I had mentioned that I would post some instructions as to how I make my cards. Let me first say that this is how I make cards but by no means the only way to do things. We all find our comfort zone, tools that work for us, style and favorite techniques. No one person sets the rules. It’s all about what you enjoy. That’s not to say that we can’t pick up new tips and techniques along the way. This is why I share with you how I do things that are comfortable for me. Maybe one or some of my tips will work for you.
1. Card Size – I usually make my cards either 5 x 7 (A7) or 6 ¼ x 4 ½ (A6). I don’t often make square cards because here in the US, it costs extra to send a square envelope. I was told they don’t fit into the cancelling machines so have to be hand cancelled, which, of course, cost extra. In other countries, square is the norm.
2. Theme – Over my many years of card making and scrapbooking, I’ve acquired lots and lots of graphics, magazines, tutorials, patterns, etc. If, for some strange reason I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for, I do a search on the Internet, mostly in images. I can usually find a “free” pic of what I’m looking for, save it to my computer, and then manipulate it to fit the size/form I need. I never sell any patterns or pics that I find on the Internet so I don’t worry about copyright infringement. My ‘graphic’ cards are for personal use only. However, if you’re in doubt, you can always contact the author and ask permission. I have done this before and usually they’re quite agreeable to share their work (for non-sale use only). I also belong to many on-line groups where members are always willing to share their patterns with fellow members. Just remember, when in doubt, ask permission.
3. Papers – There are 3 main types of paper I use for my cards.
~~Card stock 110 lb. or higher – or pre-printed (found in the scrapbooking section of stores). I usually purchase white stock by the ream and it does feed through my printer without any problem.
~~32 lb. paper – for all image printing. This paper is thicker and very smooth, which is best for printing graphics and yields good-looking copies.
~~28 lb. paper – for insert in cards. I always place an insert inside my cards where I can hand write a sentiment. I don’t usually pre-print any sentiment inside (occasionally “Happy Birthday”, etc. but no more). I feel that people should write their own message (myself included). I hate buying cards simply because they never say the right thing.
~~Average print/copy paper is 22-24 lb. and is too thin and rough. The higher the weight number, the smoother the paper.
~~ For the card base, I use card stock, either a pre-formed card with envelope or I make my own from my stash of card stock.
4. Color – Is usually determined by your theme, always trying to keep things simple is best. I do use a color wheel, which gives me a range of colors that will best suit the graphic. I usually select 2-4 colors; choose one for my base and work upward from there. It always seems to take me the longest time to find what papers I want. Maybe it’s because I have too much to choose from????
5. Cutting System – I use the rotary cutting system only because when I started making cards, I was also quilting so I just used what I had to cut my fabric. For me this is the easiest but many find it too complicated. I do have various cutters but rarely use them. I also have a Cricut, Grand Calibur, and a Sizzix.
6. Card Assembly – I almost never assemble a card directly onto the card base. I’ve learned that it’s easier to assemble the card on a topper and once completed, attach it to the front of the card base. This way, if you make a mistake, you don’t ruin the entire card, only the topper. Saves a lot of aggravation in the end. This holds true for most types of techniques, embroidery on paper, iris folding, 3D graphics, teabag folding, etc.
I use lots of 2-sided tape, foam dots and some glue. Be careful of the glue you use since many ‘warp’ the paper. That drives me crazy!! And I use lots of ribbon as embellishments and do use a bow maker as a 3rd hand.
7. Final touches – I usually try to keep my cards simple. I feel that too much bling, too many stickers, embellishments, flowers, etc. only take away from the workmanship of the card and technique itself and make the card too busy. I want the eye to go directly to the main focus item.
8. Envelopes – It’s always easier when you have a matching envelope but they’re not readily available in the sizes I use most so I will typically make a matching envie. I use 12×12 paper and usually get an assortment of paper (not cardstock) when on sale. I use envelope templates which I purchased from the Paper Source Store in Boston but I think these are available on-line. It’s the easiest way to make an envelope. My templates came with matching liner templates if I decide to line the envelope with contrasting paper.
9. Mailing cards – Remember that the thicker the card, the more it cost to mail. The post office does have ‘thickness’ restraints. If your envelope is more than ¼” thick, it cost more. I made myself a template with a ¼” opening so I can be sure of postage. Also, you can place a piece of bubble wrap on the front of the card if it’s delicate.
So, there you have it, the way I put together a handmade greeting card. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to actually write down how I do what I do! I just go on autopilot without thinking about it. Hope I haven’t forgotten anything. Of course, these are my tips; yours will vary, which is fine. What works for me may not work for you so whatever you are comfortable doing is correct. If anyone wants more info, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Happy card making,