A Beginners Basic Guide: Die Cutting 101

Die Cutting 101

Today’s blog entry is all about die cutting for beginners! I will be discussing the very basics of die cutting, the machines used to die cut, and will strive to answer your most pressing questions. If I leave any of your questions unanswered, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment.

The video posted at the end of this post will answer most of the questions beginner die cutters may have; however, I will also post it here in written form for those of you who prefer to read. So, let’s jump right into Die Cutting 101 class!

First off… What are dies?


Dies are usually made of metal and come in various sizes and shapes. They are most commonly used to cut into paper for a desired shape. They not only come in shapes, but they also come in text. They must be used with a die cutting machine (which we will go over later).

How do I prepare my new die for cutting?

Some dies are ready for cutting, straight out of the package. However, there are other types of dies that come with many pieces. In this instance, they are typically joined by a tiny metal wire and will come as one unit. You may leave them as one unit, however, it’s best to cut them apart using wire cutters.


Which side of the die will cut my paper?

On most dies, you’ll notice one side has a ridge and the other side is smooth. The side that will cut your paper is the side with the ridge/blade. When placing paper and the die in your machine, put the ridged/blade side down towards the paper you wish to cut.


Why are there tiny holes in my die?

This is a normal variant with most solid dies. The reason for the tiny holes is in case your paper gets stuck in the die. If this happens, simply use a die pick and poke through the tiny holes with it to release the paper.


How does a die cutting machine work?


Most machines will work the same – with minor differences for each machine. There are various machines on the market, but the two most popular are the Sizzix Big Shot and the Cricut Cuttlebug. Both machines work similarly with a manual handle crank. Again, most die cutting machines will work this way but you may also find some machines, such as the Crafter’s Companion Gemini, that work automatically with no manual handle crank. Typically, die cutting machines will both cut and/or dry emboss. In order to dry emboss, separate embossing folders are needed. Without going into embossing, please note that dry embossing is different than heat embossing. I have a blog entry all about embossing linked HERE if you’re interested.


Which die cutting machine is easiest for beginners to use?


I would have to recommend the Cricut Cuttlebug for beginners, and here’s why… The cutting plates are more simplified and easier to understand, as they are labeled “A”, “B”, “C”. The machine usually just comes with the “A” plate and two “B” plates – the “C” plate is a separate purchase and is not really necessary to get started. Another reason I recommend the Cuttlebug for beginners is because it is compact and perfect for smaller craft areas. Additionally, the retail price for a Cuttlebug is lower than it is for a Sizzix Big Shot or Crafter’s Companion Gemini. The Spellbinders die cutting machine is also an affordable option – however, I cannot vouch for the quality of it since I have not used this brand of machine. I can say, though, that the Cuttlebug is a durable machine that stood up to my “beginner mistakes” when I was first starting.


My machine makes popping/cracking noises… Is this normal?

Yes. This is totally normal. With extended use, the cracking and popping noises aren’t as evident but still present. This is simply the machine doing it’s job. The cutting plates will be fine and are created to withstand this pressure. However, in order to ease your mind, please note that the cutting plates for most all machines can be purchased separately. 😉


My die cutting machine handle is hard to crank… why?

There could be three possible reasons that come to mind… Firstly, it could be that your machine is new or hasn’t been used very often. In this case, the handle may not be as “broke in” or as loose/easy to crank. Secondly, it could be that what you are die cutting is too thick to go through the machine with ease. Most all dies can be universal and should work in various machines, but I suppose there could be an instance when the die may be too thick. However, if it’s not too thick but just being stubborn, I have found that putting the die in at an angle helps with this problem a bit. Additionally, it could be that your cutting plates are warped and it’s time to purchase some new ones. And lastly, it could be that your machine is broken. This is unlikely the case, but it is worth mentioning, just in case.

I hope you found this blog to be informative and helpful. The video posted below will give you a better visual of all that was discussed in this blog, so please check it out. Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment if you have any questions. Happy crafting! 🙂





DIY Spring-Loaded Christmas Card!!

20171116_233231_wmHello everybody! It’s Maranda and I’m dropping by today with a quick and easy DIY Christmas card idea. This particular card will have a paper mechanism inside that will make the card, more or less, spring-loaded!! I’ll show you how to make it…

First off, you’ll need a few supplies (some are optional). Below I have all supplies linked to where you can purchase them if you wish. However, you probably have most of the supplies already in your stash.


