop recently. They aren’t hard to put together but there are a few steps. Each of my boxes are different so you will need to make adjustments to this tutorial based on the type of box you have purchased.

A couple of notes about these boxes. They aren’t true boxes in that they do not have a bottom. Once you have put them together, you should be able to fold them flat. Some of the boxes come with flaps along the edges (like the whale box) and some come without (like the ice cream box).

Here’s how to put it together:

1. Cut out the svg files. Glue accent pieces to the outside of the box. Note that most of these boxes should have a large accent piece on the back of the box AND the inside of the box. Usually you just need to cut the piece twice but on some of the designs the inside is different than the accent piece on the outside.



2. Glue the flap on the main piece to the back of the box to create the main box.


It should look like this:


3. Glue on all the accent pieces to the inside pieces (for example, the whale on the back piece shown here). Then fold on glue flap forward and one glue flap backwards.



4. Next glue the flaps into the box. Space the different pieces inside evenly. Most of these boxes come with 2-3 inside pieces. You can also fold the box flap to glue down the box pieces. Some of the boxes come with a single inside piece and a couple of little accessories (usually an object on a stick) that you just glue directly to the box.





And that’s it! It’s a cute card or fun gift idea!

Hope you have fun making these!


DS-9.3W-CG-babyboxcard DS-9.3W-CG-deerboxcard DS-9.3W-CG-icecreamboxcard

Filled Basket Silhouette Tutorial


I probably redesigned this basket a half a dozen times but I think it was worth it! The end result just makes me smile!

These little baskets are 3D and take a bit of time (and creativity) to put together. Stick a little gift card in it for a friend or use it for home decor! These baskets DO NOT fold flat (they have a full bottom on them).

I hope you get a chance to make one of these darling little baskets! You can fill them as “full” as you want with the addition of little “bits” that can be glued in the front or back. You also have the option of making this front and back (by gluing the accessories —like flowers or strawberries) to the front and back of each piece).


Here’s how to put these together:

1. Cut out the svg files.

2. Glue the accent pieces to the main box. This includes the side squares and the “lid” accent pieces.IMG_6380_web

2. Next glue down all the embellishments (like the strawberries or flowers) to the inside pieces (shown below in kraft paper). You can pop dot them but because mine was full, I chose to simply glue them down. Add any embellishments (like diamonds to the centers of the flowers) at this point. Note: You can finger press anything at this point to add dimension. You’ll see that with the flowers, I chose to only glue the centers and finger press the petals to give the flowers more depth.

3. Next, you’ll need to glue in the tabs. You can see I got a little picture crazy with this because it’s a little hard to explain. I like gluing in the center piece (with the handle) first. I fold one tab forward and one tab backwards. You can see in the photo below, I glue that handle piece to the center of one of the sides of my box.


I then glue the front piece on (as shown below). I glue the flap going forward like the handle piece.

IMG_6383_web IMG_6385_web

I then glue the back piece on. You’ll notice that I try to evenly space them.


Fold up the box and see how you are doing on your spacing. This will also help you gauge where to glue the opposite side flaps on.


4. Glue the inside pieces to the opposite side of the box. I like to just glue one of the flaps first. I started with the first inside piece (you can see in the photo below). I placed hot glue on it (you can use any kind of adhesive you want) and then positioned it to the opposite side of the box.IMG_6392_web

It should look like the photo below.


I finish gluing the other two flaps onto the opposite side of the box.

5. Once I have all the middle pieces positioned, I then glue the rest of the box together.



From the top, it will look like this (see photo below).


6. There may be several accent pieces in the file you have. For example, there are “strawberries on a stick” in the strawberry basket file as well as some greenery. I placed the strawberries randomly in the box and glued them to the front of the box and behind the inside pieces. I glued the greenery to the front of the box. For the flowers, I simply added some flowers to parts of the box to give it a more “full” look.



The point is to add some depth to the boxes contents.

Hope you have fun making one!


DS-16.5W-CG-flowerbasket DS-16.5W-CG-strawberrybox DS-16.5W-CG-butterflybasket1

Layered Cake Tutorial for Silhouette


There are lots of weddings happening around me, and I was inspired to make some cake! Some Silhouette Cake of course!

These layered cakes are all put together about the same way (with some slight deviations based on design). You can mix and match the designs (like using the butterflies with the scallop shapes of the flowers) because all of the cakes are made exactly the same size.

The crazy thing is that these are even cuter in real life! I think we might have to leave these out in the office for a while to enjoy them!

Check the bottom of the post for links to specific designs you can find in my Silhouette Shop!

Here’s how you put these sweet treats together:

DS-15.6W-CG-butterflylayeredweddingcake1. Cut out all the svg files.

2. Layer with adhesive (or pop dots as shown in my picture) the bottom mats with the small one on top of the larger one.


3. Put together the main form of the “cake” by gluing the boxes together. Put adhesive on the glue flaps to form the sides of the box.


