This post shares some tips and tricks that you probably didn’t know about making beautiful DIY cards. At the end is a super easy project for you to practice.
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Wait … It’s NOT hard to make a DIY card?
Truth be told, with the right equipment and supplies, making your own DIY cards is definitely NOT rocket science. You also DON’T need to be a creative genius
The only difference is that the “other people” have supplies and equipment that you don’t. Many of you probably don’t even know where to start beyond a roll of double-sided tape and some pretty paper.
No worries because below is the Know-It-All’s guide to what you need to move from a one-of card maker to a DIY card making ninja.
At the end of the post, you’ll find directions for completing a super EASY “smile” card that involved multiple layers, cuts, and adhesives. Admittedly, it’s not the most inspired card design. Its purpose is to take you through the basic cutting and assembly techniques for DIY card making. Then with practice on your own designs, you can then go from basic to Pinterest perfect ninja paper warrior.
getting results means the right equipment
There are a lot of pre-cut papers, embellishments, and card stocks that are great for the occasional card maker. Yet if you enjoy making paper crafts on a regular basis then invest in the right equipment.
The below section goes through the larger investments in equipment and tools. They can be acquired with time but will definitely take your DIY card making skills to a level you’ll never reach with scissors and double sided tape alone.
Getting the Cut PERFECT!
You know all of those perfectly cut words and embellishments you see all over the web? You wonder, “Who has that much time or that steady of a hand to make them?” The answer is in 9 out of 10 cases, NOBODY. They use a cutting machine. A very popular model with tons of different applications is the Cricut Maker.
Between the machine and accessories, this is a true investment. There are less expensive models to consider as well but this is the darling of the paper cutting hobbyist. You can cut paper of almost any weight, vinyl, thin wood, material, leather, and iron-on materials.
The designs you use can be made from almost any graphics program OR simply use the Cricut Design Space and create right with their own software.
Adhering That Perfect Cut
Not nearly as dear to your wallet is the Xyron XRN900 Creative Station. With this, you can create stickers out of the paper cuts you make. You can also put your paper through the Xyron before the cutting machine and get all those cuts pre-taped.
This does take some practice and you’ll need to use delicate surface FrogTape to hold the paper to the Cricut cutting mat because the back is slick (see below). It’s a game changer when it comes to adhering those tiny little cuts in place.
One nice thing about the Xyron Creative Station is that it’s totally manual and can be used for years and years without becoming outdated.
Beyond those tiny little precise cuts, you’ll also be doing tons of bigger cuts. That’s when you’ll get really tired of ripping off pieces of tape wondering why there isn’t a better option. Well there is one!
Get your hands on the Scotch Adhesive Tape Glider (ATG). This allows you to do long passes of adhesive to all those layers you’ll be stacking.
The ATG does take a little practice to use and load but once you have one you’ll never want to use anything else!
Last but not lease are glue dots. We didn’t use them in the project at the bottom but they are useful in a ton of applications including, gate closures, ribbons. and one-of-a-kind embellishment. They come in a variety of heights and sizes so you can even add a little height and dimension to your crafting.
Cutting Staples That You Will Use ALL THE TIME
A guaranteed must-have tool is a self-healing cutting mat. What’s that? It’s a mat to use with rotary cutters that will protect the surface of where you’re cutting.
The mats come in all different shapes, sizes, and brands. Two great brands are OLFA and Fiskars. They will last for years if taken care of well. If you’re just using it the mat for cards then you can get a smaller 12″ mat as shown below. If there’s a chance you’ll be doing projects any larger than cards then bite the bullet and get the larger size. You won’t regret it, promise!
With a self-healing mat, you’ll need a rotary cutter. Scissors are a thing of the past now that rotary cutters make transitionless cuts.
When you use a rotary cutter, you’ll need a hard edge to line up your cuts. There are a lot of different options. As you get started, two sure-fire choices are a square ruler and a quilters ruler. These are both from the quilting world but they’ll be invaluable to your paper crafts too!
Both are clear to let you line up perfectly your cut. The plastic is also thick enough to make sure that the rotary cutter doesn’t jump its mark and cut your fingers.
The final cutting staple is a portable slide cutter. These are for making quick cuts to one sheet at a time. There are larger, guillotine cutters, for doing more cuts but most hobbyists don’t need to go to that scale.
All of these cutting tools will last for years. At most you’ll need to replace blades periodically depending on how much you use them.
Getting All Your DIY Cards to Line Up
It does no good to have the best and most accurate cuts adhered to your base note card if they don’t line up. Yes, there are tools for this too! Three to be specific.
The first is an absolute MUST BUY!
I mean it. You have to buy this ruler. You will use it constantly.
I’ll keep the suspense from building too much, it’s the C-Thru ruler. Not for cutting or measuring (although it can be used for measuring … it’s a little too thin for cutting) but for lining up your layers accurately.
You’ll see in the project below that you can place the edge of the ruler over the paper and then place the top layer in place exactly where it’s supposed to go down to the eighth of an inch.
One more bonus quickie, if you’ll be addressing envelopes by hand is an addressing template. This isn’t necessary, honestly, but does make it easier to line up the print on addresses.
