Versatile Dies – Anja’s Squares

March 24th, 2015

We love Marianne Creatables Anja’s Squares.  There’s so many ways a card maker can use them either as the full set or just one of them or in any combinations.  Perfect for matting and layering there are 5 dies in the set – 4 squares and a flower die – but you wouldn’t expect squares from Marianne Design to be, well, squares.  These are squares that are rather fancy in their (almost) square shape.

Here are just a few ideas of what you can make with this versatile die set and your die cutting machine.

Card Making Idea – 4 Dies

Some card, a small topper, and a bead embellishment is all it takes to make this card.  This pretty wedding day card, on a 140 x 140 square card made from a sheet of Crystal double sided pearlescent card, uses all 4 square dies – even the little card topper, also by Marianne Design, is cut using the smallest of the Anja’s squares dies.

Card Making Ideas – 3 Dies

Anja’s Squares don’t have to be square – try them as a diamond as on this card here where the Anja’s Squares has been used as a mount for the decoupage.  For this card a 173mm x 173mm (just a tad smaller than 7 x 7 inches) card blank was used. The layers are of differing heights achieved by using Pinflair glue but, if you prefer 3D foam pads to 3D glue, the same effect can be achieved by using foam pads of different thickness.

One of the great things about most dies is that they can be given different looks to suit different occasions – birthdays, wedding days, anniversaries – or, as with this card, Christmas.  Gold mirror card, a robin card topper and a red bow create this Christmas card.  This time, the die cuts aren’t 2 pieces of card layered but one piece of gold card – the 2 dies being nested one inside the other and run through the die cutting machine together with the gold mirror card.

Card Making Ideas – 2 Dies

Just 2 dies – the small square and the flower have been used to create a topper for this card design where the papers, from the Marianne Rose Garden paper pad, take centre stage.  The flower from the Anja’s Squares set works with other flowers – either already made such as roses and smaller blooms, or punched or die cut flowers – to create a layered flower centrepiece.

A simple, elegant card that uses paper, again from the Marianne Rose Garden paper pad, as the main feature using the paper both as a backing paper and to create the topper.  Here the second largest and smallest of the squares are used.  The die cuts were made from Stardream Sapphire card to co-ordinate with the colour of the birds.

Those who like stamping and heat embossing will know that when you have a large stamp it’s sometimes it is difficult to find a die large enough to cut a piece of card to take it. The second largest of the Anja’s Squares takes this large Christmas message stamp and the layering of white card onto red Stardream Jupiter card reflects the red of the embossing powder.  That’s one of the great benefits of die cutting – you can choose the colour of card to coordinate your embossing powder, topper, backing paper, embellishment or decoupage – it just looks so much more professional.

Card Making Idea – 1 Die

Only the flower is used on this card for the perfect finishing touch.

2 flowers were cut and then brushed with glue and dipped into mother of pearl glitter then given a 10mm pearl centre.

What do you make with your die set?

We hope these seven examples have given you lots of ideas – we feel that we’ve only just scratched the surface of what you can do with this lovely die set.  We’d love to see your photos of the cards you’ve made using Anja’s Squares.

Christmas Card Making Idea

November 2nd, 2014

Irene made this card uses the Die’sire Christmas die Three wise Men – it is created by cutting multiple layers of the same die in different cardstock to give the multicoloured effect to each of the wise men.

The card blank is an A5 Creased White Card from the A5 Pack Cards and Envelopes that is used landscape as a tent fold card, i.e. with the crease at the top.

The background for the three wise men die cuts is made from a piece of matt gold card measuring 16×12 cms on which is mounted some Stardream sapphire card cut to 15×11 cms and run through a die cutting machine using the Stars background embossing folder.

Different finishes of card have been used for the three wise men to give them depth and interest: matt gold card, Stardream Mars card, smooth double-sided card in Forest Green, and smooth bright white card.