4. Place the matching “top” to the box and glue down the sides.

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You should have three (or more) boxes finished.


5. Glue the boxes to the mats in order of largest to smallest.

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6. Finally, embellish the cake the the decorative items that come with the cake. I like a diagonal design but you can place them any way you want! For the topper, I try to use the biggest item (like the cut out butterfly) or gather together several of the same items (like 4 flowers all together). I used embellishments (like little diamonds or pearls to help accessorize).

IMG_6443_web IMG_6446_web

And that’s it! You’ve made a darling layered cake! Hope you had fun making it!


(Links available as the product becomes available)

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Mobile Tutorial for Silhouette

teddybearmobileThis week among my Silhouette releases are mobiles. They do take some time to put together but they are really cute and make the cutest party and home decor items!

I use a lot of solid papers for this project and was loving my hot glue gun because it made putting it altogether quick. The “umbrella” piece at the top can be used for more than just the mobile (size down for umbrella drinks or other party items).

Here’s how to put this together:

1. Cut out the pieces as shown in the file.

2. Glue all the accent pieces to the top of the “umbrella”. (Note you can do this between Steps 4 and 5 as I show in the photos as well.)

3. Fold on the scorelines of the “umbrella” and place a ribbon with a knot on the end of it in the center hole. If you want to place hanging icons from the center ribbon, leave a long tail.


4. Glue the flap of the “umbrella” together with the ribbon in the center.


5. Put together the “object” you will be placing on the mobile. For example, if you have the teddy bears, assemble each teddy bear individually. If you have the floral mobile, you can finger press the petals and make each flower individually. For my mobiles, I had 4 ribbons—the center ribbon, and three shorter ribbons. On each of the short ribbons, I hung two objects each. For the center, I hung 3 objects. So that is a total of  9 objects, right? But you have to DOUBLE that number, because you will want to make each object DOUBLE-SIDED since they will be floating. So I cut out 18 objects in total for each of my mobiles. Feel free to change up the number and size of your objects. (e.g. the scallop frame mobile only uses 3 frames so I only cut out 6 pieces in total).

If you left a long tail for the center ribbon, you can add you objects directly to that center ribbon. If you did not, you can always easily knot another piece of ribbon to the center knot. Place two or three objects on this center ribbon and space carefully. Glue one side of the object onto the ribbon first, then sandwich the ribbon by adding a second object.


6. Add the other ribbons with either tape or hot glue. Be sure to space them into thirds if you are using three more ribbons. Add objects to these ribbons as well.


And that’s it! It’s a lot of cutting and gluing but makes for an awesome project! Hope you have fun making these!


***NEW: Tutorial for putting together the airplane in the Airplane Mobile

I added this little tutorial because putting together the airplane (while not complicated) is a little hard to see in the photos. So here is how you put these together.

1. After cutting out all the pieces, you will want to add all the accent pieces as MIRROR IMAGES. Then fold the tail wings out. You can see that the tails on both cut out pieces are folded out to opposite sides. You need to put everything on as a mirror image so that you have accent pieces on BOTH sides of the airplane.


2. To place the planes on the ribbon, you will sandwich the ribbon between the two planes. Glue together the sides without the accent pieces.


3. You can add the wings at this point (with the ribbon sandwiched between the two planes) or you can do this before you add the plane to the ribbon.


Here’s a final look at the airplane from the top view.


Hopefully this helps you put together the airplane mobile!


PS. Other goings on at CGInc and ML : MiniLou Kickstarter Video, MiniLou Online Shop Opening, Release of my CartaBella line Circus Party

Links to my mobiles in the Silhouette Store

teddybearmobile sunstarmoonmobile scallopframemobile floralmobileairplanemobile_1

Riley Blake Blog Tour

Hexiquilt_webI’m finally back from Quilt Market and so excited to be part of the Riley Blake Blog Tour! I have a few pics from Quilt Market in Minneapolis in this post too.

So building Wiltshire Daisy began with color. That doesn’t always happen for me. I generally start with a concept and begin drawing the master fabric from an image in my head. This time I knew I wanted to create a gray and pink colorway. I began drawing the cabbage roses and started adding little drops of orange and yellow into the mix. Yellow and pink are two of my favorite colors together (I call them citrus—lemon and grapefruit). It seemed natural at that point to also throw in the orange (for some extra citrus flavor).

(photo to the left—Baby Hexi Quilt—free pattern coming to the blog in the next two weeks / photo below, right—Me at Quilt Market arranging my booth / photo below, left—my girls sporting Wiltshire Daisy dresses I whipped up one Sunday for church)IMG_9517_web1

Wiltshire Daisy is probably my favorite line to date. It’s very soft and shabby chic. (photo below, right—Little Love Nest Ruffle Dress for the 18 inch doll in the gray master fabric / photo below, left—my Quilt Market booth in the Riley Blake Booth with Emily Taylor)


If you love this fabric, make sure and take a peek at the free Around the World Quilt pattern here. You can also follow me on instagram to see what else I’m making with this fabric (as well as a sneak peek at my fall line for Riley Blake!).

