Today we’re going to show you how we made Mother’s Day count, and how you can too, with an irresistibly adorable homemade pup-themed card!
Incidentally, this guide can be used for making similar homemade cards for any occasion, so even if you read this after Mother’s Day we hope you will take the opportunity to really make a loved one’s day, showing them how much you care by taking the time to craft a unique card such as this.
What you will need:
- Scissors (small)
- Durable paper (we used recycled paper shopping bag material, but feel free to use colored construction paper or anything else you like)
- Tissue paper (again, we used recycled tissue paper to a neat effect; you can do what we did or just use standard tissue paper/ other soft paper of your choosing)
- Scotch tape
- Exacto blade
- Cutting surface (matte board recommended; we used a piece of durable ply cardboard from a shipping box in this demo ONLY because a matte board was not handy)
- Ironing board
- “Card bling” (rhinestones, pieces of nature, glittery stuff, etc. – if this is your thing, go nuts!)
- Glue (for your card bling)
Step 1: Prepare the Tissue Paper
If you’re using fresh construction paper, go ahead and skip this step, BUT we would highly recommend hanging on to tissue paper in the future so you can do this. It is good for the environment and achieves a nice effect.
Get your ironing board out, plug your iron in, and turn it on to the lowest setting (this is important because of how delicate the tissue paper is).
Then, carefully lay your tissue paper piece out flat on the ironing board, making sure to avoid quick movements that may result in a tear.
Gently iron the tissue paper, making sure not to go too slowly as you want to achieve a uniform “bake” across the sheet of paper.
When you are done, you will have a relatively flat piece of tissue paper, with mild (pretty) wrinkles throughout it. The particular purple tissue paper we used also reacted to the heat by turning more pinkish, which you can see in the photo below. It is possible that the heat will also affect the color pigment of your tissue paper, in which case it is important to make sure the iron is applied uniformly across the whole sheet (to avoid color inconsistencies).
Step 2: Cut the Card Body Paper
If you happen to use the type of paper we did, you’ll want to start by undoing the seams of the paper bag and laying it out flat, as below.
*Disclaimer: You will notice we did a lot of our cutting and folding right on the ironing board. A hard flat surface is recommended, so don’t be like us in this case!
One really happy thing about using a recycled paper grocery bag is that there are already folds along the bag! It turns out that these folds make for pretty good ready-to-go card borders!
We have the luxury in this case not to measure precisely, since we will not be using an envelope for the card (which would require us to fit the envelope’s dimensions). Deciding that the first three rectangular “sections” look like a pretty good size, we proceed to fold the paper over, achieving double thickness for a sturdy card stock (and in this case also hiding the designs on the reverse side of the original grocery bag!).
Once the paper is folded in half, we cut it so that we’re left with a double-thick piece that is roughly the size we want for our card, folded open. We say “roughly” because you will want to leave about an extra 1/4″ on each side to help smooth the edges.
Our piece looks like this:
Note that one side happens to have a crease through it that we would ideally want gone. If this happens in your case, you can try to flatten it out by hand, or use the iron again at a low setting. We also chose to make this side the exterior of the card, because it will be covered with tissue paper in the end and the crease will likely be covered, whereas the inside of the card will leave the paper exposed and we want that part as flat as possible.
Then, with the “interior” side of the card facing up, cut about 1/4″ off of each of the three exposed edges (the folded edge will not be exposed; no need to cut it), on the top-most layer of paper only. This will leave the layer below it about 1/4″ longer. Then, fold the bottom layer over the top layer (including the folded edge just for a consistent look) so that you have a neat 1/4″ border resembling the below:
Next, carefully fold this sheet in half to create the card crease, starting at the edge and working your way back toward the crease, and being careful to apply plenty of pressure at the edges to ensure that your 1/4″ folds remain in place.
Congratulations! Your card body is complete!
Step 3: Prepare a Stencil
You may have any number of traceable nicknacks or ready-to-go stencils to use. For our card, we created a new dachshund stencil, by simply drawing it on a scrap piece of grocery bag paper, then using an exacto knife to cut the stencil out. If you decide to make your own like we did, make sure to measure your card ahead of time to ensure you make a stencil that is the perfect size to fit within the card how you want it to.
Step 4: Set the Tissue Paper in Place
Place your card body open-face-up in the middle of an ironed sheet of tissue paper, as below:
Then, carefully cut around the edges of only the right side of the card (leaving the left to add the stencil to), leaving a good inch or so around each of the top, bottom, and right edges:
Then, fold the tissue paper over these three edges, and use very small pieces of scotch tape to pin them in place at the corners and near the seam (a little vertical “snip” of the tissue paper at the top and bottom near the seam will help you fold the top and bottom flaps over):
Next, we’re going to fold the lefthand flap of tissue paper over the card body, pulling it as taut as possible.
Decide where you want your stenciled image to appear, and lightly mark the center of the spot with a pencil.
Step 5: Add Your Stenciled Image
Cutting the stencil into the tissue paper is the most delicate part of the card-making process, so take your time and go slowly when drawing on and cutting the soft paper.
First, with the left side of the tissue paper “open” as below, line up your stencil where you want it to go, making sure that it is aligned in the reverse direction of how you want it to appear on the front of the card (since you’ll be flipping it over to the right when you’re done cutting):
Then, carefully trace your stencil onto the paper, holding the stencil as steady as possible, and taking care to draw very lightly so as not to damage the paper.
Once you’ve traced your stencil image onto the tissue paper, lay it on top of your cutting board (matte board, thick cardboard, etc.), making sure the paper is as flat as possible. Then, use your exacto knife to slowly cut the image out. Take deep breaths and move slowly (image of cutting not shown here because we were too busy concentrating)!
When we were done, we were left with the below cute cut-out.
Unfortunately, the dachshund image was a little too far to the right (which could have been avoided with more careful measuring)! We fixed this by folding the tissue paper towards the seam of the card body, to shift the dachshund image about a 1/4″ to the left, and create a neat little crease design element on the front of the card in the process.
Once satisfied with the placement of the cut-out on the face of the card, the next step is to trim the edges of the tissue paper, once again leaving an edge that you will fold over the edges of the card body and secure into place with bits of scotch tape, like we did with the other side before making the stencil.
You will want to ensure that the tissue paper fits relatively tightly onto the cover of the card body, to minimize any flaps and ensure your image is as clear as possible.
Step 6: Complete Your Card!
Once your card is fastened and together, take some time to press it tightly in place along the seams and creases, adding some extra strength to fasten it and help bind the bits of tape, etc.
To help flatten the card, we found that ironing it lightly was very effective, and gave the added touch of pressing the stencil cutout more firmly on the card body, eliminating any “flap” of the tissue paper and tightening the design. Be very careful if using this method to be gentle when running the iron over the stencil, so as not to damage any of the delicate edges. Our card became a little more pink from this step, so again be mindful of whether the iron affects the color of your tissue paper.
Now the only thing left to do is to add any additional “bling” you like, and most important of all: write a message on the inside telling Mom that you love her! We won’t tell you how to do these parts because that it all you!
We hope you enjoyed this DIY card-making lesson! If you have any questions about bits of the process we did not cover in detail, please leave a paw-ment below and we’ll be happy to answer!
Happy Mother’s Day! ❤