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Tips for Making Greeting Cards

Paper crafting has been my passion since I was a child. I love sharing paper projects, ideas, and products. Get more from your paper.

A good greeting card can really lift someone's spirits.

A good greeting card can really lift someone's spirits.

Getting Started Making Greeting Cards

Creating greeting cards is one of the most popular paper crafts! There is nothing better than creating and presenting someone a custom card that you have made with your own hands.

Some folks earn extra money-making greeting cards. They sell their designs online at places like Etsy and Shopify. Others market their designs at craft fairs. Once you have some basic techniques and design experience, any of these are possible.

There are a few habits to develop as beginners or experienced card makers that will help your overall experience more enjoyable:

  1. Gather all your supplies before you get started: Having everything together and in your workspace makes your craft time more enjoyable. You won't have to stop in the middle of a project to search for a tool or supply.
  2. Keep an inventory of what you have: Have a three ring looseleaf binder with all of the inks, markers, dies and stamp sets. That way when you are shopping for supplies and tools, you won't buy something that you already have.
  3. Keep your tools and supplies organized: It does not matter how big or small your craft space is. Keeping organized means that you will always know where your tools and supplies are.
  4. Take time to get inspired and learn: There are so many resources like Pinterest, and You tube where you can learn all kinds of techniques and tips
  5. Jump right into it! You are going to get better with each card you create. Start with simple cards and keep at it. As you learn new techniques you will get better every step.
tips-for-making-greeting-cards

Tips and Ideas for Your Card Base

The basic foundation of any greeting card is the card base. This is where everything else is built on. You start with either a pre-made base or one that you construct yourself.

It is super important to have a base that will hold up anything else that you decide to add onto it. Make sure if you are making your own base, to start with paper that is between 80 lb. and 110 lb weight. The weight of the paper will be found on the front of the plastic paper wrap.

If you have different weights of paper in your stash, make sure to separate them so that you know which paper is which.

You do not have to limit yourself to white paper. You can use any color cardstock that you would like, as long as the paper weight is heavy enough to support the other elements of the card.

Most Common Card Sizes

  • 5 x 7 inches (A7 envelope): This is the most common card size, the one you’ll typically see in store displays.
  • 4 x 6 inches (A6 envelope): This smaller size is also fairly common for commercial cards.
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches (A9 envelope): These large cards can be made by folding in half a standard 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper. They’re sometimes used as extra-large novelty cards.
  • 3.5 x 5 inches (A1 envelope): This miniature size is especially common for thank you cards.

Card Base Tip

  • Round the corners of your cards to give them a softer, more professional look.

More Card Base Tricks and Ideas

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Having the right envelope for your card is an essential part of creating greeting cards.

Having the right envelope for your card is an essential part of creating greeting cards.

Envelope Sizes and Tips

If you are making greeting cards, then you will need envelopes. Envelopes are necessary to keep your greeting card clean and safe. Of course, if you are mailing a greeting card, you need an envelope to mail it in.

You can purchase envelopes in different sizes both in craft stores as well as online. These envelopes are in standard and the most basic sizes.

Another option is to create your envelopes on your electronic cutting machine. The nice thing about using machines like the Cricut, ScanNCut or the Silhouette, is that you can create any custom size that you need. They will cut the envelope and make the fold lines so you can create as many envelopes as possible in the size that you need.

A more budget friendly alternative is to use an envelope board. These boards will help you use the paper that you have into the envelopes that you need. There are both guidelines available in inches and in metric measurements. You can create envelopes in minutes without any electricity.

When creating your envelopes, you will need a glue or some double-sided tape to secure the edges. I like to use thin double-sided tape as it is far less messy than glue and there is no waiting time to dry.

A final option is to use templates. These are often free on the internet. They take a little longer and more labor intensive to use, but do work.

More Greeting Card Envelope Ideas

Best Way to Make Custom Envelopes

Types of Techniques for Card Making

One of the best things about making greeting cards is that there are many ways to go about it. Here are some basic ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Quilling

Quilling is the art creating designs with thin pieces of paper that is rolled into a shape. You can make flowers and other designs from coils of paper formed into specific designs.