To create the layers for the die cuts, Irene ran each of the Three Wise Men dies through the die cutting machine four times, using the smooth white, matt gold, forest green and Stardream Mars in turn remembering to change plates (or if using the Xcut Express increasing the number on the dial to the setting you use for die embossing)between each one to emboss the card colour that’s just been die cut.

The smooth white die cut were first attached to the card spacing them evenly.

Using craft scissors (I find the adjustable tweezer scissors perfect for cutting small pieces like this), Irene very carefully cut out the head-dresses, robes and gifts from the appropriate coloured cards. She used photo glue to adhere the cut out pieces to the corresponding sections of the white dies working with each wise man in turn.

The card is finished with a peel off greeting and a star.  The star isn’t a die cut but the centre of one of the gold Star of Bethlehem embellishments but you could use a die cut star using gold mirror card if you have one.

One Die – Two Christmas Cards

September 10th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago we did an article on using the Create a Card dies by Die’sire. One of the featured cards was made by Pat.  Followers of this blog will know that Pat not only makes lovely cards but comes up with some of the best card making tips around.

Here we are going to look in depth at 2 cards created by Pat using the Christmas Create a Card die Christmas Eve.

The Create a Card dies cut an aperture in the card which means the die can either be used to create an aperture card in the creased card or a card front with an aperture to mount onto a card.  The piece that is left over when the aperture is cut is used to create another card so that from the one die you can make two cards.

The Aperture Card

This is how the card was made:

  • Take a 148 x 148 white card blank (a one from the 50 pack of cards and envelopes will do nicely) and run it through the die cutting machine with the Create a Card die.  You’ll need to run it through twice – once to cut and then using your rubber mat once again to emboss.
  • Keeping the card in the die so that ink only is applied to the embossed sections, apply ink using a sponge tool.  Pat used Tim Holtz Stormy Sky distressed ink.  Do the embossed sections of the aperture piece at the same time.
  • Remove the card from the die.
  • Apply embossing powder to the antlers of the reindeer and the snowflakes only masking off the other parts of the card with a scrap of paper. Again do both the main card and the aperture piece at the same time.  Pat used crystal embossing powder for this.
  • Set the embossing powder with a heat gun.
  • Create a 3 layer snowflake using any snowflake dies you have of 3 different sizes.  Pat used silver glitter paper for the largest and smallest snowflakes and marine blue smooth card for the medium snowflake layering them together with photo glue.
  • Glue the layered snowflakes to the top right corner of the aperture.
  • Cut a piece of Stardream paper to 142mm x to create the insert and glue it into the card.
  • The centrepiece is a die cut Merry Christmas using the Cheery Lynn Merry Christmas die and glued centrally onto the insert.  Alternatively, if you have a large Merry Christmas stamp you could use it with white embossing powder to create the centre greeting.

The Reindeer Card

This card is made with the centrepiece from the aperture card and is really simple to make.

  • Stardream Crystal was used to make the card blank by cutting a piece to 200mm x 100mm (about 8 ins x 4 ins) and then scored in the centre to create a 100mm x 100mm (4 x 4ins) card blank.
  • The card was run through a die cutting machine using a snowflake embossing folder so that only the front of the card is embossed.
  • Finally, the inked and embossed centrepiece from the Create a Card die was attached at a slight angle.

More Ideas for Using Small Card Toppers

July 21st, 2014

This post follows on from the previous post Ways with Small Card Toppers – those small “extra” toppers that is found on many sheets of card toppers now.

Use with Die Cuts

Many dies come in sets with up to 7 dies in a set and range from simple shapes to more intricate dies such as the Spellbinders Card Creator Tranquil Moments used in the card below.

These die sets of dies can be used individually or combined.  If I was to use the full set alone, without further embellishment it would look a bit odd but often the smallest die in the set is just that – really small.  I know it needs an extra something. Perhaps a small stamp? Or a die cut or punched flower? Or how about one of the small card toppers left over on the sheet?

This 5 x 7 inch card uses the full set of Tranquil Moments including the tag.  The small round card topper placed in the centre of the mat and layered dies just finishes it off nicely.  Instructions to make this card can be found in the Craftsite Gallery.

