‘Tis the most festive month of the year. Happy First of December, everyone! Oh how good it is to finally open the advent calendar: to press into that first window and hear the slight popping of the perforations giving in to reveal a festive image, or—even better—a sweet. After all, I’ve been eyeing that magical box of chocolates for the last two weeks and just about managed not to dive into it “illegally”, that is, before December.
But, chocolate aside, there is something else exciting for me today: it’s been one month since I created this blog, pushing my (quite introverted) self out of comfort zone.
Moreover, today I am posting my first ever tutorial! Several of my fellow G45-ers requested it. So, here it goes: lots of photos, little tips, and a template at the end. Hope you enjoy it!
I actually used Tim Holtz Gift Card Package die to make these cards, but since Sizzix dies are quite expensive, I made you a special template, which you can find in this post. I altered the design a tiny bit to make it easier to cut by hand, so you don’t need to spend money on an expensive die set that you might not use very often.
There are many different possibilities on how to decorate these cards. Keep reading to see a few of my ideas and tips.
1. Distressed Monochrome
This simple but elegant design is all about distressing the edges, which emphasizes separate elements and allows them to pop. I like using Distress Ink: Antique Linen or Vintage Photo complement lighter colours, while Walnut Stain stands out on darker backgrounds. Try a combination of cream paper and Antique Linen for a classy wedding card or use Walnut Stain on red for a vintage Christmas card.
Tip 1: When going for a monochrome look, try using heavyweight textured paper to make the design a bit more interesting. I like using 300 gsm linen card. If using a die, you can add interest by embossing the cut-outs – embossing is particularly noticeable on heavyweight paper.
To begin, use the die or the template to cut out the necessary parts. If you are planning on making several cards, it is more efficient to cut out all the parts in one sitting. Here I have five sets.
Tip 2: Make sure you score the folds very well. If you are using a die on a thicker card, do take an extra moment to go over the pre-scored lines yourself. You can see the difference on the photo below: the fold on the right is ever so slightly smoother. It is little details like this that make your finished product look more polished and professional.
Distress all the edges for a lovely vintage look. When cutting thicker card by hand, the edges may sometimes look a tiny bit messy. Sanding and distressing helps to smooth the edges and conceal any imperfections.
Tip 3: Do distress all the elements before assembling the card, as once you glue the pieces in place, you will not be able to highlight the edges to the same extent. This is especially important for monochrome cards, but is a good tip to remember when making any paper project.
Fold the pocket part of the card before distressing it. This way you will not waste time and ink on the parts that will be concealed. It will also ensure that the edges are properly distressed. See the picture on the left for the difference in the final pocket.
Tip 4: Distress the reverse side of the bow and the insert, as they will be visible in the end. Doing this will make sure that the back of the card looks finished.
Now it’s time to start assembling the cards. The photo below provides a quick guide and demonstrates the beauty of a simple monochrome card.
I prefer using PVA glue, applying it with a flat nylon brush to ensure even application and avoid rippling. Clipping the sides of the pocket while the adhesive is drying (step #3) will make sure that the sides stick together properly.
Tip 5: Do not skip the fourth step, even if the upper panel is cut from the same card as the insert itself. Gluing the panel in place strengthens the handle (lid of the gift box) and visually elevates it to the level of the pocket. See the comparison below. It also serves as a guide for gluing the bow in place.
Tip 6: Do not apply glue to the very top of the bow, as it will be visible at the back.
2. Monochrome Base + Contrasting Distressing
This design is similar to the first one, but the “box” and the bow are distressed using inks of contrasting colours. Olive Grove and Rhubarb Stalk by Memento are my go-to shades for Christmas and are perfect for this type of card. But you can use any two contrasting shades. Here I let the green and red ink reach far into the middle of the elements and added a touch of Vintage Photo to darken the edges. You could try applying ink only to the very edges, to emphasize the monochrome base.
3. Contrasting Card
This design uses different paper/card for the bow and the base. The paper can differ in colour, texture, or finish. For example, the bow above was cut out from a pink pearlescent card similar in texture to the one of the card’s base.
4. Double-sided Patterned Paper
How do you make a gorgeous card very quickly? Use designer paper! All you need to do is cut some or all of the necessary parts out of patterned paper—no extra gluing is needed. The only thing to remember is that the paper should be quite thick, or your card might not be sturdy enough.
All the cards above were made using paper by Graphic 45. G45 paper features rich colours and complex patterns, so a simple card like this is beautiful and impressive as it is—no need to spend additional time or resources on extra embellishments. Super quick and super cute!
Tip 7: Double-sided designer paper is perfect for these cards. No need to worry about wasting a gorgeous design on the reverse, as it will be visible on the inside of the pocket!
An easy way to match colours and patterns is to use paper from the same collection. You can even use the two sides of the same sheet for the base and the bow. For example, the two cards below were made using The Enchanted Forest collection.
Alternatively, you can have fun mixing and matching collections. Here I combined Midnight Masquerade and St Nicholas—I just love how these shades of yellow and blue look together!
I often use linen card for the insert base and patterned paper for the top panel (the lid). This way the insert is sturdier and uses less designer paper. But you can use double-sided designer paper for the insert base—this results in having pattern everywhere (including the back). See the comparison below.
5. Die-cut Embellishments
Try using die-cut shapes and letters or ephemera to decorate the cards.
6. Embossing Folder & Decorated Flaps: The Template Version
I used my template to cut the card below to show you how the altered version would look. As you can see, the insert has straight flaps instead of semi-circular ones. It is much easier to cut this by hand.
I decorated the flaps using a tiny fir tree punch. This adds a cute little touch, don’t you think? Another great way to embellish these cards is to use embossing folders.
Tip 8: When using embossing folders, position the elements next to one another to have a continuous pattern.
7. Surprise Stamp & Greeting Card
Stamp or write a secret message on the insert. The message will be revealed when the recipient takes the gift card/voucher out of the flaps.
This design can be used as a greeting card even if you don’t have a voucher to put into it. Simply cut a rectangle and write your message on it, and then insert into the flaps instead of a gift card. Versatile!
So here is the template, as promised.
This was a very long post, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. I wanted to make it as useful as possible, with many ideas, tips, and photos. So how was that for a first tutorial? If you like it, leave a comment below. And thank you for visiting me!