One thing to consider when incorporating quilled paper is how you plan to deliver the cards to the recipient. Some quilled designs may need to be placed in a padded envelope to prevent damage when they are sent through the mail, while a large, quilled embellishment might require extra postage.

Calligraphy

Calligraphy adds a special touch to all of your cards. It is an elegant finishing touch to any cards that you use it on.

Paper Cutting

Paper cutting is very popular among card makers. But it does take a lot of time and patience. If you need to make a lot of cards for a particular occasion, you will want to stay away from this one. Think of cards like pop-up cards and explosion cards. While these types of cards may be time consuming, the results are amazing.

Paper Punching

Paper punching uses all kinds of paper punches to make shapes and simple designs to your greeting cards. Paper punches can be found both online as well as in most craft stores.They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

In addition to being a smart choice for people who are just learning how to make handmade cards, paper punching is a good technique to use when you need to make a lot of cards in a hurry. This is also a thrifty way to use scraps leftover from other crafting projects, such as scrapbooking.

Rubber Stamping

Rubber stamps have always been popular in card making. There are a huge variety of sizes, designs and themes to choose from. Stamping is quick and easy. So, it is perfect when you are making batches of cards for holidays and special occasions.

Painting

Yes, you can apply paint to your greeting cards. If you enjoy working with a paint brush, this is the technique for you. You start with watercolor paper as your top design. You can use watercolor pencils, watercolors and watercolor markers to create a one-of-a-kind custom greeting card.

Another way to utilize paints is to create a painted background and then stamp over it to create a scene

Origami

Folding paper into all kinds of shapes and designs is what origami is all about. Origami animals and florals are popular designs that will add an elegant feel to your work. You can combine origami techniques with other paper card making ideas to create popups, or small pockets to tuck your creations into. An origami thank you card can be a unique way to send your gratitude.

More Than One Technique on a Card

Yes, you can use stamping, die cutting and coloring on one card.

Yes, you can use stamping, die cutting and coloring on one card.

Start by Gathering Your Supplies

Once you select the card base size and shape, it is time to consider design and what you will need to complete.

It All Starts With the Paper

Cardstock is the base for all of your cards. Having a good base for your card will guarantee that all the other elements will sit well and last. It can also be used for embellishments and elements of card design. The average weight used for cards is between 80lbs-110lbs. In addition to the standard white paper, you can also find patterned paper, specialty paper, glitter paper, vellum and more.

Scissors or Paper Trimmer

Scissors and paper trimmers are one of the most essential tools that card makers use. You need a very sharp pair of scissors to cut your paper cleanly. Having a few different lengths of scissor blades are handy. another essential tool is a pair of detail scissors. These are scissors that are used to cut small, detailed images like stamped embellishments.

Paper trimmers are a tool that I recommend as an early purchase. There are so many uses for paper trimmers. You want a trimmer that shows you clear and defined marks. Trimmers enable you to get clean and crisp cuts every time. Take some time to look at different trimmers to select the right tool for your use.

Stamps

Most cards are made with at least one stamp. As you move along in your card making experience, you will find collecting stamps become a side hobby. You can buy small individual stamps. Most are in sets that often include at least one sentiment. There are also sentiment sets that offer you different options for your cards. Start with the sets that you would use most often like birthday sets. Then branch out. There are thousands of options to choose.

Acrylic Blocks and Stamping Platforms

Acrylic blocks are needed to get your stamped image on the paper. The block holds the stamp so that the inked stamped image to the paper. The best way to get your acrylic blocks is in sets that give you the most options.

Stamping platforms are another option for stamping. These types of tools help you to set the stamp exactly where you want it. You can stamp and restamp over and over again. They also allow you to get defined images when you are doing layered stamping techniques. There is a bigger investment in these tools, but the use for these will outweigh the cost. The most popular among these are the MISTI and the Tim Holtz stamping platform. Look into the different options so that you can find the tool that is right for you.

Inks and Color Mediums

If you stamp, you will need some ink pads. Ink pads come in both full side stamp pads as well as mini pads. Mini ink pads are generally more affordable and easier to store. Most are about 1" by 1". Not all companies have mini pads, so make sure that if this is your choice you check out your options. There are several different types of ink. You need to make sure that you are using the right ink for the project you are working on.