A Delightful Surprise

Here’s another idea.  This card was made by Mary.

Mary used a 6 x 6 inch card blank in ivory and the matching insert paper.  First she embossed the front of the card using the Embossalicious Swirl corner.  Using the inset paper and a spare piece of Stardream Quartz paper Mary die cut 2 ivory and 1 quartz book pages using the Marianne Creatables Open Book plus, again using the ivory insert paper, some ivy using the Marianne Creatables Ivy and a small butterfly using the Memory Box Pippi Butterfly.  The butterfly is decorated with 3mm pearls and Mary added a tassel from her stash.

But what’s this got to do with using small card toppers? Well, when the recipient opens the pages of the book………..

The card topper is nestled in the pages.  This card topper is one of the smaller ones found on the Marianne Tiny’s Country Garden 1 sheet.

So now when you’ve used all the larger card toppers on a sheet don’t throw the sheet away or put it in your stash – use them to make more cards. It’s surprising how many more cards you can make.

Ways with Small Card Toppers

July 20th, 2014

When you buy card toppers as often as not the sheet comes with some small toppers that are little “extras” among the larger toppers.   These extra toppers may seem too small to make a card with but with a little imagination, and a dip into your card making stash, these little toppers will make some pretty cards.


Using one of the small toppers on your insert will not only continue your design theme through to the inside of the card it will be a nice surprise for the recipient when they open the card.  Here’s an example:

On the Back of Your Card

At first it might sound a bit odd to put a topper on the back of your card but Mary, who makes many of the cards in our Gallery, regularly attaches very small toppers to the back of her cards with her “Hand Made by Mary” label just below it.

Using Small Toppers in Your Card Design

Just because the card toppers are small doesn’t necessarily mean that your card has to be small too.

This card is A5 size and uses half of one of the backing cards that comes with the card toppers to cover the front of the card.  The toppers feature birds and butterflies so an A5 piece of card was run through the die cutting machine with a border embossing folder that has a bird in one corner (Darice Bird Scroll Frame) as a backdrop for the 2 small round toppers.  The sentiments topper overlaps the bottom edge and 2 pink padded butterflies completes the card.

Not only is this card simple to make (you’ll find full instructions in the Craftsite Gallery) but it’s economical too.  Cards are already made with the larger toppers and the embossed background is simply a bit of Stardream Crystal left over from a previous project.

In our next post we’ll show you two more card making ideas using small card toppers – both are easy to make as this one.



Ideas for Spring Cards 2014

January 9th, 2014

In the depths of winter with the cold, the wind, and the incessant rain cardmakers are sensibly staying indoors at the moment so why not cheer yourself by making some cards ready for Spring?


When the world is wet and grey choose some cardstock in lovely colours such as leafbird green, sunlight yellow, and marine blue to make some pretty floral cards using dies.  If you prefer to use pearlescent cardstock then Stardream Coral, Kunzite, and Lagoon are all good ones to choose for Spring cards.  For a more subtle textured look there’s Tim Holtz Core-dinations Mustard Seed, Shabby Shutters, and Tattered Rose.


With the new releases there has never been such a good selection of dies suitable for Spring flowers as there is at this moment. This one is Daisy Vine  from the Die-namites range.  You’ll also find flowers in the Spellbinders Shapeabilities and Marianne Design ranges.  Why not add the little Pippa butterfly from Memory Box to nestle on your floral arrangement?

Card Toppers

If you don’t have a die cutting machine these die cut toppers, this one’s called Spring Borders and is from Docrafts, are an ideal embellishment to use.  It’s just one of the new ones for this Spring – you’ll find a selection of floral die cut toppers in the Card Toppers section of the website.

If you do have a die cutting machine try mixing toppers with die cuts such as the Marianne Collectables Birds using colours that blend with those in the chosen topper sheet.