Happy Sewing!


PS My new kids company MiniLou has 23 days left in the MiniLou Kickstarter Campaign. Check out our cute video!


5/15 – Where Women Cook
5/18 – Becky Marie Designs
8/18 – Pattern Anthology
5/19 – Carina Gardner
5/21 – Lori Holt
5/21 – Tasha Noel
5/22 – Lori Whitlock
5/22 – Cinderberry Stitches
5/23 – Eleanor Dugan
5/26 – Simple Simon
5/26 – The Quilted Fish
5/28 – Melly & Me
5/28 – Elea Lutz
5/29 – Zoe Pearn
5/29 – Doohikey Designs
5/30 –Samantha Walker
5/30 – Kelly Panacci

MiniLou Kickstarter Campaign

The video below has been my life the last week! Seriously. Armed with my amateur video software and a style vision, I video taped, animated, and coaxed children into speaking into my hilariously big microphone. Totally worth it! Check out this 1 minute of cuteness!

Somehow it seems fitting that this campaign goes live on Mother’s Day since MiniLou was inspired by my children. Feel free to read my story on the Kickstarter page here.

So what is this all about? Ever since starting MiniLou seven months ago, I knew that we were going to need additional funding to bring in more products. So far, MiniLou is 100% funded by me. Kickstarter is a platform where you can become a member of my campaign and receive certain benefits for being a part of the MiniLou community.

The money funded by the project will go towards making three new pocket paper pals (Hansel and Gretel by Carla Chaves, Zombie Apocalypse by Emily Taylor, and Family Farm by Katie Jarman) and one new coloring book (Preston the Pirate by Deena Rutter).

minilou_pocketpaperpal_newinventory copy

In return, we have some amazing rewards for our backers. In addition to rewards where we send you MiniLou products, most of the levels have an awesome printable (or multiple printables) so that those out of our mailing range will get something as well. The downloads will be exclusive for Kickstarter members only. Check out the rewards on the sidebar here:





Want to help me spread the word about our Kickstarter Campaign (or just show the video to your friends and kids)? Here is the link:

I really can’t thank you enough for your help on this! Starting a new business (and maintaining your current one) is draining, time-consuming, and stressful. But it has been soooo worth it. Bringing a little more beauty, a sweet new memory, or a new avenue for imagination makes what I do rewarding. I am grateful for your support for CGInc and MiniLou!!!!!

Thank you again for being a part of my two little companies!

The MiniLou Kickstarter Campaign
On instagram: @miniloukids
On facebook:

Vellum Top Boxes for Silhouette

vellumtopcircleopeningboxThis week I made a bunch of these darling little vellum topped boxes. They make the cutest favor boxes and gift items. You can purchase them from the Silhouette Shop here.

All the boxes that work with this tutorial (and links!) are down at the bottom of this post.

Here’s how to put together these boxes:



1. Cut out on Silhouette files. The main body of the box is shown in kraft paper. I used plain velum to go underneath the circle cut out on top, and a patterned blue paper for the accent panels.

2. Fold scored lines on the box. This creates a visual image of where your accent panels should be placed.


3. Glue vellum or transparent paper to the INSIDE of your folds into the opening on the top to create a “peek-a-boo” window.


4. Glue accent papers into place using adhesive. I used a glue gun to put it together quickly. A glue stick or glue dots would also work great.


5. Finally, put glue on the flaps and attach the sides of the box to finish the box.

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And that’s it! It’s the best little party, wedding, or birthday favor box or treat box!

Happy crafting!

vellumtopbirdbox vellumtopbutterflybox vellumtopcircleopeningbox vellumtopdewbox vellumtopdinosaurbox vellumtopfloralopeningbox vellumtopscallopbox vellumtopsinglebracketbox vellumtoptulipbox vellumtopvinebox

Folding Flap Sliding Box Tutorial for Silhouette


I know so many of my posts these days are Silhouette tutorials. I hope that they are so helpful for those of you that are “making” with your machines.

This cute little box is created with an “envelope” folding flap. Here’s how to put it together.

1. Cut out the silhouette files.  The main body of the box I cut out in white and the flap in kraft paper. The accent papers are in pink.

2.This box is double enforced—that is, I created it so that the sides of the box are stronger by doubling up the paper. So you have to fold all the score lines on the box and then glue down the extra flaps. Do this to all four flaps.



3. Then put glue on the glue flaps and attach the sides of the box together to finish the box.


4. To create the flap, glue down the accent pieces to the main flap. Be sure to match up the small, half circle notches on the accent paper and the flap.


5. Fold the flap around the box and attach using the notch. You can use a clear sticker or use the notch to hold the flap together.


And that’s it! There so many uses for this cute box from favor boxes, small gifts, or even as a card.

Happy creating!