When you are buying ink pads, you should get the reinker as well. That way you will always have the ink you need. And if the color is discontinued, you will have enough ink to extend the life of your ink pad.

You can also opt to use alcohol ink markers. Most often these come in sets that are within the same color family. Several companies make these types of markers. The most popular markers include Copic Markers and Spectrum Noir Markers.

Adhesives

There are options when it comes to adhesives. You will want a liquid adhesive like a clear PVA glue. That will allow you to glue paper pieces onto your designs. Some glues are tackier than others. The tackier glues are used to adhere heavier items and embellishments.

Double sided tape is needed to adhere paper and design items to your cards. It gives you a cleaner look when you are adhering larger pieces of card. Having several different widths of this type of tape makes thing a lot easier.

The design of your greeting card can include layers that add dimension to a simple card base

The design of your greeting card can include layers that add dimension to a simple card base

Create the Card Design

Once you have the size and type of card base, it is time to create your design.

  1. Select your dominate color. What color or colors will you use on your design? You can make a rough sketch.
  2. What kind of papers will you use? Regular cardstock or a special paper?
  3. What will your central theme image, stamp or ephemera be?
  4. What techniques will be using?
  5. What will your sentiment say?

Have it all clear in your mind. That will save you numerous steps and frustration.

Do you need a creative boost to get your deign going? Pinterest is a great place to get started. You can go to images on your favorite browser to see lots of designs to inspire you.

Watercolors can be used for background for greeting cards

Watercolors can be used for background for greeting cards

Background Ideas

  • Use large stamps to create a colorful background. Use large stamps or a background stamp. This saves time and creates a base that needs Little more than a sentiment
  • Go monochrome (all of the same color or color family. It’s classy and elegant!
  • Another fun idea for your DIY greeting cards is to use sentiment stamps as your background
  • Crete interesting backgrounds using liquid alcohol inks

Color Schemes for Greeting Cards

  1. Birthday, Anniversary, Thank You Cards: Neon colors make a bold statement for these types of cards. Earthy colors (think neutrals or fall colors give a retro and cozy feel. Especially when paired with pastel pinks and blues.
  2. Holiday Cards: While every holiday is associated with certain colors, you should not feel restricted to them. Consider jewel tones like emerald, teal and ruby. These colors add depth and a rich festive mood. Metallics can add magic to a holiday card too.
  3. Sympathy And Get-well Cards: Soft comforting pastels are perfect for these types of cards. They are gentle and pair well with floral images.
    • Warm colors: Pinks, oranges, and yellows are comforting and warming, making your card design feel soothing and reassuring.

Paper Tips

  • Use lighter-weight paper for layering to save postage.
  • Keep a small box beside your craft table to throw in your paper scraps while you create.
  • When layering smooth card onto another smooth cardstock, lightly sand the two surfaces to give your glue some grip so that they stick better and longer.
  • Save small bits of paper, especially white paper, to stamp greeting on

Looking Beyond Standard Paper

Who says you can't use unconventional paper sources for cardmaking? Gift bags are often made from a heavier weight of paper that is just the right weight for card making. All you have to do is unfold the bags and cut out the shapes you need, making sure to avoid the creased lines.

Wrapping paper is a bit thin, so you may have to reinforce it with some heavier paper as a backer. You may have to do a little more work with these papers, but they will be a beautiful addition to your card design. Just use spray adhesive to attach wrapping paper to card stock. Make sure to lay the wrapping paper down carefully onto the sprayed cardstock, then flatten down with your finger or a bone folder so that you do not get creases or air bubbles in the wrapping paper.

Getting a Crisp Fold

While there are card blanks in various sizes that are available for purchase, many crafters like to create their own card. Bases. You can customize the size and shape of the cards that you want to make.

Besides using good card stock, you need to make sure that the fold of your card is both clean and crisp. It makes your card look more professional and the card will stand up for display perfectly.

You can use a tool like a score pal. The score pal comes with a stylus or bone folder to make the fold as well as the score board. The score board has makings and indentations, So, when you find the measurement, you want to use, You use the stylus or bonefolder to make a perfectly scored line for you fold. Fold the card and use te bone folder along the fold to make the fold flatter.

You can also do a manual fold.