What speaks more of Spring than this Wren in Mayblossom decoupage sheet?  The colours have just the right amount of softness for Spring cards.  You’ll find it in the Die Cut Decoupage section of the website along with many floral decoupage sheets.


Tulips make a lovely Spring card and with this being a stamp you can colour the tulips to your own fancy.  This stamp is from Penny Black and, as it is a cling stamp, needs a suitably sized acrylic block.


Why not try making your own background paper or card to coordinate perfectly with your chosen die cut, embellishment, decoupage, or stamp? You can either stipple ink onto basic white card using VersaColour or Tim Holtz distress inks using a big dome stencil brush or swirl and blend the inks using an ink blending tool depending on the effect you want to achieve.

Card Making – Fancy Bows

December 29th, 2013

In the article Card Making – Simple Bows we looked at how just adding a simply bow can make a difference to your design when card making.  This article looks at more fancy bows where, at times, the ribbons and bow make up a good deal of the card design.

Five lengths of organdie ribbon was used to make this card and then a further, slightly longer, length used for the bow. Two lengths of ribbon were adhered to the at either side of the Stardream Amethyst card, two lengths side by side down the length of the Stardream Amethyst card to the left of centre, and the final length down the front edge of the cream card.  The bow was made separately and fixed into place with mini glue dots to look at if the ribbon and bow was all made from the same piece of ribbon.

This card uses an acetate front to the card topper in which a rose and a length of ribbon has been placed inside the acetate front. The paper rose is hung near to the end of the ribbon secured in place with a mini glue dot and then the back of the ribbon is fastened against the card topper inside the frame with another glue dot.  The top of the ribbon is glued to the inside of the frame using a 3D foam pad.  Once the acetate front has been fixed to the card a bow is created using the same ribbon and glued to the top of the frame using mini glue dots.  A 5mm self adhesive pearl is centred just below the bow.

The card above features two different widths of pink and ivory organdie ribbon that match the small paper roses incorporated into the design.

The two lengths of ribbon, one 15mm ivory and one 7mm rose, are placed around the centre of the mount using double sided tape before securing the mount to the card.  Then two  lengths of the same widths of ribbon are made into the bow which is secured to the card using mini glue dots.  A bowmaker was used to make this double bow.

Current Card Making Trends: Birds

December 12th, 2013

Cards with birds as an embellishment, be it a die cut bird, decoupage or a card topper, has been with us for a couple of years now and the card maker’s love of our feathered friends as motifs to decorate their cards shows no sign of slowing down.

Here are just a few ideas of what to use for your “birdie” card.


In the decoupage section you will find a choice of 2 die cut sheets: Wren in Mayblossom and Goldfinch in Cherry.  Both decoupage sheets make 2 cards – one traditional decoupage and one pyramid decoupage.

Card Toppers

There are quite a few card toppers to choose from including this one that comes with a gold foil backing card of bird cages.  The toppers are die cut and comprise not only of birds but cages, butterflies and flowers so you can make your own collage on your card.

From Hunkydory comes this set, with coordinating backing card, of a gold foil card topper and a decoupage topper.  This makes two cards but the decoupage could easily be split in the number of layers usd to get a third card out of this delightful sheet.


If you have a die cutting machine then you are spoilt for choice with birds in the Spellbinders Shapeabilities, Marianne Creatables and Marianne Collectables ranges.

This 4 die set of 2 birds and 2 bird cages are from Spellbinders.  The dies can be used separately or together – whatever takes your fancy.

In the Marianne Collectables range there is a large bird which can be made from the various dies that make up the set in different ways.

There is also this set of 3 birds that are the perfect size to go with one of the Marianne Collectables Bird House and Stamp sets.

The Marianne Creatables Fence Set not only has a fence but this little bird and birdhouse too.

Embossing Folders

It’s not just dies where you’ll find birds but in embossing folders too.

This 6 by 6 inch embossing folder features birds and birdhouses whereas the standard size embossing folder below is aptly named “Tweet Tweet”.

