Adventures in Card-Making

Everything old is new again!

Dear Fellow Crafters,

Well, the holidays are over and you’re packing up the ornaments and taking down all your decorations. One of the last tasks is all those Christmas cards from friends and family. Some of them are too beautiful to throw away. Should you save them or recycle them? Some of them (if handmade by Grandchildren) should definitely be saved just remember to put the year on the back of each. Some of them can be recycled and here are some tips to make new cards/crafts for next year.

Before you get out the scissors, scan the cards into the computer or make notes of what you want to record of the cards so that you’ll have a record of them for your thank you cards.

If you’re not sure of what to do with the cards yet, put them in a large box with a lid to prevent dust. I sort mine by theme birthday, thank you, holiday.

I am sure there are many more, but I found 16 crafts you can make with your saved cards. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Greeting card gift bag: This one is so easy! Cut the front cover off your greeting card and save the printed sentiment for later use. Glue the cover in the center of your bag. You can add glitter or stamped images if you wish.

2. Gift tag: Instead of just cutting off the cover of the greeting card, die-cut or fussy cut the image and glue to a gift tag. Add the “To From” and you’re done You could also use a Sizzix  die cut and then glue your image  onto the tag. Punch a hole near the top and add ribbon.

3. Place Mat: Take a white paper place mat (typically bought at a dollar store or party store) and glue parts of the card onto it. Add flat embellishments or rubber stamped images.

4. Planner: Make planners or note pads for future teacher gifts. Buy small note books, again from a dollar store, and glue background paper onto the covers. Glue part of the greeting card on top.

5. Bookmarks: Cut the greeting card into strips about an inch and a half wide and 6 inches long. Punch a hole near  one end and add a tassel – see link:

6. Place Cards: There are two different ways of making place cards. One way is to cut a piece of cardstock into a rectangle, sized to your specifications. Score the cardstock in the middle with your scoreboard. Fold the card in half. Write the name of your guest using calligraphy or rubber stamps. Add embellishments, stickers and parts of the greeting card.

Another way is to die-cut a rectangle with a Spellbinder nestability – see link:  and proceed as above. Sizzix also has a place card die that would work also for this project.

7-16. Make a puzzle, magnet, mason jar topper, framed picture, collage card, mason jar lid ornament, garland, post card and finally a journal cover.

Needless to say, you might be a tad bit “tired” of holiday crafting, so save this post until November!

Happy Crafting,


How I solved _______________

How to pick a die-cut

Dear Fellow Crafters,

In the beginning of my die-cutting adventure, I was overwhelmed by the choices I had. I originally only bought the Sizzix dies that captured my imagination and then discovered that the smart thing would be to actually sit down and determine what my needs were It was much like trying to pick rubber stamps.

I discovered along the way, that many companies made dies that were compatible with the Sizzix so I started my list by category:

Baby (embossing folder set) Phrase “Congratulations!” (Did would work for practically all occasions)

Birthday ( I admit I did go slightly overboard in this category) cake, phrases

Basic shapes – I bought nesting dies from Spellbinders


Holiday (again overboard!)

Wedding phrases

I waited for sales, checked out Pinterest for ideas and delighted in the free folders and dies supplied by craft magazines. Now, I have to admit, I reach for my dies before I reach for a stamp.

What are your favorite companies?

Happy Crafting,



Ok, I give up! What are Embossing Diffusers?

Reads Fellow Crafters,

What Are Embossing Diffusers?

Embossing diffusers are simply a tool which allow you to get more use out of your embossing folders.  The diffusers are designed to allow you to create sections on your artwork which are not embossed when using an embossing folder.


How to Use It

This product is designed to be used with any of the embossing folders available on the market – with the exception of the 5”x7” and larger embossing folders. These can be used with any of the Sizzix line of embossing machines, and from my own experimentation both the Spellbinders Grand Calibur and the PC Cuttlebug.  The sandwich for the PC Cuttlebug is:

    • A plate
    • embossing folder
    • paper
    • diffuser
    • B plate

After some experimentation, I was able to find sandwiches for the Grand Calibur.  Because the Spellbinders embossing folders are thicker than other leading industry embossing folders (thanks to being double-sided), there are two sandwiches.  Feeding through the machine will feel loose, and that is okay, you will still get a good solid impression.  The sandwiches are:


For Spellbinders Embossing Folders

    • B plate
    • embossing folder
    • paper
    • diffuser


For other industry folders:

    • C plate
    • embossing folder
    • paper
    • diffuser


If you have been using embossing folders for a long time, you will notice that embossing diffusers are the industry’s response to a technique in which you use your dies to cut out several pieces of thin chipboard, layer the pieces of chipboard together, and then use them to create the same effect as these fancy diffusers.   Currently the diffusers come in standard shapes of large oval, skinny oval, and circle.  There are no fancy designs offered at the moment, although you can make them with your dies and chipboard.  However, these save you from all the work which goes into making your own, and with a name like “Diffuser Set #1” it is likely more are on their way.  With this three set of diffusers you get six different options – not bad for the MSRP.

