Cheap. Easy. Cute.

Having recently chatted with a few of you who declare yourselves to be "un" crafty, Very Mary thought it was about time for another down & dirty card tutorial. She promises that you don't have to possess some special "crafting guru" gene.

Cheap: You might be wondering where you get the special card-making paper. While there is some ultra-expensive-special card-making paper, Very Mary buys the pre-made, pre-folded, pre-everything cards.

  • Very Mary buys the premade cards at the craft store or department store (50 for about $5). You can also buy cardstock and make your own, but VM likes the premade cards for a couple of basic reasons. 1) They come with the correct-sized, coordinating envelopes. 2) She's too lazy to make her own.

  • As far as background papers go, you don't have to buy expensive scrapbooking paper packs. You certainly may, but consider some other alternatives. Wrapping paper? Notebook paper? Graph paper? Or how about heading to your local tourist info booth or nearest rest stop for some free maps?"

  • Other ideas for background papers: junk cardboard, old magazines, pages from old books, junk mail, brown paper bags.


  • The official name for a doodad is an embellishment, and you don't have to buy a bunch of expensive doodads to make cute cards. In fact, when you do buy the doodads? You'll likely end up using too many of them and junking up your cards and then wondering what the heck happened.

  • Simple is better.

  • Use doodads that you have in your own house - extra buttons, safety pins, paper clips, broken stuff... You would be seriously surprised by the crap you have in the junk drawer that can be transformed into an "embellishment" simply by looking at it with new eyes.

  • Once again, DO NOT BUY THE DOODADS.

  • You might want to buy a simple roll of cheap, thin, black ribbon. Nothing fancy, nothing scalloped, nothing wired, just some cheap, thin, black ribbon. Did you get that yet? Cheap. Thin. Black.

  • To stick everything together, Very Mary uses rubber cement. Why? It's super sticky, acid-free, and there is a little "play" time before it dries.

  • Where do you get rubber cement? The same place you get the cards and the ribbon.

  • At this point, you should be out about $8. Cards = $5. Ribbon = $1. Rubber cement = $2. That's all you need to buy and, if you shopped right, you should have picked up about 25 to 50 blank cards.

OK Very Mary, you might be thinking, that's all fine and dandy, but where do I get the pictures? How do I know what pictures to use? Can I get pictures from the internet? If I do, will someone sue me?

  • Go to Google. Click on the "images" link at the top.

  • In the search bar, type in "Copyright free ________" (in the blank, type in whatever it is you're looking for - Halloween, black cat, toadstool, giant-headed pumpkin boy) -OR- type in "Free clip art ______" (fill in the blank).

  • Click on the image(s) you want.

  • Click on "full-size image".

  • Are you ready?! Now right click and save.

  • Print your images onto plain paper, because you really don't need to spend extra on glossy photo paper. Very Mary promises. You're just starting out, remember?

Easy: So you have the stuff: card (put the matching envelope aside for now), scissors, rubber cement, background paper, printed image, ribbon, safety pin, button.

  • 1) Measure (or eyeball) the front of your card.

  • 2) Cut your background paper (VM used an old book page) about 1/2" smaller than the front of the card.

  • 3) Cut your image (VM used a free clip art image) about 1/2" smaller than your background paper.

  • 4) Apply a thin layer of rubber cement to the back of your image, center the image above the background paper, and STICK IT.

  • 5) Apply a thin layer of rubber cement to the back of your background paper, center the paper above the card front, and STICK IT. (with rubber cement? No need to wait around for drying time.)

  • 6) Tie a length of ribbon around the card (the "crack" of the card). This means the ribbon will also be visible when the card is opened. Make sure the ribbon is tied in a knot on the front so you don't have to mess with glue. (VM used polka dot ribbon because she can't find her Cheap. Thin. Black. ribbon right now.)

  • 7) Using your found-at-home and not-purchased-in-the-doodad-aisle embellishment, stick it through/on/near/beside/over the ribbon. (VM simply attached a run-of-the-mill safety pin through the knot on the ribbon.)

  • 8) If you happen to have one in the junk drawer, consider gluing on a button. Use good ol' Elmer's school glue. And if you have more than 1 button? Remember: SIMPLE IS BETTER.

Cute: This card took 5 minutes, tops. Of course, Very Mary had all the supplies on hand. So, even if you have to get the supplies before starting the card, and the supplies are at a store far, far away, you can still probably get the entire project done in less than an hour.

And also? You didn't need the doodads or the fancy paper or any of that. Junk, people, that's how Very Mary operates. Junk.


Whitney said...

You are pretty much my hero! I've been wondering how people make such amazing looking cards out of simple stuff. Thanks!

(You would post this on the night we move into our new house so I have no crafting supplies on hand to try this out...oh well.)

Anonymous said...

That is the best card tutorial I have had the pleasure of lifting! Junk is the hidden word in creativity...you gotta know how to put it together. I actually used a bit of alcohol inks on paper clips and safety pins to jazz them up. Wait till you see my UTEE covered ones, to DYE for, lol!

I really need these tutorials, so thanks again!

Yarni Gras! said...

your junk sure is cute!
Thanks for the tutorial! :-)

Unknown said...

So cute. Now I have to go out and get some $5 card so I can use up my junk! So inspiring, so creative, so Very Mary.

Alicia @ Oh2122 said...

I really do want to try making cards myself, and I know I'm overthinking it.

Thanks for the talk-down!

Magpie said...

You are awesome.

dkuroiwa said...

Oh My Goodness!! Thank you thankyouthankyou!!!
I have been thinking for a few days now that I wanted to send you a letter asking you how you got started and advice...the assortment of papers, cards, material and what-not has been begging me to do something!!
Are you a mind reader too???
Thank you for sharing the knowledge and encouraging others. Now...if I could just find the time...will work on that this afternoon!!
have a wonderful weekend!!!

Unknown said...

Wow! That is really cool, thank you. I've been recently wondering what to do with the extra button and thread that comes with practically every item of clothing I've ever bought... now I know!

Evelin said...

great...now what do I do with the doodads I bought :(


hehe... You make pretty & creative cards :) Seriously, you're one of my inspirations!


Keetha said...

I'm so bookmarking this page - thanks!

Last night I broke down and bought a Christmas magazine and today - when I'm going the super discount store at lunch - my head has visions of cute gift cards and wrapping paper and cards and whatnot! This post may well have saved me from buying the embellishments.

Also, I kind of want to copy that Halloween card. I know that's wrong. I'll try to be original.

Deirdre said...

Excellent use of appropriate newspaper article! I can only see the following sentences:

Vic's face turned gray.
Sooner or later there's going to be bloodshed.

Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Do you know which tip was the most valuable to me? The first one... to buy a cheap boxed set of cards. It never occurred to me that it's okay to use/alter premade cards, which is why I've always hesitated to make my own cards.

DUH!!! Thanks for switching my lightbulb on. :D

Crafty Connie said...

You make "junk" look very cute!