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Before I had my little girl I used to spend a lot of time making cards and scrapbooking, and was always on the look out for new tools that didn't cost the earth that made the more detailed parts of my hobby easier, for example cutting shapes! Although I don't get the same time now with a one year old to run after I do still devote a couple of evenings a month to making batches of cards and one of the tools that I last used that had actually got to the bottom of my craft box is this Fiskars Circles template. I had actually purchased a pack of these Fiskars templates that came with the necessary Fiskars shape cutter that allows you to cut out a perfect shape. Individually you can end up paying up to a fiver for this template alone, but I managed to pick up this pack in TK Maxx for just over a tenner which seemed like great value. At the time of my purchase, I was looking for ways of cutting out squares, circles and hearts without having to always trace it and then cut. I wanted someway of being able to cut one of these shapes straight out of the card or paper I was working with. As you can see from the picture above, there are 7 varying sizes of circles on this plastic template meaning you can literally create any card or scrapbook page with circle designs with complete ease - no more tracing and no more compasses! As I said, if order to use this template and cut the circles out without the need for any scissors you will need to have the Fiskars shapecutter, which is a round cutting device that very safely allows you to cut a perfect shape with a blade that rotates as you move around the shape of the template. It cuts straight through paper and card and you can literally pull out a perfect shape when you have cut round it using the shapecutter. The cut is precise and neat and if done correctly you shouldn't have any strands of paper hanging at the side of the circle or any uneven circle. Since having this template I have been able to create any kind of page in a scrapbook or a card with circle designs - and circles that are perfectly cut out of whatever paper I wish. It would be more difficult to use thicker card and you may find that you have to recut thicker card a few time, but I rarely use thick card anyhow. This is a great way to cut shapes without the hassle of tracing or using a compass, and I would highly recommend it, as long as you purchase the Fiskars shapecutter alongside it.
The Circles - 1 template is just one of a large range of templates from Fiskars which also includes squares, flowers, ovals, stars and hearts to name but a few. The templates are designed to be used with the Fiskars shapecutter (a handy little cutting tool that glides easily around the template) or as a tracing guide. The template is 28.0cm x 21.6cm, it is made of rigid orange translucent plastic with a thickness of 3mm. The left hand side of the template has been cleverly designed holes in it so it can be stored in 2 or 4 hole ring binder. The template sheet contains 7 different size circles; - 4.00" diameter - 3.50" diameter - 3.50" diameter - 2.50"diameter - 2.00" diameter - 1.50" diameter - 1.00" diameter In addition to the seven circles three of the four edges are scalloped and can therefore be used for making borders etc... The template has a grid marked on it with lines every ½ inch which is really useful when trying to line up your work to ensure you draw/cut in exactly the right place. The plastic used to make the template is really good quality and can withstand a lot of use. I have been using mine for about six months now and it still looks as good as new. I find this template really useful in my card making. Circles for me is the one thing I can never cut neatly by hand they never end up a true round always go a bit wonky and uneven. By using this template in conjunction with fiskars shapecutter and craft mat. I find I can get perfect results every time. And as the template has a variety of sizes I find it really good for matting and layering. (Building up layers of card of same shape but decreasing in size to create a border effect). Although Fiskars recommend the using their shapecutter with this product if you have a steady hand you can use an ordinary craft knife and still get good results. I would recommend this product to any card maker or scrap booker. I would however recommend that it be used in conjunction with the Fiskar shapecutter as they work so well together and really make cutting circles very easy. My only criticism of this product as that the grid lines are in inches I much prefer to work in centimetres. All in all though a really good product at a very reasonable price.