Making Cards: Focus on Die Cutting Machines

December 9th, 2013

A die cutting machine is a big investment for any cardmaker and you may be quivering in deciding whether to get one or not. All of the Craftsite design team have die cutting machines and not one of us would be without one.

In the early days die cutting may have been about just cutting out basic shapes but not any more – the selection of dies available are becoming more intricate all the time and even those who are most adept with scissors would struggle to even begin cutting the shapes that a die can cut.

This card uses the full set of the Nellie’s Multiframe Hearts.  Nellie’s dies are simple cutting dies but there’s nothing simple about the detail edge on the 2 gold cards. Not even punches can get this level of intricate design and,  what’s more, the full set of hearts including the little swans is only £7.99 – less than one would pay for a 3 inch punch.

Die cut shapes can create an interesting background to a card.

This card is made from matt gold card cut and creased to 144mm x 144mm and uses Spellbinders Labels Ten to cut the black card for the backgrounds. The largest of this 6 die set is used  for the background to the decoupage and the smallest for the greeting.

Many dies these days don’t just cut but emboss as well.

This card was made using the Marianne Creatables dies Anja’s Edge and Petra’s Oval.  Not only is the cut pattern incredibly intricate but there is loads of embossed detail as well on both dies.

If you want to die cut your own greetings, there are dies available now for sentiments such as Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Best Wishes, and With Sympathy.

These can be cut out of left over scraps of card which means, once you’ve bought the die, you can run your own sentiments through the die cutting at virtually no cost time and time again in colours that will perfectly match your project.

Die cutting machines don’t just cut – they emboss as well and will take a wide range of embossing folders.  The maximum size of embossing folder that you can use will depend on the die cutting machine you choose.  All die cutting machines take the standard and 5 x 7 inch embossing folders and A4 machines will take not only the A4 embossing folders but the 8 x 8 inch embossing folders as well.

Embossing folders create an textured background.

The textured background on this card is created using the M-Bossabilities Holiday Magic folder.  The mounts for both the stamped image and the mount for the greeting are created using various Spellbinder cut and emboss dies.

Sometimes the embossing folder becomes the centrepiece of the card as with this Snow Bird embossing folder.

Now you know why none of the design team would part with their die cutting machines – once you start using one your card making goes to a whole new level.

Embossing Folders: Adding Texture to Your Card

December 4th, 2013

Using different textures when making a card can add both depth and interest.  If you have a die cutting machine the easiest way to add texture is by using embossing folders.

As well as die cutting machines such as the Big Shot, Cuttlebug, Vagabond, and Grand Calibur, the little Texture Boutique machine will produce nicely embossed backgrounds using the standard A6 embossing folders.

Once you have your embossed background you can then add your embellishments – some decoupage, a die cut or a stamped and coloured image.

With some embossing folders, such as this Noel embossed image, the embossing is the main feature of the card rather than the background, and very little is needed by way of  embellishments to finish off the card.

At other times you may want a textured background to completely cover the card – as it this wedding invitation created with a 5 x 7 M-Bossabilities folder.

If you have a die cutting machine, rather than the Texture Boutique, one you’ve embossed your card it can then be die cut to a shape that will enhance your embellishment.

Most embossed backgrounds are a single colour as this gives more effect to the embossed texture than multicoloured or printed card where the embossed effect is lost amongst the myriad of colours or the printed design.

If you want to add some colour to your card when using embossing folders then the best way is to add colour to the already embossed design – as in this card made using the D’Vine Swirls embossing folder.  Simply ink a brayer and, using a very light touch, run the brayer over your embossed card.

Another technique you can use with embossing folders is to use Core-dinations Kraft Core card and then gently sand down the embossed image to reveal the different colour core underneath.

You don’t have to limit it yourself to just the one embossing folder when making your card.  This gatefold card uses the Swiss Dots embossing folder for the bottom half of each side of the card and the Roses embossing folder for the top – the ribbon in the middle hides the join.  A third embossing folder has been used on the die cut heart.