I am way behind in my home and garden projects this year…between a crazy schedule at work lately and being pregnant, I just can’t seem to keep up! But I really like making my own markers for my vegetable garden every year…so even though the plants went in weeks ago (you can probably see some tomatoes already growing in the picture above if you look closely), I did not get them labeled until this past weekend. In the past, I’ve done different designs – every year I plant different varieties to see what grows well and what tastes the best, so I change my markers with each new growing season too.
Last year, I used heat transfer material on mini fence posts to create this style of marker featured on the Silhouette blog. A lot of people asked at the time why I used HTM instead of just plain vinyl, and it was just because they would last longer outdoors in the sun and rain. The fence posts were still pretty rough after sanding, so regular adhesive vinyl would not have stuck as well as I would have liked.
The year before, I had made these markers using the Print & Cut function on my Silhouette and lots of Mod Podge and sealant. Sadly, although I loved how pretty these markers were, they were a bit too dainty and evil squirrels tore them apart!
So, this year I created my own sign posts again using wood pieces found at my local craft store…but I really beefed up the thickness of the dowel (5/16″ in diameter vs. the 1/8″ from two years ago) and used thicker wooden cutouts. A generous amount of hot glue was all I needed to attached the two pieces together.
After painting all of my signs with a couple of coats of Rust-oleum Satin Enamel spray paint in “Dark Brown”, I pulled out my glossy vinyl from Silhouette. The new glossy vinyl that they began offering this year is considered permanent vinyl and can be used outdoors for projects like this one. (The vinyl that Silhouette previously sold was best for indoor applications, but could be used for some outdoor projects.)
I started to design my labels by opening up this autumn frame from the Silhouette Design Store onto my workspace. This design looked like it would be easy to weed (important, considering how many markers I would be making) and had a rustic feel to it (fitting, considering how overgrown my garden may get this year during my third trimester).
I only needed the stick-like frame portion, though, so I ungrouped the design (indicated by blue arrow) and deleted all of the other leaf and pumpkin bits.
To add the text to the label, I opened the Text Style Menu (arrow 1), selected a font that paired nicely with my frame (arrow 2), and changed the justification (arrow 3) to make sure the two lines of text were nicely centered with respect to each other.
Next, I centered the text within my frame by selecting both (arrow 1), opening the Align Menu (arrow 2), and clicking on Center (arrow 3).
I then copied my first label several more times until I had enough for each variety of plant. After retyping the text in each one, I changed the Page Settings to make sure I had enough of 9″ light blue vinyl on my roll to cut all of my tags.
For this project, I set up my roll feeder too. If I’m doing a lot of vinyl work, or a project requires a long piece of vinyl, the roll feeder keeps the material fed into the machine straight (so you don’t have to worry about the blade running off the edge of the material at the bottom or something).
After cutting the entire sheet, I trimmed out each label separately to make for easier weeding of the design.
If you don’t have too intricate of a design or font, many times it can help to kinda “fold back” the vinyl over itself while you pull it off. This method made for very quick weeding of my labels because it left my text in place while I quickly ripped off the excess material.
And here is a shot of all of my labels waiting to be transferred to their wooden signs.
I use brand-name transfer paper for my vinyl projects (this is Silhouette brand here, but it is very similar to Cricut brand). I know there are cheaper alternatives, like dollar store shelf-liner, but I like the grid lines and perfect tackiness of this transfer paper so I feel it’s a good investment (and a roll lasts a very long time anyway). I also use my Silhouette scraper to adhere the transfer paper well to my vinyl design (an old gift card would work just fine though).
Once I had lined up my design evenly on my sign, I “scraped” it down with my scraper tool and began pulling the transfer paper off. Again, it helps sometimes to fold the paper straight back over itself while removing quickly as it leaves the intricate design adhered to your project.
It really only took a minute or so to adhere each label to my sign posts…so they were done in a flash.
Despite the late addition, I think my garden markers add a nice, yet somewhat rustic, touch to my vegetable garden. The signs also matched my cucumber trellises after I painted them as well.
I’m trying out a few new varieties of eggplant this year…I haven’t had luck with them in the past in this area of the country, but I already have a tiny guy growing on one of these plants, so here’s hoping!
And, of course, I have a section devoted just to heirloom tomatoes (I took these pictures before putting in my ugly tomato cages, so these huge plants are nicely supported now!).
I hope you enjoyed this project and maybe even picked up a few tips on working with vinyl. Thanks for stopping by today and I would love to hear your comments!