Fiskars make a huge range of fantastic templates that have completely transformed the way I scrapbook. The templates are available in many different designs including flowers, ovals, stars, hearts, rectangles, and baby-related shapes, and I have found them so very useful that I have now treated myself to most of the range! Following on from my review of the Fiskars squares templates a few days ago, I am now going to review the Fiskars circles template. I feel that once you have mastered the square template, the circle template is the one I would recommend to tackle next, in order of difficulty. It will present more challenges than the square template, yet it is more straightforward than some of the more complicated shapes. Fiskars templates can be used in two main ways. Firstly, you can use them like a stencil, and use them to draw around the shapes of your choice onto paper or card, before cutting them out by hand with scissors. The second way is to use the templates with the Fiskars ShapeCutter Plus. This is a special tool designed to maximise the use of the templates. The ShapeCutter Plus contains a small blade, and the principle of using it is the same as a standard craft knife. However the cutter is chunky, which I find makes it much easier to control, and also the blade pivots so you can glide around corners and intricate shapes beautifully smoothly. The results are accurate and precise, and look hugely more professional than simply cutting by hand and hoping for the best! This makes the templates brilliant for a whole range of crafts. I love using them to crop my photos to create fun and unique pages for my scrapbooks, but they can be used to cut any thin card or paper, making them great for card making, or cutting backing papers to make a frame. My circular template is a rather snazzy shade of orange, and is transparent, so you can see exactly which parts of your photo you are going to crop. It has faint gridlines over it, similar to the large squared paper I used to have at school in Maths class! I find this feature very useful, as it allows me to line up the bottom and sides of the photo or card to make sure I am positioning the template completely straight. The circular template contains a total of seven circles in the following diameters: 1.0 inch 1.5 inch 2.0 inch 2.5 inch 3.0 inch 3.5 inch 4.0 inch I have found these to be a very useful range of sizes, and it is particularly nice to be able to cut a backing paper exactly half an inch bigger than my photo, as I think when mounted this looks very effective. It also means I can crop a selection of photos knowing they will be an identical size, which is very useful for creating a well-balanced and professional looking scrapbook layout. Now, the reason the I have found the circle template a little trickier to use than the square template is because you need to master gliding the blade around in one smooth, singular movement. If you pause, it can be difficult to carry on along the exact same path, as if you take your hand off the cutter it can be incredibly tricky to get it perfectly lined up again. Also if the template moves then you're in trouble! Once you have decided which picture or paper you want to crop, simply place it on top of a craft mat. Then place the template on top of it, and decide which size circle fits the best. Then take care to line it up so that the section you want to crop is inside one of the circles. I have found you usually lose a couple of millimetres in cutting out the shape, so if you are unsure then it is usually best to go a size up rather than a size down. Photos can always be trimmed smaller, but once you've chopped somebody's face in half there is not much you can do rescue it! I usually start on the top right had section of the circle, with the longest part of the blade pointed upwards, along the curve of the circle. Pressing the template firmly down with one hand, I then try to smoothly move the blade around the template in a clockwise motion. The old saying "more haste, less speed" couldn't be more applicable here. After a few perfect practice runs and deciding it was very simple, I then whizzed round on a photo, and to my horror found that the blade slipped from the edge of the template, leaving my photo with a horribly crooked edge. It is all too easy to get carried away and speed up, but that really is where mistakes creep in. Also, you need to allow the blade time to pivot as you're moving around the circle. If you go too quickly, then you are likely to either find the blade will slide away from the edge of the template, or find that when you complete the full circle, the section where the blade finished did not match up perfectly with where the blade started, and so you are left with a jagged edge and a non-perfect circle. I have found this is a particular risk on the smaller circles, as the movements there are tighter. If you are patient and take it very smoothly and steadily then you should be left with a perfect circle. I would definitely recommend you practice on scrap paper initially with this template, as the circular wrist motion required does take a little while to get used to. I have found the smaller circles are generally a little easier than the larger ones, as you don't have to keep the smooth motion going for quite as long. As long as you press down fairly firmly with the cutter, and try to guide the cutter against the edges of the template, then you won't go far wrong. Flicking through my scrapbook now, I think the circular template has been really effective and has helped me create some fantastic layouts that I am really pleased with. We went to Wimbledon to see the tennis one day, and I have cropped all of my photos into circles of a variety of sizes to mimic tennis balls. I have done other layouts of circles focussing on stepping stones, a trip in a hot air balloon, splashing in puddles, and a car one, inspired by the circular shape of the wheels! It is also a fun, different way to crop portraits. The only limits to the ways in which you can use it are your imagination. I bought this template in a set from Amazon along with two others for just over £10, but it can also be bought individually. The RRP is £5.80, but Amazon usually has it a little cheaper. These templates are also available from a range of craft shops, where staff are usually very good at giving you tips and advice, but the products are often dearer in my experience. It is worth mentioning that there is another mixed template containing a circle, a star, a heart, an oval and a rectangle. I bought this initially as I thought it would save me having to buy separate templates for all of the different shapes. However out of all of my templates, this is the one that I have used the least. Having only one size of each shape is very restrictive, and can really limit what you can use it for. Don't make the same mistake I did- if you're on a budget then just pick a template with one shape in seven different sizes, as this will be much more useful! In summary, I feel this circle template by Fiskars offer fantastic value for money, and is an extremely useful and flexible tool for any crafter. It allows me to precisely and accurately crop my photos, and the ability to crop into perfect circles gives me so many more options with my scraobooks. I would especially recommend it to anyone looking to jazz up their scrapbooking- the layouts it can help you achieve are simply endless.