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How to Make Cards: 10 Card-Making Tips for Beginners

Fabrizio is hooked on paper crafting and makes his own greeting cards. He enjoys sharing craft tips, especially with beginners.

Hot Air Balloon Card created by Fabrizio Martellucci

Hot Air Balloon Card created by Fabrizio Martellucci

It's Easy to Get Started Making Cards!

So you've seen friends or a loved one making handmade greeting cards, and you want to give it a go but don't know where to start?

I've gathered ten quick tips for total cardmaking beginners to help you along the way. You don't have to follow all of them, and you can pick and choose the one that feels more "comfortable" and within your reach.

So if you feel overwhelmed by the whole paper crafting experience, do not despair; here's a quick list of the best ten tips for a head start in your card making.

Card Making Tips List

  1. A Little Goes a Long Way
  2. Learn to Shop for Supplies at Cheap Outlets
  3. Stock up on Must-Have Basics
  4. Check Out How Others Do It
  5. Keep Looking for Inspiration
  6. Suss the Zen Properties of Making Greeting Cards
  7. Don't Get Lost Creating—Get a "Map"
  8. Some People Are Visual Learners—Watch Videos Online
  9. Let Experienced Crafters Teach You the Ropes
  10. Copy a Little, and Add Your Own Twist

1. A Little Goes a Long Way

Start small; you don't need all the tools out there, nor do you need a huge machine to start. A ruler, pair of scissors, a craft knife (careful they're sharp) and a self-healing cutting mat (glass ones are popular) are all you need to get started.

2. Learn to Shop for Supplies at Cheap Outlets

Check your dollar/pound store for bargains such as non-patterned coloured papers or fancy papers, embellishments such as gems or glitter (go easy with them), pva glue. Go for neutral colours and avoid strong colours to start with as it's more difficult to mix and match elements when there's no colour coordination.

3. Stock up on Must-Have Basics

Get at your local scrapbook store or online a few sheets of black and white textured (also called hammered) thick card stock for your matting for framing elements or paper. You will also need some strong cardstock to make your base card (basically the card where you put all the elements). Make sure that it has a good weight in lbs or GSM so that once you fold it in half, it can stand without toppling over.

4. Check Out How Others Do It

Buy some card-making magazines to get a feel and see the latest trends in cardmaking. You should find some readily titles easily at your local newsstand or newsagent if they don't have any an international bookshop might do the trick as they usually carry international and specialised titles. I know for a fact that most magazines published in the UK are available in the major bookshop in the USA such as Barnes & Nobles etc.

5. Keep Looking for Inspiration

Follow a few card-making blogs to see what cardmakers online are up to. You can search either on google using a combination of search terms such as "cardmaking," "blog," "brand of a manufacturer," etc.

Again, use any terms that have a paper crafting connection so you might come up with a few gems of blogs you will want to follow to get inspired.

6. Suss the Zen Properties of Making Greeting Cards

Deconstruct cards that you see in magazines and online; basically, try to see how the card was made: how many layers were used, where they've positioned the elements and how the cardmaker kept the greeting card proportion balanced.

As you read more magazines and experience the making of greeting cards then you'll start to spot new ideas or new ways of doing things pretty quickly, you will know after a while, "you're ready" when you'll look at a magazine and instantly recognise a technique and/or the supplies used (even the name of the manufacturers).

7. Don't Get Lost Creating—Get a "Map"

Visit Pagemaps or MojoMonday—these two websites release card sketches on a regular basis that can be easily followed and adapted with your current supplies to make great cards. Sketches/Map/Layouts are your blueprint giving you the freedom of picking from your existing supplies to create something you never thought of doing. You'll get more adventurous and will improve your creativity and output. Just click on where it says 'card sketches' and you'll be taken to my other article about this subject.

8. Some People Are Visual Learners—Watch Videos Online

Follow video tutorials of paper crafting manufacturers online either on their own websites or YouTube. It's a good idea to subscribe to a few to see how their tools or latest paper releases are used in cardmaking.

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This tip is especially useful for visual types who struggle to figure out written directions even aided with a picture, videos are basically self-explanatory and I can't forget how many times a simple written instruction didn't make sense until I saw it "happening" watching a video. You'll have your light bulb moments too when watching paper crafting and cardmaking tutorials online.

9. Let Experienced Crafters Teach You the Ropes

Host a party! There are several companies (Fun Stampers' Journey, Stampin' Up and Close To My Heart) that use direct selling so if you're not sure you can get the expertise of the demo from that company to show you how to create fun cards and enjoy the company of your friends while doing it.

You'll also have the chance to ask again and again from the representative(s) how to go about using a specific technique or product since they're trained for doing that and won't mind being asked. Also, since they usually will have prepped a workshop for everyone to enjoy their time, you'll discover new ways of making handmade cards following the latest trends.

10. Copy a Little, and Add Your Own Twist

Finally, find your own style; although you will like a lot of cards out there, try to "scrap lift" the techniques and ideas but not the whole card design—just make it your own by tweaking it.

Don't be scared to experiment and see what feels natural to you, either by using a specific product or range or getting enamoured with a certain technique. Just make new styles or trends your own, adding your personal touch. You'll get the satisfaction that you've created something totally . . . you!

Share Your Card-Making Tips!

If you're already a card maker, do you have some tips for beginners?

Please add them in the comment section below. It would really help other beginners who might feel daunted by the whole experience. Also, list all the pitfalls and money-wasters so that these newcomers can benefit from your paper crafting knowledge. Don't be coy as something trivial to you might be very useful to someone else. Thank you in advance for taking the time to help new paper crafters!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: How is the verse done on the inside of the card?