  • Use a ruler to measure the center of the card at the top and the bottom.
  • With a pencil, lightly mark these points and draw a straight line between them.
  • Use the bone folder to score the card. This will make folding the card easier and ensure a crisp smooth fold. If you don't have a bone folder, try using a dull knife, such as a butter knife.
  • Use a soft eraser to rub away the paper marks.
  • Carefully fold the card along the scored line. Use the bone folder or another flat implement to flatten the fold.
  • Press firmly but not so hard that you mark the cardstock.

Reuse Some of Those Scraps

As a paper crafter, you will have left over scraps from different projects. Find a way to save them to be used for later projects. You can keep them in a drawer, a basket or in a three-ring binder sorted by color.

Things You Can Use Scraps for

  • The first thing to do with your scraps is to use them to create punched elements for your cards. Use some hand punches to create shapes that can be used on your greeting cards.
  • Create fill for shaker cards with your scraps. Use tiny punches or die cuts to create fill for your shaker card windows. You can also use your electronic cutting machine for the same idea.
  • Create a shape for your outside sentiment. You can use die cuts or your cutting machine to make all kinds of decorative square, circles or other shapes to create a decorative element on the front of your card.
  • Keep a small box beside your craft table to throw in your paper scraps while you create.
  • Organize your paper scraps while watching tv or during downtime.
Glitter makes every greeting card shine

Glitter makes every greeting card shine

Glitter Tips for Greeting Cards

Glitter has long been a favorite for greeting cards, and there are ways to use loose glitter without leaving a big mess in your craft room

Best Glues to Use With Glitter

  1. Plain glue-like white glue, tacky glue: Yes, you can use it BUT be sure to test first. Some glitters will bleed a bit into the glue. This especially happens with Craft Glitter.
  2. Fine tip glue pen: Good for fine small dots where you just want a little glitter.
  3. Double sided tape: Create a line of glitter on a card. Width on the line will depend on the width of your tape.
  4. Mod Podge and PVA glue: Mod Podge goes on white and dries clear. It offers a certain flexibility which is nice when doing shoes and surfaces that have to move a bit. If you use a coat over the glitter, you will use some shine. PVA Glue is used much the same way, but the quality is a bit more archival. More expensive but higher quality.
  5. Design Master Spray Glue For Glitter: The Design Master Glue for Glitter is specifically made to attach glitter to all sort of surfaces
  6. Super 77 Spray Glue: We use 3m Super 77 Spray Glue when we really need a firm bond with the glitter. It works on so many surfaces and when it dries, it dries really hard.

Create Your Own Glitter Paper

You can create your own glitter paper with some loose glitter, some double-sided adhesive paper and some cardstock.

Supplies

  • Cardstock
  • Scrap cardstock or a coffee filter
  • Loose fine glitter
  • Double sided adhesive paper
  • A bone folder, brayer or old gift or credit card
  1. Cover your work surface with a craft mat
  2. Lay your piece of cardstock on your work surface
  3. Align the adhesive paper over the cardstock.
  4. Gently peel back the covering from one of the adhesive paper sides and adhere it to the cardstock
  5. Make sure there are no bubbles or folds on the paper.
  6. Now remove the adhesive side that is still covered and set it aside
  7. Sprinkle the glitter on top of the adhesive paper covering it entirely
  8. Tip the covered paper onto a piece of scrap paper and let any loose glitter fall off the paper.
  9. Place the left-over glitter back into the container
  10. Place the left-over cover from the adhesive paper back on top of your glitter paper.
  11. Burnish (rub) over the top of the covered glitter paper to make sure that all the particles are adhered (you can use a brayer, a bone folder or an old credit card)

Tip: Try different colors and types of glitter to see the effects on your paper.

  • Put loose glitter/sparkle in a salt or pepper shaker for easy distribution.
Creating stamped images is a artful way to create your greeting cards

Creating stamped images is a artful way to create your greeting cards

Stamping Tips for Greeting Cards

There are so many ways to use stamps on your greeting cards. Stamps are one of the most popular supplies for greeting card makers. Most use at least one or two stamps on each card

Use a Large Stamp as a Background

One of the easiest techniques to create a greeting card is to use a large stamp to create a background. The stamp will cover the entire card front. Then all you have to do is add a sentiment on top. And yes, you can use smaller stamps too by repeating the stamp all over the card base.