Cardstock     Coloring Page     PrismaColor Pencils     Copic Markers

Paper Trimmer     Glue Dots     ATG Adhesive     Scissors

The easy-to-follow tutorial video shows you exactly how to make this adorable, fun card… and just in time for Christmas!! Enjoy the video below to see this spring-loaded card in action… thanks for stopping by the blog today!

*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no additional cost to you. Your name/information will not be visible to me. I appreciate your support.

Quick Craft: Mini Paper Poinsettias

Quick Craft_Mini Paper Poinsettias

‘Tis the season to begin thinking about Christmas… and that means lots of fun crafts to make! In today’s blog, we’ll be making quick, cute mini paper Poinsettias! I actually won a giveaway where I received these cute paper flowers. But, I wanted to do something Christmas-themed with them… so, that was the inspiration for the Poinsettias!

I will have all of the products linked below that I used, as well as an instructional video. Some of the items are optional. Leave your flower sweet and simple or use lots of bling to jazz it up… the choice is yours!

Supplies Used:

(Click product for link)

Paper Flowers     Copic Markers     Zig Glue Pen     Stickles

Glossy Accents     Spectrum Noir Brush Pen     1″ Circle Punch

The short video tutorial at the end of this blog entry will give you very easy step-by-step instructions. This craft is suitable for kids, beginners, or any level of crafter! Also, there are so many different ways you could use these cute mini Poinsettias. You could use them on cards, scrapbook pages, as paper clip toppers, or gifts. You could even use them as Christmas tree garland by hot gluing them onto a string, twine, or ribbon! Create them in a variety of shapes and colors… the possibilities are endless with a creative mind!

Please enjoy the video below ↓ ↓ ↓

Cricut Gives Your Ultimate Cutting Precision

*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no additional cost to you. Your name/information will not be visible to me. I appreciate your support.

Black Friday When You Need It!!

Black FridayWhen YouNeed It SALE(1)

Hello everybody! I hope your week has gone well. I am dropping in right quick to let my readers know about an amazing craft sale going on!! Sizzix will be running a “Black Friday When You Need It” Sale every weekend until Black Friday!! They will also be having a huge Cyber Monday Sale! I will post the dates for you below, so be sure to mark your calendar for the following dates:

Black Friday When You Need It Sale– 10/19-10/22
Black Friday When You Need It Sale– 10/27-10/29
Black Friday When You Need It Sale– 11/3-11/5
Black Friday When You Need It Sale– 11/10-11/12
Black Friday When You Need It Sale– 11/17-11/19
BLACK FRIDAY SALE– 11/23-11/26
Cyber Monday– 11/27

As many of you know, Sizzix specializes in assisting you with awesome products for your craft room! They specialize in die cutting and embossing but also carry many other nifty items such as planner pages, paper pads, stamp sets, ink pads, idea books, jewelry findings, coloring books, sticker sheets, and much more!! Buy now and save!

Happy crafting!



*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no additional cost to you. Your name/information will not be visible to me. I appreciate your support.





Masculine Card Idea//Old-Fashioned Truck

Earlier this year, I posted a blog all about Masculine DIY Card Ideas. Personally, I struggle with masculine cards because I always want to add sequins, pearls, ribbons, and girly colors! 🙂 But as I always say, it’s good for us to stretch ourselves outside the box sometimes to keep our artistic skills growing.

Even though I had written a blog about this very topic, I still found myself lost when it came time to actually make a masculine card! So, I reached out to my crafting friends on Facebook and they reinforced what I’d already written in my previous blog… which is to:

A.) Create a card based upon his interests/hobbies, etc.

B.) Keep it simple – not too many layers or embellishments

C.) Use “earthy” tones or colors found in nature

I guess I just needed a little reassurance that I was going in the right direction with my card. So, I sat down at my craft desk and came up with the card you see pictured below.


Click to enlarge

Notice how I still incorporated pops of color in this card?? Just because it’s a masculine card doesn’t mean that it has to be drab and boring. Have fun with them! If you want to see how I made this card, I have all of the supplies I used listed below, as well as a full tutorial video! Happy crafting!