You’re GO-TO Supplies
When you’re making cards, you’ll be buying paper and ribbon for each project based on the season or event. What doesn’t have to change are the envelopes so you can buy these in bulk.
The shimmer envelopes in white size A7 (fits a 5″ x 7″ card) are a perfect universal choice for all of your DIY cards. We can order you
To match, if you like to economize, then you won’t go wrong by buying white shimmer card stock as a base for all (or many) of your DIY cards. The letter size can then be cut down to whatever size note you’re making.
Once your card is made and you want to add a special personal touch, then it’s time to add some calligraphy or hand-lettering. There are tons of resources to learn how to do both. Just take time — a LOT of time — to practice and you’ll be in good shape.
Depending on what you’re writing, here are two great types of pens that you’ll love for your hand-lettering along with a great practice pad.
When You’re Ready to REALLY Get Serious
There are some extra pieces of equipment and tools that are awesome to have but really NOT as essential as you’re getting started. BUT if you’re someone who wants to go for the whole kit-and-
A light box for hand lettering. Yes, a light box is for tracing and hand lettering isn’t tracing. However, if you’re making a lot of cards (let’s say 100 Christmas cards) and you’ve decided to hand letter them then making a template to trace over is super handy. A real time saver.
You’ll still be doing the writing yourself, but you won’t have to match up the centering and line heights for each and every card you write.
If you happen to have a glass table, you can also DIY a light box by putting a light under the glass. If not, get a light box!
Speaking of light, sometimes there’s never enough. When you need more light and a little help looking really close at a project then you will love to have a magnifier light.
Let’s get started on your first, easy project
Now that you’re in the loop with what to equipment, tools, and supplies to buy if you’re getting into paper crafts for real; it’s now time to practice.
This is a card that was designed in Adobe Illustrator but could just as easily been made using Cricut Design Space. It’s not complicated as its entire purpose is for its instructional merit. If you prefer to make one of your own, have at it! Read through this post for some tips and techniques that will help you along the way.
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut 2005105 Scoring Wheel Combo Pack Maker Tool, Assorted 2 Piece
- Cricut StandardGrip Cutting 12x12 3 Pack
- Xyron Creative Station
- Scotch CAT 085 Advanced Tape Glider
- OLFA 24" x 36" Double-Sided, Self-Healing Rotary Mat
- Fiskars SureCut Portable Trimmer
- Fiskars 197960-1004 Classic Stick Rotary Cutter, 60mm
- Westcott 8ths 12-Inch Beveled Transparent Ruler (B-70)
- We R Memory Keepers 3 Way Corner Punch We Tools
- Gather all your supplies and tools together.
- Decide on your four paper layers: card, front layer panel, base SMILE panel, top SMILE panel.
- Following the directions of the Xyron Creative Station, apply adhesive to the back of the two SMILE panel card stocks. Trim to 8 1/2" wide first if needed to fit machine.
- Trim the adhesive backed card stocks to remove adhesive salvage.
- Open the SMILE card project in Cricut Design Space. Click "MAKE IT" to start.You'll need to have the paper organized to go from bottom to top (card, front layer panel, base SMILE panel, top SMILE panel). .
- Cut the first two layers (card layer, front layer panel) following directions on Cricut Design Space.
- Edit the last two layers so they are at least an inch away from the left edge of the paper.
- Layout the next two layers using delicate surface Frogtape to hold adhesive-back card stock in place. Press the tape lightly on the paper and more firmly on the Cricut mat. .
- Carefully remove the Frogtape and paper from the Cricut mats. Trim the extra paper away from the cut layers to use with a future project.
- Weed away the negative space from the cut layers.
- Stand so you're looking straight down and adhere the top SMILE layer onto the bottom.
- Apply the Transfer Paper Tape to the top of the SMILE embellishment.
- Remove the back of the adhesive from the SMILE embellishment.
- Standing directly over the work surface, apply the SMILE embellishment to the front layer panel so it sits centered and an angle you like. Carefully remove the transfer paper tape from front of SMILE embellishment.
- Using the Scotch ATG, apply adhesive on all four sides of the back of the front layer panel.
- Clip the corners of the front layer panel using corner punch.
- Line up the clear ruler to perfectly place the front layer panel onto the card layer.
- Clip the corners of the card layer using corner punch.
- Line your envelope with wrapping paper and shown in our post on DIY Envelope Liners.
going beyond the basics
The craft store can be a dangerous place once you start getting creative with your DIY cards and paper crafts. Just remember to download the
There are ALWAYS coupons!
When, on the other hand, you have a really special project such as a wedding, religious event, landmark birthday, or huge life event then you’ll want just the right supplies. Through our Envelopments® dealer agreement, we can order you supplies to make the most beautiful invitations and announcements.
There are special envelopes, gate cards, cut stocks, and so much more. Reach out when you’re in this position and together we can create an amazing handcrafted DIY card.
We hope that this round-up of must-haves and practice card has helped you make the jump from a one-of card maker to a DIY card ninja warrior.