Go Monochrome

Using monochrome colors are classic and elegant. You can go black and white or a single color of your choice. This idea is very effective if you are creating a sympathy card.

Big and Bold Letters

Big and bold letters are a huge current trend. There are alphabet stamps that you can use to create a word or statement on the front of a simple card. In addition to alphabet stamps, there are also alphabet dies to help you make the right statement on your card.

Stamping Tips

  • Ink your stamp with Versamark ink before using Stazon, Brilliance inks or any other difficult to clean ink.
  • If the rubber on your rubber stamps are turning white, apply a light coat of glycerin over the rubber to avoid ghosting. You can find glycerin at your local pharmacy.
  • Store your not so juicy inkpads upside down to let the ink sink to the top of the pads.
  • Use the back of the mousepad to stamp
  • Store your rubber stamps away from direct sunlight and heat
  • Ink your stamp with Versamark ink before using Stazon, Brilliance inks or any other difficult to clean ink.
  • Ink around elements on your card to define card layers, Use an ink darker than the layer itself. Run the ink pad on the edge of the cardstock.
  • Stamp straight down onto the paper, press firmly and do not rock the stamp, then lift the stamp straight up. With foam stamps, press in the center and avoid the corners and edges.
  • Lightly sand your shrink plastic first before stamping on it.
  • Use acrylic blocks only slightly bigger than the stamp itself to get better stamped images.
  • If the rubber on your rubber stamps are turning white, apply a light coat of glycerin over the rubber to avoid ghosting. You can find glycerin at your local pharmacy.
  • Dip a brush in water and paint your shape on the paper, pull paper apart with your hands to give a lovely, feathered edge to your shape.
  • Use the back of the mousepad to stamp, emboss foil or to shape your paper or punches

Storing Stamps

Make sure to store your stamps carefully to preserve them. If you have rubber stamps make sure to store them away from the sunlight so there is less chance of the rubber getting dry. Dies should be stored with the coordinating stamp sets so that you always know where they are. You can use magnetic sheets to store the dies, that way there is less chance to lose them.

Stamp Maintenance

  • If you are using water soluble ink, spray a bit of cold water (no soap) onto your stamp and dab it dry with a paper towel or clean cloth. Do not scrub your stamp because you may damage the surface of the stamp and render it useless.
  • Keep a container of baby wipes when you are using multiple stamps. That way you can wipe the ink off the stamps as you use them. The baby wipes should be alcohol free.

Look for Other Creative Papers and Embellishments

Did you know that there is wrapping paper heavy enough to use on your greeting cards? While these may not be heavy enough to be used as a card base, they can be used over the card base as the base layer of your card front. Stick to plan paper as well as small, patterned papers for the best results. You can use paper that you may have already or purchase some that sticks your fancy.

Do not throw away any old greeting cards either. They have a wealth of things that you can reuse. Look at the card and see what might be used on a future project.

Embellishments give greeting cards their special brand of personality

Embellishments give greeting cards their special brand of personality

Embellishment Tips

It can be fun and addictive to begin paper punching, gluing, stamping and folding all at once. But too much embellishment can actually detract from your final product. Before you glue or tape on any embellishments, lay them out on your card base. Really look at the final result before you permanently add them on.

  1. Foam tape and dots give just enough space between the items on the face of your card project to make them pop.
  2. Dab a blob of repositionable adhesive on the back of card or elements that you want to attach to your main card blank. Move them around till you are sure about their placements.
  3. Using basic circle stickers from an office supply store, you can create a fun card like what you see above with a simple peel and stick technique. So easy!
  4. Buttons of various shapes and colors can be found in your sewing box. These are great for baby or vintage cards. I have a big box of these in a plastic box which was meant for storing beads.
  5. Tiny colorful bells will make your cards go a-tinkling when the recipient hold it in their hands. Attach to your cards with strings or thin ribbons.
  6. Sparkling gems are stick-on embellishments for card making They are easy to use as they come with sticky backs, so you just peel them off from the plastic sheet and press them onto your card. Use a pair of tweezers to pick them up and transfer to adorn your card design.
  7. Sequins come in all colors and sizes. They are perfect when you just need to add a little bling. They must be glued on.
  8. Stickers come as flat pieces as well as three D chipboard sets. They all have adhesive, so they are stick and go.