Supplies Used:

(Click supply for affiliate link to be redirected to store)

Cardstock    Paper Trimmer    Craftin’ Desert Divas Digital Stamp (Pumpkins)   

Cutter Bee Scissors    Foam Tape     School Glue    Bone Folder    ATG (Glue Runner)   

Acrylic Block    Sentiment Stamp    Memento Ink      PrismaColor Colored Pencils    

Copic Markers     White Gel Pen     DoCrafts Artiste Dual Tip Watercolor Pens


Shop Your Fav Brands at Scrapbook.com

*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no additional cost to you. Your name/information will not be visible to me. I appreciate your support.

Survivor: Craft Edition/Part 2

GraphicDesignHello everyone! I’m back with Part 2 of Survivor: Craft Edition! This will be the final installment of this two-part series. If you didn’t see Part 1 yet, I will link it HERE. Basically, this series is all about surviving your crafting game when supplies or tools may be scarce. So let’s jump right in!


↑ How to survive with no STICKERS

Sometimes, a cute sticker adds the finishing touch to a card or envelope. But what if you don’t have a coordinating sticker on hand? Never fear… Xyron Sticker Maker is here!! (I know, that was cheesy). 😉 The Xyron can turn any cutout into a custom sticker. Too cool!

survivor glue

↑ How to survive with no MOD PODGE

With gift-giving season (Christmas) coming up, you may want to decoupage your own handmade gifts. However, Mod Podge can be pricey. A great alternative is to make your own “Mod Podge” mixture using plain, white school glue and water. Add 1/3 water to 2/3 glue, mix, and that’s it! Note: This mixture is only appropriate for paper decoupage projects.


↑ How to survive with no Gesso

If you enjoy Bible Journaling or Mixed Media, then you probably have Gesso on hand. However, what if you run out or don’t have any on hand? In this instance, Acrylic Paint works very well. I heard this tip from Monica with Because Jesus Bible Journaling. I tried it and yes, it works very nicely!


↑ How to survive with no Gelatos

If you use Gelatos a lot but are looking for an affordable alternative, why not give Crayola Twistables Slick Stix a try?! I actually rave about them in my previous blog post HERE.

 survivor magazine

↑ How to survive with no IMAGES

The perfect image is often the focal point of handmade cards. If you can’t quite find the right image to go with your card, try searching through old magazines or old calendars. If you find the images from magazines are printed on too thin of paper, you can easily back them with a little cardstock.


↑ How to survive with no WATERCOLORS

Watercoloring has recently gained more popularity than ever before! If you don’t have any watercolor paints on hand you can make beautiful watercolored paintings using Distress Inks! Simply “smoosh” ink onto acrylic block or palette, add water, and paint!

survivor acetate

 ↑ How to survive with no ACETATE

Let’s face it… acetate is VERY expensive, but used often when making shaker cards. If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative, try overhead projector transparencies. You can get them at most office supply stores or online.

survivor shaker 

 ↑ How to survive with no SHAKER ELEMENTS

If you enjoy making shaker cards, you probably have lots of sequins and other shaker elements on hand. But did you know that you can make your very own shaker elements using shaped punches, beads, and cutout images?? To read more, check out my previous blog post HERE and look under “Shaker Confetti” in the article.


↑ How to survive with no COLORED RIBBON

Did you know that you can customize your ribbon to match other elements on your card?? It’s true! I originally saw this idea on Gina K. Designs YouTube channel. Simply use ink to dye your white ribbon any color! It’s a good idea to heat set the ribbon with a heat gun before use – otherwise, it may take a century or two to dry! 😉

↑ How to survive with no STENCILS

You can easily make your own DIY stencils using your Cricut Machine!! Simply have your machine cut out a series of shapes from cardstock and use the negative leftover paper on your mat. I like to cut a whole page of little circles for an awesome looking stencil!



↑ How to survive with no CRAFTY INSPIRATION

To revive your crafty inspiration, follow this blog, of course!! 😉 I can also be found on social media with other images not shared here. I will provide links below:

Facebook          Pinterest          YouTube          Instagram          Bloglovin’

Thanks again for stopping by today! If YOU have any craft survivor tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. Until next time, have fun and happy crafting!!

Sources: gettyimages.com, scrapbook.com, cricut.com
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no additional cost to you. Your name/information will not be visible to me. I appreciate your support.