Tips and Techniques

In playing around with this product, I found several different ways to use these diffusers.

  1. Use the frame to have an un-embossed center.
  2. Use the center to emboss the center and not the outer section.
  3. Combine both the inner shape and frame with different embossing folders to get two different designs on one sheet of cardstock.
  4. Use the inner shape to create highlights of texture around the cardstock rather than in the center.
  5. Use the diffuser frames to create texture to the base of your journaling and title cards.

While using the center portions of the diffuser sets, I found that they move around a lot.  I fixed this by using some masking tape to hold my embossing folder and diffuser together.  Although this product has the most applicable use for card design, I found myself wanting to use it for scrapbook layouts. Below you can see some of the projects I came up with.

While playing with the embossing diffusers and embossing folders by different companies, I found that the Tim Holtz embossing folders worked best with the diffusers, giving a strong overall impression.  However, these same results could be achieved with including a shim or two with the embossing folders from other leading companies aside from Sizzix.

‘Til next time,


To die for

To Die For- Die Cuts Part 2

Dear Fellow Crafters,

Some crafters when asked what tool “they couldn’t live without” say their die cutting machine! In Part one of this topic read: to die for I described some of the die cutting machines and how to pick THE one that best fits your needs. In Part 2, we’ll review the different companies. For more information and a view of each of the different products they sell check on the link provided for each company.

So what are cutting and embossing dies? Die cuts are shapes used to decorate scrapbooks and card layouts. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and range between 1″ to 4″ in 1/2″ increments. These sizes vary between manufacturers. The good news is that you can use dies repeatedly in all types of papers and colors. We will discuss the following manufacturers: Spellbinders, Sizzix,  Provo Craft, Silouette Cameo, Making Memories.

 Spellbinders Nestabilitis die cuts were the first to introduce nesting dies so that the consumer could virtually “throw out” all the different sizes of punches. Their machines are as follows:

Spellbinders Grand Calibur 
The Grand Calibur is Spellbinders Paper Arts latest tool that replaced the Wizard. However, this new design makes rolling dies through a breeze! It will accept 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper if you remove the cutting tray. With a turn of the handle and only weighing 10 lbs it becomes now portable. It will cut,emboss, AND stencil if using Spellbinders Dies! It takes all the Grand Nestabilities. The base keeps it sturdy and has color coded plates for stacking. It will also take all other leading brand dies with the right compatibility. 

Sizzix is another company that creates die cutting machines. The following are their machines:

My personal favorite is The Big Shot Machine which measures approximately 14 1/4″ x 8 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. It has a stylish black and pink colors giving it a feminine touch! It will cut and emboss and is very versatile in cutting fabric,cardstock,paper, and mostly anything in between. It has been around a while now and is always a best seller at a price point of $69.00. It will take all Sizzix dies and other leading brand dies with the proper plates and mats. The only dies it won’t take obviously are those that are 12×12,which would be for the next machine big shot PRO.

The Big Shot Pro This die cutting and embossing tool is just like the big shot, however it has an opening for using 12 inch paper w/out having to trim. It will take ALL sizzix dies and anything within its huge width opening. Constructed from industrial-strength materials, the Big Shot Pro Machine features a 13 inch opening to cut hundreds of materials. This machine also embosses using the Solo Platform Shim & Wafer Thin Die Adaptor. It price has gone up from what you might have seen it as due to Sizzix Ellison guidelines. It retails about $400. This tool is designed to last forever and could be great for those that want to do school projects or for a teacher. 

Sizzix Eclips Shape Cutting Machine 
The only die cutting machine out that there has a handheld remote and some pretty robust technology. But don’t let that scare you. Their customer support and video tutorials will help you transition smoothly. It can cut all shapes and letters up to 12 inches and even has the ability to let you design your own. It is electronic and is 22 1/2 inches x 5 inches x 7 1/2 inches. It is very fast and accurate and for those who do take the plunge of paying for this machine absolutely LOVE it. The price is steep at $499.. Tim Holtz has also done some cartridges for Eclips that actually match with his line of stamps called stamp2cut.. It weights 16.5 lbs, but can be taken anywhere as it is similar like the cricut taking cartridges and is not attached to any computer! You can also do up to 24 inch boarders in length. 