Answer: I like to just stamp a verse inside the card. Some other crafters like to stamp on inserts (a slightly smaller paper folded in half to fit the inside of the card), and then adhere them once they're happy with the result (avoids wastage when you're a beginner stamper as you can throw away the insert start anew).

Question: What is a good GSM for the base cardstock? What can I use 220gsm card for?

Answer: Anything over 200gsm is good in my opinion; especially if you layer and add extra paper on your base card then it gets more rigid, obviously, if you add heavy embellishments then, you want to aim for 250gsm otherwise the card would topple when standing. I've been known to put a small heavy tag with my details (name etc... ) to counterbalance when having to make do with thinner cardstock.

© 2015 Fabrizio Martellucci


Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on December 30, 2019:

It’s definitely tricky to mat patterned papers. I tend to use sticky dots which give you a bit of play to adjust it so that it’s not crooked. With practice and time you’ll get the hang of it. Using two rulers might also help to position your mats properly. Good luck! ( stickydots/microdots are tiny matrix like tiny dots of glue which are pressure sensitive )

Catherine Williams on December 28, 2019:

I am new at card making also. I am having trouble with getting the finished front of the card onto a backing without it being crooked. Especially if I use a patterned backing then it always looks crooked. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Pam P on October 31, 2019:

Try using up the cards you don't like from your cardstock books as backing frames when layering up, you might like them better in small doses and a contrast lifts an otherwise plain card.

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on April 05, 2019:

I do that too so that I can make a batch of cards and I don’t use up my base cards supply. Excellent tip, thank you :)

Kathy S on April 05, 2019:

I always construct my card front before attaching to the base so if there are any mistakes your only throwing a few pieces of paper away or redesigning my card front. I also use an insert so I can slip a note in as well that the insert can be removed and the card reused. My motto there are no mistakes in crafting only creative opportunities. Enjoy this fantastic craft

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on September 24, 2017:

Thanks ever so much for your lovely comment, Mo :)

MO on September 23, 2017:

I have been dabbling in card making for a while now... I very much enjoy it! The most important thing I had to learn was that it doesn't have to be perfect. Nomatter who your card is intended for they will love it because you made it for them! I had a hard time with that at first, but it is the love you put into it. I always check thrift stores for stamps and fun things to add to cards. It is a good place to find unique stamps for cheap and embellishments you may not find or think to use. I have even used old Christmas ornaments and bits and pieces of old cards to make a whole new one. (Not sure if that is plagiarism, but they look amazing!) The possibilities are endless! Card making is so much fun and so rewarding when you see the reaction of the recipient! This article was very helpful and I can't wait to use some of my tips the next time I create!

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on December 20, 2016:

Leah, read this article please and you'll understand why I can't give you a figure as in the USA two packs of card or paper could have the same poundage but one will be thinner than the other. As a rule of thumb if the cardstock can stand once folded into a base card you're good to go if however it goes limp or topple, you need thicker cardstock. I tend to use 220gsm ( Google for conversion into lbs ) but if I cover the from of the card with paper and layers then that makes it sturdier I managed also to make cards with 180gsm. In the UK some crafters only use 280 or even 300gsm cardstock.

Here's the link for the article

Leah on December 20, 2016:

What weight cardstock do you recommend for the base card (in US lbs)?

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on December 12, 2016:

Indeed Evelyn ! :)

Evelyn McClennen on December 11, 2016:

Don't go crazy buying everything Michael's has to offer on card making when you first start out. As you progress, you will find other sources who sell quality paper etc. and the cheap stuff you bought without enough knowledge will produce cards that look, well.......... cheap. Quality supplies are used to make quality cards.

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on May 09, 2016:

Good on you, Fiona !

Fiona from South Africa on May 09, 2016:

Snail glue changed my life when it came to card-making - it is easy to apply, doesn't make a mess and works well! Aside from that, it is important to get creative when it comes to sourcing materials for your cards - I even use old medicine boxes to create embellishments - frugal and upcycling at the same time.

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on February 24, 2016:

Use a gluestick or a glue dispenser that release glue in strips or you can even use double sided tape. Wet glue tends to saturate thin paper and will pool looking unsightly.

Lori Colbo from United States on February 24, 2016:

I just started card making a few weeks ago so this was very helpful. Question: in regard to glue, how can you apply it without it rippling the piece you just glued? I try to apply it very thinly but sometimes I just can' t avoid it. I dont want thereto be any evidence of gluing.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 14, 2015:

Thanks for the tips. I get ideas from cards displayed in shops but I have not really sold my cards.

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on August 17, 2015:

Vickie, you are so right, I have a few of these books some look like the old telephone books they're so thick YET I haven't used a single pages of those mammoth 12X12 ! LOL So buying sheets singly is a brilliant tip. Thank you !

Vickie-HorseMark Cards on August 17, 2015:

Unless you absolutely love all the papers in a 'paper book', stick with single printed papers when they are on sale. Less waste!

Good luck and enjoy what you create!

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on August 10, 2015:

Thank you Sam for your excellent tip. :D

Sam Burnett on August 10, 2015:

Join a message forum that sponsors card exchanges and challenges for more opportunities to practice and share learnings with other crafters!

Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on August 10, 2015:

Great tip thank you Avril ! :D

Avril Watson on August 10, 2015:

Have a little tub of Talcum Powder on your desk. If you have glue or sticky residue, where you don't want it, take a finger into the Talcum Powder and dab over it...