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. Another very helpful resource for die cutting can be found over at Scrapbook.com’s link HERE. I would highly encourage you to check it out!

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! 🙂





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.





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.

10 Ideas For Your Paper Scraps

Cardstock comes in all colors, sizes, patterns and textures. It is the one supply that paper crafters cannot do without! So, why not make the most of your cardstock?! In this blog entry, we will be discussing 10 fun ideas for your paper scraps and how you can cut down on waste by doing so! 🙂

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Paper Bows

Paper bows are easy to make and are a nice embellishment to add to your cards, scrapbook pages, or gift boxes. These little bows can also double as toppers for paperclips to add a cute, decorative touch. Paper scraps are perfect for bows since only a small amount of paper is needed. You can find free bow templates online or simply purchase a bow punch that does the tedious work for you!


Shaker Confetti

Shaker cards – an ongoing trend in the card-making world that’s a crowd pleaser! Many crafters fill their shaker cards with sequins… but with a few paper scraps, you can make your own shaker confetti! Simply use a hole punch on your paper scraps and create your own shaker mix! You can use shaped punches or a standard hole punch. Experiment with mixing and matching colors… it’s so fun to customize your own shaker confetti!



Die Cut Sentiment Banners

I would say that the majority of handmade cards usually include a sentiment on the front of the card. Why not use your paper scraps and make up some sentiment banners ahead of time?! It saves time when making cards. I usually set a side a night or two to go through and die cut all of my small scraps into little banners using my Sizzix machine… kind of like a die cutting party! Haha! 😉 You can even stamp them ahead of time if you want, or leave them blank for future use.



Crinkle Cut Gift Packaging

Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays… there are many fun gift-giving occasions. Put your paper scraps to good use by making your own crinkle cut gift packaging! Simply cut your scap paper into long, skinny strips and fold in a zig-zag pattern. Mix and match colors and patterns for a fun look! P.S. Find out how to make your own gift boxes HERE.

Scrap16 - Copy


Bookmarks or Bible Journaling Panels

Bookmarks are so fun and easy to make with your longer pieces of scrap paper. Simply cut scraps down to 2×6″ and decorate as desired! This is fun for kids and adults, alike. Not only is this size great for making bookmarks, but it is also nice to use as side panels for your Bible art journaling!

As the Deer Panteth Bible Journal


Pocket Letter Inserts

If you love to partake in swaps or have a pen pal, you already know how much fun Pocket Letters are to make! What I love to do is go ahead and cut my scrap papers down to Pocket Letter size so I have many colors and patterns of paper to choose from when I start creating! These little 3×4″ cards are not only great for Pocket Letters, but they also double as Project Life cards!

First Pocket Letter


Gift Tags

Gift tags are easy to make on your Cricut machine or by using a tag die cut. You can make them as small or as large as you choose – which is why they are another great idea for all sizes of scrap paper! Gift tags are fun to embellish to coordinate with the gift, jar of homemade jam, or card which they are attached to!

Tags - Copy



Handmade embellishments are so versatile and can be used on so many different craft projects! Most embellishments are small, so your paper scraps will come in handy to make a whole variety of embellishments. You can make miniature pinwheels, paper roses, and ephemera – just to give you a few ideas. If you’ll notice in the card pictured below, I used paper scraps to make the tiny flowers to embellish this card. So much fun!!

Mother's Day 2016


Polka Dot Card

Not long ago, I designed a clean and simple polka dot card. Well, the idea stuck and I’ve been making these cards for a while now for various occasions! Polka dot cards are perfect for when you want a colorful, handmade card but are strapped for time. Simply use a 1″ circle punch and punch out circles from a scrap piece of patterned/colorful cardstock. Arrange on the card front, adhere, and decorate as desired. Super easy!!

Polka Cas pic 1


Envelope Seals or Stickers

This idea sort of feeds off the previous idea in using the 1″ circle punch. Simply punch out circles from a scrap piece of paper, stamp, heat emboss, and run through your Xyron Sticker Maker. Presto! You have your very own custom envelope seals! You can stamp them with your initial for even further customization! I made my very own Christmas envelope seals last year and really loved creating them! Additionally, you can use your shaped punches or die cuts to make your very own stickers from paper scraps!

Red Gold Embossed - Copy

I hope you found these ideas helpful! I’m sure there are hundreds of more ideas which you can use your paper scraps for – so put them to good use! For more ideas on how to organize your scrap paper, please see my previous entry HERE.

The video for this post may be seen on my YouTube channel by clicking the link below:


Thanks for dropping by today… happy crafting!

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