The Vagabond  is an electronic die cutting & embossing machine with a vintage look to it because it is Tim Holtz who designed it along with Sizzix! It resembles a suitcase and opens up from both sides plugs in and you push the button and send your paper with the die through. The Construction of the Vagabond has solid core steel rollers, unibody cast roller housing, solid steel gears, high torque motor and ABS plastic exterior making it a heavy machine, but will last a long time and makes cutting and embossing pretty much effortless. It does have stickers so you can even decorate it as well. The Vagabond is portable and electronic and can cut through very thick materials.

The Sizzix Big Kick is a portable machine that features a platform and cutting pads. It has a roller type of handle and is also universally compatible with other companies dies.

Sizzix Textured Boutique Embossing Machine Review
I like this little machine. It is absolutely priced perfectly for the one that ONLY wants to do embossing cards or A2 size paper. This for $26.00. It is a GREAT way to get your feet wet into scrapbooking by starting out with simply embossing cards for a low investment. It takes the textured impressions embossing folders and those by Tim Holtz as well. It will accept all texture embossing folders up to an A2 size. It is NOT for die cuts.

Finally, there is the  Sizzix Vintaj Big Kick .
This is a Sizzix machine but partnered with Vintaj to create a special edition cut and emboss tool. This Bigkick sizzix tool will cut,emboss, and etch different designs. Using the vintaj dies you can now make jewelry as well with this. 

The Quick Cuts Company was bought by LifeStyle Crafts in 2010.. Their Quick Cuts machine is no longer made.

The Silouette Cameo is an electronic cutting tool. It can cut 12″ x 12″ paper, card stock, vinyl and fabric. You can draw you own images, use supplied images or true type fonts. It comes with software, cuttable designs, 1 cutting blade, and a 12″ cutting mat. It is PC and MAC compatible and a USB cable is provided.

Provo Craft Cricut Expression Review
The Cricut Expression  is the MOST popular of the Cricut line of machines even surpassing the cricut 2. It has the 24 inch long ability to cut even a longer shape. The settings on the lcd screen will give you a nice customization for different units of measurements. This will accept existing cartridges you may already have and compares similar to a Cameo except it does NOT connect to a computer and works solely with cartridges. Pricing is around $249.99.

cricut expression 2Provo Craft Cricut Expression 2 
There is not much to say about the Expression 2 except that it is very similar to the one mentioned above. It does have a more sleek design with new colors and cuts with the cricut and cricut imagine cartridges,wireless compatibility,color lcd screen with a stylus, no keypad overlay required, and a cutting area light priced at $259.99.

provo craft mini cricutProvo Craft Cricut Mini Personal Electronic Cutter Review
This is definitely the electronic cutting space-saving design Provo Craft was looking to provide to scrapbookers. It works with Windows or Mac and connects right to the computer similar to the cameo except this is designed to cut shapes from 1/4 inch up to 11 1/4 inch on a 8 1/2 x 12 inch cutting mat. It is for the smaller projects with paper,vinyl, & fabric. Very nice option if you still like the Provo Craft brand, but don’t want the cartridges and need something nice and easy scrapbook tool right from the computer. Sells for $129.99.

Provo Craft Cuttlebug Machine 
Lastly, from ProvoCraft is their manual die cutting and embossing machine. This v2 of cuttlebug replaced the old one bringing it a newer lightweight design, however the great components inside that everyone loves have stayed the same making this such a durable tool. Very much like the Epic Six, but has fold up base,more durable and stronger outer casing with a metal handle that can be pushed into the side. It does have the handle at the top making it portable and a breeze to carry. Retails for around $89.99.

Slice ELITE Cordless Digital Design Cutter Review
Like the big shot, the Slice Elite by Making Memories has the right color: PINK! Sells for $139.00 and is a cordless paper-cutter. It will cut between 1 inch and 4 inch designs. The Elite compared to the original slice cutter is that the “elite” now cuts 40% faster and twice as deep. it will cut vellum,vinyl,acetate,foam sheets,thin metal sheets, and of course paper! With the LCD 2 monitor makes selecting your designs from the digital design cards easy to see and now has a plate that will hold the tool in place if you do not want to hold it. The Slice Elite works with batteries or a cord. This and the Fabrique would have to be the MOST PORTABLE and smallest die cutting machine out there. With 100′s of design cards that are the size of an SD camera card you can store them very easily.

making memories slice fabriqueSlice Fabrique Cordless Fabric Cutter Review
Now this digital cutter takes us out of the scrapbooking realm a bit and into the sewing by Making Memories as well. This revolutionary tool makes fabric cutting FUN that only helps with quilting. It takes digital cards with tons of designs on each. It is cordless like the Slice Elite, the only differences really are that it has some specific design cards that can only be used with cutting Fabric. It prices as $129.99.

In addition to the manufacturer’s sites, you can use  for a side by side comparison chart.

Sorry I got  carried away on this post! I wanted to give you the most recent reviews of the popular machines out there.

‘Til next time,


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