Survivor: Craft Edition/Part 1


Not enough time, space, or money for all of the latest craft tools and products? In the middle of a project and need to improvise because you’re out of a particular supply? Ah yes, most crafters can relate. In today’s blog entry, we will be going over a few alternatives and ideas to help us keep our crafting game alive during these times… we’re survivors!! 🙂


↑ How to survive with no Vellum

If you find yourself out of Vellum, you may find that wax paper is a good alternative. Also, wax paper can double as a disposable craft mat to keep your desk clean from ink, paint, glue, etc.!


↑ How to survive with no Scoring Board

If you don’t have your scoring board handy – or simply never purchased one… there’s an easy solution. Most paper trimmers with grooves will work great to double as a makeshift scoring board. Some trimmers (such as Fiskars) even have their own scoring blades that you can interchange with the cutting blade! But if you don’t have a scoring blade, no worries – simply put your paper in your trimmer and use the point of your bone folder in the groove to crease the paper!

Father's Day 17

↑ How to survive with no Embossing Machine

As I mentioned in the step above, you can use your paper trimmer with grooves as a scoring board. This also comes in handy when you want to give the look of embossing on your handmade cards. Simply use a bone folder in the groove of your trimmer to create diamonds, checks, and lines (vertical and/or horizontal). I used this technique in the card shown above and it gave a nice texture effect to the card.

survivor piercer

↑ How to survive with no Paper Piercer

Paper Piercers can be used for many things. You can make designs with them, use them to punch tiny holes in paper to fit a brad through, or even use them to unclog a glue nozzle! However, if you don’t have a paper piercer – never fear! You can easily use a straight pin or a needle instead!


↑ How to survive with no Bone Folder

If you don’t have a bone folder to crease your paper, you can use the dull backside of a plastic knife OR you may also use a letter opener. Easy peasy!

 survivor fork

↑ How to survive with no Bow Maker

Did you know that you can make the perfect bow with a fork?! Yes, it’s true! The fork tines are perfectly spaced and can work as a bow-maker. You can make fork bows with baker’s twine, yarn, or narrow ribbon. Simply wrap your ribbon in and out of the tines in the same order. When you are done, tie off the center with another piece of ribbon by threading it through the middle tines in the fork. Adjust the bow until it looks like you want it, and you’re done! If you want a larger bow, you can use a large fork. A regular size fork will make a cute, small bow.

survivor powder

↑ How to survive with no Anti-Static Powder Tool

If you use heat embossing on your projects, you probably know the absolute nuisance it is when your embossing powder sticks in areas you don’t want it (due to static electricity). EK Success has a Powder Tool which is used to deactivate adhesive; however, it is also amazing to use as a primer on your paper before embossing to reduce static electricity. However, you can – pretty much – get the same results by using baby powder. Lightly apply powder onto your paper (prior to heat embossing) with a soft powder puff or a fluffy brush. After heat embossing has set, simply wipe away excess powder.


↑ How to survive with no Rubber Stamp Sentiments

Most crafters will have an array of rubber stamps; however, maybe you don’t have the right sentiment. This problem can be remedied in a number of ways. You can type then print a sentiment on your printer, use die cut texts (as shown above), hand-write, or use a Cricut machine to write for you!

 survivor np

↑ How to survive with no Glitter

If you’re all out of glitter or don’t have the right glitter color, you can use sparkly nail polish instead! The brush on the polish will help with precision placement too! Just be careful if using polish over ink of any type since it does have the potential to smear. But in a pinch, this glitter alternative will work out great!

survivor beads

↑ How to survive with no Enamel Dots

Enamel Dots make a nice dimensional addition to any card. If you don’t have them on hand, you can always make your own – for a fraction of the cost – using pony beads! I’ve never tried this, but I’ve seen it done. You space your pony beads out on a baking sheet, making sure the baking sheet is covered first with parchment paper. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. This will melt down the beads until they look like enamel dots. Cool, huh?!

So, that’s all for today – but be sure to check back later this month for Part 2 of Survivor: Craft Edition. Then, I will give even more ideas as to how to keep your crafting inspiration alive when lack of supplies might get in the way! Makes me want to sing, “Stayin’ Alive”! 🙂 Until next time, happy crafting!

CreateForLess.com - Create More, Spend Less

Sources: gettyimages.com, scrapbook.com
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no additional cost to you. Your name/information will not be visible to me. I appreciate your support.