More Embellishment Ideas for Greeting Cards

Ribbon when used on greeting cards can set the tone for the design

Ribbon when used on greeting cards can set the tone for the design

Ribbon Tips for Greeting Cards

We all love brightly colored ribbons to add to our greeting cards. They make such a beautiful statement when used. Here are some tips to help you add the right touch of ribbon to your cards.

  1. To keep the ends of your cards from fraying, just add a tiny dab of clear nail polish to the tip of the end of the ribbon.
  2. Wrap your ribbons to keep them organized around a piece of cardboard. Tape the ends to keep them from unrolling.
  3. Create a wraparound ribbon the easy and neat way. Wrap the ribbon along the back inside of the card and tape to the front. Add a die cut or shape to cover where the ribbon is taped. Add a bow on top of the element if desired.
  4. Use ribbon as an edge to a greeting card.

More Ribbon Greeting Card Ideas

Create masculine cards for the men in your life

Create masculine cards for the men in your life

Die Cuts for Greeting Cards

Die cuts are the most popular embellishments added to cards. They are shapes and sentiments cut on paper with a die cutting machine. Die cuts can be sentiments, embellishments or a focal design point on your card. To create a die cut you need paper, a metal and either a manual, electronic or digital die cutting machine. Platesand shims are used to create a sandwich that puts pressure on the die to make the on the paper.

What If Your Die Cut Did Not Cut Through the Paper?

  • Try leaving your die in place and running it through your machine a second time (possibly even three times if needed). It's really easy if you run it one way and then back the other!
  • If that doesn’t work, add a single sheet of cardstock as a shim under your die cut “sandwich” and run your die through the machine as usual. This will give the die a little more pressure and help with those hard to cut areas within your die.
  • If the cardstock shim doesn’t work, you can purchase a thin metal shim to place below your die cut “sandwich” and run the die through your machine. If you are still having trouble you may have a defective die and need to call the manufacturer to have it replaced.

Tips to Save Your Plates and Shims

  1. Use the whole surface of your pad when you cut
  2. Don’t cut in the exact same spot on your pad every time (use the middle and the edges)
  3. Switch back and forth from using both sides of your pad but turning it upside down or backward - your pad can be run through your machine in any direction (size allowing)

Die Cutting Ideas for Greeting Cards

  1. When you are die cutting make a few extra cuts for future greeting cards. Store them with the die or in a separate area.

More Die Cutting Techniques

Colorful Child's Birthday Cad

A variety of techniques used to create a colorful birthday car

A variety of techniques used to create a colorful birthday car

Sentiment Tips

  • Use Big, Bold Letters! There’s a reason why big and bold alphabet letter stamps and dies are super trendy and popular among card makers. One of the easiest ways to make greeting cards is to utilize these fun letters and make them the focal point of your handmade cards.
  • Free printable sentiments are available on the internet. Get started with some printable sentiments here
  • Edge around a sentiment with an ink pad or marker to add dimension to your sentiment

More Sentiment Ideas and Tips

  • How to Compose a Sympathy Message
    The Gallery Collection is the leading business-to-business mail order publisher of premium quality personalized Christmas, Holiday, and All Occasion greeting cards in the United States.
The current guidelines for mailing your cards

The current guidelines for mailing your cards

Mailing Tips for Greeting Cards

These tips are only guidelines. Make sure to refer to your local postal system if you have any concerns or questions.

  • Cards should be inserted into the back of the envelope face up so that when the recipient opens the envelope the face of the card is in front of them.
  • If you stay in the guideline show above, height minimum 3½ and max at 6-1/8, length 5″ minimum and max 11½ keep it at 1 oz or less and not thicker then ¼” then you should be safe for one first class stamp. (USPS)
  • If it is thicker then 1/4″, I use the 2 oz stamp, they are .21 cent more than the first-class stamps. Also, if you have embellishment that make it bulky, I suggest that you use the “butterfly stamp” they are the non-machinable stamps. Also, the non-machinable stamps are .21 cent more than the first-class stamps.

More Mailing Tips for Greeting Cards

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.

© 2022 Linda F Correa