Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Card Making Tips and Tricks For You

There are a lot of simple little tricks that can facilitate your card making experience and help to make your cards more professional looking.  One of the simplest things to do is to determine the paper grain.  Just like fabric, paper also has a paper grain.  When cutting and/or scoring it is important to determine the grain, or how it came off the roll during the manufacturing process.

  • Determine the Grain of your paper.
    • Cup the paper in your hands bringing the sides together. If it bends easily this is the grain of the paper. Turn the paper in the other direction.
    • Repeat same action. The paper will not bend as easily. You will feel a slight resistance as it is bending “against the grain”.
    • On a piece of cardstock 8 ½" x 11” the grain of the paper is usually down the 11”  side. In most cases the grain of the paper is with the longest side, “grain long”.   The paper fibers should* always run in this direction. For a 12” x 12” paper do the “grain of paper” test explained previously.
    • Another easy way to test for the grain is by tearing the paper. Tearing with the grain will give you a straighter tear, tearing against the grain will produce a more 'jagged' tear.
    • *Important note:  on occasion, paper manufacturers cut against the grain, which means that the grain is along the 8 1/2" side.  This becomes more evident when you find yourself cutting paper with a new cutting blade, yet the edge always appears fuzzy.  Fuzzy edges can be easily repaired with a simple sanding block (Stampin' Up Item #103301 / pkg of 2 / $3.50)


  • Be sure to score your card stock correctly.
    • When you score a line (or emboss), you are actually spreading out the paper fibers in preparation for folding.
    • Make sure your paper cuts are correct
      • Align your paper so that it butts into the top lip of your paper trimmer.
      • Align the right edge of your paper so that it falls along a line on your trimmer surface. 
      • If the top edge is aligned, and the paper edge is off the line, your paper may be 'out of square'
    • There are several different tools which may be used to score your card stock.
      • A scoring blade may be substituted for the cutting blade in your paper trimmer. 
      • You may use the channel in your paper trimmer with a credit card or bone folder to score in the channel.  This is a little tricky.. but with practice can be done easily.
      • Purchased scoring products such as  the Scor-Pal™ or Scor-It™ (I happen to own the Scor-Pal and use it frequently)


  • Be sure to fold your card in the correct direction!
    • In basic Origami, the folds are often referred to as "mountains" and "valleys".  Fold a scrap of card stock or paper in half.  Place the folded paper on a table so that the folded edge is up, and the open ends are touching the table surface. The part that sticks 'up' is the mountain.  Now, turn the paper over, and you will see the 'valley' (or the letter V) formed by the folded paper.
    • It is always best to fold your card so that the score line or "valley" is to the OUTSIDE of the fold.
    • The bump, or "mountain" goes to the inside of the card.
    • If you fold so the score line is to the inside you are squashing the fibers you just spread apart.
    • Folding your card properly will not only give a neater appearance, but you will find your card edges line up much better
    • If you check a package of 3" x 3" Textured Love Notes  from Stampin’ Up! (Item # 111338 / 10 each of three colors / $12.95) you will see that the indentation is on the textured side of the cardstock. When you fold the card in half, the texture will be to the outside and the 'valley or scored line is on the inside.
    • Folding your card properly reinforces the fold and makes the card better able to withstand multiple re-openings. 


  • Become familiar with Card Making Terminology
    • Card Base – This is your blank canvas, or the folded piece of paper that will become the base for your design. 
    • A standard card base often used in a Stampin' Up! workshop measures 4-1/4" x 5-1/2"  (Cut an 8=-/2" x 11" sheet of card stock in half, so that it measures 4-1/4" x 11" and then score at 5-1/2")
    • Card Front – This is the completed front of the card
    • Card Back - The back of the card OR an extra layer that can be added to the back of the card as an accent.  I sometimes cut a card back measuring 4-1/4" x 5-1/2" and then mount a card base onto that piece.  The card base is re-sized to 4" x 5-1/4" (8 x 10-1/2", scored at 5-1/4") so that 1/8" of color will show around all the edges.
    • Layers or Mats – Pieces of card stock or Designer Paper which are cut into smaller pieces and adhered to the front of your card base.  The layers are often in 1/8" or 1/4" increments to give each layer a neat 'framed' appearance.  Although multiple layers may visually accentuate a card, they also add weight to the card.
    • Focal Point – Where they eye will travel to.  This is the part of the card you want to draw attention to and is generally your main piece of
      artwork, stamped image, or greeting.
    • Embellishments - These are ribbons, brads, eyelets, or ephemera added to the card front which enhance it's appearance.
    • Dimensionals or Pop-Dots - these are tiny pieces of adhesive foam which when added to a layer, pops it up or raises it from the card surface.  There are many different products on the market which accomplish this purpose but most are quite thick. Stampin' Up! Dimensional Dots are a thinner, weightless, and acid free product at only 1 1/6" thick (Item 104430 / 300 / $3.95).
    • Postage - the cost of mailing your card. 
      • Adding multiple layers, embellishments and commercial heavy 'pop dots' will require extra protection and expense when mailing.
      • Non-standard card sizes will require extra postage when mailing.
      • The U.S. Postal Service will not accept some card sizes.


Have fun, and Have a Happy New Year's Eve!


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Anonymous said...

Wow.. great information.. I can see that I need to make a few changes!

Anonymous said...

This is an absolutely wonderful resource, which I'm going to share with my stampers 10 club!